Monday, February 07, 2011

The Azienda Agricola Moro Rinaldini: Lambrusco & More

The Rinaldini family came to winemaking via a side route: Paola's father Rinaldo ran a popular restaurant, but was fascinated by wine. Fascinated enough by it that he made what he served his customers (and cold cuts too), and in the late 60s decided to get serious and shift his focus to wine.

The Azienda Agricola Moro Rinaldini has 15 hectares of vineyards between Reggio Emilia and Parma, in the foothills of the Colline Matildiche, and makes a variety of wines, both still and sparkling; among the sparkling wines are a number of Metodo Classico, or bottle-fermented wines, including a Lambrusco.

Which is among the bottles Paola Rinaldini sent me to taste.

The still wines she sent are also worth noting. They are made with the Lambrusco region's traditional varietals, and though one might think it odd to make a still wine from them, they work quite well. One is simply late harvested and oaked, while the other is instead made from grapes partially dried on mats before pressing after the Amarone technique, and is it does somewhat resemble Amarone, though with the flavor cast of Lambrusco grapes.

Curiosities, given the volume produced (within the context of Emilian winemaking), but if you are interested in unusual wines they are well worth seeking out.

The wines, tasted at the end of January 2011:

Rinaldini Osé Lambrusco Dell'Emilia IGT Rosato Secco
Lot 1090
This is a blend of Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Marani. Lively rose color, with fine white surprisingly persistent (for a Lambrusco) perlage. The bouquet is quite fresh, with brambly raspberry fruit supported by slight greenish accents and underlying ripe cherries and berry fruit. Pleasant and zesty. On the palate it's fairly light, and bright, with lively sour cherry fruit supported by brambly raspberry acidity and by the sparkle, which adds peppery fullness and confer a salty feel as well, and flows into a clean savory finish with underlying sour berry fruit. Quite pleasant, and one of those wines that you set out and have to replace because the first emptied while your back was turned; it will be nice with pizza or -- if you want to think Emilian -- cold cuts including both culatello and mortadella, and will be perfect at cookouts with simple grilled meats and the vegetable fixings that go with them.
2 stars

Pronto Lambruso Rosso dell'Emilia IGP Secco
No lot number visible
This is 70% Lambrusco Salamino, 15% Lambrusco Marani, and 15% Ancellotta. Impenetrable pyrope with fine purple perlage that bubbles down quickly. The bouquet is intense and vinous with considerable bitter graphite shavings and brambly accents mingled with berry fruit and spice. On the palate it's ample and fairly bitter, with rich graphite placed cherry plum fruit supported by sparkle and leafy bitter accents that flow into a fairly long bitter finish, while there is also underlying sweetness that nicely balances the bitterness throughout. It's quite approachable, in a fairly direct decidedly mineral key, and will work well with simple grilled meats or light stews, and though it will also be a nice cookout wine, there isn't quite enough acidity for fried meats and vegetables. Expect it to go quickly.
1 star

Rinaldini Vecchio Moro Lambrusco Dell'Emilia IGT
Lot 9288 (? - it's blurred)
This is named after Paola's grandfather, who was known as Il Moro; it's a blend of Grasparossa, Ancellotta, and Marzemino. Impenetrable pyrope with purple foam that rises up and gradually settles to ring the glass. The bouquet is bright, with rich prune cherry fruit supported by deft leafy underbrush bitterness and some brambles; it's quite rich and enticing. On the palate it's fairly full, and fairly sweet, with rich prune cherry fruit supported by mineral acidity and sparkle, and by tannins that have a warm graphite laced burr and flow into a fairly long bitter finish with savory accents. Quite pleasant, and will work very well with grilled meats (or even stewed flavorful fish, including fattier fish), and is also a wine that one could drink while nibbling savory cheeses along the lines of Parmigiano Reggiano or well aged cheddar.
2 stars

Rinaldini Pjcol Ross Lambrusco Brut 2009
Lo 92?? (it's blurred)
Pjcol Ross is an autochthonous Lambrusco clone of the Val D'Enza, which was traditionally trained to elm trees, but poorly suited to more intensive vineyard planting (and relatively unproductive, too), and therefore largely abandoned when the farmers began to plant specialized vineyards. The property Rinaldo bought still had some, however, and his father Il Moro, who was born in a nearby farmhouse and remembered the old wines, suggested Rinaldo ferment it in purezza. It turned out well, and now they bottle ferment to add sparkle it rather than use the Charmat process that is used to add sparkle to the vast majority of Lambrusco. It's inky pyrope with very purple foam that boils up and then settles, while fine purple perlage continues to rise from the bottom of the glass. The bouquet is intense, with powerful prune and forest berry fruit supported by greenish vegetal accents and some bitterness, and also slight jammy accents. Very pleasant to sniff, and has a lot to say. On the palate it's full, and round, with powerful fairly sour plum cherry fruit supported by deft sparkle and sour savory accents that are more marked than those in the Vecchio Moro, and flow into an elegant savory cherry plum finish with underlying brambly bitterness. A beautiful wine, and shows why bottle fermented Lambrusco, though rare and uneven (I've had other bottles far from this level) remains a wine to be sought out. It will work very well with grilled meats or cold cuts, though I would rather drink it with like-minded friends.

Rinaldini Vigna del Picchio Rosso dell'Emilia IGT 2006
Lot 035
This is a still blend of Ancellotta and Lambrusco Maestri, which are late harvested, and after fermentation go into barriques -- something that may seem obvious to those used to the winemaking of other regions, but that was (and to a degree still is) innovative for that part of Emilia. Impenetrable pyrope with purple rim; it's poured ink. The bouquet is fairly intense, with jammy cherry plum fruit supported by underbrush and some India ink, which isn't however bitter, and by, as it opens, tree bark that blends with the fruit, while violets also emerge. It's quite distinctive, and interesting. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite smooth, with ample rather bitter berry fruit supported by minerality more than acidity and by very smooth tannins that have a slight sandalwood burr and flow into a fairly long, deft cedar laced finish with some savory accents and underlying bitterness. It's elegant and quite approachable in an international key, displaying considerable polish, nice fruit, and good wood use, while the acidity is kept firmly in check. If you like the style, it is graceful and will drink nicely with succulent not too fatty red or white meats. If you prefer brasher wines with more acidity it's not quite the thing for you, though if you're the curious sort you should definitely think about it.
2 stars

Rinaldini Moro del Moro Rosso Dell'Emilia IGT 2006
Lot blurred
This is made from late harvested grapes that are then allowed to further dry on mats, in the manner of Amarone, before being fermented. It's impenetrable pyrope with some garnet in the rim. The bouquet is intense, and jammy, with dusky prune plum fruit supported by some greenish balsamic accents and deft underbrush and sandalwood; though the label doesn't specify the varietals it's clearly cut from the same cloth as the Vigna del Picchio, though slightly richer and a touch jammier, and does in a way bring an Amarone to mind. On the palate it's ample with warm slightly balsamic cherry fruit supported by deft tightly controlled berry fruit acidity and by tannins that have warm cedar overtones that clearly derive from oak, and carry into a clean cherry oak laced finish that gains definition from pleasing savory bitterness. Quite pleasant, and will work well with substantial stews; they suggest game on the back label, and it will be good, as will a hearty beef stew, or a succulent roasts that's not too fatty. It has a little more acidity than the Vigna del Picchio, and a touch of sweetness that adds fullness and richness; if you like the style, which is full and well polished, you will enjoy it very much.

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