🍷 Katarina takes us back to Calabria where she visited Tenuta del Conte, a winery in Cirò Marina, managed by Mariangela Parrilla and owned by her family.
🍷Tenuta del Conte – A Winery in Calabria🍷
The last few years, I have been going at least once a year to Calabria to visit friends but also to take the opportunity to visit different wineries.
This last summer, I was invited to several wineries in Calabria, from Cirò Marina to Bianco in the most southern part of the region. It turned out to be a very interesting holiday where I might not have managed to stay much at the beach, but I did learn a lot about wine…
One of the wineries I visited was Tenuta del Conte, which is a winery in Cirò Marina that is managed by Mariangela Parrilla and owned by her family.
Cirò Marina is a small town of about 14,000 inhabitants situated a bit north of Crotone in the northeastern part of Calabria, just by the Ionian Sea. It is a coastal town that dates back to the period of the Ancient Greek settlers who arrived in Calabria in the VII century B.C. Today the town is better known as the Città del Vino (the City of Wine).
It is here that the Tenuta del Conte is situated, right in the heart of the Cirò Doc district. This is an area where viticulture is a tradition that goes way back in history to the era of the Magna Grecia, just as in a large part of Calabria. In fact, the ancient Greeks highly valorized the extremely fertile soil for viticulture that they discovered in Calabria.
What strikes you when you visit this area is that almost everyone seems to belong to a family who owns at least a small vineyard, if not several vineyard lots spread around the countryside outside Cirò Marina.
Viticulture is indeed a tradition also in the Parrilla family where Francesco Parrilla, Mariangela’s father, has been working in the family vineyards for many years. The vines are like his children, and Mariangela told me that he still goes to work to oversee everything in the vineyards early every morning. Francesco came with us when Mariangela brought me to have a look at different parts of their vineyards, and it was fascinating to learn about his knowledge as well as his passion for the vines.
The grape variety with a big G here is the Gaglioppo. For white wines, the main native grape is the Greco Bianco. According to the regulations, red Cirò Doc wines must contain at least 80% Gaglioppo (until recently it was 100%). The rest can be a maximum 20% of other regional red grapes or a mix of regional red grapes and max 10% of grape varieties such as Barbera, Cabernet Franc, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sangiovese, and Merlot.
🍷A New Era at Tenuta del Conte Winery
Mariangela Parrilla has worked in the family winery for 11 years, but a few years ago when she took over the management, she felt a need to make some larger changes. She decided to turn towards becoming a fully certified organic winery, even though, as she says, they have always applied organic farming methods in their vineyards.
Furthermore, she was not at all satisfied with the style of wine they were producing but wanted to produce something with a more local character, i.e. wines that would be an expression of the Cirò terroir and tradition. Thus, she let go of their oenologist and decided to take matters in her own hands supervising the whole wine making process from the vineyard to the bottled wine.
Since her small ‘revolution’ at the family winery, they no longer use any added yeasts or other chemicals and they have adopted a spontaneous fermentation method with natural yeasts. Mariangela also talks about the importance of history and local territory when referring to the Gaglioppo grape.
Katarina is a former historian, turned translator, and now sommelier and wine blogger. Visit her blog Grapevine Adventures and join her on her weekly #WinesOfItaly blab.
🇮🇹 Join these other Italy and vino lovers along the Wine Trail:
🍇 Puglia with Tom
🍇 Back to Tuscany with Victoria & Her Wine Friend, Samuele