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Hardly any wine has so permanently ruined its reputation through the production of banal mass-produced goods as Lambrusco. And this despite the fact that the heyday of the inconsequential sweet foams from Emilia Romagna is almost 30 years past. Today it is much harder to find a bad Lambrusco than a good one - at least away from the usual outlets for cheap goods.
Photo: Consorzio Tutela del Lambrusco di Modena, Carlo Guttadauro

Yet the very name Lambrusco is a misnomer. There are countless grape varieties with the name Lambrusco, many of which are not even related to each other (no wonder, because the name simply means "wild vine"), and quite a few areas of origin. These, in turn, may be named after a particular Lambrusco variety, but need only be partly made up of it; some of them nevertheless represent quite clear styles, while in others it is hardly possible to tell from the name what to expect.

Among the noblest varieties are undoubtedly Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro and Lambrusco Salamino die Santa Croce, which are quite similar, although the Grasparossa is much more common than the Salamino. His wines are - apart from the rarer Rosatos - deep dark, can turn out immensely juicy, with beguiling, fresh aromatics, often a little black pepper, fine perlage and always present but hardly ever drying tannins. It is available from quite dry to quite sweet, whereby it is precisely the tart tannins that balance even higher sugar levels and ensure that even "Amabile" versions hardly ever seem clumsy or kitschy.

Reggiano is also quite similar to Grasparossa, but the range of its manifestations is somewhat wider. Reggiano can also be rustic, sometimes a little peasant. Animal tones also occur time and again. At its best, it can hardly be distinguished from a Grasparossa; it, too, is equally suited to dry, semi-dry and sweet styles of ageing.

Lambrusco di Sorbara is a completely different story. Good Sorbara is basically light red to rosé, emphatically tart and rich in acidity. The best have an inimitable race, tension, aromatic finesse and tart juiciness that make it very difficult for the taster, if like the author he is a fan of this style, not to start drinking at the same time as tasting.

Over the last few weeks, we have tasted almost a hundred wines for this BEST OF, the best of which we present here and, as always, in a PDF. You can find links to all the wines with detailed descriptions and their producers by clicking on the respective headings.

Lambrusco di Sorbara DOP

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOP

  • 88WP 2017 Secco "Vigneto Caldini", Chiarli
  • 88WP 2017 Secco "Corleto", Villa di Corlo
  • 87WP 2017 Amabile, Villa di Corlo
  • 87WP Amabile, Chiarli
  • 87WP Secco "L'acino, Corte Manzini
  • 87WP "ciacaron", Bassoli
  • 87WP "Fruttato", Giacobazzi
  • 87WP "Operapura", Ca' Montanari
  • 87WP Secco, Corte Manzini
  • 86WP Extra Dry "OperaRosa", Ca' Montanari
  • 86WP Amabile "Semprebon", Moretto
  • 86WP Amabile Castelvetro
  • 86WP Semi Secco "La Giara", Giancarlo Messori
  • 86WP Secco "Monovitigno", Moretto
  • 86WP Amabile, Corte Manzini
  • 85WP Secco "Tasso", Moretto
  • 85WP Amabile "Riunite
  • 85WP Secco, Righi
  • 85WP Secco "Bolla Rossa", Corte Manzini
  • 85WP Brut Rosé, Corte Manzini
  • 85WP Secco, CS Croce
  • 85WP Secco "Toccacielo", Fratelli Carafoli
  • 85WP 2017 Secco "Vigneto Cialdini", Chiarli

Reggiano DOP

  • 88WP Secco "Lambrusco Oro", Alfredo Bertolani
  • 87WP Secco "Lunariò", Due Torri
  • 86WP Amabile, Lombardini
  • 86WP "Settefilari", di Aljano
  • 86WP Secco "Il Signor Campanone", Lombardini
  • 86WP "Piazza San Prospero", Ca' de' Medici
  • 86WP Dolce "Remigio Premium", Ca' de' Medici
  • 85WP Secco "Pra di Bosso", Casali
  • 85WP Amabile, Riunite
  • 85WP Secco "Cuvée 1950", Riunite

Lambrusco Salamino di S. Croce

Lambrusco di Modena DOP

Lambrusco dell'Emilia IGP

  • 88WP "Gradisca", Fantestini
  • 87WP Rosé "Lini910
  • 87WP "Terra Calda", Ca' de' Medici
  • 86WP 2016 Dosage Zero ""Vigne in Alta Quota", Terraquilia
  • 85WP Secco "BerbaRòsè Lambrósç", Colle di Catellani Corrado
  • 85WP Rosato, CS San Martino in Rio

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