Visiting Italy’s Librandi vineyard

Adamo Serravalle
Marco Prime and DaVinci's
  • Try the deep ruby red Gravello, or the delicately aroma-filled white, Critone Val di Neto

This week I would like to step out from my traditional writing about particular wines, and talk about a winery and the great family who owns it.

I was honored to be introduced to one of the Librandis, Paolo, while ago in America and this time, being in Italy earlier this month I got a chance seeing them up there.

I am especially excited to share this story with you because their winery is half an hour away from my hometown in Italy. I am thankful to them for making my region’s wine internationally recognizable and for having brought Calabrian wine production to the different level.

Librandi winery is located in Cirò Marina, a small town in the southern Italian region of Calabria, on the beautiful Ionian coastline. Here, the soil in this area is naturally suited for grape growing, and the geographic position, located between the sea and the Sila Mountains, guarantees an excellent balance between day and nighttime temperatures.

Due to the altitude, temperatures cool down a little at night, which allows the grapes to continue to develop thru the growing season. The soils are a mix of clay, sand and marl is good for wine growing.

The Librandi winery was founded in 1950 by Antonio and Nicodemo Librandi. Nowadays, it is run by Nicodemo, his two sons Paolo and Raffaele, his nephew Francesco and his niece Teresa. They continue working on improving quality using modern technology and innovations - and restore and keep hundreds of years of winemaking tradition alive.

"The future of our wine depends on our ability to meld tradition with innovation, without the one overcoming the other": this is the Librandi philosophy. All their wines and are made exclusively from estate-grown grapes grown on 890 acres, 573 of which are vineyards planted with both local varietals (Gaglioppo, Magliocco and Mantonico) and international varietals. Librandi also run an experimental vineyard with ancient local varietals.

About a year ago I did write an article about one of their wines that I have in Davinci’s wine list - Duca di San Felice, the name of the oldest vineyard owned by Librandi family. It’s made from Gaglioppo grape, one of the oldest grapes in the world, dating back to the Ancient Greeks and Olympic games.

A Librandi red wine goes perfectly with zuppa di pesce, one of the attractive dishes available from DaVinci's restaurant.

This wine is ruby red in color, with aromas of figs, cherries, tobacco with hint of chocolate; a harmonious balance of tannins and acidity, perfect with roasted meats, spice sauces and other traditional Italian dishes like veal saltimbocca or a nice spaghetti Puttanesca.

Another great Librandi’s wine to try at Davinci’s is Gravello Val di Neto rosso. This is a "Super Calabrian" wine made from the indigenous Gaglioppo and international Cabernet Sauvignon grapes. Gravello is a fantasy name, but "grave" in Italian means "serious" and "important," which is a reference to the complexity and sophistication of this wine.

Deep ruby-red in color, Gravello is intensely aromatic with notes of blackberry, ripe cherry, coffee, and cassis. On the palate, it is rich with velvety tannins and a persistent finish. Pair this wine with grilled game, lambs or filet mignons.

For the white wine lovers, we have nice Critone Val di Neto made from 90 percent Chardonnay and 10 percent Sauvignon Blanc. Critone is one of the Librandi’s experimental wines and they believe it is the future of Calabrian winemaking.

Pale straw-lemon in color, delicate aromas of green apples and tree fruits complement undertones of peaches, wildflowers, and a hint of freshly cut grass. Dry and crisp on the palate, this wine shows elegance with layered flavors that unfold well into the finish. Pair this wine with seafood pasta, octopus salad or verity of fish.

Buon apettito and salute.

Adamo Serravalle is co-owner of DaVinci’s and Marco Prime at Marco Walk. He is a wine connoisseur, and along with Laura Owen of CJ’s on the Bay and Marco Porto of chop239, is a regular contributor to this column.