Who’s Your Daddy?: Gaglioppo di Cirò

The “Who’s Your Daddy” series takes a very brief look at the parentage of grapes, in order to get a better understanding of where particular varietals come from and how they are genetically related to one another.  So far, we’ve covered: Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay, Gamay, Merlot, Nebbiolo, Petite Sirah, Petit Verdot, Pinotage, Pošip bijeli, Sangiovese, Syrah, Tempranillo, Torrentés riojano, and most recently the grapes from the USDA grape germplasm collection. Feel free to click on any one of the varietal names to read all about their parentage.

The subject of today’s “Who’s Your Daddy” post is Gaglioppo di Cirò, a red wine variety hailing from Southern Italy.

Photo By Fabio Ingrosso (Flickr: Grappolo d'uva Gaglioppo in Calabria) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By Fabio Ingrosso (Flickr: Grappolo d’uva Gaglioppo in Calabria) [CC-BY-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Quick on the heels of Monday’s post on The Wine Mosaic, and their quest to educate consumers on the lesser known varieties of the Mediterranean (and maybe eventually the world??), today I bring you a lesser known Italian variety.  It is certainly a grape I had never heard of before, as I am not up to speed on all Italian varieties, so I suppose it’s possible that it’s more known to some of you than to me, but alas, I guarantee most people (in the US anyway) have never heard of Gaglioppo di Cirò!

Gaglioppo di Cirò has several other names that you may find it masquerading as, but rest assured, they are all the same grapes.  A quick online search yielded the following synonyms for Gaglioppo di Cirò: Aglianico di Cassano, Arvino, Gaglioppa, Gaglioppa nera, Gaglioppo nero, Gaglioppo Paesano, Gagliuoppo, Gaioppo, Galaffa, Galloffa, Galloppo, Galloppolo, Galoffa, Lacrima di Cosenza, Lacrima nera, Lancianese, Latifolia, Maghioccu nero, Magliocco, Magliocco Antico, Magliocco Dolce, Magliocco Tondo, Magliocolo nero, Maioppa, Mantonico nero, Montonico nero, and Uva Navarra.  We’ll just stick with “Gaglioppo” for the remainder of this short post.

Gaglioppo is primarily grown in the region of Calabria, though it is not unknown in other areas of the Cirò DOC.  A late ripening variety, Gaglioppo is known to be sensitive to hot temperatures, so is ideally suited for higher altitudes where the cooler temperatures add some protection for the sensitive variety.  Winegrowers will often prefer to harvest Gaglioppo grapes a little bit earlier, as these grapes are infamous for very high sugar levels if left on the vine for too long, resulting in a wine that is very high in alcohol.  Picking earlier also helps retain the desirable acidity characteristics of the grapes and wine.  During winemaking, Gaglioppo is known to be easily oxidized at fermentation temperatures that are too warm, so great care is necessary to ensure the temperature for fermentation is appropriate for the grape, so that the wine does not oxidize and lose it’s nice structure.

Depending upon where it is grown in terms of altitude and soil composition, the style of wine produced will be quite variable.  Gaglioppo grapes grown at higher altitude often produce wines that have good acidity levels and “earthiness”, while maintaining a lean mouthfeel and floral flavor.  Those Gaglioppo grapes grown at lower altitudes tend to produce wines big tannin monsters, which some prefer to cellar for many years prior to enjoying.  I have never actually had a Gaglioppo myself, and from the descriptions I read on various websites (see below for further reading), I am very intrigued and would certainly like to get my hands on some.

So…….”Who’s Your Daddy, Gaglioppo?”

It was debated for some time where Gaglioppo actually came from.  Some say it’s an ancient grape that was used for the wine served at the origin Olympic games in Greece, though others theorize that Gaglioppo is a native Italian variety.

Recently, genetic analysis using SSR molecular markers answered the big question of where (or at least from what) Gaglioppo was born.  Published earlier this year in the journal Molecular Biotechnology, a team of researchers from the CRA-UTV Research Unit for Viticulture and Enology in Southern Italy found the genetic parents of Gaglioppo.

So, without further ado, the parents of the grape, Gaglioppo are:


Photo By http://www.flickr.com/people/sherseydc/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sherseydc/2939637726/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

Photo By http://www.flickr.com/people/sherseydc/ (http://www.flickr.com/photos/sherseydc/2939637726/) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons










                                           ……..Mantonico di Bianco

Photo from http://www.acquabuona.it/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/mantonico_pinto.jpg

Photo from http://www.acquabuona.it/wp-content/uploads/2009/06/mantonico_pinto.jpg

So, it looks like Gaglioppo is a native Italian variety after all!

I hope you all enjoyed this little lesson on a lesser-known Italian wine grape variety, and I hope you’ll all try to pick up a bottle or two and report back to me what you think about it.  Remember: it could be under any one of the many synonyms I mentioned previously, so keep your eyes wide open!

Further reading: