Category Archives: Italian indigenous Grape Varieties

Italian Indigenous Varieties: Lambrusco Marani

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I have been writing about different clones of Lambrusco all fall. There are many of them in fact, about 60. Among the main ones though, is this week’s variety, Lambrusco Marani. Like many of the others, it produces wines that are ruby red in color with a fruity, vinous aromas and flavors, good acidity and moderate alcohol. This variety can be made into the many varied styles of Lambrusco including dry (secco), amabile (demi-sec) and sweet (dolce) Lambrusco.

It grows around the cities of Modena and Reggio Emilia, two small jewels that I highly recommend visiting. I had the pleasure of living in Bologna for graduate school and was able not only to drink large quantities of Lambrusco but also to savor day trips throughout this glorious region.

Lambrusco Marani is part of wines that can have an indication as Reggiano Lambrusco DOC. There is is usually blended with a combination of wine made from other clones such as Lambrusco Salamino, Sorbara, Maestri, Montericco and Ancellotta.

Medici Ermete is a producer, imported by Kobrand, that uses this clone in its wines. I have had this wine many years during the Gambero Rosso tasting. I look forward to trying it again this year.

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Italian Indigenous Varieties:Lambrusco di Sorbara

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I like to use this photo that I took of the pavilion at Vinitaly for Emilia Romagna because it say it is “un mondo fantastico.” This is the way I feel about Emilia, a region I love and lived in when I went to graduate school in Bologna.


This week’s variety is Lambrusco di Sorbara. I have been writing about different Lambrusco varieties in the last month or so and this is most definitely one of the most famous and sought after. This past weekend I was out with friends who know how much I love Lambrusco and wanted to order one but one of our party was from Bologna and he insisted that he would only drink it if it was made from Lambrusco di Sorbara. Emotions run deep in Lambrusco land apparently. Sorbara is one of the oldest of the Lambrusco varieties and grows well in loose soils of sand and alluvial fans. When grown on clay soils it tends to lose it’s aromas yet be higher in color. Lambrusco di Sorbara was given the DOC classification in 1970. It is considered the most prestigious of the various Lamrbusco varieties. It comes from the area around Bomporto, near Modena.  To be a Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC wine, you need at least 60% of the wine to come from Lambrusco di Sorbara. The one in the picture from Francesco Vezzelli is lovely, relatively inexpensive at around $16 and available in the USA. Check out wine-searcher here.

I love Lambrusco with many foods or by itself. I laughed when my friend reserved the right to only drink ones from Sorbara but that’s one of the things I love about wine, it raises people’s passions to new heights. Cin Cin!










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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Lambrusco Oliva from Reggio Emilia

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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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Italian Indigenous Varieties: Lambrusca di Alessandria and Lambrusco a Foglia Frastagliata

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Lambrusco is one of the most widely discussed and maligned grape varieties grown in Italy, together with Albana and Pinot Grigio. There are many different grapes with Lambrusco as part of their name, mostly grown in Emilia Romagna but not all. It is likely that they are related to a wild grapevine that was already known to both Pliny and Virgil in antiquity. The first one mentioned today in fact does not grow in Emilia but in Piedmont and Lombardy. It was much more amply planted before phylloxera hit but after was less widely seen. Today it is often blended with Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa and Bonarda.

The latter grape, Lambrusco a Foglia Frastagliata is grown in Trentino and is more widely known by the name Enantio. I actually tried this wine a few years ago but only recently learned of its connection to Lambrusco. This one is often used for making rose wines.

A fellow blogger who often writes on Italian wines, Jennifer Martin on Vino Travels published this article on Lambrusco ahead of Lambrusco day which was apparently June 20. It’s a good read and a good primer on Lambrusco.

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Wine Wednesday: Armecolo from Castel del Salve from Puglia


I discovered Castel del Salve one year at Vinitaly. I was tasting Aleatico that year in Puglia and I was very attracted to their modernist labels. I then discovered that they are from a small town in the Salento, Depressa, which oddly enough was home to a woman I had been working with. Of course, they were friends. It’s a small world at the end of the day.

Earlier this year, I had the occasion to taste a number of their wines at the Slow Wine event in February. They didn’t disappoint. What I liked about their wines turns out to be one of their credos, the wines were fresh and not overly fruity. Francesco Winspeare, one of the owners of Castel di Salve stated “the most important thing for us is to preserve freshness and fruitiness because too often in our area the wines are oxidised or over-matured”. I think he and his co-founder Francesco Marra are right on in the direction they have chosen for their wines. I particularly liked Armecolo, made from 80% Negroamaro and 20% Malvasia Nera di Lecce. It was elegant and beautiful as well as approachable. It was not oaked but instead was in stainless steel and bottles before coming to market. It was nice to taste a wine from Puglia that wasn’t overly oaked or a fruit bomb. While many are shying away from those styles, I think you still see them more than I would like.


The Salento is one of the most beautiful places in Italy, which is certainly saying something. I took a marvelous trip there some years ago and spent a glorious week soaking in the beauty, light, sea and hospitality of the people. There are also great towns such as Gallipoli, Otranto and Lecce of course. So much to see and do while drinking all of this great wine.

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Podere La Marronaia – A Nice Expression of Vernaccia


This morning I walked a 10k to raise money for the Leukemia and Lymphoma society. The race was all women in Central Park. There were so many of us.over 8,000 and so many people cheering on Team In Training runners/walkers, etc that it felt really celebratory. Lots of people donated to my fundraising page and I very touched. I had a few people to see today so after playground and sprinkler time, I was really ready for a nice glass of wine. I have found a new place to hang out on the Upper West Side, Acqua. It’s been there for a long time but I had never gone until recently. I had a glass of Vernaccia di San Gimignano, something I never do. Oddly enough, it was the first Italian DOC wine in 1966. The wine received its DOCG designation in 1993.

Vernaccia is not an easy grape. The wine is generally pretty bitter and acidic. It has to be made from 90% Vernaccia and 10% of other grapes but non-aromatic ones.

I have had many Vernaccia over the years but it has never been my favorite, until one summer when I brought a bottle of wine from Podere la Marronaia called Visla to Cape Cod. I had met the owners years ago,  Luigi Dei and Silvia Morrocchi, and their sons Pietro and Corrado. I remember Luigi was doing the New York Marathon. I enjoyed reconnecting with their wine today. Their grapes are organic certified and they pay a lot of attention to their practices. A friend used to make their wine but I think she is no longer involved. I can’t wait for this year’s Lobster evenings on the Cape.Lobster

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Wine Wednesday: Ronco del Gelso Vigna Permuta Permuta



My wine of the week is Ronco del Gelso’s Vigna della Permuta. This wine is made from Malvasia, a grape that I am not usually partial to except when it comes from this particular part of Friuli, Isonzo. Here I find it shows great fruit, minerality, salinity and spice. A powerful combination that makes it a great food wine. I would love to have this wine with Indian food or Sushi. The aromas and flavors are due to the great micro-climate, soils and fresh breezes in this area as well as its proximity to the sea. The winery made it’s first official wine in 1988 when they were producing 3,000 bottles. They now make 150,000 some 28 years later. Most of their wines are whites but they also make a Cabernet and a red blend using Pignolo and Merlot. I tried a number of their wines at a tasting earlier this year and found them all to be beautifully made and elegant wines.


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Filed under Friuli, Friuli Venezia Giulia, Isonzo, Italian indigenous Grape Varieties, wines