|The Family of DOC Lambrusco wines|
Since ancient times, the number three has been considered in many cultures as a symbol of perfection, representing the concept of multiplicity in unity Like all things significant, DOC Lambrusco could not fail to conform to this rule and so it is that Modena possesses not just one DOC Lambrusco, but three:
As members of the same illustrious Lambrusco family, they obviously share certain common traits. But each has its own distinct character, depending, first of all, on the different natural attributes of the vines employed, the diverse soil composition and microclimatic features of the various zones of origin, and, last but not least, on men's work. These three distinctive and very individual wines have long constituted the Lambrusco "aristocracy'; reaching the highest levels of quality and coming together in one great passion for enjoyment and marvellous cooking.
It is made from a vine of the same name, Lambrusco di Sorbara, which is a native variety of remote origins. It grows in sparse, conical clusters bearing spherical fruits, the abundance of which varies from year to year (while the grapes retain the same size of a few millimetres). This is due to a flowering anomaly, that can give rise to a considerable loss of fruit. It is has now been ascertained that the phenomenon, typical of Lambrusco di Sorbara, is caused, above all, by the sterility of the pollen.
In some years, it has been known to bring about a drop of over 30% in the amount of grapes harvested for production.
But it is this peculiarity that makes it so outstanding, memorable and particularly admired. It stands alone among the range of Lambrusco wines and shares its qualified position with other noble vines cultivated in Italy and France (the prime example being Picolit).
As we have said, production is always limited and, in some years, it is extremely hard to come by But what is lacking in quantity is more than made up for in quality, always of the highest.
To facilitate fertilisation the Sorbara vine is cultivated with a percentage of Salamino Lambrusco, the vines growing side by side in the same vineyard.
Region of origin and geology
The traditional area of cultivation lies between the Secchia and Panaro rivers. Formed from a conjunction of the flood plains of the two rivers, its soils are mainly sandy and loose, permeable and rich in potassium. The further we move away from this area, the more mixed the soil is, becoming mainly clayey outside the area delimited by the rules of production.
When the vine is grown on soils with a higher clay content, the wine takes on a deeper colour than usual and loses much of its scent. Cultivated in the hilly zones and at the foot of hills close to Modena and in the bordering provinces, the vine appears very much the same to those growing on clayey soils.
Ruby to garnet with a pinkish froth, it is the lightest in colour of Modena's three DOC Lambruscos. It has a fresh, pronounced, very fine scent, with a distinct hint of violets, which represents the most typical and distinctive characteristic of this wine. Its taste is delicate, tangy and well-balanced, pleasantly acidulous and fruity due to its high acidity and rather unpronounced body (easy and delicious to drink when still young). Rather than a symphony or fullorchestral piece, it is better likened to a solo composition, but performed with such harmony and so refined in style, that the audience is held completely enthralled. Without doubt, it is the perfect match for the more substantial dishes of the renowned Emilian cuisine.
This wine is produced from the Lambrusco Grasparossa variety Although not possessing great vigour; the vine is distinguished by a special characteristic: with the arrival of autumn, not only the leaves turn red, but also the stalk and pedicels. The relevant production rules permit the Lambrusco Grasparossa vine to be cultivated alongside a modest percentage of Lambrusco and Fortana ("Uva d'Oro") varieties. None the less the wine is essentially derived from the vine of the same name. The sparse, conical-shaped cluster is medium in length with roundish fruits. The grapes range from plummy dark blue to blackish, have a thick skin and contain a medium juicy, sweetish, slightly acidulous pulp.
Due to its lack of vigour, the Lambrusco Grasparossa vine is best cultivated in smaller vineyards, where it does well, even on rather poor soils, such as those on the lower slopes of the Modenese hills. It bears up well to climatic and other adversities, and matures fairly late, after waiting to capture the very last rays of the autumn sunshine (years ago, harvesting went on well into November).
Area of origin and geology
The vine grows on the dry soils of the Modenese uplands and lower hill-slopes, an area dotted with country mansions and ancient castles, where the Apennine chain, rising up to the peak of Monte Cimone, provides the cornice of an undulating landscape of rare beauty. In terms of surface lithology, the region demarcated by the production guidelines can be divided into two distinct areas: the upland zone and a lower hill-slope zone. The soils typifying the uplands are low in permeability, rather infertile and difficult to work, being largely composed of sandy and marly clays, as well as scaly clays englobing limestone blocks of variable size. Here, the yield is far from abundant, although high in quality and of marked characteristics. Lower down, the soils are made up of silt deposits and silty sands lying on a bed of gravel and therefore offer a good degree of permeability. On this land, the Lambrusco Grasparossa produces more abundant yields, maintaining similar characteristics to those encountered in the upland wines. It should be noted that while, in the course of history this native upland vine gradually worked its way down onto the lower slopes, thanks to the presence specific microclimatic conditions and a certain type of terrain, it has never spread out over the plain.
The wine is deep ruby in colour; with a violet sheen and a light froth with an edge of the same hue. The notable bouquet is fruity fragrant and interesting, bringing to mind the aroma of the grape. According to Agazzotti "it emanates a pleasant scent of peach-almonds". Its keen, harmonious flavour has delicious body, is well-balanced in acidity and slightly fruity leaving a pleasant, somewhat bitter aftertaste. It makes an excellent aperitif and goes divinely with Modena's typical pastries and desserts.
This wine essentially comes from the Lambrusco Salamino grapevine. However, the production guidelines permit Lambrusco Salamino grapes to be cultivated alongside a small percentage of Lambrusco and Fortana vines, the latter being locally referred to as "Uva d'Oro" (golden grapes). Thus, we can affirm that it is from the vine of the same name that this wine is substantially derived.
Cylindrical or conical in shape, the cluster is rather small, thin and compact, has an average length of 10-12 cm and often incorporates an off-shoot. The same cluster bears spherical grapes of different sizes, with a thick, robust skin of a plummy blue-black colour. The grapes contain a juicy pulp with a slightly sweet, acidic taste.
The Lambrusco Salamino vine is vigorous, ensuring a prolific and constant yield. Its grapes ripen in early October, having stored all the light and heat of the summer and autumn sunshine.
Spring and summer pruning of the vines is performed in order to reduce the load of clusters borne by each root and guarantee that the sun's rays reach every part of the cluster, ensuring a complete and uniform ripening.
Region of origin and geology
The wine originates from the area around the town of Carpi, in the north-western sector of the Modena province, and from the adjacent flatlands in the north-east of the same province.
In fact, Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce takes its name from a district of the Carpi municipality which, in ancient times, was the centre that distributed the wine throughout Modena and bordering provinces.
The vineyards of Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce are cultivated on soils made fertile by the incessant effort of man over two thousand years.
Of ancient origin, the soils are due to the gradual accumulation of sediment left behind by the flooding of the various rivers and streams that cross the Modenese plains from south to north: sands, silts and clays are present throughout the area in more or less equal proportions.
It has a deep ruby colour and a purple-edged froth, reflecting the sheen of the wine itself The scent is delicate, refreshing, persistent and fruity with a distinct vinous touch reminiscent of ripened grapes. Harmoniously scented, slightly acidic and refreshing in taste, it is of average but adequate body and moderate in alcohol content.
This wine is an easy, enjoyable drink, lively, straightforward and informal. It appeals to all palates and perfectly matches not only the typical pasta dishes of Emilia, but also any of its richer first courses, as well as roast meats, especially poultry, rabbit or pork.