Bella Calabria

Free tasting | Saturday, April 20, 2019 | 4-6PM

Grotteria, Calabria

Grotteria, Calabria

Calabria, Italy holds a very special part of my heart. My great-grandmother immigrated from Grotteria, Calabria to the US in 1918 via New York with the end destination of Meriden, Connecticut. In Immaculata’s life (Emma, or Granny, or Nonni as her many grandchildren and great-grandchildren called her), she had five children, was the star chef for her own family, as well as a huge extended family of church friends, spoke heavy Calabrian dialect and broken English, made the best sauce and meatballs of anyone I’ll ever know, ran a grocery store in her younger years, and was always so warm and so loving in and out of the kitchen. Easter bread was a tradition that I’ve carried through my own adulthood, as well as attempting her sauce and meatballs (but they never taste like hers!).

View of the Ionian Sea prior to l’aperitivo.

View of the Ionian Sea prior to l’aperitivo.

Sempre in vacanza…

Sempre in vacanza…

I had a wonderful opportunity to visit Grotteria in 2006 and see where Emma grew up in the boot of Italy. Over the next few years I became very close with some of our extended Calabrese cousins, who live in the outskirts of Rome, and we drove to Grotteria from Rome for vacation (le ferie ad agosto) one idyllic August week. Mid-day lunches would stretch for hours and then we would pile into a small VW and drive back down the treacherous mountain roads to the umbrella-strewn beach in Locri. We’d indulge in a few more hours of sunlight, as well as a few espresso to help guide us to dusk, and then we’d walk, tanned and over-caffeinated, to a local café to take l’aperitivo complete with Aperol spritz and succulent green olives plucked fresh from a neighboring farm. Calabria’s beaches are some of the most beautiful I’ve seen. Sicily is visible from the Mediterranean Sea and western ‘toe-side’ of the boot; the Ionian Sea is on Calabria’s east ‘heel-side.’ As for wine, Calabrians drink a lot. Perché no? Why not? They drink real wine, tutto naturale, and big wines, because Calabrians aren’t for the faint of heart. We’re tough people with big hearts, and the wine reflects that same sentiment. On Saturday, we’re opening six different Calabrese wines from two different producers: Scala in the appellation of Cirò and Creta Paglia, in the province of Cosenza. More info below.

Happy Easter, everyone. Buona Pasqua a tutti!

- Susan

The Scala family has been producing wine in Cirò, which is on the eastern ‘heel-side’ of Calabria since 1949. The vineyard is comprised of 18 hectares for an overall production of 100,000 bottles. Led by Luigi and Francisco Scala, production is focused on quality over quantity, focusing on terroir-driven expressions of indigenous Calabrian grape varieties, such as Gaglioppo, Magliocco, Nerello, Mantonico, and Greco. They are organically cultivated mere meters from the Ionian Sea on argillaceous and sandy soil. Certified organic since 2016. 

Scala, Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore (2016)

Still red from the Gaglioppo grape variety. I drink this plummy and violet-purple wine and crave sausage and peppers. 

Scala, Cirò Bianco (2018)

Still white from the Greco grape variety. An everyday wine. Floral, clean and light brine in the finish. Pair with fresh seafood. 

Scala, Cirò Rosato (2018)

Still rosé from the Gaglioppo grape variety. A spicy-meat-a-ball of a rosé, mamma mia!

Creta Paglia is located in San Marco Argentano, north of Coscenza in northern Calabria. The winery is run by the ever-passionate Antonello Canonico. Antonello used to work with the natural winery L’Acino before starting his own biodynamic venture in 2017. We’re one of the first shops to carry Antonello’s wine in the whole U.S. and we are so excited to share his beautiful wines with you! Read more on Creta Paglia on the Mucci Brothers’ amazing website!

Creta Paglia, Sciccu (2017)

Still white wine with extended skin contact from the Guarnaccia, Guardavalle, and Mantonico Bianco grapes. Notes of thyme, sage and nut butter rise from a glass full of brilliant orange-hued wine. 

Creta Paglia, Calabria Coclò (2017)

Still red from the Magliocco grape variety. Easy drinking with a ton of structure and depth. 

Creta Paglia, Strampalato (2017)

Still red from the Magliocco grape variety. This one is bigger and earthier than the Coclò. It’s smells of autumn leaves, stewed fruit, and baking spices. It’s funky and crazy and I’m kinda in love with how weird it is.