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Senior editor Dana Nigro joined Wine Spectator in 1998. She is managing editor of WineSpectator.com.
Dana Nigro

A Festive Fizzy Red for Antipasti and Parties

Lini Oreste & Figli Lambrusco Emilia Rosso Labrusca 910 NV

Dana Nigro
Posted: February 1, 2013

On the table with the holiday spread were Barberas and Nebbiolos from Italy, some reds from our favorite value producers in Spain and other wines catering to family members' tastes. And what did my brother declare as his favorite wine of the day? A Lambrusco.

Wait, some of you may be saying, isn't that the same thing as the Riunite my parents drank in the 1970s and '80s? (Well, yes, but apparently you haven't been keeping up with Matt Kramer's columns.) Others may be nodding knowingly. In the New York City area at least, with its plethora of fine Italian restaurants, artisanal Lambrusco, in drier styles, has become a familiar sight. I've been dallying with this lightly sparkling wine off and on for a few years, bringing the more readily available bottlings to pizzerias and outdoor gatherings, wanting to love it, mostly settling on "just friends."

But when I saw the well-stocked display of Lini rosso, bianco and rosé at my local New Jersey wine shop, I gave it another spin. Thus for Thanksgiving this year, I decided on Lambrusco as the alternative to our usual Beaujolais—something fruity and fun and versatile. This time around the Lini Oreste & Figli Lambrusco Emilia Rosso Labrusca 910 NV, a secco (dry) bottling, had just a bit more oomph, enough charisma to chat you up for the duration of a multicourse meal, from the appetizers through the turkey to a last few sips before dessert.

It was so successful I made a followup date for Christmas where it was even better with the antipasti spread my brother put out, its crispness cleansing against the fat and salt of the salumi, able to stand up to the tang of sharp cheeses and pickled vegetables. Overtly grapey at first sniff, the aromas and flavors expanded to raspberry, cherry and plums, with touches of pleasantly bitter spices, finishing surprisingly dry for its up-front fruitiness. 87 points, non-blind.

The winery, in Emilia-Romagna, has been around since 1910 and makes several different Lambruscos. The Labrusca is Lini's basic line, made in the charmat method, with secondary fermentation in tanks, but some of the higher-priced wines are done in the metodo classico, in bottle. The rosso is made with Lambrusco Salamino, one of the most common of several varieties of the Lambrusco grape, with 10 percent Ancelotta, one of the permitted blending grapes, used for color and structure.

WineSpectator.com members: Read the original blind-tasting review for Lini Oreste & Figli Lambrusco Emilia Rosso Labrusca 910 NV (88 points, $16).

• Plus, get scores and tasting notes for other recently rated Lambruscos and read Alison Napjus' tasting report on Italian sparkling wines of all types.

Raymond Darbenzio
Ewing, NJ —  April 12, 2013 8:48pm ET
Thank You for the write up. Finally, serious wine people are beginning to understand the virtues of well-made Lambrusco. It's not to be pondered or revered...it's made to be paired with rich food or anything with a condiment that is notoriously hard to match (that's right, I'm talking to you, ketchup). I have a dozen different well-made Lambruscos in my cellar and use them frequently to pair with the food I eat, not the other way around. Lini is a great producer as is Tentua Pederzana and Cleto Chiarli. My favorites are La Battagliola and the Opera offerings from Ca' Montanari.....all under $20. Everyone I serve one to, with the right fare, loves them. I visited Modena a few years ago to dig a bit deeper and it was very worth it. I discovered Franciacorta and Guttornio on the same trip. I couldn't have been happier.

Special thanks to Matt Kramer who has touted the virtue of Lambrusco over the recent years, including in the most recent edition of WS.

Morewine Bishar
Del Mar, California —  July 17, 2013 3:41pm ET
Isn't it about time to up-date this feature? Surely somebody is drinking something interesting and different now!

David Clark
for the Wine Connection
Katherine Mellin
Toronto, Ontario, Canada —  August 6, 2014 7:57am ET
Another beautiful and lesser know effervescent red is Gragnano and even lesser so, it's sister wine Lettere. Both are made from a blend of 3 red grape varieties indigenous to the Campania region (close to Napoli). The grape varieties are aglianico, piedirosso and sciascinoso (the latter grape variety is pronounced SHAH-shee-NOH-zoh). Both wines are fruity and dry with a touch of minerality. The Lettere is a bit higher in acidity given the grapes that make this wine are from vines grown on a higher altitude. Gragnano is the pizza pairing wine of the Neopolitans. Both are delicious but if pressed, my favourite is the Lettere. Cantine Federiciane Monteleone produces two fantastic examples of these wines which are available in Ontario, Canada through Apparition Wines & Spirits.

Katherine Mellin, Principal
Apparition Wines & Spirits
JAPAN —  October 1, 2014 6:16am ET
Welcome to the wine world. Do U think, we can have some
Italian wines and wineries , not yet written abt ???.

Reruns in a new way is not fun, How abt an unknown Italian grape ???.game for adventure ???.
Dante Di Midio
Yardley PA  —  October 2, 2014 3:31pm ET
There are other interesting Italian wines out there besides Barbaresco, Nebbiolos Brunellos, Chiantis,etc They are great wines but the tip of the Italian Iceberg. You just did Sicily, Umbria that is a start but what about and in depth article on Le Marche a fantastic wine and food region. Europe knows about it's virtue and people like me who come from here . Some wines are starting to show up because of their quality to value ratio. Most Americans only know Verdicchio that is about it . Your magazine mentions maybe one or two wines in passing maybe a little blurb but you never have dug deep to find the treasures . There are now rich reds being produced both DOC and IGT Like : Rosso Piceno, Conero, Cabernet and Merlot blends plus other red blends like Cabernet and Montepulciano . Many Organic . Plus excellent whites like Pecorino, Passerina etc. They are worth seeking out. You should let your readers know more . When you are done with Le Marche move over to Abruzzo There you find great Montepulcianos that can rival any wines produced in Italy. You owe it to your readers. Ciao

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