Enrico Battista of Soilair Selections invited me to a tasting and lunch at Restaurant Il Gattopardo in NYC to taste the wines of Cantina Vincenzo Ippolito, one of the most important and oldest wineries in Calabria in Southern Italy.
Calabria is located in the toe of the Italian boot and has both an eastern coastlne on the Tyrhennian Sea and a western coastline on the Bay of Taranto. Cantina Vincenzo Ippolito is located on the east coast of Calabria in the historic center of Marina of Ciro and it is the oldest winery in Calabria. There are 100 hectares of vineyards that go from the mountains to the plains near the Ionian Sea. Vincenzo said that his great, great grandfather Vincenzo Ippolito founded the winery in 1845. The land is worked by organic farming methods with the objective is to limit erosion and to preserve biodiversity. The only grow autochthonous grapes and all the wines at the tasting are certified organic.
Ippolito 1845, Maria Chiaro Cirò Bianco DOC 2018 made from 100% Greco Bianco. The soil is sand and limestone, the vines are 15 years old, with a southeast exposure and the training system is cordone speronato and alberello (bush or little trees). Vincenzo said because it is very hot in Calabria they have to harvest once in August when the grapes have more acidity and once in September where the grapes have more sugar. The final blend depends on the vintage. Fermentation is in steel tanks and the wine ages only in stainless steel on the lees for about 4 months. The wine has hints of pear, peach, white flowers and a touch of herbs.
Ippolito 1845, “Pecorello” Calabria Bianco IGT 2018 made from 100% Pecorello Bianco. Vincenzo said Pecorello means little sheep. It is an ancient grape variety of Calabria and was almost extinct until Ippolito began producing it again. Manual harvest takes place in early September, then cold settling and fermentation in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks until the end of January. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with notes of peach and pear and nice minerality.
Cantine Vincenzo Ippolito, “Pescanera” Calabria Rosé IGT 2018 made from 100% Greco Nero which Vincenzo said was a local grape from Calabria. The grapes come from the best vineyards on the coast and after a manual harvest are soft pressed without any maceration. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of strawberries and raspberries with citrus notes and a touch of wild flowers. Vincenzo said that Rosé wines have a long history in Calabria and Ippolito was one of the first to produce them.
Ippolito 1845, “Liber Pater” Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore 2017 made from 100% Gaglioppo from 35-40 year vines at 250 meters with a southern exposure. Fermentation is in stainless steel tanks with a long maceration. The wine is aged for 10 months in French oak barrels. Vincenzo said the barriques are 4 to 5 years old. This is a full-bodied wine with hints of red berries, violets, spice and a slight touch of oak.
Schiaffoni con salsa d’ Anduja. Schiaffoni is a local pasta specialty, with sauce made with anduja, a soft, spicy sausage. Vincenzo said this dish is typical from Calabria but it is not typical of the eastern part of Calabria where the winery is located. Carne dei Pastori — Sheperd’s style pork was the main course.
Ippolito 1845, Calabrese Rosso IGT 2018 made from 100% Calabrise at 0 to 250 meters and the exposure is south/southeast. The training system is pruned-spur cordon (Cordone Speronato) and head trained (Alberello). There is a long maceration on the skins after which the wine ages in stainless steel tanks for 7 months and then it is bottled to preserve the fruitiness of the wine. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of black cherries, plums and a touch of black pepper.
Ippolito 1847, Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva “Colli Del Mancusco” 2015 made from 100% Gagalioppo. The soil is clay; the vines are 50 years old and are at 350 meters. Exposure is southwest. The grapes are left on the vines until the second half of October and there is a careful selection of the grapes. Fermentation is in stainless steel with a long maceration of 20 days on the skins. The wine is aged for one and half years in tonneaux (500 liter oak barrels). The wine has hints of plums, cherries, licorice and spice with a long finish and pleasing aftertaste. Vincenzo said this was the first single vineyard (cru) wine in Calabria (1989).
Ippolito 1845,Calabria Rosso IGT “160 Anni” 2015 made from 100% Gaglioppo from 20 year old vines. After harvesting the grapes are dried on mats for 30 days followed by a traditional vinification. The wine is aged for 2 years in tonneaux. The wine has hints of berries, raisins, violets and sweet spice.
Ippolito 1845,Cirò Rosso Classico Superiore Riserva DOC “Ripe del Falco” 2010 made from 100% Gaglioppo from a vineyard more than 40 years old. The best grapes are selected. The vineyard is at 315 meters and the exposure is southeast. The training system is Alberello. There is 18-20 days of maceration on the skins. Followed by fermentation in cement tanks. The wine is aged for 2 years in Tonneaux followed by 5 to 6 years in stainless steel and a least 1-year in bottle before release. The is an elegant complex wine with hints of dried rose petals, berries, licorice, leather and spice, a long finish and very pleasing aftertaste.