As thrilling as Etna is right now on the U.S. wine scene, the Southern Italian wine and grape that I am the most excited about are Cirò and Gaglioppo.
When I was in Los Angeles week before last to spend some time at Sotto, a New York-based importer tasted me on (as we say in the biz) the wines of Scala in Cirò (Calabria) — a winery I’d never heard of.
Both the Cirò Classico (above) and the Cirò Riserva (below) wowed me with their freshness, focus, and balance of earth, fruit, and acidity. Gorgeous, thrilling wines, imho…
Currently, Gaglioppo is relatively unknown in the U.S., despite the ever growing interest in indigenous grape varieties (I tasted a Piave Raboso the other night in San Antonio, btw!).
But tasting these wines, I begin to understand the high praise that writers of another era like Mario Soldati and Norman Douglas reserved for the caliber of winemaking there.
“The wine of Cirò,” wrote Douglas, “is purest nectar.”
I’m with Alfonso when he sings Mama, don’t let your (Gaglioppo) babies grow up to be Cabernets…