Emilia—the western part of the Emilia-Romagna region—specializes in fizzy wines. Whether they are white, red, or some shade in between, made from any number of intriguing indigenous grape varieties, they all tend to bubble. As it turns out, crisp, quaffable frizzanti are the perfect match for the notoriously rich local culinary specialties. Thin slices of cured pig, pastas coated in slow-cooked, meaty ragù, and cheeses ranging from creamy to intensely savory all have their place on the Emilian table. This dry sparkler from the white Pignoletto grape— a breezy blast of flowers, citrus, and fresh herbs—is just the ticket to cleanse the palate and quench your thirst when a heaping pile of locally produced cheeses and salty cured meats appears before you.
Domenico Altariva grew up watching his parents work the land; so when he married and bought a house with his wife, Albertina, he also bought a little land that he would tend in his spare time. Right from the start they worked their vines with entirely natural products and made the most of their vineyard sites. When sons Fabio and Fausto joined the estate in 1991 the family took another step forward, building a new winery, acquiring more vineyards, and finally bottling the wine themselves; and in 1997 becoming organic. The family chooses to highlight the local grape Lambrusco, resulting in an intense, terroir-driven Lambrusco with a nose serious enough for even the most knowledgeable wine connoisseur.
Primarily dominated by the expansive plains of the Po Valley, Emilia-Romagna—a diagonal band stretching from Piacenza in the north all the way to Rimini in the southeast—also features a long span of Apennine Mountains and foothills, at the base of which lie its major cities such as Parma, Modena, and Bologna along the historic Via Emilia. While the flatlands are home to some viticulture, the Apennines provide elevation and ventilation in contrast with the hot, humid, stagnant valley below, in addition to poor, well-draining soils favorable to the production of more serious wines.
Given the rich local cuisine that relies heavily on lard, cheese, and fatty meats like pork, Emilia-Romagna is first and foremost a land of fizzy wines. These light frizzanti have the acidity to cut through fat along with a palate-cleansing sparkle. Most important is the indigenous red Lambrusco, a family of grapes whose wines brilliantly complement flavorful dishes such as tagliatelle al ragù, tortellini al brodo, or simple antipasti of local meats and cheeses like prosciutto di Parma, mortadella, and parmigiano reggiano (if you’re lucky, drizzled with traditional balsamic vinegar of Modena).
While Lambrusco’s image suffered in the past because of mass-produced sweet versions, small producers today are crafting traditional, terroir-driven dry wines that are absolutely mouth-watering. These jovial, food-friendly quaffers are right at home in the KLWM portfolio.
For the wines that I buy I insist that the winemaker leave them whole, intact. I go into the cellars now and select specific barrels or cuvées, and I request that they be bottled without stripping them with filters or other devices. This means that many of our wines will arrive with a smudge of sediment and will throw a more important deposit as time goes by, It also means the wine will taste better.
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