Beyond the Fizz: Lambrusco 8.0

The ruberti 'Incantabiss' vineyard at Fondo Bozzole.

Ok, the fun is over.  Just kidding, it's actually just getting started!  With the 'unofficial' Labor Day weekend capping off what's been a summer full of fun, whimsical, yet always interesting wines we are heading full steam into a busy an exciting fall tasting season.  We have a lot of things in the works, so please stay tuned and don't miss any of our events! 

Tonight we ease back into things with a tasting we couldn't be more excited about.  We're calling it Beyond the Fizz; Lambrusco 8.0.  Lambrusco has long suffered the reputation of being a sweet, junky, mass-produced co-op wine (thanks Riunite!) that to this day gains little respect, even in Italy. 

If you know us, then you know we have been long time proponents of 'real' lambrusco.  These are wines made using refermentation in the bottle, the way the old contadini would have done it before the industrial revolution.  Today's true lambrusco producers are capturing the real essence of this difficult to master technique.  The wines they are making, some since the 70's (the real heyday of industrial lamrbusco), are relics of the past with an eye to the future.  And a delicious future it is!

And if you thought all lambrusco had to be fizzy, well tonight might be a revelation for you as we will be featuring two still, dry lambrusco's; one from a legendary maestro (Vittorio Graziano) and the other a deft newcomer from across the Po` in Lombardy. 

Join us for what will be a very exciting evening of tasting. And be sure to read all the way down as a couple events will be announced below.

The Real Deal Lambrizzle Affair, Lambrusco 8.0:

Podere il Saliceto, BiFri (Bianco Frizzante) & Falistra (Lambrusco di Sorbara),
Campogalliano, Emilia-Romagna $20
The first time I poured one of Saliceto's wines into my glass I has no idea who they were or who was making the wines.  As the florescent pink fizz splashed into my glass I didn't hesitate for a second, I knew I had to find these guys.  Turns out Saliceto is a tiny farm just north of Modena, owned and operated by two good friends who ended up becoming brother's in law.  They have taken the tiny, 3.5 hectare, family plot and distinguished themselves as leaders in the region.  Farming is natural, fermentations are natural and they become masters of bottle fermentation. The BiFri is a frizzante white wine, not lambrusco at all actually, made of trebbiano modenese and sauvignon blanc.  The Falistra is 100% Sorbara and goes down all too easy.   GianPaolo and Marcello are taking Saliceto into the brave new world!

Fondo Bozzole, Incantabiss, Lambrusco Mantovano, Lombardia $18
While Emilia-Romagna is the most well known epicenter of lambrusco production, almost no one realizes that just across the Po` river to the north is a secret garden of lambrusco in the south eastern plains of Lombardy.  Just south of the beautiful town of Mantova, Franco and his brother Mario have been quietly tending their tiny vineyard and fruit orchard.  They have pioneered and singlehandedly salvaged a near lost indigenous lambrusco varity called Ruberti.  Since the outset they have worked without chemicals in the fields and this year marks their official entree as certified organic.  The Incantabiss lambrusco is a real favorite of ours.  It's dark, spicy, fruity and savory, a real undiscovered classic perfect with late summer dinners (or any dinners).  It's back, but for a limited time only!  They make very little and we are pleased to have it for this season. 

Camillo Donati, Lambrusco dell'Emilia $25
Camillo Donati is one of the crazy ones.  A guy who has no qualms about experimenting and who makes wines courageously.  Since the 70's the Donati's have been unique outliers in their region.  If you ask even serious lambrusco producers about them, they will likely chuckle a bit, say the wines are 'particolare' and then admit they truly respect them.  Biodynamic agriculture, bottle fermentation, 1970's labels...these are a rare treat!

Vigneti Campanino, Sur Lie Appenninico, Umbria $30
This is not lambrusco at all; it's way beyond lambrusco. High in the secluded central Apennines of Umbria a new legend is being born.  Over 30 years ago Barone Campanino restored a Medieval monastery creating a woodland preserve planted to rare local vines on some of the most impossibly steep, highest altitude plots in the region.  At a soaring 900 meters this is a truly courageous feat of agriculture and winemaking and harkens back to a time of your.  Though the names Graziano, Donati, Saetti, etc evoke the most reverence when it comes to fermentation, it's an unsung hero named Danilo Marcucci that is defining the new age of natural Italian wine.  He made this wine last year as a nod to his former master and in time this will prove to be one of the most significant winemakers in the modern era (mark our words).  Tonight you get the rare chance to try this, perhaps the only true Sur Lie, bottle refermented wine of it's time.  100% colorino.  Impossibly good.  

Fondo Bozzole, Le Mani, Rosso Mantovano, Lombardia $20
During the 2012 harvest Franco of Fondo Bozzole noticed a parcel of his ruberti vineyard (the plot that he makes the Incantabiss from) was particularly ripe and tasty on the vine.  He decided if the wine permitted him, he would make a still wine (no bubbles), a real rarity in the fact this is the only still lambrusco made in Lombardy.  The wine indeed fermented to dryness and Franco was able to make it as a still wine, a real delight!  This is savory, deep yet light on it's feet at just 12% alcohol.  It reminds us of a snappy barbera/bonarda blend from the OltrePo` Pavese on the other side of Lombardy and is really fun to drink.

Vittorio Graziano, Sassoscuro, Rosso Emiliano, Castelvetro $38
Ah, Vittorio Graziano...this is the guy who in many ways we have to thank for reviving the bottle refermentation movement in Emilia-Romagna.  Back in the 60's Vittorio embarked on a journey away from the desk job he once had and began to farm a tiny (.5 hectare) plot in his family's region.  He soon expanded, each season talking to the local old-timers about rare local grapes, the soils they best grew in and how they made traditional wines.  Over the years Vittorio established up to 5 hectares of land and today makes three amazing and super rare wines.  This is the Sassoscuro, his still red wine.  It's a blend of grasparossa, malbo gentile and 3 other mystery grapes that Vittorio himself doesn't know what they are. 

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