The Emilia-Romagna region in the north of Italy crosses almost the entire country, from south of Milan to Rimini on its eastern, Adriatic, coast. Bordering Tuscany to the south, and Lombardy and Veneto to the North, this is home to the sparkling wines of Lambrusco.
An area famed for its gastronomy, with a wealth of fabulous pasta dishes (tortellini, lasagna, tagliatelli) and meats, especially pork (prosciutto, pancetta, mortadella), and of course cheese ( including Parmigiano Reggiano and Grana Padano). Wine is very much part of the culture and everyday life here, and when you appreciate the wealth of flavours from its cuisine you start to understand the importance and versatility of Lambrusco to the region.
Essentially Lambrusco is the perfect wine to match the many and varied dishes to be found here. The name Lambrusco represents a family of grape varieties indigenous to the Emilia-Romagna region, where they have been grown for centuries. Once thought to have been over 50 in number, nowadays up to a dozen varieties are typically used for the majority of production. They can be used to make single variety or blended wines (depending on the specific DOC), and the beauty is that they can be used to make wines with varying levels of sweetness, acidity, structure and tannin – to match all types of food.
Cantina di Soliera have over 400 member growers, and although founded just under a decade ago, they are drawing upon generations of traditional vine-growing and winemaking experience in the area. With a real focus on quality they source grapes from the best sites, predominantly from 20 hectares of selected vineyards in the Lambrusco di Sorbara zone north of Modena and in the neighbouring Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC. These non-vintage sparkling wines are focused on 3 key varieties – Sorbara, Grasparossa and Salamino:
Sorbara is grown in abundance in the central plains of Modena. It needs a pollinator (usually the Salamino variety) to be planted nearby. Sorbara is quite pale, with very little tannin, and produces wines with a cherry red colour. The wines are usually dry or off-dry with blueberry and cherry characters and floral notes. It has really bright acidity, perfect for matching the pork dishes from this area:
Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC, Dry
100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (11% ABV )
Enjoy with Tortellini al Formaggi with Prosciutto, seafood or even spicy Thai dishes
Grasparosso is thought to have originated in Castelvetro, and can be found in the hills and foothills of Modena and Reggio Emilia. As the name implies, this variety develops red stems and branches, and the grapes have a dark colour and are high in tannin. Producing richly-coloured, structured and fruit-driven wines with notes of sour cherry, redcurrant, blackberry, almond and floral hints.
Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC, Sweet
100% Lambrusco Grasparossa (8% ABV)
Enjoy with Italian sausage with fennel or Chicken Milanese
Salamino sits somewhere between Sorbara and Grasparossa in style. Believed to have originated in the area of Sante Croce, this is the most widely planted variety in the plains of Modena and Reggio Emilia. It has good body and is the most balanced. Producing dark coloured wines with aromas of raspberry, cherry and blackberry, soft tannins and violet and rose petal notes.
Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce DOC, Semi-dry
100% Lambrsuco Salamino (10% ABV)
Enjoy with a charcuterie board of Culatello salami, Parma ham, and Mortadella, tomato-based pasta dishes and lasagna
Along with these Charmat (tank) method wines Cantina di Soliera’s winemaker, Marco Facchini, also produces a wine by the Ancestrale* method traditional to the region *this may appear opaque as the wine isn’t disgorged after the second fermentation in bottle.
Cantina di Soliera Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC ‘Il Trovador’ (Metodo Ancestrale), Dry
100% Lambrusco di Sorbara (12% ABV)
Enjoy with simple charcuterie, Parmigiano and Grana Pardano cheeses, and perhaps fish tempura