A Rare Treasure of Calabria: Scavigna DOC Wine

2.2.2018

The core of Mediterranean Sea, Calabria, with its food and cuisine, contains a rare treasure, a wine of fruity and bold aromas with vanilla, red and dark fruit, and loads of sunshine.

This explosive and flamboyant taste with cedar, juicy cherries, and some herbs, full body, med-high tannins, is “Scavigna DOC wine”.

Approximately its blend is 20% Greco Bianco, 10% Malvasia, 5% Trebbiano, 15% Riesling, 20% Pinot Bianco, 30% Chardonnay.

Outside Calabria, only a small number of outlets in Asia and Europe have this wine. Recently only the 2014 and 2015 vintages have been available and now Scavigna Wine is a DOC of the Calabria wine region in southern Italy, which covers red, white and rose wines from the hills above Falerna Marina, on Calabria’s western coastline.

Scavigna wines are basically in  red (rosso), white (bianco) and rose (rosato) forms, without corresponding quality levels such as superiore or riserva.

Scavigna bianco (white) is made from a slightly less local collection of grapes, including the ubiquitous and international Chardonnay, and Trebbiano Toscano, one of Italy’s most widely planted white wine grape varieties. Greco Bianco and Malvasia Bianca hold the local end up, despite their proportions being limited to 20% and 10% respectively.

The red and rose wines are made from the classic Calabrian red variety Gaglioppo and its Sicilian counterpart Nerello Cappuccio, from the volcanic vineyards around Mount Etna.

The title of DOC was introduced in 1994, just after San Vito di Luzzi, from the Crati Valley further north in the hills. Its catchment area covers a relatively small patch of land previously untouched by a DOC, where the Savuto and Lamezia zones are separated by just a few miles of hills.

 

THE LAND OF THE WINE

The two municipalities where the vines lie are named Nocera Terinese and Falerna, and the latter has no relation to Falerna, home of Campania’s ancient Falernian wine. This is the Central Mediterranean coast of Calabria between the municipalities of Savuto and Lamezia Terme.

The vineyards occupy the high plateau between the two villages. Here is home to the majority of Scavigna’s wine production.

The soil is located in front of the Tyrrhenian Sea, here the large Sila Plateau is a vital factor in creating the viticulturally suited microclimate, because the volume of water surrounding the Calabrian peninsula helps to moderate the intense heat of south Italian.  The water also helps generate morning breezes as the land warms up, and afternoon breezes as it cools down later in the day.

This plateau, approximately 1.5 miles across, basks in the southern Italian sun, cooled slightly by the presence of the Tyrrhenian Sea below.

It is densely covered by vineyards, which run right to the top of its steep slopes. The northernmost vines perch at just over 2000ft (610m) and peer down into the valley below, where Nocera Terinese village is located.

The soil is calcareous clay and the training system is Guyot. The harvest takes place in late August and the wine is fermented in stainless steel tanks. The wine had flavors and aromas of white peaches with notes of herbs and grass.

 

THE GRAPES

The grape variety grown here is the Gaglioppo, much like in any other Calabrian vineyard facing the sea. Gaglioppo is a very ancient grapevine, probably of Greek origin, that thrives in dry climates. Its grapes ripen very slowly and are therefore high in sugar content. They yield a soft wine that is vinous and fruity, and high in alcohol content.

The soil can make also white, rose and red from all the typical local grape varieties. Reds and rose wines are usually a blend of Aglianico, Magliocco and Marcigliana while whites are produced with international varieties such as Traminer, Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Italian Riesling. These can be supplemented with local varieties and these are now used in increasing amounts.

In any case, the most important wine of the Scavigna D.O.C. appellation is a red made mostly with Gaglioppo and a small proportion of Nerello Cappuccio grapes. It is full-bodied, velvety, mellow, elegant and refined. It is best served with roast meat and savory Mediterranean dishes.

The rose’ variety is lighter and more supple. It is obtained from the same grapes that are used in making the Scavigna Rosso.

The white variety, on the other hand, is made with Trebbiano Toscano, Greco Bianco and Malvasia grapes. The D.O.C. regulation allows the vintners to add up to 30% of Chardonnay grapes in making Scavigna Bianco.

 

Donnici wine: the heart of Crati Valley

17.1.2018

 

THE VALLEY OF WINE

The Donnici DOC is located inside a large zone, starting from the south of Cosenza on the western slopes of the La Sila plateau, and arriving until the valley of the “Crati” river. This valley represents the sole outlet of the basin created by the surrounding mountains. Its wine well represents the beating heart of that magnificent Mediterranean gastronomy which Calabria owns.

The strategic position of the valley, as route through the mountains, well explain why all invaders of Calabria decided to pass through this natural way, to stay here and to make grow many vineyards.

The production of so-called “Donnici DOC” inside the valley is mainly red wine, made from Gaglioppo with some blending of Greco Nero and Mantonico Nero.

Anyway, DOC area is larger; Donnici is produced in a large winemaking area that extends from the western slopes of the Sila Mountains to the shores of the Tyrrhenian Sea. Output is concentrated in the valley of the Crati, which extends toward the north, and in that of the Savuto River, which extends toward the south. However, the Crati district is the more important of the two.

Such red-grape varieties as Gaglioppo and Greco Nero are cultivated in the valley of the Crati. Among the white-grape breeds, the Montonico and Malvasia are the most important, along with the recently introduced Pecorello.

The wine produced in that larger area has a medium body and ranges in color from ruby to cherry red. The vineyards are located at altitudes varying from 300 to 600 meters above sea level. Nowadays, the production area includes the territories of various municipalities in the province of Cosenza.

Anyway, the name of the vineyards comes from a little estate perched on a broad knoll of land, the village of Donnici. Here the vineyards are cultivated in the sunniest areas of the estate, refreshed by the winds blowing from the Sila and protected by century-old olive trees.

 

DIFFERENT TYPES OF DONNICI WINE

The original classification as DOC of 1975 describes this excellent wine as coming from the Hills south of Cosenza, red color or bright red, dry, fresh, with good body and pleasantly winy aroma. Alcohol is 12%; aging is two to three years, at least six months in wood. Perfect with roasts.

There is also a white wine, dry, perfect for all meals, and a “Rosé” (Rose color), dry.

Given that Donnici is sub-region of the Terre di Cosenza DOC, in the Calabria region of deepest southern Italy, it is natural that it was absorbed by the larger area of “Terre di Cosenza” in 2011, along with its neighbors Pollino, San Vito di Luzzi and Verbicaro.

However, the Donnici DOC was originally introduced in April 1975 and got a distinctive wine appellation and near the town of Donnici has an intense color, different from that of the larger area of DOC.

At the moment, wines made under the larger area of “Terre di Cosenza Donnici” title come in red, white and rosé (rosato) forms, but they are made from various blends of Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nocera and Calabrese (Nero d’Avola), their white counterparts use the Greco Bianco, Malvasia Bianca and Ansonica, the red (rosso) wines are sometimes made in a novello style, similar to that of Beaujolais Nouveau, the “riserva” wine must be at least two years old before commercial release, and have spent at least six months in barrel.

The wines made from vineyards around Cosenza, in the upper Crati River Valley, are partially protected by the western slopes of the Sila Grande plateau. That slopes and peaks, which create a sheltered environment in which to grow the vines, surround all vineyards, giving a natural protection to the plants.

Most Donnici vineyards take advantage of the slightly increased altitude here, and vines are planted between 1300ft and 1975ft (400m and 600m) above sea level.

The minor proximity of the Mediterranean is important to the terroir; the intense heat is moderated only by the wind, but it suffices to avoid fungal diseases.

 

TABLES OF FEATURES

Calabria gastronomy owns the following Donnici labels:

  • Donnici Bianco, White wine, Alcohol 11.0%, white with yellow or greenish glint, fresh, winey, pleasant, distinctive, dry, full, harmonic, and sometimes fruity. Grapes: Greco Bianco 0.0%-30.0%, Malvasia Bianca 0.0%-30.0%, Montonico Bianco 50.0%-100.0%.
  • Donnici Rosso Novello, Red wine, Alcohol 12.0%, ruby red to cherry red, winey, pleasant, full, dry, harmonic. Grapes: Gaglioppo 50.0%-100.0%, Greco 0.0%-10.0%, Greco Nero 10.0%-50.0%, Malvasia Bianca 0.0%-10.0%, Montonico Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Pecorello 0.0%-10.0%.
  • Donnici Rosato, Red wine, Alcohol 11.0%, pink more or less intense, distinctive, soft, fresh, harmonic. Grapes: Gaglioppo 50.0%-100.0%, Greco Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Greco Nero N. 10.0% -50.0%, Malvasia Bianca B. 0.0%-10.0%, Montonico Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Pecorello 0.0%-10.0%.
  • Donnici Rosso, Red wine, Alcohol 12.0%, ruby red to cherry, winey, pleasant
    full, dry, harmonic. Grapes: Gaglioppo 50.0%-100.0%, Greco Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Greco Nero 10.0%-50.0%, Malvasia Bianca 0.0%-10.0%, Montonico Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Pecorello 0.0%-10.0%.
  • Donnici Rosso “Riserva”, Red wine, Alcohol 12.0%, ruby red to cherry red, winey, pleasant, full, dry, harmonic. Grapes: Gaglioppo 50.0%-100.0%, Greco Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Greco Nero 10.0%-50.0%, Malvasia Bianca 0.0%-10.0%, Montonico Bianco 0.0%-10.0%, Pecorello 0.0%-10.0%.