Moscato wine of Saracena and “Guarnaccia” white vine


Let’s know a little the white grape that in the area of the Calabrian Pollino finds its greatest diffusion: White Guarnaccia

It is protagonist together with the grapes Malvasia, Addoraca and Muscatel of the ancient Moscato di Saracena wine, which today is vinified in purity by some young wineries expressing in this way all its characteristics.

However, this native vine, Guarnaccia, gives us beautiful surprises. This white grape for centuries has found a good spread in the territory between the municipalities of Verbicaro, Altomonte and Saracena (Cosenza), in the southernmost part of the Pollino National Park. But now, it s becoming very famous due to the terrific white “Moscato di Saracena” wine.

Pollino Hills and Guarnaccia vines


Together with Malvasia, Addoraca and Moscatello, the white Guarnaccia is used for the production of Moscato in the territory of Saracena.

It is a very special and unique dessert wine that today is a Slow Food Presidium.

The name suggests a Spanish origin (like the red berry “garnacha” known in Italy with many names, the best known of which is cannonau), but the white Guarnaccia is also widespread in Campania (mainly on the island of Ischia and in the province of Naples) and in Lazio.

The village of Saracena

Anyway, even if there is no clear historical information on its origin, anyway, it is thought that the origin is Hellenic, that the vine arrived during the period of Greek colonization; it also seems that this particular white berry variety grown in Calabria comes from neighboring Sicily, where it currently seems to have completely disappeared.


The Black grape variety of Guarnaccia is widespread in the same territories as the white one and is thought to have the same origin; cultivation lands are also similar. The bunch is medium-sized, conical, compact, often winged, the grape is medium, spherical, with a thick, medium pruinose black skin.

The black variety is a red grape variety of which there is no certain news, with a name that provides more confusion than certainty, since it leads to think of a sub-type of the French “grenache“.

Black Guarnaccia

However, no DNA test has confirmed this hypothesis, although many ampelography scholars consider it valid, while others prefer to hypothesize a native origin, even if not identified with any territory.

No historical document can clarify the origin of the grape, and it can also be considered that like many vines, especially in the south of Italy, it may be one of the many grapes imported from Greece at the time of Hellenic colonization in the 7th century BC.

This hypothesis is supported by the spread of the grape variety, concentrated above all on the Campania coast, on the island of Ischia and as a leopard spot in Calabria. In Ischia, particularly, it is very popular and is found in the red wines of the island with the name “Piedirosso“.

White Guarnaccia Vineyards


The white Guarnaccia is a vigorous vine at medium maturation (in the third decade of September).

In the vineyard it shows a beautiful medium-sized bunch, long, conical, simple or with a wing, medium compact; it has a medium berry, from spherical to short ellipsoidal, with visible umbilicus, a skin of color that varies from green-whitish to amber-yellow, very pruinose; its pulp is juicy, with a pleasant taste similar to muscat.

The characters found in the aforementioned vineyard were subsequently compared with those of the grape cultivated in the area of Castrovillari (province of Cosenza) and with the clones of the ampelographic collection of the state technical agricultural institute of Catania.

The outcome was that white guarnaccia is officially foreseen in the Calabrian disciplinary of the DOP wines called “Terre di Cosenza“, “Pollino” and “Verbicaro“, but is also present in those wine of the IGTs protection in the territories of Palizzi, Locride, Arghillà, Pellaro, Scilla, Costa Viola (in the province of Reggio Calabria), Valdamato (in the province of Catanzaro), Lipuda and Val di Neto (in the province of Crotone).

Guarnaccia Vineyards at Sunset

In assembly with other grapes, as said, the white guarnaccia is the protagonist of the rare and special Moscato di Saracena.

The rare wine produces has a vinification in purity, which gives raise to a straw yellow elixir with elegant floral, fruity, herbaceous and mineral aromas, intense and full-bodied, of good freshness and acidity.

Further, from centuries-old vineyards grown in the Firmo area (Cs) at about 350 meters above sea level, the white must of the white guarnaccia ferments spontaneously in stainless steel tanks: here a golden wine is born, with a soft but fresh taste with distinctly floral hints such as  acacia, chamomile and wild herbs, elegant and particular and, above all, in a very limited edition.

“Mantonico”, the Mediterranean wine of the prophets


If you think to a wine believed to confer divinatory powers to whom drinks it, then this is that white nectar called “Mantonico“, a white wine coming from  a rare native vine of Calabria.

This is another story about Calabria and its cultural and enological richness: let’s discover the Mantonico, the wine of the prophets.


Its origins are still little known, but it is said that this grape also arrived with the landing of the first Greek colonists in the 7th century BC on the shores of Locride, or that has been domesticated earlier in the ancient Enotria.

Alcaeus of Mytilene: “Now we need to drink…or to suffer the pains

In all probability the name derives from the Greek μαντονικος (mantonikos), from μαντις-εος (mantis-eos), which means “fortune-teller“, “prophet“.

If one drinks it in abundance, can fall into that “state of elation” that in the ancient times generated the power of divination: in classical antiquity one realized communication between the human and the supernatural, through a spiritual contact with the divinity.
Ancient grapes have always characterized myths and legends of the wine world.

A golden grape

In Calabria, too, as happens with the Greco di Bianco, around Mantonico fascinating stories revolve that tell the oenological roots of the varied biodiversity of the region. This way, Matonico has become a very important autochthonous grape.

This variety is a “niche” for its rarity, but also an element of culture, which remained in history of southern Italy, as evidenced by the traces left by the Dionysian cults, by the orgiastic rites or by the Roman bacchanals.


For centuries this Calabrese white grape variety has been confused with Trebbiano and above all with Montonico Bianco which in Ampelographic Bulletins of 1875 is referred to as a permanent plantation in the province of Teramo.

Neither it should not be confused with the Montonico Pinto of the Ionian Calabria.

It is known by numerous synonyms, from Uva Regno to Ciapparone and Caprone, some of these similar to those used to define Montonico Bianco. There is also the red berry variety, but it is not very common.

The rare red acinus variety

The Mantonico has its ideal habitat in some areas of southern Calabria: its greatest spread is recorded along the Ionian coast, where it covers a total area of about 45 hectares, distributed mainly in the municipalities of Palizzi, Casignana, Locri (where in dialect it is called Mantonacu viru that is “true Mantonico”, to differentiate it from other similar varieties) and Monasterace, all in the province of Reggio Calabria, but also dates back to the Crotone, in the Valle del Neto and in the Marquisate.

These are hilly areas particularly suited to viticulture, with their calcareous-clayey soils and the Mediterranean climate mitigated by sea breezes.

In the past, sapling cultivation was preferred; today, spurred cordon cultivation was widespread; once the Mantonico was mainly intended for export as a table grape, especially towards Northern Europe.


The bunches are stocky and of medium size, while acinus are medium in size, ellipsoid, regular, with a sweet and acidulous taste at the same time, with a resistant and tannic peel of greenish yellow color, but which arrive at late maturation with a beautiful golden yellow. These characteristics have favored the use of the ancient technique of drying the grapes on racks before proceeding with the vinification, thus obtaining a sweet and concentrated nectar, as happens with the Greco di Bianco.

Thus was born another “meditation wine“, of a golden yellow with amber reflections, with intense notes of flowers, candied fruit (apricot, citrus), honey and dried fruit, delicious on the palate, fresh, savory and velvety.

Excellent at the end of a meal together with aged cheeses or dry pastry desserts, such as mostaccioli.

Vineyard on Ionian Coast

Another Calabrian enological pearl that has recently been revalued and enhanced not only in the passito version but also in the dry version.

If it is dry vinified (which happens in very few wineries), it produces a wine with a pale yellow color, but with fine and elegant floral hints, fruity citrus, peach.