I know, there's not much of a connection between these wines, but I recently received samples of all three.
We'll begin with the Lambrusco.
Lusvardi, whose slogan is "Sparkling by Nature," is a small winery in Molino di Gazzata (Province of Reggio Emilia), which employs Salamino and Grasparossa to make their wines. They sent two, both labeled Lambrusco Brut Vino Spumante (on the back labels), one of which is Red and the other Rosato. Neither indicates a vintage, but I would expect them to be from the 2010 harvest.
Lusvardi Brut Rosé Lot 04 Pale raspberry pink with white rime and lively perlage that bubbles nicely. The bouquet is fresh, with fairly bright raspberry fruit supported by some acidity and slight breadcrumbs with some hints of mint as well. On the palate it's fairly full, with the fullness also coming from the sparkle, and moderately intense sour raspberry cherry fruit that is supported by both savory raspberry acidity, and by an underlying bitterness that almost brings quinine to mind, and though this might make one wonder it shouldn't, because it provides depth and counterpoint to the acidity. It will be a very nice summer wine and will drink quite well at a cookout or picnic, with white meats or fish, and also be nice with cool summer dishes. Expect it to go quickly. 2 stars
Lusvardi Brut Lot 04 It's a pale garnet, and the foam is pinkish white, which leads me to suspect that there is more Salamino than Grasparossa in the blend. The bouquet is moderately intense, with berry fruit mingled with bitter accents and some herbal notes, a mixture of oregano and chopped rosemary needles, and some underlying sea salt as well. On the palate it doesn't have the verve of the Rosato -- the sparkle is less intense -- though it is present and adds peppery body, while the fruit is moderately intense red berry fruit supported by bitter accents, almost a graphite shaving bitterness, and by some acidity that flows into a clean savory finish with bitter underpinning that also reveals some herbal accents of rosemary and oregano. It's pleasant though a little more demanding than many Lambruschi; it's a wine that looks one in the eye and converses, rather than going down thoughtlessly. It's not as fruity nor as floral as some Lambrusco, and if you look for that in your Lambrusco this won't work as well for you. If you instead prefer a touch more minerality and hints of underbrush, which do work well, you will enjoy it. In terms of accompaniments, I would think of simple grilled meats and the fixings of a cookout, or perhaps a simple red sauced summer pasta dish. 1 star
Lambrusco has come a great ways since my college days, and every year there are ore Lambruschi that revolve more around quality than simplicity. A pleasant development.
A while back I received an invitation to something I couldn't attend. In reading it, however, I noted that one of the wineries, the Azienda Agricola Le Buche, was presenting a Pugnitello. This is an old Tuscan varietal that San Felice has been working with for a while, and I was quite curious to taste another winemaker's interpretation, so I asked Le Buche for a sample, which they were kind enough to send.
The Azienda is located in Sarteano, which is south of Siena in Central Tuscany, not far from either Montalcino or Montepulciano. In addition to the Pugnitello they sent me Coreno, a white, and we'll begin with that:
Coreno 2010 IGT Toscana 2010 Lot 11-400 This is a blend of Trebbiano and Malvasia Bianca, the traditional Tuscan white grapes, and is from an older vineyard. It's pale brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections, and has an intense bouquet with savory citric accents -- almost like a sour lemon dusted with salt -- supported by herbals notes and heather from a cut field, with some bitter honey as well. On the palate it's rich, and quite savory, with considerable minerality as well, and a slight burr, which flows into a long warm mineral finish with underlying savory acidity. Powerful, and rather brash, in a way that the nose partially presages, and we're a far cry from a delicately oaked wine here. If you like the style, which is vigorous, it will drink very well with grilled fish, and has the acidity and savor necessary to work well with fried fish or meats. With the proper company, it will go very fast. 2 stars
Olivi Cantine Pugnitello Toscana IGT 2008 Lot 10-500 Impenetrable pyrope with violet rim; it's close to poured purple ink. The bouquet is fresh, with fairly bright violets and floral accents mingled with iodine and graphite shavings, and some very ripe forest berry fruit, with underbrush as well. Intriguing, and a nice change of pace from Sangiovese. On the palate it's ample and quite smooth, with minerality more than fruit, and an underlying earthy bitterness that flows into the finish, which is fairly long and again mineral with some India ink, and reveals tongue-tingling black pepper notes as the other things fade. It's interesting, and does require a shifting of gears with respect to the more common Tuscan wines, but is enjoyable and will work well with roasts or stews. It's not for everyone; if you prefer wines that are fruit forward it won't work as well for you, but if you like to think outside the box and think about what's in your glass you will likely enjoy it. 2 stars
Franzoni: Vini Bresciani Lombardia has a number of so-called lesser appellations, and Botticino, from the Alpine foothills to the west of Brescia (mid-way between Brescia and Lake Garda), is one of them. They note that the climate and topography of their region resemble those of Piemonte, but have been wise enough not to tangle with Nebbiolo, which is extraordinarily picky regarding where it is planted, and instead work with a mixture of Barbera, Marzemino, Sangiovese, and Schiava Gentile.
The other thing to note about Botticino is that the wineries employ a bottle called a Deformata Piemonte, which resembles an Albeisa-style bottle, but has a twist in it that throws it off-center. Looks a bit odd, but fits the hand very well and is easy to pour from.
The Azienda Franzoni sent two samples, a 2005 Botticino and a 2003 Botticino Riserva; there are wines that age well and need time to emerge.
Franzoni La Foja Botticino DOC 2005 Lot not visible. Brick ruby with black reflections and brick rim. The bouquet is intense, and bright, with red berry fruit supported by acidity and by some heather; the acidity is to be expected given the Barbera, and the other grapes contribute complexity, with some graphite shavings and hints of iodine, and also spice with slight hints of wet earth, and as it opens some balsamic accents. Pleasant, in a slightly reserved key. On the palate it's bright, and medium bodied, with fairly rich sour cherry fruit supported by deft berry fruit acidity and by rather slight tannins that are smooth, and flow into a fairly long, slightly greenish sour berry fruit finish. Quite pleasant and will drink very well with roasts or stews; it has a traditional feel to it and is far removed from barriques or other newfangled inventions, and is more a food wine than something to sip (unless you're a traditionalist) far from the table. I enjoyed it, which should come as no surprise considering my tastes. 88-90
Franzoni Foja d'Or Botticino Riserva DOC 2003 Lot 3400 Deep garnet ruby with garnet in the rim; one wouldn't guess, to look at it, that it's going on 8 years old. The bouquet is moderately intense, with iodine and wet tree bark at first sniff, followed by slight red berry fruit and more intense savory accents; it has an austere feel to it. On the palate it's rich, with bright ripe cherry and sour berry fruit that is not at all jammy -- a problem that is frequent in 2003 vintage wines, though there is a greater ripeness than in the 2005 wine and some alcohol-related sweetness -- supported by moderately intense smooth sweet tannins and by deft slight bitterness that flow into a clean underbrush laced mineral finish. It's graceful and quite enjoyable, and will drink very well with a roast or a hearty stew. Expect the bottle to go quickly. 88-90
Botticino is a wine I have tried before, but never systematically, and I must now thank the Azienda Franzoni, because they have given me a project for Vinitaly.
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.