Whilst I consider myself Australian, I have a strong urge to embrace Calabria on all fronts. I want to embrace it on a personal and business front. I want my children to know their origins. I want my children to know why I constantly crave pasta. I want my children to know why I speak rough Italian with a slang. The imprint of Calabria is all over myself and family but it seems that whilst we have moved forward, Calabria is still the same old beast my parents knew fifty years ago.
My father was born in the small vallage Ferruzzano (pictured above) which belongs the Province of Reggio Calabria It is 110 km southwest of Catanzaro and about 40 km east of Reggio Calabria. It is by no means a large village. As of 31 December 2004, it had a population of just 863 people.
Pretty amazing to think that we have traced our roots back 60 years and now a big part of Mondo Imports is importing the wines of the south of Italy back to Australia. We have focused on indeginous grape varieties grown in the regions and import from every region of southern Italy except one.
Can you guess which region that is?
Calabria. The region from which both my parents and their parents and their parents were born. This is something I would like to change in the next couple of years. However, it will not be for the sake of importing from Calabria. It needs to be able to stack up with the rest of the south.
Many argue that this will never happen.
Whilst regions like Basilicata, Puglia and Campania make giant strides forward in regards to quality and awareness in nearly every global market, Calabria sadly lags behinds in all of this. The poor cousin of the south seems destined to remain in the background for the foreseeable future and it will be interesting to see if the region as a whole will be able to get itself ‘front and center’ and gain international attention for the right reasons.
Why Calabria? Why has it been in the background for so long? Many argue that it is Calabria’s own fault. Whilst I do not know enough about the politics of Calabria to have a position on this, I do hope that I will be do my part and increase the exposure of Calabrian wine in Australia.
Next year at Vinitaly, I will not do as I normally do and walk straight past the Calabria building to get to the Piemont, Tuscany, Abruzzo and Puglia buildings, but actually take the time and go through the wines, producer by producer and you never know, we might one day have a fellow Calabrese producer in our portfolio….