Greco di Bianco, ancestral wine

Everyone tasted, once in a lifetime, at least, the liqueur wine, and sweet, which passes under the popular name of passito or malvasia wine.
Even Alexander the Great, a great drinker of raisin wine, seems to have also died from the effects of a solemn hangover (of raisin wine), during a last banquet with his generals in 323 B.C.; further, starting with his death begins the famous Hellenistic age and the historical connubbio between Greek and Roman culture.

It is as saying that passito opens a new era in human culture.

Perfect with cheese

CALABRIAN PASSITO WINE: GRECO DI BIANCO

The grape of passito wines are the so called Mediterranean Malvasias. These grapes are present in different countries and, there, each is always located many kilometers apart from the other. They are unique and rare, each with its own peculiarities. They have an enormous evocative power, and are linked to myths and legends that span a time span of over three thousand years of human history.

All the Mediterranean Malvasias accompany the marvelous voyage of the domestication of the vine from East to West, and the delicious nectar of Calabrian Greco di Bianco is almost certainly the greatest demonstration.

Echo of a glorious past

COMMON ORIGINS OF DIFFERENT GRAPES

Some in-depth genetic research has classified our very ancient “Greco di Bianco”, a vine from which the homonymous wine is obtained, like a malvasia. This Calabrian grape was formerly considered as distinct cultivars from the Malvasias of the Lipari, of Sardinia (of Bosa and of Cagliari), the Greco di Bianco (or of Gerace), Malvasia di Sitges, Malvasia dubrovačka (Croatia), the candid white of Madeira (Portugal) and Tenerife (Canary Islands).

Instead, all the mentioned grapes have shown an “identical molecular profile”, they all come from Calabria!

According to prof. Attilio Scienza, University of Milan, it is not known from which specific Mediterranean region Malvasia grapes left, nor what was the chronology of their stages of diversification in the West, but as shown by some DNA sequences, it seems that this vine did not arrive in Spain from Greece, but from Magna Graecia and therefore perhaps from Calabria.

Vineyards descending towards the sea

The cultivation of these Mediterranean Malvasias is still today located near the sea, as in Calabria; this shows that their wines were for the compositional characteristics suitable for long journeys and the object of intense trade.

A TRACE OF PAST IN THE GRAPES NAME: MALVASIA

In the past there was a lot of confusion between the Malvasia wine and the Greek wines, very similar for the organoleptic characteristics of the wine, as evidenced by the synonymy of Malvasia with Greco di Bianco or Gerace, the only one among the group’s vine varieties in all likelihood, to Greek colonization. In Dalmatia and in Spain it arrived in the Middle Ages to emulate the Venetian malvasias.

A solution of the problem can be found in the history of the name “Malvasia”, as it follows.

According to some studies the name derives from “Monemvasia”, an old commercial port of Laconia, in the Peloponnese. The first written document of a Malvasia dates back to 1214, when the Archbishop of Ephesus Nicola Mesarites referred to a wine called “Monovasia” or “Monemvasios” together with the wines of Chios, Lesbos and Eubea. The Italianisation and diffusion of this term is linked to an active wine trade in the Middle Ages, especially by the Venetians, who began marketing the Vinum de Malvasias in 1278.

Malvasia, the grape, and a glass of liqueur

The name Malvasia referred to the sweet and aromatic wines of Greece (produced in the Peloponnese, in Rhodes, Crete and in the Ionian islands) and after the latter was conquered by the Ottoman Empire, new production centers were created along the sea routes of the Mediterranean. In Italy the first to speak about the various Malvasias was Andrea Bacci at the end of the sixteenth century: in his work he reports that Giulio Cesare Scaligero of Riva del Garda, a humanist cousin him, claimed that the etymology of Monobaticum wine derives from the Greek Monobasiten ( Μονοβασίτήν) term by which Athenaeum of Naucrati (3rd century AD) called a particular wine “the sole basis and foundation of the goodness of all wines”.

Drying the grapes on the reeds

TASTE AND HISTORY

The above mentioned hints of history and oenological science are enough to make clear what experience awaits the lucky drinker of this fantastic sweet and liqueur wine of Calabria, called “Greco di Bianco”.
We wish everyone to drink it in happy company (and at a temperature just below 18 degrees)!

Clementines of Calabria (“Mandarini”)

10.02.2019

Calabrian cuisine hosts one of the sweetest citrus in the world, the so called “clementine” (Citrus clementina), which is a tangor, a hybrid between a willowleaf mandarin orange (Citrus deliciosa) and a sweet orange (Citrus sinensis). It is so named since 1902.

MYTH AND LEGEND

There is a lot of history and legend about the Orange (mother of clementine, the sweetest citrus in the world). Particularly, Orange is, symbolically, a Calabrian little sun.

From the Garden of Hesperides


This all-Calabrian fruit, modern but belonging to the noble citrus family, is, maybe, the famous “precious gold of the Garden of the Hesperides”. According to Greek mythology, Hera offered to her husband Zeus some small trees with golden fruits, symbol of fertility and love, that he, for fear that someone stole them, had kept in a garden at the extreme West of the world, guarded by a dragon and by the nymphs Hesperides, girls singing sweet songs and protagonists of many other legends.

Elios’ fruit

Another myth tells of Orange as the precious fruits beloved by Elios, the divinity of the sun, who, after finishing its daily course, went to rest right in the Garden of the Hesperides …

ORIGINS

The clementine is a spontaneous citrus, arose in the late 19th century in Misserghin, Algeria. The name derives from the garden of the orphanage of Brother Marie-Clément, in Algeria, where it would be cultivated for the first time.

Another origin could be a similar fruit native to the provinces of Guangxi and Guangdong in present-day China (this explain the name “mandarin citrus”), but the main theory is that clementine arose from a cross between a sweet orange (Citrus sinensis) and the Mediterranean willowleaf mandarin (Citrus deliciosa), in Algeria.

VARIETIES

There are three types of clementines:

  • seedless clementines,
  • clementines with maximum of 10 seeds,
  • and Monreal (more than 10 seeds).

Italian Clementines resemble other citrus varieties such as the satsuma and tangerines. The main Italian varities are Clementine del Golfo di Taranto, Italian cultivar given Protected geographical indication (PGI) status by the European Union, produced around the Gulf of Taranto, and Clementine di Calabria, another Italian PGI variety, grown in the Calabria region.

Juicy and fresh

FEATURES

The exterior is a deep orange colour with a smooth, glossy appearance. Clementines can be separated into 7 to 14 segments. Similar to tangerines, they tend to be easy to peel. They are typically juicy and sweet, with less acid than oranges.

The exterior is small, round, sweet and fragrant, its color is the same as the fiery sunsets of the Mediterranean, of which it recalls myths and legends. The internal oils, like other citrus fruits, contain mostly limonene as well as myrcene, linalool, α-pinene and many complex aromatics.

OUR CALABRIAN VARIETY

The clementines are harvested from October to February in the province of Reggio Calabria: Ardore, Benestare, Bianco, Bovalino, Brancaleone, Casignana, Caulonia, Ferruzzano, Locri, Marina di Gioiosa Jonica, Monasterace, Portigliela, Roccella Jonica, Sant’Ilario dello Jonio, Siderno, Rizziconi, Gioia Tauro, Palmi, Rosarno, San Ferdinando.

In the province of Catanzaro: Borgia, Botricello, Curinga, Davoli, Lamezia Terme, Maida, Montauro, Montepaone, San Floro, San Pietro a Maida, Sant’Andrea Apostolo dello Jonio, Sellia Marina, Simeri Crichi, Soverato, Squillace, Catanzaro.

In the province of Cosenza: Cassano Jonio, Castrovillari, Corigliano Calabro, Crosia, Francavilla Marittima, San Lorenzo del Vallo, Spezzano Albanese, Terranova da Sibari, Trebisacce, Vaccarizzo Albanese, Rossano, Saracena, Cariati, Calopezzati, San Demetrio Corone, San Giorgio Albanese.

Fresh, into candied fruit, jam, juices, desserts, liqueurs…

In the province of Vibo Valentia: Briatico, Francavilla Angitola, Limbadi, Nicotera, Pizzo and in the province of Crotone: Cirò Marina, Crucoli Torretta, Rocca di Neto.

Clementines can be tasted fresh or made into candied fruit, jam, juices, sorbets, desserts and liqueurs. You keep an ambient temperature for 2 or 3 days, but if you want to keep them longer, they must be stored in the fridge.

…Taste this Mediterranean Authentic fruit of Calabria and you will find and appreciate Myth, History and the Real Scent of Calabrian Cuisine!