Italian Indigenous Varieties: Lambrusco Oliva from Reggio Emilia

emilia romagna

While it seems to be one of the lesser known regions of Italy, Emilia Romagna has everything: valleys, hills, coastline, the plains and the Apennine Mountain range. It also is home to wonderful art cities and thermal spas, as well as great food and wine. Among it’s most famous wines and grape varieties are the host of Lambrusco varieties.

Lambrusco is one of the topics that seems to get people quite heated under the collar. I am working my way through posts on indigenous Italian varieties that start with the letter “L” and am amazed at how many there actually are. Today’s variety is Lambrusco Oliva from the area near Reggio Emilia or Reggiano. This grape variety is often also called Lambrusco Mazzone.

This particular variety of Lambrusco is said to be best blended with other Lambrusco varieties such as Lambrusco Marani. It brings structure and color to the blend. A vigorous variety, if left macerating on the skins too long, it will present a bitter note. It works best in certain versions of Lambrusco such as the frizzante and amabile styles.

This variety can be part of the Lambrusco Emilia IGT classification. Producers can use this classification for a wine made from Lambrusco Oliva either on its own or together with any of these varieties of Lambrusco: Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Montericco, Lambrusco viadanese, Lambrusco oliva if they make up 85% of the wine.

Lambrusco is a wine that was long misunderstood but has definitely seen a resurgence in the last years. I like many others remember the Riunite days in the USA but I also lived in Bologna where I went to graduate school and got to drink the better stuff at my local hang outs. We visited Reggio Emilia when I lived in Bologna and I remember it being a beautiful town. Emilia Romagna is a great region with lovely food and wines as well as joyous people.

When drinking Lambrusco, one often eats prosciutto or other charcuterie. I also love Lambrusco with traditional pasta dishes from the region such as this one for Cappelletti. Reggio Emilia is also very famous for its innovative approach to child education. They have some of the most widely praised school philosophies around.

It’s been a long time and writing about Reggio I think I am due for a visit to that region on my next trip to Italy. The last time I was there I stayed in this marvelous hotel, Hotel Posta with it’s 500 years of hotel hospitality 1515 – 2015 in the Palazzo del Capitano del Popolo.

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