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Lambrusco Grasparossa Di Castelvetro

Lambrusco is a brightly coloured grape variety used to make sparkling red wines in Emilia-Romagna, northern Italy. More accurately, it is a collective term for a group of grape varieties (much like Muscat) – more than 60 Lambrusco varieties have been identified so far. Lambrusco vines are grown in several Italian wine regions, including Piemonte (Emilia-Romagna’s neighbour) and farther afield in Basilicata.

Lambrusco and its eponymous wine have a high profile in the early 21st century, largely the result of mass production for major markets in the 1980s, particularly the United States and northern Europe. The days when Lambrusco wines were widely bottle-fermented in the méthode traditionelle have gone, as has much of the quality and care that accompanied this more demanding production technique. Today, most wines bearing the Lambrusco name are made in bulk, and go through their secondary fermentation in large steel tanks. This is known as the Charmat (or tank) method, pioneered in northern Italy and also used in the production of Prosecco. The popularity of Lambrusco grew so rapidly in the 1980s that this was the only way of producing the required volumes quickly enough to satisfy demand and cheaply enough to keep the wines affordable.

The pigment of Lambrusco grapes works well to create an alluring ruby colour in wines; and when allowed to reach full phenolic ripeness, the grapes create a wine as intensely perfumed as it is coloured. Lambrusco’s bright purple-red hue is surpassed only by that of Ancellotta, another variety sanctioned for use under the Lambrusco DOC laws. Ancellotta grapes are used to bring colour to the kind of watery, overcropped Lambrusco produced when yields are allowed to climb out of control.

A number of Lambrusco sub-varieties have their own DOC, namely Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro and Lambrusco Salamino di Santa Croce. In addition to these there is the Modena DOC (created in 2009) and Reggiano, which was formerly known as Lambrusco di Reggiano. A wine made under any one of these titles must be made from at least 85% Lambrusco grapes (some are tied to specific sub-varieties, some are not). The remaining 15% is often made up with Ancellotta.

Maestri is one of many sub-varieties of Lambrusco used to produce the eponymous sparkling red. As well as being grown in its native region of Emilia-Romagna, it is cultivated farther south in Basilicata. Outside Italy, Maestri has been successfully cultivated as far afield as Argentina (due mainly to the Italian migration there) and more recently, Australia.
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