Calabrese is a black grape from southern Italy, known to most wine lovers as Nero d’Avola.

Characteristics
One of the grape’s main characteristics is its colouring capability, making it a good blending partner, which it also was for a good part of the 20th century. However, Calabrese is also known for high tannins, acidity at medium level and a fairly strong body.

The vine obviously likes the hot and dry Mediterranean climate, but will also thrive if planted on somewhat higher altitudes. It will then produce wines with a bit lower alcohol levels.

Wines
Calabrese wines are, in ninety-nine percent of the cases, labelled as Nero d’Avola. Furthermore, they are supposed to be consumed early, while young and fresh.

The variety however will also allow for producing wine suitable for ageing in your cellar, having matured in oak for four to six months.

Young wines typically express notes of red berries, while the oak matured wines will go towards more dark skinned fruit and chocolate.

Food pairing
An oak matured Nero d’Avola will pair excellently with lamb, ven­i­son and stronger beef dishes. If you are to open a young and fresh one, a sug­ges­tion is to pair it with not too heavi­ly sea­soned pork or lamb dishes. Serve at 14-16°C/57-61°F.

Serve at 16-18°C/ 61-64°F.

Where is it grown?
Calabrese is grown on 16.595/41,007 ac in Italy. The grape is found in most regions in Italy, and it is the tenth most planted grape in the country. It is however fair to say that the island of Sicily is the grape’s heart land today.

The area planted with Calabrese has increased with forty-seven percent between 2000 and 2010. The vast majority of the increase has taken place in the regions of Trapani and Palermo, in the north-western and northern parts of the island.

Outside of Italy there is a tiny (1 ha/2,5 ac) planting in Argentina.

History
There are a number of hypotheses for the grape’s origin. Most likely it is from Sicily or Reggio Calabria (the region at the toe on the Italian boot shaped land mass). Judging from the number of synonyms, Calabrese is likely to be a quite old variety.