Gabriele Ronzoni with his pergola trained old vines.

Casalpriore - the New Face of Lambrusco

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When Gabriele Ronzoni “retired” seven years ago at the age of 70, he decided to start making wine full time. Back in 1987 he had purchased a 2.3 hectare farm near Modena with a neglected 17th century farmhouse. Initially only making wine for friends and family, he is now producing enough Lambrusco that we can benefit from this labor of love.

The 17th Century Farmhouse is slowly being restored.

Working organically is deeply important to the Ronzoni Family. His daughter Francesca is an herbalist and his other daughter Gionvanna left journalism and started a company that makes products for organic farmers. So when Gabriele began making wine, there was no question that he would work organically. He has never used herbicides or synthetic pesticides, only manure for fertilizer. When he uses sulfur it is in very small doses, the wines have never exceeded the legal limit.

 

Lambrusco got a bad rap in the 1980s when it was made in bulk using the Charmat (or tank) method. It’s the cheaper, faster way of making sparkling wine, where the wine goes through secondary fermentation in large steel tanks. Gabriele chooses to make his wines using Metodo Ancestrale where the wines are fermented in tank until they reach 10% or 11% alcohol, then finish a second fermentation in the bottle. This gives the wine another 1-2% of alcohol and makes a much more interesting wine.

Sobara sample out of the tank.

Gabriele uses the Sobara grape as the base wine for his Lambrusco. Awarded its DOC classification in 1970, Sobara is considered the highest-quality Lambrusco clone that produces the most fragrant wines. He also uses a small amount of Salamino, Maestri, Ancellotta  and Malbo clones.

Vines planted in the 1950s.

And if all of this wasn't enough to convince you to give  Lambrusco another try, apparently the wine has health benefits. These local grape varieties have a high concentration of flavonoids and antioxidants, so Gabriele believes you will have a sense of well-being after you drink his wines. If this is retirement, sign me up! Christine Manula

 

 

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Casalpriore 2015 Lambrusco dell'Emilia (no SO2 added)

If you have been searching for the perfect Lambrusco, look no further. So many of the ones I have tried have been heavy, syrupy and sweet, but Casalpriore is dry, light and energetic. It's a vibrant mix of violets, blackberries, blueberries, blackcurrants, herbs and a hint of pepper, with good acidity and minerality. For me it's the perfect food wine. You could go the traditional route and serve it with lasagna, pizza or antipasti. Or  liven up a summer barbeque by pairing it with grilled chicken, pulled pork, burgers, or oily fishes like tuna steak or sardines. Christine Manula

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