Bivongi Wine: a protected denomination (DOC)

15.1.2021

If you hear of a delicious white, red or “Rosè” wine, coming from the town of Bivongi, you are talking about  a rare Bivongi “Bianco” (an Italian word meaning “white wine”), an authentic Mediterranean and Calabrian wine rated DOC (a so called protected denomination, acronym of “Denominazione di Origine Controllata”).

The white version of this wine is relatively rare. The red and rosè wines represent the majority of production (Bivongi “Rosso” is two years old before commercial release, of course after six months in barrel). The latter are made from grapes of Gaglioppo, Greco Nero, Nocera and Calabrese (Nero d’Avola). The white comes from Greco Bianco, Malvasia Bianca and Ansonica grapes.

The Bivongi wine is Sparkling when white, intense when red or rosè, and it is rated DOC since 1996. Bivongi DOC was formed in that year (1996) to represent the small amount of hectares planted way down on the east coast of Calabria’s toe shaped peninsula, while the more famous Ciro is on the north of the same coast and the Greco di Bianco DOC is just on the south.

Here main features of Bivongi DOC (the white wine, the best):

  • Alcool 10.5%,
  • Color: straw yellow,
  • Flavour: winey, pleasant,
  • Taste: dry, harmonic, fruity. It should be served at 45º – 49º Fahrenheit, 8º – 10º Celsius (perfect for Seafood in general).

According the official regulations, Bivongi white wine can be produced with varying blends of Greco, Montonico Bianco, Ansonica and Malvasia. Red wine is made with Gaglioppo and / or Greco Nero, while some Castiglione, Nero d’Avola and Nocera are also permitted.

THE LAND OF THE WINE

The white wine, the red and rosè versions are all produced inside the small cluster of hills on south of Catanzaro.

Further Bivongi DOC wine is produced in an area that includes 11 municipalities between the province of Reggio Calabria and the one of Catanzaro. The area has a high potential in wine production since the ancient Magna Graecia, creating a great impact on the local economy. Precisely, the production zone of Bivongi DOC includes the villages of Bivongi, Camini, Caulonia, Monasterace, Pazzano, Placanica, Riace, Stignano and Stilo in the Province of Reggio Calabria, and the village of Guardavalle in Province of Catanzaro.

No surprise that Bivongi wine has remained relatively unknown in the wine world outside Italy, given that introduction of the DOC title is only 1996. Further, another reason for being ignored is that the wine is made from vineyards in the municipalities of Bivongi, Caulonia, Monasterace, Riace and Stilo, and all of these are cut off, inside the Reggio Calabria province, from the main national wine trade; explaining why the wine is normally for local use.

Now, the area, where geographically the vineyards, are planted is the zone forming the ball of Italy’s ‘foot’, an area signed by coastal hills, the “Serre” mountain chain and the rivers, which flow towards the Ionian Sea. Therefore, due to the mountains nearby, the vineyards of Bivongi wines are located on the eastern side of the hills (in an area with a more temperate climate), mostly among the lower slopes and within a few miles of the sea. The proximity of the Mediterranean Sea is important to the terroir, but, at the same time, the producers are far from main communication routes. Therefore, this delicious and authentic Mediterranean wine is a real hidden treasure.

The mesoclimate of the area helps the high quality of the grapes. Namely, the sea helps to moderate the intense heat of the south Italian summer, and the alternation of cooling and heating generates during the day morning and afternoon breezes, which minimize the risk of fungal vine diseases. The special mesoclimatic area is large and covers Guardavalle, a municipality in the colder north of Catanzaro province.

The climatic conditions at Bivongi are magnificent, while inside the DOC Zone the other nine municipalities in the provinces of Reggio Calabria and Catanzaro, have refined, according to temperatures a little bit colder, the winemaking on the basis of traditional methods, obtaining a Bivongi wine based also on local grape varieties (such as the white Greco Bianco, Guardavalle and Montonico, and the red Gaglioppo, Greco Nero and Calabrese).

BRIEF NOTES ON BIVONGI TOWN

Bivongi is a charming little town in the north of the province of Reggio Calabria, only 8 miles from the Ionian Sea. In the past, Bivongi was better known for the woodcarving skills of its inhabitants, for its iron, silver and molybdenum mines, and for its thermal baths. Afterwards, its fame increased due to its mulberry trees, the production of wool, and its silkworm farms (called “vomvix” in Greek and believed to be at the origin of Bivongi’s name).

After this fascinating past, the village is nowadays situated on the slopes of Mount Consolino, where Bivongi dominates a valley rich with vineyards and olive groves, and crossed by the River Stilaro.

San Nicola Arcella and its Famous Tower

2.10.2020

There is a beatiful Saracen tower in San Nicola Arcella, which represents the typical beautiful integration of nature and culture in the scenery of such wonderful Mediterranean place.

The tower was renamed Crawford for the literary stays of Francis Marion Crawford…and we solicit you to travel and see the beauty of this land, San Nicola Arcella, enjoying both the trip and the delicious food and beverage of Calabria…

The sea and the tower

FRANCIS MARION CRAWFORD

American poet and writer, who for 25 years chose the tower as his “summer retreat“, Crawford was a distinguished gentleman. He could speak Calabrian very well and, nowadays, the periods spent by Crawford to San Nicola Arcella are being studied for a more precise reconstruction of his life and works.

F.M. Crawford

Born in Bagni di Lucca in 1854, he moved to Sorrento from 1855 until 1909. Fervid and prolific mind has been rediscovered in recent years and re-evaluated with numerous conferences. Author of books of terror, he wrote several ones after his brilliant university career around the world. in fact, he came from a family of intellectuals and artists, was the son of the American sculptor Thomas Crawford and his mother, Louisa Cutler Ward, was the sister of the American poet Julia Ward Howe. We have also to mention that Crawford was a multifaceted author and connoisseur of 17 languages. He had had experiences in the United States and India, where he directed the newspaper “Allahabad Indian Herald” and had studied in US universities, in Cambridge and Concord, and then in Europe in Karlsruhe, Heidelberg and Rome.

His first novel is ‘Mr. Isaacs‘, a brilliant portrait of the life of an Englishman in India mixed with elements of mystery and romantic orientalism. The book was an immediate success! Then followed ‘Dr. Claudius‘ (1883). Also famous are the novels ‘Corleone‘ (1897), the first novel about the mafia and ‘The witch of Prague‘ (1901), an impressive Gothic. He wrote 45 novels in all, as well as numerous historical essays and plays. He loved Sorrento very much and stayed there to live.

His wonderful villa in Sorrento still exists.

This explains why he was deeply in love with Italy. After Sorrento He established his residence in Sant’Agnello and later in Calabria, in San Nicola Arcella, which he reached by sea with his American pilot boat “Alda“. In the 16th century lookout tower “San Nicola”, today called “Torre Crawford”, he lived for several years, drawing inspiration from this place for his conspicuous literary production, not exclusively linked to the “horror” genre for which he is known, especially for the short story “For the Blood is the life”, written and set in the tower.

The scenery of Crawford Tower

In any case, Crawford has been recognized in the Anglo-Saxon literary scene of his period among those writers of high rank, like William D. Howells, Henry James, Virginia Woolf, Rudyard Kipling. Among other things, on his most famous novels were based many films produced in the first half of the last century and interpreted by stars such as Clark Gable, Lillian Gish, Ronald Coleman.

THE SARACEN TOWER

…But let’s go back to the Tower of San Nicola Arcella. Built during the Spanish viceroyalty by Charles V to defend the coasts from Turkish attacks, it is located on a buttress to surveil and protect the bay.

A solid rock built tower

The high staircase leading to the first and second floors of the tower is one of the most important elements of the entire building. The stone blocks about 50 cm long and 20 cm wide are supported by two large superimposed arches. The first arch leads to the first floor, the second arch leads to the second floor.

Above the tower, the terrace was used to communicate and warn the other lookout towers about any incursion and this was done through large bonfires.

The colors of Mediterranean sea

For 25 years, as mentioned, the American writer spent his holidays making splendid forays with his sailboat. It was for the sea that he fell in love with this strip of Calabria and how to blame him: this sea is crystal-clear and has wonderful beaches.

He adored the Saracen tower, therefore wrote: “The tower stands alone on this hooked spur of the rock, and there is not a house to be seen within three miles of it. When I go there I take a couple of sailors, one of whom is a fair cook, and when I am away it is in charge of a gnome-like little being who was once a miner and who attached himself to me long ago…

A place for a tale

This is how the writer described the tower in the story ‘For the Blood is the life’. This was a vampire tale and was set in the tower of San Nicola Arcella!

Nowadays, the tower, after having changed several owners and risking becoming a nautical club and a restaurant, is owned by the Calia family of Naples, who have recently presented a project to transform it.

Deep colors of the Saracen Tower

THE LOCAL MEMORY OF CRAWFORD IN S. NICOLA ARCELLA

Until a few decades ago there was still someone in the historic center of the town (which at the time was called Casaletto), who remembered a staid and aristocratic Anglo-Saxon gentleman who came to spend the summer there to devote himself to writing.

A place where coming back…

The novelist often returned to San Nicola, where he completed one of his latest novels ‘The diva’s ruby’ (1907), staying there in search of places and traces of the medieval past of this area, an ideal setting for his stories steeped in mystery.

This is why you should visit the Place more than once!