Expecting either light, insipid wines or overripe “confettura”, I was stunned by the elegance, breed and complexity of the three red wines of the Du Cropio estate which we drank that night over dinner. It was enough to oblige me to catch a plane from Milan to Crotone in Calabria in March of 2012 to visit Giuseppe at the estate to confirm this phenomenon in situ. The town of Ciro Marina sits on the Ionian Sea facing Greece, the land from which the “local” grapes of this area originated, transported across the sea nearly 3000 years ago. The area remains primitive and raw in a certain sense with sea breezes cooling the zone and steep hillsides just meters inland that sit as a backdrop to the ocean setting and provide a challenging but compelling site for the vines of Galliopo, Malvasia Nera and Greco Nero.
Du Cropio in local dialect means “doctor of agronomy” and reflects the fact that the Ippolito family has long been involved in the growing of grapes in the region. The estate encompasses a total of thirty (30) hectares, eight (8) of which are on the plains immediately inland from and within the confines of the town of Ciro Marina and twenty-two of which are tucked into the hillsides surrounding the village of Ciro, several more miles inland and at a considerably higher elevation. The soil, a mix of clay and limestone, is poor with excellent drainage which is reinforced by the steeply sloped hillside vineyards, conditions that are ideal for producing small crops of highly concentrated fruit. Most of the grapes harvested at the estate are sold either at the time of harvest or as bulk wine thereafter. Then, the finest wines are kept to be vinified at the estate and sold as “Du Cropio”.
Three red wines are produced: a Calabria Rosso called “Serra Sanguigna”, a Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore known as “Dom Giuva” and a Ciro Rosso Riserva named “Damis”. The vineyards are maintained according to organic principles with some of the vineyards now being worked by horse and plow. At harvest, the grapes are crushed and undergo the primary fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless steel cuves; then, the wines are ultimately racked into large oak “botte” to age before being bottled. The wines are neither fined nor filtered and they are left to age further in bottle for 18 months before being released to the market.
|Serra Sanguigna Calabria Rosso: Serra Sanguigna is the name of a prime zone in the interior of the Ciro appellation that is not only particularly beautiful but is responsible for producing classic wines of the appellation. The hillside vineyards are planted to a mix of Gaglioppo, Malvasia Nera and Greco Nero and from there, on a clear day, one can see the entire Gulf of Taranto to the north and the Capocolonna promontory to the south. The “Serra Sanguigna” is generally composed of 70% Gaglioppo, 15% Malvasia Nera and 15% Greco Nero. It is the most rustic wine of the estate marked by a powerful plum-infused fruit, robust in weight, deep ruby in color and surprisingly lithe on the palate. An age-worthy wine, our first release of Serra Sanguigna is the 2008 vintage released to the market in 2012.|
|Dom Giuva Ciro Rosso Classico Superiore: A wine produced exclusively from the Gaglioppo grape (on occasion perhaps 5% Greco Nero may find its way into the blend), the Dom Giuva again captures the power of this dark-skinned and lusty grape while maintaining a scintillating brightness that keeps the wine surprisingly fresh. A wine of great length and persistence whose mark of distinction and class is best expressed by the hint of bitter cherry in the finish. The tannins are forceful yet graceful with a grainy texture and lush ripeness.|
|Damis Ciro Rosso Riserva: The Damis is the most profound wine of the domaine. Produced exclusively from the Gaglioppo grape planted to steep hillside vineyards above and around the village of Ciro in the hills above the sea, Damis is a selection of the best grapes from the harvest. The wine is dense, again showing the deep, plum-like fruit of the Gaglioppo. An extended fermentation is followed by a long “elevage” in large barrel. The wine is bottled without fining or filtration. It is most definitely a wine capable of aging gracefully. The Damis 2005 was placed on the market in 2012!|
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