The excellent Ian d'Agata* says that 'the best examples of Cirò, or any monovarietal Gaglioppo wine, exude aromas of small red berries and citrus zest, with mineral and delicate underbrush notes that are not unlike a lighter, more saline Nebbiolo wine.' Sergio Arcuri makes just such a wine, from two vineyards near the Ionian coast of Calabria, in the far south of Italy. He also makes an intensely flavorful and delicious rosé there, also made entirely of the Gaglioppo grape, that is reminiscent of Nebbiolo rosé, showing orange-peel and wild strawberries.
Sergio's notes follow:
'The wine producing history of our company started in 1880 with our great grandfather Pepe...(who) worked the land with simple agricultural tools and transported the harvest using horses and donkeys. Our father Peppe, born in 1931, was at 9 years old working alongside his father cultivating vines and inheriting from him the experience and techniques of the vineyards, and he soon became a grafter and cultivator of grapevines (there are now hundreds of hectares of successful grapevines which were grafted by him during his childhood) as well as being a qualified producer of genuine red wine, drawn from the Gaglioppo grape which is typical of our area. He opened his own cellar in 1973, selling wines on tap. In 2009 Peppe's sons Sergio and Francesco modernised their father's cellar, and with their father started bottling their own wines.
* in his book Native Wine Grapes of Italy, which I wholeheartedly recommend
Cirò Rosso 'Aris'
The grapes are grown in two vineyards, one planted in 1948 in clay with a little limestone, and one planted in 1980 in clay with loam and red sand. Aris is fermented using wild yeasts, as has always been done in our family, in open 'palmento' fermenters (or in the local dialect 'u parment'), with the cap being submerged by a grating for the first 3-4 days. After fermentation the wine is aged and matured in cement tanks for about 18 months, and another six months after bottling.
Aris is pale red in color, with orange glints, very much like Nebbiolo in color. The aroma is of orange-peel, sandalwood, and red fruits, again strongly reminiscent of Nebbiolo, but with an exotic southern twist; flavors again of citrus, sandalwood, red fruits, with very attractive round tannins. Complex enough to match red meats, but the moderate tannins also suggest pork or roast chicken. I don't have experience, but this should age very nicely.
Cirò Rosato 'Il Marinetto'
The grapes are grown in the Marinetto area near Cirò Marina, surrounded by century-old olive trees, in chalky clay, a fresh soil that resists dry conditions well, a vigorous vineyard that is perfect for a structured rosé. The grapes are picked in the middle of September, left for a few hours and then drained off (not pressed); spontaneous fermentation then takes place in temperature-controlled cement tanks for about 20 days. The wine is aged on the fine lees for about six months, then bottled.'
Il Marinetto is a beautiful onion-skin pink, smells and tastes of citrus peel and strawberries, and has a mouthwatering combination of rich flavor, freshness and a salty tang. This with salmon or roast chicken would be pure pleasure.