Showing posts with label Emilia-Romagna. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Emilia-Romagna. Show all posts

Friday, September 7, 2018

Not Your Grandpa's Lambrusco

"It smells like my grandfather’s cellar," my wife said as she sniffed at my lunchtime Lambrusco.  She recalls fondly how the barrel in Grandpa's basement filled the room with the aroma of grapes.  He and his neighbors would gather the grapes that grew on their trellises and contribute to the communal fermentation.

Long after Grandpa's passing, she told the story at a family dinner of how she sneaked down the stairs as a child and drew off a sample to taste.  It was forbidden, and so much more desirable as a result.  Grandpa was her hero, and she held him at the highest esteem.  He could do no wrong.  She sipped the liquid and spewed it out onto the floor immediately struck dumb by the acidic liquid.  She held the secret for decades, the secret that Grandpa made bad wine.

At this point in the story, Grandpa’s son Uncle Joe interrupted to say, "Grandpa didn’t make wine, he made vinegar!"  A round of laughs ensued.  Relieved, my wife could put to rest the awful thought that Grandpa had failed at something.  It may have been crappy wine, but it was the best vinegar they all had ever had.

Why I like the wine list at Terroni
Anyway, the Lambrusco di Modena at Terroni in Los Angeles reminded her of Grandpa and me of that story.  The "Nessun Dorma" is from the town of Modena in Italy's Emilia Romagna region.  When they're not making balsamic vinegar or sports cars, they make wine.  This one is made from mostly Lambrusco di Grasparossa grapes, with a splash of Salamino.  It sells for $11 by the glass at Terroni, where the wine list has a delightfully Italian twist.  I see it offered online for $17 a bottle.

It's a good wine, a slightly fizzy wine with a dark color and that wonderful, grapey Lambrusco aroma.  On the palate it's completely dry and carries a gentle acidity.  The taste takes me back to childhood, to those grape icicle pushups that were so good in the summer.  The wine, of course, has none of that sweetness but it harkens back to that deep flavor.  It's no Riunite.  It's a very good wine which stands on its own merit.  And when you want a good Lambrusco, nothing else will do.  It goes great with eggs and sausage, by the way.


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Monday, October 17, 2016

Leisurely Lambusco

From the Banfi family of wines, this northern Italian red is, as the name Rosso Dolce suggests, on the sweet side. Not sweet as in dessert, but sweet as opposed to dry.

Bell'agio Rosso Dolce is made by blending two grapes of Emilia-Romagna, Lambrusco Grasparossa and Lambrusco Salamino. The vineyards are in the province of Reggio Emilia, located between the Po River and the hills of the Apennine mountains.

The wine is fermented in stainless steel and given a second fermentation, which imparts a bit of frothy fizz to the wine. Alcohol is incredibly restrained at just 8% abv. It sells for about 10 bucks, less in some places.

This is a very purple wine. It looks purple, it smells purple and it tastes purple. The nose is grapy and earthy, with not a whole lot of complexity. The palate is also rather simple, - pleasant, though, with gentle tannins. It's like a wine with training wheels, something to put in your glass until you're ready for the hard stuff.

That shouldn't be taken to mean the wine is not worthy. It is, quite, in fact. Its simplicity is its grace. It's a classic bistro wine, the stuff to drink when the person across the table is of greater interest that the bottle on the table.

You can pair this wine with very spicy foods, as the tannins and acidity are rather tame. It goes well with pasta, burgers, cheese or even pastries.


Friday, April 8, 2016

It's A Lambrusco Day

A good wine list is a beautiful thing. Even if I don’t plan on having a glass of wine at a restaurant meal, I just hate it when I give a glance to the eatery’s vino offerings and feel completely uninspired.

Denise and I had a nice lunch recently at a restaurant we had been meaning to try for quite a while. La Buca Osteria L.A. is way east on Melrose and has a sign in front intimating that it might be time to stop looking at the sign as you drive by and stop in already. So we did.

We like to celebrate Fridays with a nice lunch together under, hopefully, perfect conditions. That’s not an unreasonable request in Southern California, where you can probably count the less-than-perfect-weather Fridays each year on one hand. It was a gorgeous spring day when we sat down at the table, covered with butcher paper decorated with an ink stamp of a motorcycle.

I like the way Denise fills me in on the details of our dining experience. She digs a lot deeper into the L.A. food scene than I do, and she always has an interesting tidbit or two culled from her personal research. It appears, she told me, that the original chef left the resto in a dispute over meatballs. A scene from “Big Night” immediately comes to mind. There are no meatballs on the menu now, and I guess that’s one way to work it out. “Chef Out In Meatball Beef.”

The wine list had some nice options for a beautiful day - a rosé,a Chenin Blanc… wait, what’s this? A Lambrusco? Perfect. I'm inspired.

The Barbolini Lambrusco is just that - a perfect Lambrusco. Italian journalist Curzio Malaparte wrote in Lambrusco and Freedom, "A good drinker of Lambrusco is not only a proud, warm and generous man, but he is above all free. Therefore what is it, if it isn't Lambrusco that gives the Parmesan people that bright, sincere and dominant air; that sparkle in their eyes, that loud voice and tough expression? It is the wine of freedom and of the free man."

The wine comes from the Emilia-Romagna region of northern Italy, perhaps better known for its cheese. This Lambrusco has beautiful purple bubbles, the result of a secondary fermentation, and it comes bottled like any other sparkling wine. Please don’t confuse an artisanal Lambrusco like this one with the jugs in the grocery store. They are nothing alike.

The Barbolini Lambrusco has a wonderful frizzante, or bubbly character, and it holds a chill extremely well. The earthy grape flavor has plenty of minerality and almost no tannic grip. It’s a great sipper, but it goes very well with food, especially cured meats. I had it with La Buca’s fabulous grilled octopus and it was even better with their rustic and incredible cacio e pepe pasta dish.

So perfect was this Lambrusco that we immediately went and bought another one to take home.


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