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From the toe of the boot
Librandi 1999 Cirò Rosso Classico

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From the toe of the boot

Let's stay in Southern Italy for today's wine report, taking a short trip from Campania, the source of yesterday's Greco di Tufo, to the ancient land called Calabria.

To help visualize this part of the world, recall that Italy is shaped like a tall, slender boot. Campania (around Naples and Mount Vesuvius) is its instep. Calabria is the toe of the boot, poised as if to punt the football-shaped island that is Sicily.

With a heritage that goes back to the ancient Greeks, Calabria's oldest, largest and best-known wine region is Cirò ("Chee-roe"), surrounding the village of the same name. Cirò comes in all three colors, Bianco (white), Rosato (rosé) and Rosso (red). The red is generally considered best, and the only Cirò that's widely exported. It's made from an indigenous grape called Gaglioppo ("Gahl-yo-poe"), although - like Chianti and many other Italian reds - it may include a dash of white grapes in the blend.

Consistent with other Italian wine regions, the wines made from grapes grown in the more desirable central section may add "Classico" on the label.

Today's wine from the Librandi winery is made entirely from Gaglioppo. Produced from vineyards totaling 900 acres, nearly 500,000 bottles were made, and it is exported internationally.

Like yesterday's Greco di Tufo, this grape won't likely be mistken for international varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon or Merlot; ripe and plummy fruit tells of its warm-climate origin, and more than a whiff of "earthy," "horsey" aromas bespeak a bit of brettanomyces (see the March 15 Wine Advisor, "What is that smell?). But it's an interesting, "rustic" red, fine at the table, and if you enjoy discovering different wine regions and grape varieties as much as I do, you'll want to look for Cirò.

Ciro Librandi 1999 Cirò Rosso Classico ($9.49)

Clear, dark ruby color. Ripe plummy fruit and distinct "barnyard" character, earthy and "horsey." Earthy on the palate, too; sweet plums and soft, fresh-fruit acidity. Thoroughly enjoyable ... assuming you like reds in a "rustic" style. U.S. importer: Winebow Inc., NYC; Leonardo Locascio Selections. (April 24, 2002)

FOOD MATCH: A "white" pizza with fresh morels and Italian sausage on ricotta, mozzarella and Parmigiano made a natural partner with the wine's earthy fruit.

VALUE: Appropriately priced near $10.

WEB LINK: You'll find the winery's English-language page on this wine at
For the importer's fact sheet, click to


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Thursday, April 25, 2002
Copyright 2002 by Robin Garr. All rights reserved.

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