Treasures of Italy’s Southern Adriatic and Ionian Coasts

We look to northwest Italy for floral, nuanced reds that mix power with structure and poise. We turn to the northeast for richer, darker wines. In the center, we’re treated to the stimulating acidities, tart cherry-berry fruits and regal structure found throughout the Sangiovese belt. On Italy’s islands, we find a diverse mix of wines, yet all seem to take on a Mediterranean flair. However, it’s only in the south, along the bottom of Italy’s boot, where we find such a harmonious blending of ripeness, richness, power and sheer value. From whites and reds that provide early appeal and a pleasurable experience any night of the week, to wines that boast legendary structures that will carry them over a decade or more, all can be found from the heel to the toe and in between. CALABRIA: THE ORIGINAL ENOTRIA While Calabria , the region that forms the sole, instep and toe of Italy’s boot, isn’t as prolific a producer of fine wines as most other regions, there is one DOC that is especially deserving of attention, and that is Cirò. The Cirò classico area is centered around the towns of Cirò and Cirò Marina, the entire growing zone runs down toward the Ionian coast from the foothills of the Sila Mountains. Cirò is produced primarily with the Gaglioppo grape, Calabria’s pride and joy, with its rich dark red fruits and spice, but also grippy tannins that require taming or long-term cellaring. In dryer years, such as 2012 and 2017, these tannins can come across as extremely harsh. On the warm yet well-ventilated plains of Calabria, closer to the sea, Gaglioppo yields wines that are much easier to understand and might remind readers more of a fruit-forward Pinot Noir, though here it loses its gravitas. Traveling higher into the hills things change drastically, and you find wines of power, depth and longevity. Here the vines fight for survival, stressed for water on the sun-baked hills, yet they are balanced by the coastal influence of two seas and the dramatic diurnal shifts created by the Sila Mountains. The trick is achieving harmonious balance between fruit and tannins, which is best acquired through very gentle macerations and long aging. As an example ‘A Vita ages their Calabria IGT for two years prior to release, and their Cirò Classico and Superiore for three to four years. Unfortunately, not every producer has the resources or even the desire to deliver a more mature and palatable wine upon release, and many consumers are left scratching their heads over the severity often found from a current-vintage bottle. Even when released late, the wines are still structured. When it comes to white varieties in Calabria, you can look to Greco Bianco (also found in Lazio, but different from the Greco of Campania). Greco Bianco is most often found in the form of Cirò Bianco, where it must make up at least 80% of the blend. To this day, the standard-bearer continues to be Librandi, a large producer that turns out over 200,000 cases of wine each year. I have no doubt that we will begin to see more of Greco Bianco, as many producers in Italy’s south have begun to understand the importance of their white varietals. --Eric Guido, Treasures of Italy’s Southern Adriatic and Ionian Coasts, July 2021 Below is a selection of Basilicata notes from the report. To read Eric's full report and learn about Basilicata and Puglia, check out the full article on Vinous now .

Musto Carmelitano

Serra del Prete Aglianico del Vulture 2015

Delectable Wine
9.1

Crushed ashen stone, undergrowth and hints of animal musk are the first notes to greet you as the 2015 Aglianico del Vulture Serra del Prete opens up in the glass. With coaxing, spiced black cherries and rosemary join the fray. This is silky, almost fleshy in feel, with juicy acids enlivening flavors of ripe woodland berry and blood orange. You don’t notice those Aglianico tannins until the finale, which boasts an exotic flourish of tropical citrus and inner violet tones. The Serra del Prete may be an atypical expression of Vulture, but it’s one that I find quite pleasurable. (Eric Guido, Vinous, July 2021)
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Re Manfredi

Serpara Aglianico del Vulture Aglianico 2013

Delectable Wine
9.3

Crushed blackberries, tobacco, sage, thyme and hints of smoked meat waft up prominently from the 2013 Aglianico del Vulture Superiore Serpara. It’s soft in texture and almost creamy in feel, with juicy acids maintaining balance as ripe black fruits and minerals sweep effortlessly across the palate. Its firm tannins make themselves known through the finale, yet as more of an accent that frames the experience well, while hints of dark chocolate and balsamic spices slowly fade out. The single-vineyard Serpara matures in a combination of 50% new and 50% used French Allier oak casks, which Re Manfredi has done a wonderful job of integrating here. (Eric Guido, Vinous, July 2021)
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Elena Fucci

Titolo Superiore Riserva Aglianico del Vulture 2013

Delectable Wine
9.6

The 2013 Aglianico del Vulture Titolo Riserva takes things to a whole new level for Elena Fucci. It opens with an intense display of crushed cherry, exotic spices and sweet herbal tones; as the bouquet evolves, it gains haunting richness and a darker fruit profile with marine-tinged minerality and notes of lavender. Its silky textures coast along a medium-bodied framework, as a polished yet dense display of blackberry and currant gives way to saturating spice and a tightly wound web of tannin. This finishes long, intense and structured, leaving the palate drenched in black fruit concentrate, yet all lifted by residual acids. A stunning example of Aglianico and Vulture terroir. (Eric Guido, Vinous, July 2021)
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