Sat 9 Jun 2007
Perhaps you remember the television commercials of the 1980s for Riunite and Cella Lambruscos, fizzy, grapey soda-pop wines from the western Emilia part of Italy’s Emilia-Romagna region. “Chill a Cella” and “Riunite on Ice — Very Nice” were the unforgettable slogans of those ads, which depicted the wines as mindless, fun babe-magnets. Americans drank millions of cases a year.
The Fontana dei Boschi Lambrusco 2004, produced by Vittorio Graziano in Modena, is not one of those wines, though it could be a magnet for babes who really like interesting wines. I got a bottle of this intriguing, serious effort from Gabrio Tosti’s De Vino store (de-vino) on Clinton Street in Manhattan’s Lower East Side. “Drink it with pork or lamb,” he said. I was skeptical, though the dignified, straightforward label certainly did not imply that it was anything like Cella or Riunite.
Last night, LL made a pasta of farfalle with cipollini onions, sun-dried tomatoes, broccoli rabe and leftover grilled chicken. (It was great.) The bottle’s back label informed us that the wine is aged six to nine months in stainless steel tanks, put into bottles for a second fermentation (as in the classic Champagne manner) and then disgorged to clean bottles. Few Lambruscos — that’s also the name of the grape — today are made in this traditional manner, more typically being produced in the bulk method. When I opened the wine, it emitted a “POP” and a spew of lavender foam, and in the glass the effervescence persisted for several minutes before it subsided. The bottle is not closed with a Champagne-style cork and wire enclosure but with a regular cork that’s fatter at the bottom.
The Fontana dei Boschi Lambrusco 2004 is a rich, deep purple color with a dark ruby rim (see the picture above). It bursts with pure black raspberry and black cherry scents and flavors with a spicy black plum undertone and a touch of wild berry. The wine displays surprising tannin and structure; this is not a sweet, simple-minded little quaffer in any sense but a forthright and individual wine intended for hearty fare. It was delicious with the grilled chicken pasta and also at lunch today with tacos made of leftover grilled pork chops (we’re big into recycling, and I’ve been grilling outdoors a lot) with white bean puree and tomatilla salsa.
Fontana dei Boschi Lambrusco 2004 is brought into the U.S. by Lambrusco Imports, Spring Valley N.Y. At about $22, it’s definitely Worth a Search.