Ah... the 1970s. So much right, so much wrong. Nowhere more than in the northern Italian province of Emilia-Romagna. The bad? After nearly 2000 years of uninterrupted tradition, the production of dry, savory, lightly sparkling reds (i.e. Lambrusco & Malvasia) went the way of the dodo. In its place came the invasive species we generically call sweet wine. The good? After 35 years in time out, the current vanguard of producers are finally crawling out from behind that long, dark shadow and taking the region in a bold new direction: toward tradition. Here are two we're really excited about at the moment. La Collina Lunaris Secco (Malvasia di Candia Aromatica)
The quick version is that 12 likeminded youngsters got together in the mid-70s (no doubt in direct rejection of certain other trends) and decided to start a sort of commune in rural Italy. Yeah, shocker. On this commune, they would grow food and raise livestock and make cheese in the tradition of the land. But the vision included something special, a modern and forward-thinking twist—this commune would be a sort of rehabilitation community for recovering drug addicts. Amazingly, against all odds, it worked. Today they support addicts on their way to a drug-free life, and meanwhile farm and raise a wide variety of crops and animals, respectively.
Of course, this kind of thoughtful and caring philosophy also forms the foundation of their approach to growing and making wine. They've been farming their grapes biodynamically since 1985, and now carry the mantle of the centuries-old tradition of crisp, savory, frizzante red wine. This is the ultimate wine for a light charcuterie plate, the perfect compliment to prosciutto or salami and mild, hard cheeses. The bubbles are light and delightful, while the primary berry-fruit aromas and flavors are super fresh all the way through. And while it's as fun as any commodity wine on the market, this is handcrafted stuff from real people who are just living each day to make a difference. Can't beat that.
Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro
This story is just as quaint, but from a totally different perspective. This is from the Kermit Lynch site:
Domenico Altariva grew up watching his parents work the land; so when he married and bought a house with his new wife, Albertina, it was natural that he also bought a little land that he would tend in his spare time. A salesman by trade, he was also an avid oenophile, so he chose to plant vineyards from which he made wine for personal consumption.
Yeah well meanwhile he's been making the most slamming-good funky dry Lambrusco this side of the Alps. Super light bubble on this one, and it pours this beautiful garnet color. Fruit aromas like that just overripe basket of wild berries you picked from the back of the park last week, the ones you forgot to wash, with that just-sweaty loamy earthy kind of funk underlying a heady ripe jam. It's what we sometimes call "dusty," or "mineral-ly" if we're feeling short on real adjectives. Crisp as a starched collar. As firm too.
Take down a bottle of this juice with your favorite stuffed pasta, especially something with a little spice. Or even better, compliment those black truffles and let your mouth sing hallelujah!
La Collina Lunaris Secco (Malvasia di Candia Aromatica) — $19 Fattoria Moretto Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro (Lambrusco Grasparossa) — $20