2014 Nasciri ‘Sognai’ Calabrese Nero
Region: Calabria < Italy
Grapes: Calabrese Nero
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Certified organic farming with biodynamic/regenerative practices; clay-limestone soils, 50 yr old vines, fermented and aged concrete; bottled unfined/unfiltered with no added So2; zero-zero; 13.5%
Winemaker: Domenico and Francesca (no surnames)
If you think of Italy as a boot, Calabria is the toe, divided from Sicily by the narrow Strait of Messina and jutting out between the Ionian and the Tyrrhenian Seas. It’s a hot region tempered by sea breezes and cool air flowing down from the mountains, where ancient Greeks cultivated the first grapevines and made wine. Sadly the region has struggled with serious corruption, mafia control and poverty, preventing the growth of the quality wine industry and dooming it’s bottles to obscurity.
A young Calabrian couple Domenico and Francesca started Nasciri Azienda Agricola to regenerate the land and help raise the profile of Calabrian wine -- in fact, Nasciri means “born” in the local dialect. The two have 20 hectares total, with only 7 under vine, because biodiversity is key to the notion of regenerative farming. The rest is olive trees and forest, and they also make beautiful olive oil. The ‘Sognai’ is their long-aged Calabrese Nero, a local variety that is the Calabrian cousin to Sicily’s Nero d’Avola. Like everything else in this region, it is very old school -- rusty, brick red in color, this wine is lean and herbal, a bit reminiscent of a light amaro, with burnished leather, sweet cherries, black plums, orange peel and serious dry tannins. Chill slightly and serve with spicy tomato-based pasta or sausages. So good paired with anything sprinkled with Calabrian chili flakes!
SERVE SLIGHTLY CHILLED