A Lambrusco fest

We finally got round to sampling the haul of Lambrusco we brought back from our stay in Bologna, which was chosen mainly for being varietally typical according to Ian D’Agata. We drank them, and another Lambrusco sourced in the UK, with food that was as close as possible to being of the Emilia-Romagna region and appropriate for the wine – Parma ham, mozzarella, mortadella and Parmigiano-Reggiano, followed by home-made brawn, tagliatelle al ragù, and cherry pie.


All the wines were slightly fizzy, and low on tannin.  Acidity was on the low side of medium, but the sparkle gave them a refreshing quality regardless.  They were all described as dry on the label, but I think I detected a small amount of residual sugar on all of them – they were certainly not bone dry.  None of the wines was expensive, those brought back from Italy being between £6.30 and £8.70 when converted from Euros, while The Wine Society are asking £11.50 for the Rinaldi.

Francesco Bellei e Co, Ancestrale, Modena DOC, Vino Frixxante Secco (Lambrusco di Sorbara), 2012, 11.5%
It wasn’t declared on the bottle, but this is of the Lambrusco di Sorbaro variety, and also seems to be from the eponymous DOC region.  The vast majority of Lambrusco is made fizzy by the tank method, but this wine is exceptional in that the latter part of its single fermentation takes place in bottle – the one it is sold in.  I was looking forward to this, but was totally underwhelmed.  It was a medium pale neon pink, and did not taste distinctively of anything much at all.  But at least it was not unpleasant ***

Cleto Chiarli e Figli, Vecchia Modena, Premium, Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC, Vino Frizzante Secco, 2013, 11.0%
Another Lambrusco di Sorbaro wine, with the same colour but more intense. Also more intense on the nose and palate,  Soft, red strawberry fruit.  Bubble-gummy actually, reminding me of carbonic-maceration marked Beaujolais.  Some people liked it a lot, and were in good company as it is a Tre Bicchiere wine.  I was not that impressed, but it was markedly better than the previous wine, so ****

Cleto Chiarlo, Antico Vitigni Grasparossa, Vigneto Cialdini, Lambrusco Grasporossa di Castelvetro DOC, Vino Frizzante Secco, 2013, 11.0%
This and all the following wines are of the Lambrusco Grasporossa variety; they all had a deep purple colour and more robust flavours.  Confected notes again, but this time of blackcurrant boiled sweets ****

Villa di Corlo, Corleto, Lambrusco Grasporossa di Castelvetro DOC, Vino Frixxante Secco, 2012, 11.5%
This was my favourite wines as it was more rounded and mature *****

Fattoria Moretto, Monovitigno, Lambrusco Grasporossa di Castelvetro DOP, Vino Frizzante Secco, 12.0%
Well into the second half of the evening now, and scant notes.  From memory it was similar to the Vignetto Cialdini ****

Rinaldi, Vecchio Moro, Lambrusco dell’Emilia IGT, Vino Frizzante (85% Lambrusco Grasparossa, 10% Ancellotta and 5% Marzemino), 12.0%
Scant notes again I am afraid, but this seemed to have more body that the other wines this evening, and was more bitter.  Could this be due to the non-Lambrusco grapes?  Ancellotta has thick skins, but is best known as a variety that contributes colour to blends ****

Fattoria Moretto, Semprebon, Lambrusco Grasporossa di Castelvetro DOP, Vino Frizzante Amabile, 10.5%
Dumb, and with very little flavour.  Not particularly sweet either, despite the amabile description.  Suspect this was low-level corked, even if there was no detectable mustiness. I will assume it was not faulty for my rating **

Overall I was a little disappointed with the quality of the wines, perhaps due mainly to my unrealistic expectations – they were after all hardly expensive.  I was also rather hoping there would have been more to distinguish between the various Grasporossa wines. Having said that, I did enjoy the evening, and rated most of the wines quite highly as a result.

Without wanting to pinpoint any particular food-wine match, I thought that the Lambrusco was an excellent match for the rich Emilia-Romagna cuisine, with the fruity flavours and slight sparkle, rather that the wines’ more structural elements of acidity and tannin, being the key to cutting through the richness.

Author: Steve Slatcher

Wine enthusiast

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