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Grasparossa 2013 : A walk down Lambrusco’s winery lanes

Posted: Wednesday, 13 November 2013 12:12

Grasparossa 2013 : A walk down Lambrusco’s winery lanes

Nov 13: During Grasparossa 2013 from Oct 19-21, wine enthusiasts, journalists, and importers were enthralled with various events that included not only insights into the making of traditional products from Northern Italy’s Modena area, but also visits to wineries producing Grasparossa Lambrusco (along with other grapes) and exclusive tastings of these wines. delWine Correspondent Rishi Vohra CSW, reports on his visits to these family-run wineries and what makes their offerings unique.

Click For Large ViewThe Lambrusco grape has roughly 60 clones, of which Grasparossa Lambrusco is a major one.  The wines from this grape have lively bouquets and are fresh and savoury on the palate, with almost always a clean finish.  Lambrusco Grasparossa must contain at least 85% of the Grasparossa clone.  This varietal grows best on slopes with good exposure to the sun, which in turn helps to bring out the perfumed nature of the grapes.  The resulting wines are mostly full-bodied and ruby red to deep purple in colour, emitting berry aromas and a good tannic structure.  Interestingly, the law does not permit Grasparossa Lambrusco wines to display the year of vintage on the label.

The following wineries produce Grasparossa Lambrusco and are counted among the top quality wines of the area:-

Fattoria Moretto

Click For Large ViewThe winery was started in 1991 to produce wines for friends and family.  But it was in 2010 that brothers Fabio and Fausto Altariva took over the reins from their father and propelled it into a commercial business.  While Fausto oversees the vineyards (which are 250 feet above sea level), Fabio looks after all sales and commercial production aspects.

Grasparossa Lambrusco is grown here with a distance of 3 metres between rows and 9 cms between vines.  The grapes are grown organically and all processes are manual.  During a tour of the vineyards, Fausto pointed out yellow tags created by the Grasparossa Consortia to trap insects that give illnesses.  On being asked about the red colour of the leaves, he explained, “The red colour indicates the quick ripening of the grape.  Here, the different colours are related to the soil.”

Fabio took us through tastings of several of their award-winning wines, all vintage wines produced in 2012.

Pignoletto Frizante (IGP) : Consisting of 100% white Pignoletto grape, this fresh sparkling wine emits aromas of fresh white fruits.  Alcohol is at 12%.

Lambrusco Grasparossa “Tasso” : Made from 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, this red sparkling wine is deep red in colour, with aromas of strawberries and berries, ending with a clean finish.  Alcohol is at 11%.

Lambrusco Grasparossa “Monovitigno” : Made from 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, this wine is bright red and frothy.  There is a bouquet of aromas, ranging from strawberries, raspberries, and blackberries, to grass and mineral flavours, leaving a lingering finish on the palate.  Alcohol level is at 12%.

Click For Large ViewLambrusco Grasparossa “Canova” : Made from 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, this wine is dry with hints of strawberries.  Alcohol is at 12%.

Lambrusco Amabile “Semprebon” : Made from 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, this foamy wine is deep red with purple highlights.  It displays cherry and blackberry notes, and is thoroughly delicious on the palate.  Alcohol is at 10%.

Fabio explained that unlike other wineries, Fattoria Moretto doesn’t sell to co-ops.  They produce around 60,000 bottles every year and all are sold directly to retailers and consumers.  On being asked as to whether he’s looking at the Indian market, he says, “As of now we export only to Berkeley in California.  But we are very keen on the Indian market and hope to link with importers from there.  We are positive that Indian wine drinkers will take to our wide array of wines in a very big way.”

The wines sell locally at roughly 8 euros per bottle.  For more information on the winery, please visit


Click For Large ViewEstablished in 1860, Chiarli is the oldest winery in the Emilia-Romagna region and one of the oldest producers of Lambrusco.  The winery is also credited for having introduced the charmat method for producing Lambrusco which until 1940, was made using the methode champenoise or traditional method.

The winery currently has two different wineries producing a wide range of wines.  The Chiarli Winery was established in 1860 and produces 20 million bottles annually.  The Cleto Chiarli (named after the founder) winery was established in 2001 and produces around 1 million bottles annually.

Chiarli is a household name in the Emilia-Romagna region, not only for their quality award-winning wines but also for the value for money.  The wines are produced in three categories:-
- 80% of the wines are IGT at a local sale price of 1.5 Euros.
- DOC wines at a price of 2.5 Euros.
- Wines from the company’s vineyards at 5 Euros.  

Click For Large ViewThe unique part of their production process is that Lambrusco here undergoes only a single fermentation. This method is different from the usual two fermentation method of Lambrusco.  All tanks are sealed under pressure in a cold temperature.  When Lambrusco is to be made, the must is transferred to a fermentation tank and goes through the charmat process with one single fermentation.  Owner Anselmo Chiarli points out, “I believe that when the wine is fermented twice, you lose a lot of flavour.”

The company currently exports about 12-13 million bottles every year to around 40 countries.  However, the company is yet to make inroads into the Indian market.  Thomas Grootvaeldt, Export Manager, is hopeful that Grasparossa 2013 will help them forge a relationship with India.  He says, “Now we are mostly exporting sweet Lambrusco.  But I strongly feel that our dry Lambrusco would do very well in India as it pairs well with Indian food.”

For more information on Chiarli’s wines, please visit

Ca Berti

Click For Large ViewSimone Vendelli, a fifth generation of Ca Berti, walked us through the vineyards perched in a picturesque location on hills 220 metres above sea level.  Despite the 16 hectares of vineyards, production is limited (only 70,000 bottles a year) and yield is low, in order to maintain quality of the grapes.

The vineyards are not certified organic.  But Simone explains, “We use natural means to fight pests.  The exposure to the sun is very good and the vineyards have cross-ventilation so there is no problem of moulds.  We are quite organic.”

Apart from Grasparossa Lambrusco, Ca Berti also grows Malbo Gentile which is used along with Grasparossa Lambrusco to create their Reserva Wine, considered among the best of their wines.  Other grapes grown are Trebbiano, Pinot Blanco, Chardonnay, Cabernet Franc, Pinot Noir, and Ancellota, among others.  The harvesting is done manually.

Small greenish-yellow lentil-like pellets lay scattered over the ground.  Simone explained, “This is sulphur and is used to make the soil more acidic.  The soil is more clay than sand.  Here, the soil also determines the colour of the leaves.”  We noticed that the Malbo Gentile grape sprouted red leaves while Ancellota bore green.

The vineyard tour was followed by a tasting of five of their wines, each delicious in its own way:

Senzaspine Rose Brut – Made from 70% Pinot Nero (Noir) and 30% Lambrusco Grasparossa, this sparkling rose is pink in colour, and fruity and crisp on the nose.  It is delicate on the palate with aromas of fresh fruit.  Alcohol is at 11.5%.

Beghel – Made from 70% Chardonnay and 30% Riesling Renano, this fine bubbly white sparkling wine displays all the buttery notes of Chardonnay with an elegant finish.  Alcohol is at 12%.

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro – 100% Grasparossa Lambrusco, this sparkling displays notes of strawberries and blueberries with notes of roses.  Alcohol level is at 11.5%.

Click For Large ViewRobusco – 85% Lambrusco Grasparossa and 15% Malbo Gentile, this wine is foamy and purple, with red highlights.  In the mouth, it has good tannins, balance, and a firm structure.  Alcohol is at 12%.

Vein dla sbocia – 80% Malvasia Aromatica and 20% Trebbiano Modenese, this wine was reminiscent of the sweet Moscato.  With notes of honey, apricot, and peach, it is easy on the palate with excellent flavours.

Ca Berti’s wines are very popular in Italy and was favoured by Enzo Ferrari (founder of Ferrari).  In fact, the company still uses Ca Berti wines to gift along with their Ferrari cars! 

The winery currently exports to countries like the U.S., Japan, and Germany, and is now looking to enter the Indian Market.  After tasting their wines, there is no doubt that they will pair perfectly with Indian food and will find favour with Indian wine drinkers!

The wines sell for roughly 3 euros a bottle.

For more information on Ca Berti, please visit


Click For Large ViewWith 20 hectares of vineyards producing Grasparossa Lambrusco and Pignoletto, this winery was founded in 1980.  Now in its second generation (run by Maria Livia), the company produces a wide spectrum of top quality products – wines, balsamic vinegar (both traditional and commercial), extra virgin olive oil, Il Nocino (Walnut Liqueur), chocolates and much more!

At an exclusive tasting of eight of their popular wines, the following four Lambrusco DOC wines stood out for their good balance, easiness on the palate, flavourful berry aromas, and clean finish:-
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro ‘Vigna del Fiore’ – Alcohol level at 11.5%.
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro ‘Castrum Vetus’ – Alcohol level at 11%
Amabile Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro – Alcohol level at 10.5%
Secco Amabile Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro – Alcohol level at 11.5%.

The company currently produces 80,000 bottles of wine and 500,000 bottles of vinegar annually.  90% of the wines are sold in Italy while the rest is exported.  For the vinegar, 30% are sold in Italy while the rest 70% are for export purposes.

All the eight wines were nothing short of delicious and the balsamic vinegar was also indicative of the high quality with which they are produced.  Maria Livia is keen for her products to make an entry into the Indian market and strongly feels that the versatility of her wines would make able pairings with the innumerous Indian cuisines from all over the country.  After tasting her wines, I could easily seen an easy pairing with Indian non-veg curry dishes, along with paneer and potato gravies, among others.  Their balsamic vinegar is sure to charm its way onto the Indian palate too!

For more information on Manicardi and their unique range of high quality of products, please visit

After visiting the above wineries, I saw that Lambrusco is produced with utmost care to quality in both the vineyards and the winery, which is evident in the final product.  I strongly believe that with the right promotion and entry price point, Lambrusco could well become the next best thing to happen to sparkling wines in India!

Rishi Vohra, CSW

Rishi Vohra is the Mumbai Correspondent of delWine and is a Certified Specialist of Wine (CSW) from the Society of Wine Educators - USA. He has done an MBA in Sustainable Business from San Francisco State University and a Masters Diploma in Environmental Law from WWF-India. His debut fiction novel, ‘Once Upon the Tracks of Mumbai,’ is a bestseller and was recently awarded an honorable mention in the General Fiction category at the Hollywood Book Festival, and was the only book from India to be awarded at the festival. He can be contacted at

Tags: Grasparossa 2013, Modena, Grasparossa Lambrusco, Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy


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