Lambrusco wines are credited with the rising popularity of wine consumption in the United States. Millions of cases of the fizzy red wine were sold annually in the US during the 1970s and 1980s. Perhaps the sweetness of the wines contributed to their popularity, as Carlo Piccinini, vice president of the Cantina di Carpi e Sorbara explains:
When the Lambrusco boomed in the States in the seventies (or eighties) there were still very few wine drinkers in the population and a sweet and sparkling wine was much more easy to accept then a more complex wine. We are having a similar phenomenon in Brazil and Mexico now: both are countries with a very low consumption of wine (per capita) but rising very fast, and in both countries the Lambrusco is really popular.
Like Lacrima, Verdicchio grapes are another ancient indigenous variety found in the Le Marche region of Italy. The name comes from the Italian word for “green,” and refers to the greenish-yellow color of the grape.
This variety has found great commercial success since the 1970s, as the vines produce high-quality grapes capable of being used for a variety of wines. It is known as a very versatile grape that can produce young wines as well as more full-bodied and well-aged wines, and even sparkling wine or dessert wine. Verdicchio grapes are used in two DOC wines: Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi and Verdicchio di Matelica.
Lacrima is a rare red wine grape variety that grows only outside the medieval village of Morro d’Alba in the province of Ancona. This province is found in the region of Le Marche, to the west of Tuscany and northwest of Lazio. The name of the grapes comes from the Italian word for “tear.” These grapes have a very thin, delicate skin that tends to burst upon full maturation and release “lacrime,” or tear drops, of juice.
The grapes are an ancient, indigenous variety that has been cultivated on the hillsides of Ancona for hundreds of years. It was in the early 1980s that wine producers began seeing the opportunities for using the Lacrima grapes. Lacrima di Morro d’Alba was recognized as a DOC in 1985, but according to legend, the German Holy Roman Emperor tasted this wine in 1167 after the siege of Ancona. If legend holds true, this wine has been produced for centuries.
In my opinion, wines other than Chianti, Vino Nobile, Brunello, or “Super Tuscans” that seem to pop up on the lists of great restaurants in Florence tend to be a good indicator of the next trend in the Italian wine world. This is precisely why I love Morellino di Scansano DOCG, as well as white wines from La Maremma such as Vermentino.
While living in Florence, my wife Katie and I noticed wines from La Maremma on lists as we experienced the great dining of that wonderful city. While studying wine marketing at the Università degli Studi di Firenze, my mentor Veronica Alampi Sottini would encourage my interest in wines from La Maremma, as she told me stories of spending summers in the region outside of Grosseto with her family. The curiosity of this region led me to know Fattoria San Felo, and this same interest in unique Italian wines is expressed in Pennsylvania’s Chairman’s Selection program.
As much as we all enjoy drinking wine, tasting is a bit more involved. Our goal is to make your experience simple and fun! Over the next few weeks we’ll be sharing with you what we’re learning about how to taste wine like a pro!