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Italian Wine

from the land of lambrusco: emilia-romagna wine.

Last week, I was showing some wines at an event in Cherry Creek for the launch of a new clothing line at Lawrence Covell, whose designer—Raffele Caruso—is from the Emilia Romagna region of Italy.

Emilia-Romagna has a long, fascinating history that unfortunately escapes even the most astute wine connoisseurs. Its diverse range of wine production and capacity for thought provoking, complexly structured wines is certainly not a given, particularly since the rise of Reunite Lambrusco in the ‘70’s— a sweet, cloying sparkling red that is simple and quaffable, but by no means contemplative. The fact that this was (and often still is) representative of wine from Emilia-Romagna, has led to the misunderstanding and undervaluing of this region as a whole.

All the wines that I poured, of course, represented the fruits of the land: a Lini 1910 Lambrusca Bianco, a more traditional red lambrusco from Tenuta Pederzana (their Grapparossa), and finally the extremely well-received 2003 Fattoria Paradiso Barbarossa red.

Fattoria Paradiso is a production that stands above many others in Emilia-Romagna. Its leading proponent, Mario Pezzi, has demonstrated faith in Emilia-Romagna’s potential for world-class, ageworthy wine of quality. As such, he has been instrumental in delivering a range of styles, both red and white, from sparkling and still in both dry and sweet variations.

Fattoria Paradiso is also one of the few sources of production for the Barbarossa variety (possibly the only exported example of its kind in the states). In fact, Pezzi brought not only this grape, but also the Cagnina and Pagadebit varietals back from obscurity. When discovered, Barbarossa had been growing amongst Sangiovese vines. Extracted and cultivated alone, this grape sings a most intriguing melody. It is rather serious and capable of moderate ageing up to about 10 years. This 2003 is drinking just about perfectly right now. Before it was even released, it saw 18 months in casks, 6 months in barrique barrels, followed by further maturation and refinement in the bottle for 12 months.

The 2003 Barbarossa boasts a symphony of aromas and flavors, allowing you to return to the rim repeatedly only to find more attributes. You will likely find notes of black cherry and plum preserves, raspberries, licorice, dried violets and roses, cocoa poweder, dusty earth, a touch of leather, vanilla, and baking spices. It’s loaded and lovely. A fabulous representation of dry Emilia-Romagna red!

It is harder to find, but if you can get your hands on some, I can honestly say I rarely have witnessed such unanimous (not to mention zealous) approval.  I would be happy to help search… and this is a simple task if you are local.  Great pick for the holidays, whether guest or host…

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About mistralwine1982

Originally from Wisconsin, I moved to Colorado in 2005 in order to get closer to the mountains and rock climb. When it occurred to me that I would never make money with that hobby, I went to grad school. I received a masters in English and American Literature from New York University in May of 2009. I have since then opted not to pursue a PhD, for studying and writing about wine is far more fascinating (well, perhaps not moreso than Virginia Woolf, but still… for the long haul?). My favorite wines come from the old world, especially the Rhone, Burgundy, Rioja, Piedmont, and Tuscany. I am also smitten with roses, Italian hard-to-pronounce white varietals, and dessert wines from around the world. By day I run a wine shop. By nite, I sip and tell. It’s rough… but someone must do this.

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