September 5, 2012

Appel on Wine: Misunderstood, Lambrusco not your parents' Riunite


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Cleto Chiarli Lambrusco di Sorbara NV, $18 (Wicked). Most Lambruscos taste bracingly fresh. This is even fresher than most, just so clean and alive. Sour cherry and dried cranberry fruit come at first, and then an Aperol-like bitterness redolent of rhubarb and orange peel. Lightly sparkling.

Barbolini Terre Estensi Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro NV, $17 (Wicked). This is the Syrah of Lambruscos: full-bodied and potent (though 12 percent alcohol), only barely bubbly, with a black/purple grape character, dryly grapey in a pure, luscious, deep way, like a preserve. The grape notes are followed by those of tar and black olives, with a bitter chocolate finish. The second day I drank it (yes, well-capped sparkling wines can have a successful second day), the wine had taken on coffee and caramel flavors. Amazing.

Luciano Saetti Vigneto Saetti Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce 2010, $20 (Mariner). Lambrusco Salamino is named for the salami-like shape the grape clusters grow in, and yes, Italians drink Lambrusco with cured meats, but I swear that this stunning wine, made with minimal manipulation and in traditional style from organically grown grapes, with secondary fermentation in bottle rather than tank, tastes like soppressata in liquid form. It's gamey, herbal, cheesy and oily. It represents, therefore, the entire culture of Lambrusco at one fell sip.

Joe Appel works at Rosemont Market. His blog,, continues the conversation, and he can be reached at:


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