Cirò, from Calabria: The Perfect Pairing for Roast Lamb

Charles Scicolone (July 12, 2017)
Calabria lies at the “toe” of the Italian peninsula. A mountainous region, it is bordered by Basilicata to the north and by the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas. Ninety percent of Calabria’s wine production is red and most of it is made from the Gaglioppo grape. This variety was once believed to be of Greek origin but recent research seems to point to it coming from another part of Italy.

Cirò Classico is produced in two different parts of Calabria. Cirò is the name of the ancient town on the hill that gives the wine its name, while Cirò Marina is on the coast. The wine region is located in the eastern foothills of the Sila Mountains and extends to the Ionian coast. The soil here is mainly calcareous marl with some clay and sand deposits.

The most important wine is the Cirò Riserva from the classico zone in the Crotone province. The wine must be made from 95% Gaglioppo grapes and the remaining 5% Trebbiano and Greco bianco. However most producers use 100% percent Gaglioppo

Many producers use the albero basso training system (low bush vines), which they think produces the best grapes. Because of the shape of the vines, harvesting must be done by hand. Some producers are now switching to more economical vine training methods which may not produce the best grapes. Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva is the best red wine that Calabria has to offer. The wine must be aged at least two years before it enters the market and at least 6 months must be in oak barrels.

The region’s winemakers also produce Cirò Rosso Classico and Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore.  

Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva is tannic and full-bodied with good structure and up to 14% alcohol. There are hints of blackberries, blueberries, cherries, plum, leather and spice. Some can be very robust and can last for 10 years or more. Most are priced under $20. They are a perfect combination with meat dishes such as roast lamb.

Where to find them in NYC

Astor Wine & Spirits

399 Lafayette Street 

New York, NY, 10003 

(212) 674-7500

In Vino Veritas

1375 1st Avenue

New York, NY, 10021 

(212) 288-0100