Eye: Clear, deep orange rose color.
Nose: Clean, medium + intensity. very herbal up front with clear notes of orange rind.
Mouth: The flavor is not fruity, primarily herbal. Plenty of mouthwatering acidity, just not bracingly tart.
Swordfish and Cirò from the Land of Scylla and Charybdis #ItalianFWT
#ItalianFWT visits Calabria
Every one of the twenty regions of Italy produces wine, and our Italian Food, Wine & Travel group has visited (virtually) all the well known regions. In our quest to truly understand Italy, we are also visiting the lesser known regions, and Calabria is right up there in the “What? Never heard of it” zone. In fact, it’s a great test for the breadth and depth of your local wine shop’s Italian selection. Got any wine from Calabria?
Calabria – Between a Rock and a Hard Place
Calabria forms the toe of the boot of Italy, poised to kick Sicily into Spain. It seems to be a lost region of Italy, rarely visited even though it has both mountains and a long and varied coastline on two seas.
It also seems appropriate that the Straits of Messina, which separate Calabria from Sicily, would be the home of two monsters in Homer’s Odyssey: Scylla and Charybdis. Scylla was a six headed sea monster living on the Calabria side of the straits, and Charybdis was a ship-eating whirlpool over on the Sicily side. This is the literary source of one of our most used idioms of the “damned if you do, damned if you don’t” situation also known as “between a rock and a hard place!” This is Calabria, between the popular mainland regions and the island paradise of Sicily.
Six-headed sea monsters aside, seafood plays into Calabrian cuisine in a multitude of ways. Swordfish abound in the nearby waters, and you’d likely be offered some in a seaside restaurant in Calabria. Our swordfish dish today hails from the town of Bagnara, not far from Scylla’s lair.
Calabrian Wine – Cirò
The only DOC wine of note in Calabria is Cirò, which may be white, rosato or red. There are only a few winegrowers who have distribution in the US, Librandi and Ippolito. Cirò Bianco is made primarily from the Greco Bianco grape, thought to be originally of Greek origin. Cirò Rosso and Rosato are both made primarily from the Gaglioppo grape, also rarely seen outside southern Italy. Recent DNA testing suggests Gaglioppo is a native of this region of Italy.
Cantine Ippolito Res Dei Cirò Bianco DOC ($16 at South Lyndale Liquors)
From the winery:
Site: Sandy-limey flats near the Ionian Sea, very close to sea level, often flooded in the winter.
Grapes: 100% Greco Bianco – a different Greco from that found in Greco di Tufo.
Fermentation and Aging: Stainless steel.
Notes: The name “Res Dei” is a nod to historical records which claimed that Greco was “a thing of the gods”. The wine has a beautiful floral aspect, abundant richness on the pallet, and wonderful texture.
Eye: Clear, pale lemon yellow, traces of petillance
Nose: Clean, medium intensity nose of floral (white blossoms) and citrus (lemon)
Mouth: Refreshing white wine with flavors of lemons and a bit of mineral. Lively acidity and a nice length to the finish.
Librandi Cirò Rosato 2014 ($11 at Zipps Liquors)
From the winery:
Vinification: in thermo-conditioned stainless steel, with bleeding and brief maceration
Ageing: in stainless steel, with an additional bottle ageing of a few months before marketing
Cantine Ippolito Liber Pater Cirò Rosso DOC 2011 ($15 from Sunfish Cellars)
From the winery:
Grapes: 100% Gaglioppo, dry farmed, hand harvested. Ippolito is the last winery in the zone to harvest, so fruit is picked pretty ripe.
Fermentation and Aging: Given an 8-10 day cold-soak to extract aromatics without bitter tannin, then fermented and macerated in cement vats for about another 7 days until alcoholic fermentation is complete. Fined for 8 months in French barriques (a small part new).
Cirò Classico status is conferred upon wines from the heart of the zone of Cirò and Cirò Marina. Superiore means 1º extra alcohol, a minimum of 13.5%. The name “Liber Pater” or free father is a latin reference to the wine-god Bacchus.
Eye: Clear, deep medium garnet.
Nose: Aromas of dried fruit (raisins), sweet herbs (thyme), oak (cedar box). The nose carries a bit of heat from the alcohol.
Mouth: Flavors reflect the nose: raisins, not jammy but definitely dried fruit, herbs. This is a bold wine with lots of tannins and a medium finish.
Pairing Cirò Wines with Steamed Swordfish
I wasn’t at all surprised the Cirò Rosso wine was much too big and bold for the swordfish dish. I was just having fun trying all three Cirò DOC wines at the same time. If you only want to drink big red wines, you could drink the Cirò Rosso with the fish, it just wouldn’t enhance it in any way. The Cirò Bianco was quite nice with the vegetables and the lemony flavors accompanying the swordfish. The bright flavor of all those capers overpowered the Cirò Bianco a bit. On the whole it was very nice, but just a bit overwhelmed. Just like Goldilocks, the Cirò Rosato was just right. Bigger flavors and even just a touch tannic, it was a perfect foil for the pronounced flavors of the capers but didn’t overpower anything in the dish.
Other ItalianFWT Discoveries from Calabria
Take a look at some of the foods and wines explored by our other members below.
Confessions of a Culinary Diva – Exploring Gaglioppo & Aglianico
Enofylz Wine Blog – Calabrian Gaglioppo Paired with Lamb Chops Calabria Style
Food Wine Click – Swordfish and Ciro from the Land of Scylla and Charybdis
The Wining Hour – Calabria: Sun, Sea and Ciro Bianco
Ingredients Instructions We served our swordfish with another recipe from Lidia’s cookbook: poached eggplant, onions, and potatoes. The swordfish would be wonderful with a wide variety of contorni (vegetable side dishes).
Steamed Swordfish Bagnara Style
We served our swordfish with another recipe from Lidia’s cookbook: poached eggplant, onions, and potatoes. The swordfish would be wonderful with a wide variety of contorni (vegetable side dishes).
In researching Scylla and Charybdis, I found these two made their way into this old favorite from the Police. Listen for it in the second line of the opening lyrics: