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Enologica 2016: Getting into Fizz!

Written by: Emerson Baun | Date of Published: 12th January 2017

I must admit, Lambrusco is a total stranger to me for years and it's in fact, a real shame.

I was welcomed by a cold winter breeze that moment I set my foot in Bologna. The humble city embraces their visitors with impressive lined heritage buildings, lengthy porticoes and roads flocked with locals on their usual routines. Despite the region's gastronomical fame, Neither a  sign of it nor an advertisement of wines can be seen aside from a conversation from a fellow delegate telling me that it's the best place for food & wine to which I just smiled in return and told myself silently "I'll see."

Truth to be told that Emilia-Romagna is the place for the Parmigiano-cheese and that alone is a valid point to expect a good plate of pasta, risotto, and pizza. But as much as the region is famous for good food, I was left in a mystery how I haven't heard of their wines that typically comes after it? Perhaps, I am a victim of commercial adoption, that I only indulged myself in what most oenophiles talk about such as the Barolos of Piedmont, Tuscan and Super Tuscan wines of Tuscany. Nevertheless, Enologica 2016 left me unveiled all my doubts and turned it into an interesting and amusing addition to my little knowledge and future wine journeys. 

First, let's talk about the region Emilia-Romagna:


Emilia-Romagna is a combined region in northern part of Italy with Bologna being its capital and largest city. It's is one of Italy's oldest region dating back to the Etruscans time in the 7th Century B.C. It is said that formerly Emilia had inhabitants of Barbarians whose diets depend on pork meats and butter leaving their palates a fatty sensation hence the need for sparkling wine to counteract the fattiness. On the other hand,  Romagna was colonized by Romans whose food contains more olive oils that tend to be more oily that can be complemented with wine with a particular structure. 

Emilia-Romagna is the 4th concerning Italy's highest volume of wine production following Veneto, Tuscany and Piedmont respectively. A third of their wines are DOC and DOCG and amongst the region's primary grapes like Trebbiano, Sangiovese, and Lambrusco, with the latter being the best known.

Lambrusco: A Sparkling Rosso

While everyone doubts that a sparkling red exists, in Emilia-Romagna, it is commonly prevalent. In fact, sweet Lambrusco was once the biggest selling import wine in the United States throughout the 1970s and 1980s and now on its way to having a strong comeback.

Lambrusco means "wild grape" and was domesticated from local wild vines. To date, there are 60 identified Lambrusco varieties with six common names like Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Montericco, the most planted variety - Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Sorbara - the most important varieties responsible for Lambrusco.

The characteristics of a Lambrusco wine varies in different level of dryness or sweetness.  For those who fancy eating meaty dishes, you might consider a dry Lambrusco called 'secco' while if you are on a more sweet side, their Amabile (off-dry) or Dolce (very sweet) will surely fit. 

Now it's the Fizz!:

Lambrusco has two types of fizz, the Frizzante (semi-sparkling) which has only about 1-2 atmospheres of pressure in a bottle, Spumante (fully sparkling) that is usually about 2-5 atmosphere. To further have a comparison of its effervescence, champagne has 7 atmospheres of pressure in a bottle. 

Speaking of fizz, one will surely grab a bottle of champagne before thinking otherwise. However, sparkling white can be a little overwhelming sometimes, there's Italy's Prosecco and Asti, France's Cremant, Spain's Cava, Germany's Sekt, Portugal's Espumante. Having said those, Lambrusco is the only one that tops the list of Sparkling red as it also hails from the land of exquisite cuisines hence, the palate of excellent wines too!  A good bottle of Lambrusco can give you a deep purplish to red color, nose-tingling fizzy and fruity but not so sweet palate. It's well-balanced spirit and structured acidity make it more adorable to pair with different types of food such as lasagne, risotto, cheese, cured meats and other rich fares.

My Two Cents:

Walking under the roof of a 13th-century palace, Palazzo Re Enzo with over 110 producers and winemakers of Emilia-Romagna region is really quite something. Enologica is a yearly fair where most of the region's producers showcase their own representation of a finest produce. There were two long aisles along the hall with each aisle filled with booths ready to serve you a glass of cold Lambrusco or Sangiovese. 5 out of 10 winemakers/representative I had a conversation with has a very limited production that can only be enjoyed at present in Italy and few other countries like US and Japan. Though they are not closing their doors to expand their market, it's still the quality over quantity that matters to them. You see, these people value the tradition and the passion of this craftsmanship inherited from their great kinship still kindles. Moreover, more producers are on their way to elevate and widen the reach of this excellent and frothy type of wine that was a favorite drink of many once upon a time.

Some of the wines to try:


Francesco Bellei Ancestrale DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara

Website: www.francescobellei.it

Undergone a natural fermentation in the bottle, this Sparkling red from Modena offers red velvet colors with an intense perfume of violets, raspberry, and blueberries. It exhibits dry, creamy and medium to high acidity palate.  A great accompaniment with meat sauce pasta and roasted/boiled meats.

Zucchi Rito Lambrusco di Sorbara D.O.P. 
Grape Variety: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara

Website: www.vinizucchi.it

Coral Pink. Nose with prominent minerality, a fragrance that opens immediately with floral and fruity notes. A fragrant strawberry, raspberry and grapefruit. A pleasant finish with just the right length.

Cantina di S. Croce Lambrusco Salamino DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Lambrusco Salamino

Website: www.cantinasantacroce.it

Grapes sourced from Carpi area mainly from the village of Santa Croce; the wine is vinified through cold maceration and undergone Charmat method with natural fermentation. Medium to deep ruby red color with evident fruity flavors on the nose. This dry sparkling red has a fresh,  ripe fruit and medium-bodied palate.

(Lombardini) Il Signor Campanone Reggiano DOC Lambrusco Rosso Secco
Grape Varieties: Lambrusco Salamino,
Lambrusco di Sorbara

Website: www.lombardinivini.it

A dry semi-sparkling red made from a blend of Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco di Sorbara. This wine showcases ruby red in color, the bouquet has a delicate, fine and harmonious, with a clear hint of soft red berries. Overall, this is elegant, pleasantly balanced, with a good body and marked wine.

Cleto Charli "Premium" Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC
Grape Variety: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara

Website: www.chiarli.com

From the most ancient producer of typical wines of Emilia-Romagna founded in 1860 - Chiarli. The label has the words "Premium -  Mention Honorable" Premium because the grapes are obtained only from the best vineyards and the Mention Honorable commemorates the said prestigious award given to Cleto Chiarli for this Lambrusco during the Exposition Universelle in 1900. 

The wine has a vibrant red appearance with rose shades. The effervescence is fine and fading with aromas of strawberries, red currant, rose. A wine of well-balanced acidity and medium finish.

This experience is not possible without the generosity and hospitality of EnnePi Progress. Thank you very much for having Wine Clique to be part of Enologica 2016!