Our friend Rory Harrington (@captainwine) put on another of his wonderful wine tasting events at Sotto (the one Italian restaurant in Los Angeles that Joe always wants to go back to) last Wednesday, this time focusing on the wines of Calabria! Perfect as we wrap up our time with the food and wine of this wonderful region of Italy, the “toe of the boot.”
Rory featured a lovely rosato and six wonderful reds, topped off by a Ripe del Falco Cirò Riserva from 1997.
I’m not sure how many times I’ve sampled a sixteen-year-old wine, but the smoothness, subtlety, richness, complexity, length, mouth feel—everything about this wine was outstanding. However old or young, whatever the provenance, it was impossible not to know that this was a very special wine. A rare treat.
This amazing wine and the rosato were both from Cirò, a DOC region on Calabria’s east coast, and a place Joe and I have been wine tasting. (A story for another post.) Two of the five other reds were also from Cirò, and they offered an intriguing progression on the way to this carefully orchestrated tasting’s outstanding climax. The 2008 Colli del Mancuso Cirò Riserva was 100% Gaglioppo, one of the most common varietals in Calabria, while the 2009 Terra di Balbia was 100% Magliocco, another Calabrian varietal. The others were blends, all using both Gaglioppo and Magliocco. My favorite of the five was a blend of Gaglioppo, Magliocco, and Sangiovese from the producer Sovuto. A complex, rich but very approachable wine; Joe and I both had a glass of this one when we stayed for a pizza after the wine tasting ended.
But as Rory pointed out, all the wines we tasted Wednesday pair well with food. This isn’t what you’d necessarily expect from the wine of a warm-weather region like Calabria, but it is what the wine list at Sotto is all about. Having one of the most interesting wine lists in town isn’t, for Sotto, simply about being original or eccentric; the wines are selected because they are all food wines (and good value!). As Rory said, any of the wines he poured Wednesday could pair with any of the tantalizing small plates on the Sotto menu. I’m glad we could be there to have him pour these for us—Joe and I had a great time, met some fascinating fellow wine-lovers, and gained a whole new appreciation for the wines of Calabria!