Ciliegiolo, Cherry in Italian, is a black grape that produces light and inviting red wines in south and central Italy.
The grape is naturally fairly low in acidity and tannins. Aromas are typically cherries, strawberries.
Given the levels of acidity and tannins, Ciliegiolo wines are made for a rather early consumption, there’s no guarantee they will improve by resting for more than a couple of years in your cellar.
Most talked about are the wines from Maremma in western Tuscany. Less talked about but also very nice varietal Ciliegiolo wines are produced in the area around Foggia and just north of Bari in Puglia.
Ciliegiolo is an excellent companion to many pasta dishes, from a simple Pasta al Olio è Algio (pasta with olive oil and garlic) to a more elaborated Pasta Bolognese (pasta with a sauce of minced meat and strained tomatoes). A Ciliegiolo varietal wine is best served at 14-16°C/57-61°F.
Where is it grown?
Ciliegiolo is reported to be grown only in Italy, where it occupies 1.830 ha/4,522 ac. This makes it the fifty first most planted variety in the country. Although grown in all wine regions, it is mainly represented in the south and central parts of Italy:
- Apulia 458 ha/1,132 ac
- Campania 129 ha/319 ac
- Latium 292 ha/722 ac
- Tuscany 281 ha/694 ac
- Emilia-Romagna 165 ha/408 ac
- Umbria 155 ha/383 ac
The only sure thing about the grape’s history is that it is related to Sangiovese. Whether the relation is as parent or as an offspring is still not clear. It is the same situation when it comes to its origin. It is however not likely that it has arrived from Spain, as some histories suggest.