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Sibling Rivalry in Emilia-Romagna, Italy — Forget What You Know About Lambrusco

A well-made Lambrusco is a joy to drink with just about any type of food, yet as a wine type it still languishes from the many drinkers that still associate Lambrusco solely with the sweet, fizzy, purple wine-drink that was popular in the 70s. But there is so much more to this wine from Emilia-Romagna — a region known for its robust, singular cuisine.

Here is a tale of two Lambrusco. Specifically two Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is the the name of both the grape variety and the Italian DOC that lies north of the city of Modena with the center being the small village of Sorbara. The two wines are like siblings on the opposite end of the spectrum. Both share family traits of being crisp, dry, blush-colored, and generous. Where “Radice” is the scruffy earth-child, “Leclisse” is the well-groomed artist. “Radice” retreats to the forest with their close friends to form a drum circle under a full moon. “Leclisse” strives for the perfect tone on their viola to impress a large audience in a smartly-furnished recital hall. “Radice” wears a Che Guevara t-shirt. “Leclisse” carries around a marked-up copy of Plato’s Republic.

Alberto Paltrinieri is a third generation winemaker. He carries on the legacy of his father, Gianfranco, and grandfather, Achilles, a chemist who built the cellar in 1926. He and his wife, Barbara, have transformed their small, 42 acre operation into one of the most notable wineries in the region. Their terroir boasts alluvial soils between the rivers Secchia and Panaro in the historic area known as Cristo di Sorbara. Alberto and Barbara’s wines represent the new Lambrusco — modern winemaking techniques married with traditional values to produce wines that speak of place.

Cantina Paltrinieri “Radice” (Lambrusco di Sorbara 2018) DRY
$113/6-pack (~$19/bottle) 

100% Lambrusco di Sorbara. A thrilling, bone-dry, slightly fizzy sip of salted alpine strawberries under a nose of thyme and crisp berry fruit. “Radice” means root and this wine hearkens back to a time when wines got their fizz from refermentation in the bottle using only the natural sugars in the fruit and indigenous yeasts. This type of winemaking is called Metodo Ancestrale AKA Pétillant-naturel. “Radice” wears the method well with its crown seal and slightly cloudy vibe. It is a savory wine that is sure to go over well at informal backyard gatherings and picnics at the beach.

Cantina Paltrinieri “Leclisse” (Lambrusco di Sorbara 2018) DRY
$124/6-pack (~$21/bottle)

100% Lambrusco di Sorbara. A Gambero Rosso “Tre Bicchieri” selection, “Leclisse” sings with elegance. Scents of flowers and raspberries linger above a sip that is bone-dry, full of crisp fruit, and balanced by a mineral structure that is rare in wines of this price. A Lambrusco with some gravitas yet still a pleasure to drink. Its fizz comes from production using Metodo Martinotti AKA Charmat Method, whereby fermentation with indigenous yeasts in pressurized stainless steel tanks allow for a more measured sparkle. It’s a wine that’s sure to turn a simple cheese and salumi board into a feast.

Besides the featured wines we also have two other Cantina Paltrinieri wines available for purchase. Prices based on 6-pack purchase (mix-and-match).

~$14 Cantina Paltrinieri “Solco” (Lambrusco dell’Emilia IGT 2018) OFF-DRY
100% Lambrusco Salamino with refermentation using Metodo Martinotti. A semi-dry, purple-tinged red wine with intense cherry fruit. A pleasant accompaniment to spicy food or when you crave a touch of sweetness.

~$14 Cantina Paltrinieri “Piria” (Lambrusco di Sorbara 2018) DRY
70% Lambrusco di Sorbara and 30% Lambrusco Salamino with refermentation using Metodo Martinotti. A ruby-red, dry, and fruity wine with floral notes. You want red wine with sushi? You can have red wine with sushi.

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Posted on 2019.04.17 in Saturday Sips Wines, Emilia-Romagna, Italy


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