Friday, April 06, 2007

Medici Ermete's Lambrusco: True to Type But Much, Much More

Among so-called serious wine drinkers, Lambrusco enjoys a reputation as something light and spritzy that's not worth devoting time or attention to. And in many cases it is (as are wines from all appellations), but it does occasionally climb to great heights, combining stature and depth with its sparkle and grabbing one's attention completely. Most of the Lambruschi of this sort are made by small hillside wineries that produce small volumes eagerly snapped up by local connoisseurs.

Medici Ermete is a much larger winery, with production in the millions of bottles per year, but they're every bit as attentive to detail, and consistently -- I've been tasting their wines for a decade by now -- release wines that eclipse most of the small hillside wineries.

Not everything, to be sure, but their top-tier Lambrusco is some of the best out there, and I wish I knew where all their mid-market wines go, because none of them make it to Tuscany. Lucky local connoisseurs, I expect, snap them up by the case. So this year I tasted quite a few of Alberto Medici's wines at Vinitaly.

Lambrusco Rosato dell'Emilia Vino Frizzante Secco 2006
Lot 208/06
Pale almon with white perlage and rim. Bright bouquet with raspberry and some bitterness and CO2. On the palate it's medium bodied, and bright, with moderate brambly greenish fruit flowing into a long brambly finish. A nice food wine that will be perfect for a cookout or picnic, and all around in the summer. You'll want a second bottle.
1 star

Antica Osteria Vino Rosso Lambrusco Dell'Emilia IGT 2006
Lot 18/07
This is the wine that started Medici Ermete's climb towards quality in the late 1980s -- they released it, it sold very well, and they realized there was a demand for good Lambrusco out there. So they made more, and began to make other, perhaps better wines, but still make this because it ahs a very loyal customer base. It's deep pigeon blood ruby with fine perlage and purple rim. The bouquet is rich, with violets and blackberries mingled with greenish bramble that adds depth, and the palate is bright, with fairly rich cherry fruit, that has sweet plum overtones, supported by sparkle and lively acidity that carries into a clean bright finish. Palate cleansing and quite pleasant, it will be an excellent accompaniment to foods.
2 stars

Alberto makes a number of Lambruschi that will, alas, remain local. So the next step up is the Tenuta Quercioli line, which draws its name from one of the estates they own.

Quercioli Lambrusco Reggiano Secco DOC 2006
Lot 17/07
Deep pigeon blood ruby with fine perlage and purple rim. Pleasant bouquet with violets and sweet herbal notes mingled with bramble and underbrush, and hints of smoke and gf that add depth. On the palate it's light and bracing, with clean red berry fruit supported by sparkle and dry mineral acidity that flows into a clean mineral finish. Pleasant, and will drink very well with foods, ranging from pasta to cold cuts, and will be quite nice at a picnic or cookout too.
2 stars

Quercioli Lambrusco di Sorbara Secco DOC 2006
Lot 229/06
Pale ruby with white rim and fine perlage. Bright bouquet with minerality and tart brambles mingled with delicate floral accents and some raspberry. On the palate it's bright and tart, with greenish strawberry-raspberry fruit supported by bracing acidity that carries into a clean tart mineral finish. Quite nice, though particular -- you have to like tart wines, and absolutely true to type for Sorbara; it will work very well as a cookout wine or even with flavorful grilled fish.
2 stars

Tenuta Quercioli Solo Reggiano Lambrusco DOC 2006
Lot 16/07
This is a single-vineyard Lambrusco from the Quercioli estate, and is rich violet-tinged pigeon blood ruby with purple perlage and rim. The bouquet is rich, with powerful blackberry fruit that gains definition from bitter gf and spices, with sea salt as well. Quite welcoming. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful red berry fruit that gains direction from clean delicate raspberry acidity that carries into a long clean finish. Extremely refreshing, and is one of those wines you'll take a sip of and forget all else. It drinks very well, and you will want more, probably far from the table, because food would be distracting.

Medici Ermete Concerto Reggiano Lambrusco DOC 2006
Lot 37/07
Deep pigeon blood ruby with fine perlage and purple rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, with violets and plum fruit mingled with some raspberry acidity and hints of underbrush. Quite nice. On the palate it's full and rich, with powerful red berry fruit -- raspberry and tart strawberry supported by clean brambly mineral acidity and deft sparkle that flow into a clean mineral finish. Quite nice, and an extremely fine food wine, whereas Solo is more of a sipping wine -- it's just that much drier, and will therefore work better with foods. You'll want a second bottle.

Quercioli Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC 2006
Lot 2/07
Deep pigeon blood ruby with violet rim and perlage. The nose is fairly rich, and sweet, with plum and blackberry fruit laced with some violets and mineral raspberry acidity. Quite nice. On the palate it's fairly rich, and clean, with bright plum-laced red berry fruit supported by sweetness and brambly tannins that flow into a clean bright finis. It is pleasant, but doesn't have as much of a spark as the other Quercioli wines do.
1 star

Le Tenute Bocciolo Lambrusco Grasparossa DOC 2006
Lot 15/07
Impenetrable pigeon blood ruby with violet rim. And fine purple perlage. The bouquet is deft, with elegant sweetish plum cherry fruit with clean spice and some raspberry accents that gain depth from greenish notes. Pleasant and inviting. On the palate it's it's rich, and full, with powerful raspberry plum fruit with pleasing sweetness supported by clean dusky tannins and mineral acidity that flow into a long clean brambly finish. Quite welcoming, an ideal picnic or poolside wine that will go very fast. It's one fot eh finest sweet Lambrusco's I've had, and perfect for when you want to simply open a bottle and enjoy it, in a sweet key.
2 stars

We finished up with something rather different, a Malvasia:

Nebbie D'Autunno Malvasia Dolce IGT 2006
Lot 220/06
Pale gold with fine perlage. Classic Malvasia nose, with sweetness and honeysuckle mingled with sage, chestnut honey, and spice that give definition. On the palate it's full and sweet, with tangerine apricot fruit supported by graceful tangerine acidity sufficient to keep it from being cloying, and a long clean tangerine laced finish. It will be quite nice far from the table, or at the table with creamy, richly flavored cheeses.
2 stars

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