Here, we take a little trip to beautiful Emilia Romagna, the food-basket of Italy! The mighty Po river has, for thousands of years, been the lifeblood to one of Europe’s most fertile and productive lands. This is a quintessential old-world wine region, with evidence of vine-cultivation long before the Romans even settled here. Echoes of the Estruscans still ring in ancient names such as Bologna, Modena, or Ravenna (for a time, capital of the Western Roman Empire). Lambrusco’s origins here are as old here as history itself.
The richness of history here has a befittingly deep culinary pedigree that resonates with any self-respecting gourmand. You may undoubtedly have heard of gastronomical marvels the likes of Parmeggiano di Reggiano, Proscuitto di Parma or the widely beloved balsamic vinegar of Modena…these and a myriad other world-famous delicacies originate in this, one of the most fascinating places in all of Europe for lovers of flavours!
Fanning out to the North of Modena, the Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC takes its name from Sorbara, the village at the heart of the appellation. The DOC is intersected by two parallel rivers, the Secchia and the Panaro. Ancient sandy clay hills, deposits from these two rivers, undulate through the landscape. This is the place in which Lambrusco di Salamino has always grown.
A tavern owner named Remigio Medici, in 1890, re-invested profits from his successful tavern business into building a wine estate. The winery will spend the next few decades building an excellent reputation for quality. Fast-track to the 1970’s, when the world witnessed the “American Wine Boom”, and as exports soared, Lambrusco quickly became one of the top wines being gulped down Stateside. Too much of a good thing, is never, well…a good thing. Quality across the board for Lambrusco tanked, and the memory of a sticky-sweet, barely drinkable red fizz still haunts drinkers today.
The Medici family can be credited for turning the tables on quality for Lambrusco production. The fourth-generation of Medicis, Alberto and Pierluigi, decided to replant old dilapidated vineyards, drastically reduce yields, and convert to organic farming practices. The family’s 80 hectares of vines are all farmed organically, and yield typically 30-40% less than allowed by DOC regulations, resulting in the utmost quality with every crop.
Lambrusco is a family of roughly 60 different types, however there are mainly 6 widely-planted clones, each having a distinct style and profile. Lambrusco di Sorbara is known as the lightest pigmented and most aromatic of the clones. The resulting wines are usually the highest quality of the Lambrusco wines, typically due to the very low yields typical of the clone. A flowering anomaly causes the Sorbara clone to drop sometimes up to 30% or more of its flowers. Full maturity can usually be expected, lending incredible depth to the fruit profile of the wines. There is also a more pronounced and crystalline acidity in Lambrusco di Sorbara, lending incredible freshness and food-friendliness.
Nothing but lip-smacking, delicious, fun juice! A beguiling, deep orangey-pink in the glass. Once the bubbles settle quickly, a bomb of fruit goes off, giving typical strawberry, dried cranberry and dried cherry. This isn’t all candy though; there’s a savoury edge here giving it that unmistakably Italian panache. A bit of smoke, a stemmy spice, some watermelon rind. The palate shows raspberry, strawberry, cranberry, and red apple, then surprises with a slight tannic edge, giving this perfectly effervescent little wine that “crunch!” that begs for a sunny Spring day, and a whole leg of Parma ham!
Lambrusco di Sorbara, N/V, Total Acidity 8g/l, Sugar 12g/l, 11% AB
You have here one of the most versatile food wines of the whole planet Earth. Try it with its traditional dance-partners: Parma ham, Prosciutto, Parmeggiano Reggiano, salami etc. It can handle white meats with style and grace, so remember Lambrusco di Sorbara at Holiday meals, both at the table, and to placate fussy family members.
Serve chilled, and watch it drain itself.
Thankfully, it also pairs well with simply lilting in the sunshine, thanks to its lower alcohol content!