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%.

Lamezia Wine: the Phoenician culture of wine

15.1.2018

Traditionally, a gastronomy like that of Calabria does not contain fragrances so intense and complex like Lamezia wine. This wine, with its dark notes of black cherry, plum, cocoa, tobacco, Indian ink and spices, must be considered an exception.

The taste of this wine is balanced and soft, showing dark and red fruits with a little spice. It is quite strange in the panorama of Mediterranean vines finding a cultivation (it is around the town of Lamezia Terme)  both so old, dating back to 2000 BC, when the Phoenicians introduced it along the coasts of Calabria, and at the same time so rich of different grapes. The blend (mentioning only the main presence) is made of approx. 40%Gaglioppo, 40% Greco Nero, and 20% Nerello Cappuccio, all coming from the DOC area of Lamezia Calabria. Namely, the red Lamezia account for the majority of production and is made also from Sicilian red varieties Nerello Mascalese and Nerello Capuccio, accompanied by local reds such as Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nocera and Calabrese (Nero d’Avola). The white Lamezia uses Greco Bianco, Malvasia Bianca and Ansonica grapes. Finally, the Lamezia “rosato” wine is made from the same varieties as the reds, but combined with some white grapes, which are relatively scarce, making up only a small percentage of the DOC’s output.

 

THE LAND

There is an interruption in the chain of southern Apennines, and here, after the mountains run almost unbroken for 150 miles between central Campania and Lamezia, there is a vast plain spanning less than 20 miles (30km) between the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts.

This area is relatively flat, when compared with the Sila plateau to the north, which rises to almost 6000ft (1830m), and the winds sweep from west to east, across the Mediterranean, and blow through the narrow gap in the mountains.

Here, the wines are made at vineyards which lie just south of Lamezia Terme, a town near the western Calabrian coast, and these wines, made under the Lamezia DOC, are red, white and rose (rosato).

The sea is near and the proximity of the seawaters of Mediterranean is important to the land, helping to temper the heat and reduce it to such a measure to soften the Calabrian climate and make grow vines in an optimal way.

Further, some Lamezia vineyards take advantage of the slightly increased altitude at the edges of the DOC area, where the hillsides between Maiolino extend up into the hills near Falerna.

Conclusively, despite the long history of Lamezia wines, coming, before the Greek era, from a Phoenician root, they remain relatively unknown, a problem from which other Calabria DOCs also suffer. Surely, Lamezia is a DOC, absolutely recognized in Italy since its introduction in December 1978 (a few months before the Melissa DOC), but its export is minimal.

 

FEATURES

 

Apart from a “Novello” (a young wine), only available in the category of “rosso” wines (an early-release, early-drinking style similar to that of Beaujolais Nouveau), Lamezia owns a large spectrum of white, red, “rosé” and reserve wines.

Normally, a “Lamezia rosso” is at least two years old before commercial release, and has spent at least six months of that time in barrel.

 

TABLE OF MAIN LAMEZIA LABELS

  • Lamezia Rosso is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified as Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 12.0%. Color: cherry red more or less intense. Flavor: winey, fruity, dry, well-balanced, harmonic.
  • Lamezia Rosato is an Italian wine rated DOC and classified as Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 11.5%. Color: pink more or less intense. Flavor: soft, clear, dry.
  • Lamezia Rosso Reserve is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 12.0%. Color: cherry red more or less intense. Flavor: winey, sometimes fruity, dry, well-balanced, harmonic.
  • Lamezia Novello is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified as Red wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 12.0%. Color: cherry red more or less intense. Flavor: winey, sometimes fruity, dry, well-balanced, harmonic.
  • Lamezia Bianco is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified as White wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 11.0%. Color: straw yellow. Flavor: winey, pleasant, clear. Taste: dry, velvety, full. Main Grapes: Greco Bianco 0.0%-50.0%, Malvasia Bianca B. 0.0%-20.0%, Trebbiano Toscano B. 0.0%-40.0%.
  • Lamezia Greco is an Italian wine, rated DOC and classified White wine, since 1978. Alcohol: 11.0%. Color: straw yellow. Flavor: fresh, clear, dry, harmonic. Main Grapes: Greco Bianco 85.0%-100.0%.