Wine is steeped in tradition and history. California wineries proudly talk of decades and French wineries centuries of tradition. Librandi, a winery in Calabria is also proud of their tradition. In fact, they have named one of their wines after a former winemaker, Magno Megonio, who wrote proudly of the wines he made from their vineyard – 2,000 years ago.
Winemaking history is long in Calabria, the peninsula that reaches out towards Sicilia. The Greeks and Phoenicians brought winemaking here some three thousand years ago. Cirò, home to Librandi and thousands of years of winemaking, is located in an area known as Enotria and locals believe they are the birthplace of winemaking on the Italian peninsula. Unfortunately, the winemaking did not change much there over the millennia and Calabria became a winemaking backwater making mostly rough wines for local consumption.
Librandi began bottling their own wines in the 1950’s and soon became recognized as a leading winery in Calabria. Like all of Calabria, the Librandi family is keenly aware of the history represented in their vineyards. Traditional vines like magliocco, mantonico and gaglioppo are given the finest care and full star billing in their best wines. They even reach back thousands of years for their names: Magno Megonio after the Roman centurion who grew wine in the same vineyards, Cirò was offered to Milo of Crotone when he won the ancient Olympic Games and the white wine Critone is named for Crito a disciple of Plato.
So why, in the face of centuries of tradition, does Librandi make Critone from chardonnay and sauvignon blanc? Walking nicely the line between tradition and using modern methods and international varietals, Librandi has created a top-quality line of wines ranging from wines steeped in tradition to modern blends of local and imported vines. Guided by superstar consultant, Donato Lanati, Professor of Enology at the Universities of Torino and Roma, Librandi is showing winemakers in Calabria what is possible.
Librandi Critone is a blend of 90% chardonnay with 10% sauvignon fermented and aged in stainless steel. Although Calabria is sun-bathed, the vines grown on the plain of Strongoli are placed perfectly between the mountains and the sea where hot days alternate with dramatically cooler nights – much the same as California. These cool nights along with careful fermentation gives Critone its fresh, fruitiness. It is a tremendous value at under $10.00 and is easily better and more interesting than California wines at this price point.
2004 Librandi Critone, Val di Neto Bianco, IGT
Tasting notes: Bright light gold. Fresh fruit and floral aromas fill the round nose. Honeydew melons, green apples and ripe pear scents brighten the lively bouquet. Medium bodied but mouth filling. Packed with zesty ripe fruit flavors -- cantaloupes and pears with a clean almond hint. Smooth and round, but not flabby. The long clean, fresh aftertaste is filled with juicy ripe pear flavors. The clean refreshing flavors of this wine make it a great choice for fried calamari and other fresh seafood.
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