Whether you’re a quality wine producer in either the Vinho Verde region in Portugal, Rheinhessen in Germany or Reggio Emilia in Italy, the difficulties are identical – a constant struggle against the consumer’s preconceptions.
While the highly skilled producers in Minho are beating their heads trying to put the fabulous Alvarinho’s from Melgaço on the map, the Rheinhessen producers keeps on trying to update the consumer that all the wines emerging from the region are not Liebfraumilch. Finally the quality producers in Reggio Emilia has an almost Sisyphus-like task ahead of them, trying to convince the consumer there’s more to Lambrusco than a sweet red, low alcohol frizzante wine.
Having established, that producers surrounded by bulk products, not only needs to work to change a world wide spread opinion etched in the consumers mind, they also needs a helping hand from a well known and reliable source. In Italy that source is Gambero Rosso! In the 2010 edition of the Italian wine bible the producer of Medici Ermete finally saw the result of 20 years of hard work trying to put quality Lambrusco on the map – their 2008 Concerto received three glasses, the highest rating the Gambero people rewards a wine with!
So, what exactly is a red Lambrusco?
Lambrusco is not only the name of the wine, it’s also the grape’s name for the reds. It prones easily so today you will find several clones which probably adds confusion to the already mixed-up consumer . However, the grapes you most likely will find mentioned on the labels are the Lambrusco Grasparossa, Maestri, Marani, Monstericco, Salamino and Sorbara. Today around 60 clones and sub-varieties of the grape exists in Italy but the one used the most is Salamino.
There are five DOC’s (Denominazione di Origine Controllata):
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro which uses the clone by the name of Grasparossa, the most tannic Lambrusco.
Lambrusco Montovano which is not a part of Emilia Romagna but located in Lombardia produces a lighter style and more wines with sweetness.
Lambrusco Reggiano is by far the largest producer of Lambrusco and here you will find all styles, ranging from dry to sweet reds.
Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce requires that the Lambrusco wine consists of at least 90 % Salamino.
Lambrusco di Sorbara only allows the clones Sorbara and Salamino and the wines need to be at least 60 % Sorbara. The grape is considered the best clone of Lambrusco – not only because of its more fullbodied style, it also brings acidity to the wine.
|Shown with the friendly permission of Medici Ermete.|
Now, producing quality wine calls for some work and that has not appealed to the cooperatives in the region. Comfort wine making don’t correlate with quality so the decision to move vineyards from the hillsides to the flat land of Emilia Romagna was purely beneficial for quantity production, allowing machines to work the vineyards and fertile soil to produce more grapes.
Furthermore, the quality aspect is not helped by the fact that the wineries who buys in grapes, pay by the ton. Who wants to produce quality grapes and do green harvests when you can make money?
When the Medici Ermete started cultivating their own vineyards around 20 years ago this was the start of a new thinking and a way to control the grapes themselves. Although still found on the flat lands, the higher density and replantings has provided Medici Ermete with a greater concentration in the grapes.
But how is a quality Lambrusco made? How does it get the unique character?
After a traditional fermentation in steel tanks with skin maceration the wine is filtered and transferred to autoclaves, giant pressurized tanks. The tanks retain the pressure which is created by the production of carbon dioxide during
fermentation throughout the entire process.
And how is this second fermentation possible?
Simply by adding a second round of must to the already fermented wine. The method, more commonly known as Charmat, runs until the sugar in the added must has turned in to alcohol – or the winemaker simply uses cold to stop the procedure. After second fermentation the wine is filtered and undergoes a mild pasteurization to prevent a new fermentation taking place in the bottle.
|Shown with the friendly permission of Medici Ermete.|
Medici Ermete is today run by the fourth generation of the Medici family. Their avantgarde approach towards Lambrusco, which started around 20 years ago, has resulted in owning their own vineyards, lowering yields significantly, using latest technology, using the best clones and of course, showing skillful winemaking. The reward: Tre bicchieri al Concerto!
Medici Ermete produces quite a lot of labels divided into three separate categories; Le Tenute, Le Selezioni and I Classici. Amongst Le Tenute one will find two of their most famous wines; the Assolo and the Concerto. The 2008
Concerto, which was the first ever Lambrusco receiving a three glass rating by Gambero Rosso in the 2010 edition, gave that necessary push in the right direction, finally bringing some recognition to the name of Lambrusco.
So, let’s check out the 2009 Concerto – is it worth buying?
150.000 bottles produced using the Salamino clone. The grapes are brought in from Tenuta La Rampata where the vines grow in a soil rich on clay. After the above mentioned fermentation procedure the wine has a residual sugar content of 9 grams per liter and an alcoholic content of 11,5%.
Tasting note: I am all excited already at the pour. The dark purple colour and the fizzing are great looking at. The youthful and forward nose is appealing from the start with black cherries, black currants, raspberries, fresh herbs and a lovely floral touch to it. I also gives away a slight scent of foam candy, reminiscent to the character also found in a Beaujolais. The flavours repeat the aromas and fills the mouth with fresh uncomplicated frizzante fruit. It is quite dry and acidic in the lightly fizzy end and you find yourself sitting there smiling, ready for another sip, and another, and ano….well, you get the picture!
This is a gorgeous drink and lightly chilled at around 14 C the fruit is at its most delicate. Have it with a pasta with some chili heat, Italian Salami or just drink it on its own. At the first occasion we had home made burgers and with those the combination was simple and sublime!
Thank you Medici Ermete for showing the true potential in a Lambrusco – I will make sure to have a few of these at home all year around. But the best of all; the quality approach seems to awaken more producers interest and today more
vintners grow their own vines, or rent, and are also moving back to the slopes. To sum it all up: keep an eye on the five DOC’s of Lambrusco – they are worthy of your attention!
Where can I buy this wine? As a European, having access to the wonderful world of e-shopping within the European Union, I can recommend the German retailer, Wein-Bastion. Not only are their shipping costs most fair – you get a bottle of 2009 Concerto at EUR 6,90!
Yes, you don’t have to check again – l e s s t h a n s e v e n E u r o ‘ s ! !
(2009 Concerto, Medici Ermete, Emilia Romagna, 87 points)