Continuing with the theme of sparkling wine in the New Year, we’re going someplace we haven’t been yet: Lombardy. Lombardy is the most populated region in Italy and one of the largest in size. It also contains the home of the Italian fashion world, Milan. However, in the world of Italian wine, it isn’t quite as prestigious and is often thought of as more of a weigh station between it’s more prolific neighbors – Piedmont to the west and the Tre Venezie to the east. And when people do think of wine from Lombardy, Lambrusco is not often what comes to mind.
Lambrusco is a sparkling (usually) red wine that is mostly associated with the region of Emilia-Romagna. In fact there is only one Lambrusco region outside of Emilia-Romagna, the Lambrusco Mantovano DOC, which is where this wine is from. This region is just north of the border between Lombardy and Emilia-Romagna, in the area where Lombardy narrows to a point between Emilia-Romagna and Veneto. It is centered in and around the province of Mantua (Mantova in Italian). Lambrusco is probably the most well known sparkling red wine in the US (possibly in the world, red sparkling wine is not all that common) and at some point in the not too distant past it was the most imported Italian wine in the US, though that has changed in the last decade. It is made from the Lambrusco grape, which has a number of sub-varieties and synonyms but are usually lumped together under the Lambrusco heading. Wines made in the Lambrusco Mantovano DOC must be made of at least 85% Lambrusco and can be made as still wine as well as sparkling, though few Lambrusco’s that make their way across the Atlantic are still.
This particular wine is from the producer Fondo Bozzole and is produced in a sub-region of the Lambrusco Mantovano DOC known as Oltre Po Mantovano. This area historically has restricted the amount of grapes grown per acre, which leads to higher quality wines. The local term for the grape used in this wine is Ruberti. It is dark purple in color with inky purple bubbles on top. The nose is very fresh and fruit forward with notes of light cherry mixed with pear and other fresh fruits. It is more frizzante than spumante and is very light on the palate. It has nice acidity to it, which is followed by some very smooth tannins. There are notes of bright red cherry along with pear and blackberry. It has a medium finish to it with lingering blackberry and cherry notes. It’s not an overly complex wine, but a nice light dinner wine.