Not the “Champagne of Lambruscos.” An op-ed…

The following editorial reflects the views of our American blogmaster Jeremy Parzen.

Late last month, the venerable local masthead Gazzetta di Modena published an “opinion” piece with the following title: “Lambrusco vs. champagne [sic]: Lambrusco will soon take the lead.”

The author, Paride Rabitti, who goes by the Twitter handle “Lambruscologist,” writes: “Lambrusco di Sorbara [is] the most refined and most worthy competitor for French bubbles.”

“If we continue to produce high-quality classic method Lambrusco…,” he contends, “in a few decades people will talk about [Lambrusco di Sorbara] with the same deference with which they look to our French cousins in Champagne.”

(Translation mine.)

Wine writer Lisa Foletti reacted to the piece in her own op-ed published this week by the popular Italian wine blog Intravino.

“There’s no question that there are some truly interesting classic method Sorbara [wines] out there,” she writes, “very refined and complex… But the value of these products doesn’t lie in their resemblance to Champagne. It’s the opposite: The thing that makes them so good to drink is the uniqueness of the grape variety and the terroir.”

(Translation mine.)

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

As a longtime observer of the sparkling wine trade, I’ve seen this time and time again: Wine writers and wine lovers just can’t resist comparing (and confusing) a method with a wine.

Like many progressive Lambrusco producers, Lini makes a classic method Lambrusco. It’s delicious, it’s complex, and it’s a cut above the rest (read this excellent tasting note for the 2005 Lini Lambrusco Metodo Classico by Alberto Lupetti, Italy’s leading expert on sparkling wine).

But the point of this wine is not to make the “Champagne of Lambruscos” (my Italian colleagues are probably unaware of the vintage marketing campaign for Miller High Life beer, “the Champagne of Beers”).

The idea behind this wine is to explore and reveal Lambrusco’s immense potential to deliver distinctive and compelling wines.

Winemaker Fabio Lini and his family are huge fans of Champagne. They often drink Champagne at home and they make classic method Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, unfortunately not available in the U.S. (yet).

But their classic method Lambrusco isn’t trying to compete with Champagne.

It’s an expression of their viticulture and their terroir. Not someone else’s. Theirs.

And it represents a new and exciting chapter in the ever evolving history of and future for Lambrusco. It’s not the result of competition. It’s the fruit of good taste.

Jeremy Parzen

The views espoused here are my own.

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