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The wines of Emilia-Romagna

The wines of Emilia-Romagna

by Marco Rossi Friday, July 22, 2016

Marco Rossi introduces the wines of one of Italy's most famous regions, home to favourites such as Lambrusco and Albana Romagna.

More from this series:

Based across Italy, London and Copenhagen, Marco is a globetrotting sommelier and wine marketeer with a particular passion for Italian wine, particularly those from Tuscany.

Just saying the name Emilia-Romagna puts a smile on my face and fills my palate with joy. When I think of this region, of the red towers of Bologna or the crowded beaches of Rimini, I’m reminded of the slow life of the past, a happy and hospitable people, simple moments and great flavours. Maybe I'm biased; I studied and lived in Bologna and have an enormous love for Fellini, but every time I sit down to a table full of Parmigiano Reggiano, Grana Padano cheese, tortellini, lasagne, salama da sugo, tigelle or piadine, while drinking good Lambrusco or a fruity Sangiovese, I am regenerated by the tastes and ancient aromas that can be found in the region.

I will never forget tasting the wines that I believe perfectly represent this feeling. Lambrusco Grasparossa Vittorio Graziano ‘Fontana dei Boschi’, probably the most ‘abrupt’ type of Lambrusco, is jovial and melancholy at the same time, just like a clown. After a few glasses you will almost feel guilty for having forgotten the pure and simple joy of living a simple life without the distractions of modern day culture.

Emilia-Romagna is quite a young region, as before 1970 it was divided into two distinctly separate territories. Our journey will take us through these two territories, sometimes together, sometimes clearly distinct over centuries of history.

Lambrusco vineyards
Emilia-Romagna is famous for the sparkling wine Lambrusco, which is now shedding its reputation as a cheap and cheerful option
Emilia-Romagna
The region is the perfect mix of hills, plains, mountains and coastlines, offering all sorts of microclimates to winemakers

Emilia

DOCGs

Colli Blognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG (the hilly part of the province of Bologna touching some municipalities in the province of Modena)

 
 

Emilia-Romagna's environment

• The north-central region is bordered to the north with Lombardy and Veneto, to the west by Lombardy and Veneto, to the south with Liguria, Tuscany and Marche, and to the east with the Adriatic Sea

• The Po River is the largest of the region and it is the only one with a regular flow rate

• Emilia-Romagna has a sub-continental climate with cold winters and warmer summers towards the coast. Inland there is quite a high humidity

• Historically more devoted to producing quantity over quality, in modern times the region is now focusing on creating world-class wines

This DOCG was formed in 1997 to enhance the Pignoletto, an ancient variety that was traditionally linked to farming. According to specifications, producers need to use at least 95% of Pignoletto grapes while the rest can be Riesling or Trebbiano Romagnolo. There's also an amazing sparkling version of this wine that goes perfectly with traditional Emilia boiled meat.

Must try:

Traditional: Az Agricola Manaresi – Colli Bolognesi Classico DOCG Pignoletto

New Wave: Monte Vecchio Isolani – Colli Bolognesi Pignoletto Frizante Classico DOCG

DOCs

Lambrusco DOC (province of Modena, Reggio Emilia and Mantova)

Lambrusco wine deserves a separate article as there are so many types, ranging from dry to slightly sweet that we could taste. For a long time, Lambrusco was relegated to the role of a sparkling wine made just for traditional meals and frugal banquets, but today it is experiencing a moment of glory thanks to a new wave of quality producers using the Metodo Classico, used for Champagne.

As already highlighted in the early stages of this article, Lambrusco is a light, unpretentious and humble wine that can give immense joy, sometimes achieving unexpected levels of genuine elegance. The four main Lambrusco producing areas are Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa Castelvetro, Lambrusco Calamino of Santa Croce and Lambrusco Reggiano.

Must try:

Traditional: Cleto Chiarli ‘Lambrusco del Fondatore’ – Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC

New Wave: Fattoria Roretto ‘Canova’ – Lambrusco Grasparossa DOC

Colli Piacentini DOC (much of the province of Piacenza)

Piacenza has been a land of wines since ancient times. Popes, kings, lords and great artists up to this day just loved the wines of this area. In the Colli Piacentini area you will find amazing blends such as Bonarda, the Gutturino and Pinot Noir rosé sparkling wine – all high quality wines made by both international varieties and native grapes.

Must try:

Traditional: Lusenti ‘Regina Bianca’ – Colli Piacentini Malvasia DOC

New Wave: Luretta ‘Bacca di Rosa’ – Colli Piacentini Malvasia DOC

 

Romagna

DOCGs

Albana Romagna DOCG (Part of the provinces of Forlì, Cesena and Ravenna, reaching Bologna)

The Albana is one of the oldest vines in Romagna, and producers must use only this grape when making wines to gain DOCG status. There are five different versions: dry, demi-sec, sweet, raisin and sweet reserve. During ancient times Albana was considered a poor tavern wine until Roman rule, when it was served in a golden cup due to its delicate taste.

This was the first DOCG of the unified Emilia-Romagna, originating in 1987, and one of the first DOCGs made from white grapes in Italy. The Albana name comes from the Latin albus (white).

Must try:

Traditional: Fattoria Zerbina ‘Scacco Matto’ – Albana Romagna DOCG Passito

New Wave: Santa Lucia ‘Albarara Cru Artigianale’ – Albana Romagna DOCG Secco

DOCs

Sangiovese of Romagna DOC (Bologna, Ravenna, Forlì and Rimini)

Sangiovese is the most popular grape in Italy together with Pinot Noir and Nebbiolo. Outside of Tuscany – its homeland – there are only a few areas which can use it to its full potential, Romagna being one of them. For the people of Romagna, Sangiovese is almost a friend or relative that has historically accompanied them through centuries of cultural evolution. In Romagna Sangiovese is not made into wines that need ageing (as in Tuscany) – here you can get great results with young wines.

Must try:

Traditional: Fattoria Casetto de Mandorli ‘Vigna del Generale’ – Predappio Predappio IGT

New Wave: Noelia Ricci ‘Sangiovese’ – Sangiovese di Romagna Superiore DOCG

Pagadebit DOC (provinces of Ravenna, Forlì, Cesena and Rimini)

The name of this DOC is extremely interesting – in Italian it literally means ‘pays debts’. The grape is also known as Bombino Bianco but people from Romagna call it Pagadebit as, being an extremely sturdy and weather-resistant variety, it always ensured the farmers would have a safe harvest and be able to produce white wine even in bad years, helping them pay the debts accumulated during the year.

Must try:

Traditional: Podere La Berta – Pagadebit di Romagna DOC

New Wave: Podere di Vecciano ‘Vigna delle Rose’ – Pagadebit di Romagna DOC

 
 
 

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