Sergio Arcuri 2016 Ciro Classico Superiore 'Aris'

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ITCLRSAAR16B
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Sergio Arcuri is perhaps Calabria's only outstanding producer of red wines. He is based in the DOC of Cirò where the grape variety of Gaglioppo is king. The wine bears remarkable similarity to top end Barolo for its fragrant notes of dried rose petals, dark berries, dried figs and prunes. The wine is remarkably fresh and lively with great acidity and framed with powerful, but ripe tannins.

The wine is made partly from a vineyard planted in 1948 with the remainder from vines planted in 1980, always from bush vines (Alberello) and it certified organic. Sergio eschews the use of sulphur dioxide in his winemaking, and this wine spends 18 month ageing in an underground cement tank.

If there is a better producer of wine in the south of Italy, we want to hear about it

The Wine Region

Calabria

Calabria

Calabria is the toe of Italy's boot and at its narrowest point it is only a few KMs from Sicily, across the Straits of Messina. The region has been synonymous with wine production prior to the time of the Greeks, notably by a tribe known as the Oenotri, the vine-cultivators, from around 1500 BC. The region has seen much turmoil through eras of invasion and occupation, with its politics and economy now strangled by the ever-present 'Ndrangheta, a particularly unpleasant syndicate of the Mafia. Despite its savage past, and present, it is a stunningly beautiful region surrounded by the azure waters of the Ionian and Tyrrhenian Seas.

Only a small portion of the region's wine production is dedicated to DOC: its vast majority being sold as bulk wine. However, for the small amount that there is, much of it is of high quality and of sufficient local authenticity to merit Noble Grape's scrutiny. Even more so, there is one DOC that sets our passions aflame, namely Cirò. This DOC is a mere 370 hectares, noted for its distinctive, native variety - Gaglioppo - which bears a striking resemblance to Nebbiolo. There has been a resurgence of quality in this region, led by a small band of artisan producers, but also some half decent medium-sized producers, whose wines are not so difficult to find, with a little bit of searching. What are more difficult to happen across are the guys like Sergio Arcuri who is just about Noble Grape's favourite producer in the south of Italy.

The Producer

Arcuri

Sergio Arcuri

Ciro is the largest DOC in Calabria, a region of around 370 hectares and its greatest claim to fame is being the spiritual home of the quite distinctive black grape variety Gaglioppo. This variety bears a striking resemblance to the Nebbiolo grape variety of Barolo and Barbaresco, so much so that in the old days, Gaglioppo was illicitly shipped up north to enrich the weaker vintages of the aforementioned wines of Piedmont.

In my search for wines that express, what I call, 'authenticity of style', I happened across the wines of Sergio Arcuri during a masterclass on the wines of Calabria. Never before have I been as taken with a wine that was not previously been on my radar, than with this. So much so that I immediately googled and emailed Sergio Arcuri to tell him how much I admired his wine, and to enquire how could I get hold of it. A few months later, we have it and we are thrilled to introduce it to you.

Sergio is a fourth generation winemaker in Calabria and is very proud of his family's viticultural heritage and that of his vines. The basis of his estate is one hectare of vines planted in 1948 with a further 2 hectares planted in 1980. One further hectare planted in 2005 from which he makes his rose. The vines are simply grown with no training, Alberello as they say down there, and they are grown organically.

The wine undergoes a short maceration in cement, then followed by 18 months of ageing in an underground cement tank where it develops it hauntingly beautiful aromatics.

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