In the fall of 2013, I enjoyed a fabulous trip to Italy’s best eatin’ region: Emilia-Romagna (the opinion is mine…but it’s shared by many Italians and Italophiles!) Specifically, I was there to discover unimported producers of the region’s rollicking bubbly wines. The most famous of these, of course, is Lambrusco…and I was lucky enough to discover some great ones to import. I was also amazed to discover that over 60 different grape varieties can be used in the production of Lambrusco…some of them, confusingly, containing the word “Lambrusco” inside the name of the grape (like the field-leading Lambrusco Grasparossa grape, my favorite). Quality varies wildly; you need to find good wineries.
One of my most fortuitous winery discoveries was Ca’ Berti, an old, beautiful estate, not far from Modena, run today by two very cool brothers (who have lined their tasting room with images of rock stars…which THEY are, in their own milieu!). They produce, from Lambrusco Grasparossa grapes, a terrific wine that is technically a DOC Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro. But I think the bro didn’t want to export a wine with such a long name…so they call the wine, simply, Robusco.
It is as simple to enjoy as it is to read.
I love it! Its intense purple foam in the glass sets you on the road to love right away. Then the fruit aromas kick in: blackberries, cherries, dried cranberries, very party-like. On the big, foamy palate, the wine is almost completely dry, a far cry from the Lambrusco of old exported to America. But it seems drier still when you get to the moderate tannin at the end from Lambrusco Grasparossa. Of course, one of the inspired elements of this particular wine is the inclusion of 15% Malbo Gentile, which softens the tannin.
Food? Well, as you probably know, the Emilians have fabulous, hearty cuisine…and they love to drink dry, fizzy red with most of it! So if you’re planning on Tortellini in Brodo (something they eat everyday in Emilia)…this is your wine! But the Robusco is also great for all kinds of rich cuisine, from Italian casseroles to French roasts.