29th November 2023
Welcome to Lambrusco, located in the heartwarming region of Emilia-Romagna in Italy. This will be Glass of Bubbly’s most expansive exploration of Lambrusco to date, a small region in the north of Italy, slowly emerging as a superpower, fighting off a bad reputation, producing a great benchmark of sparkling wines and changing perceptions of what a red sparkling wine can taste like.
What do you think of when you hear the word Lambrusco? For me, it was always quality red sparkling wines, but I’m now pleased to have discovered first hand that Lambrusco can be enjoyed as sparkling white or rosé, the colours of Lambrusco are wide, with a joyful display of unique flavour profiles to taste.
Although red sparkling wine is still very prominent from Lambrusco, their reds are not all as deep as you might expect from the likes of a bottle of still red wine being your reference point, you’ll discover some very light, fruity and sometimes even candyfloss and candy flavoured reds, it has truly never been easier to enjoy a glass of red sparkling wine.
Arriving at the airport of Bologna, I was met by the lovely Clara Capalbo a well known writer of Italian Wine and Food, working with Consorzio Lambrusco, she helped with the organisation and would be present with us myself and the other explores at all the tastings, meals and events to help guide us seamlessly through from one place to another.
I was able to explore Lambrusco with a fantastic group of people, including Rosemary George MW, Clara Capalbo, Young Shi and Anthony Rose.
Visiting wineries with the likes of VentiVenti, Cleto Chiarli and Cantine Lombardini, and enjoying some fantastic meals with The President of the Lambrusco Consortium, Andrea Razzaboni and Carlo Cavicchioli.
Our first introduction to Lambrusco on our trip started at Berreré Pizzeria, tasting 5 different labels and being able to pair them alongside some of the finest pizzas I’ve had the pleasure of eating, and it wouldn’t be an understatement to say that the pairings with some various Lambruscos were in fact divine, Lambrusco and Pizza is a hit, as the sparkling reds of Lambrusco gift a varied level of depth, sweetness and flavours, you don’t always receive high levels of tannins, instead you’re greeted with some light, soft, easy to drink candyfloss, cherry tarts, ripe red berries and floral notes, that don’t overshadow the flavours of the pizza, whether it be meats, mushroom or cheese, uniting wonderfully to deliver the best of both worlds.
The first winery to host our group was Cantina Paltrinieri, located in the heart of Sorbara, where they have lived for four generations producing Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC.
Tradition. Passion. Love for wine.
The satisfaction and the passion for our work derive from the care taken to ensure that everything is done well.
We have on the horizon a promise within our hearts, which goes beyond ourselves, which defies time.
Like a trough carved from stone – Barbara and Alberto Paltrinieri
Paltrinieri – Leclisse 2022 – “Dryer style. Tight palate sensation with red berry skins and pink floral.”
To end the first day of our trip to Lambrusco, we sat down for a private dinner at Osteria Santa Chiara, with Roberto Cardinale, Andrea Razzaboni & Benedetta Di Maria.
The second day offered one of the most educational experiences I’ve been a part of to date, We headed to the Lambrusco Offices, and inside, displayed out in front of us were 74 different labels of Lambrusco, from varying sweetness, colours and locations, but first, we needed to understand a bit about Lambrusco, the region, the grapes, the terroir, the sweetness levels and more.
After the presentation, we were able to taste through the 74 different Lambrusco labels at our own pace, taking tasting notes, observing the various colours and pouring ourselves, it was perfect, being able to head into my own world, to concentrate fully on the Lambrusco’s in front of me, without pressure from anyone or concern of time.
I think the red sparkling wines of Lambrusco are in a perfect position to enter the UK market and make a name for themselves, the British public, like myself, love a glass of red wine and a glass of bubbly, so uniting them together won’t be an incredible mountain of an idea to introduce, there’s a gap in the market, it’s not a gap that’s necessarily begging to be filled, because not many people know that red sparkling wine even exists, but for whoever does fill it, will surely carve out a chunk of the much sought after bubbly market here in the UK.
Some of the highlights:
Lini 910 – Labrusca Lambrusco Rosso – “Cherry expression on the nose. Dark berries, black cherries, Burgundy red rose petals on the palate. A touch of glazed cherries too, edging towards Bakewell tart!”
Casali – Pra di Bosso Storico Lambrusco Reggiano Secco 2022 – “Cherry and cranberry syrup on the nose. Tart, pastry, forest floor. Dry style in the palate, dark berries, tannin. Great for food pairings.”
Masone Campogalliano – La Torre Lambrusco di Sorbara 2022 – “Easy to drink and enjoy. Pink blossom aromas. Flavours are very aromatic with added pink rose petals.”
Giacobazzi – Bollino Oro Lambrusco Soft Semi Dry – “Fascinating floral aroma. Pink and red floral with foliage and soft herbal. Even more concentration in flavours with dark berries and again foliage displayed.”
Sudigiri Millesimato Brut – “Light, red berries, strawberries and cherries on the soft with a touch of cranberry. Moreish flavours, chewy, a pleasant palate experience.”
Casali – Pra di Bosso Lambrusco Amabile – “Moreish sweetness of delicate ripe cherries and strawberries. Very nice, easy to enjoy with a dessert character.”
Cleto Chiarli – Tenute Agricole
After our Lambrusco tasting, which lasted through the whole morning and some of the early afternoon, we arrived at Cleto Chiarli Tenute Agricole, a picturesque winery, where we enjoyed a fine lunch in a converted stable.
A century and a half of wines, the same family, millions of bottles produced, appreciation all over the world, the desire to always do better.
Chiarli has been producing wines since 1860, where quality is within everyone’s reach, every day, always attentive to market developments and consumer tastes, Chiarli dedicates all its energy to enhancing its wines and making them successful in terms of quality/price ratio. Today in the Chiarli Cellars a complete range of quality wines is produced that can satisfy the most diverse tastes, in every part of the world.
Cleto Chiarli – Vigneto Cialdini N.V. – “Fizzy aroma of dark berries and strawberries. Alive in the palate with fresh dark berry fruit flavours and a layer of tannins.”
We enjoyed dinner that evening with the President of the Consorzio Lambrusco organisation at Ristorante de Enzo.
The first visit on the 3rd day was to the innovative Labmrsuco Winery of VentiVenti, run by a passionate family, Vittorio Razzaboni with his sons Riccardo, Andrea & Tommaso, we were greeted by Andrea and Riccardo, who gave us a tour of the winery and welcomed us to their tasting room where they gave us the honour to taste vertical through their range of Lambrusco.
VentiVenti has 63 hectares in one plot, with 30 hectares planted with vines. Their Logo the 2020, was hand drawn by Vittorio Razzaboni.
I was able to share a very memorable moment with Andrea when he disgorged three bottles of their Lambrusco, including a 2018 magnum. Andrea removed the lees sediment left in the bottle, as seen below.
Upon returning to their tasting room, we were able to enjoy the three bottles that had just been disgorged outside, starting with a 2020, then a 2019 and finishing with the 2018 Magnum.
Each displayed a further level of depth and development, showing the early levels of the ageing potential for what in years to come, will develop into an incredible vintage.
VentiVenti – La Vie 2022 – “Pink blossom, pink candy aromas. Orange and cherry blossom with a touch of red berries. Little light in character.”
VentiVenti – Ancestral – “Peaches, apricot, touch yeasty with delicate pastry notes, like a natural tart pastry. Yellow stone fruits with delicate yeasty notes”
VentiVenti – 2018 Magnum – “Yellow stone fruits yellow fruits, with a bit of dried age to them, touch pastry. Gifting more toasty and yeasty notes, reminding me of the sensation of chocolates”
Cantine Cavicchioli was the largest winery we visited during our tour of Lambrsuco, a massive operation with a warehouse full of boxes and labels, waiting to be put in place,
The history of the Cavicchioli Cellars begins on the 6th of April, 1928, when Umberto Cavicchioli decided to produce wine. Since then, from father to son, from generation to generation, the experience and passion have been handed down over the years.
Today, as then, Cavicchioli production takes place in the original locations of Sorbara in San Prospero, offering wines capable of satisfying the most demanding palates with the authenticity and authentic flavor of the best Emilian tradition.
We then enjoyed a picture-perfect lunch at Foresteria, prepared and presented by Chef Nicola Pini.
Dinner at Arnaldo dal 1936 Gastronomic Clinic with Alessandro Medici, Mattia Medici and Carlo Cavicchioli
The final day of exploring Lambrusco, and although it was a shame to know our time was nearing an end, we were still happy tasting Lambrusco, with our final Lambrsuco visit taking place at Cantine Lombardini, the largest family run Lambrusco winery in Emilia
Located at the centre of the area of excellence for the production of Lambrusco, the winery Cantine Lombardini was founded in 1925, and is still run by the original family, currently being operated by the father and three daughters, still located today in its original location, in the historic centre of the beautiful Gonzaga town of Novellara, a land of art and traditions.
“Young, fresh and pleasantly sparkling, our Lambrusco is a unique, modern wine, capable of adapting to new ways of drinking, to be combined with an evening with friends as well as with good food in any cuisine. A wine that preserves unchanged its union with conviviality and joy, which has always represented the essence of sparkling drinking.” – Marco Lombardini
Lombardini – Rosato del Campanone Lambrusco Secco 2022 – “Rich and concentrated. Black cherries, dried plums. Though sacco (dry) it is relatively fresh and fruity.”
Lombardini – Lambrusco Brut 2022 – “Gentle cherry tart, cherry syrup, display of freshly picked cherries. Added strawberry laces (candy). Tannins. Dark berries.”
Acetaia San Giacomo
Although not Lambrusco, our final trip in the region was to Acetaia San Giacomo, utilising the Lambrusco grapes for another purpose, Balsamic Vinegar, recommended as one of the highest quality producers, it was very interesting taking part in my first Balsamic Vinegar tasting, tasting from their entry range to their gold standard, but one thing stood out to me beyond all else, their barrel room, almost every square inch of the floor was covered in barrels, all in rows, with the smallest barrels being the most valuable, because of the vinegar within, at the beginning, all the barrels are filled, and over the year, some of the vinegar evaporates, so the 2nd smallest barrel then refiles what was lost from the smallest, this done in descending order.
Traditional top-shelf balsamic vinegar is aged for a minimum of 12 years before being bottled and sold.
What a trip this has been, enlighting, entertaining and unforgettable, my time in Lambrusco, for now, has come to an end, my mind has been expanded on the topic of Lambrusco, discovering all the different colours, grapes, flavour profiles, wineries and people, I think it’s time to pour myself another glass of Lambrusco to commemorate the end of this trip, thank you to Consorzio Lambrusco, all the winemakers, producers, family members, crew, workers and organisers for making everything possible.
Champagne and Sparkling Wine Writer, Focused on Bringing the Exciting and Fascinating World of Bubbly to You.