Don't Knock Lambrusco: Podere il Saliceto
Lambrusco has a bad reputation. Fine. But get over it and try a Lambrusco from a small grower. You might especially consider an elegant dry pink Sorbara like Podere il Saliceto's fabulous Falistra.
To this day, most Lambrusco is churned out on an industrial scale, but there's an ongoing renaissance in the region, and if you haven't checked in on the progress, you're missing out. Lambrusco comes from the Pianura Padana, otherwise known as the Po River Valley, the largest unbroken plain in Southern Europe. This is a flat region known for wheat, tomatoes, cheese, but certainly also grapes, lots of grapes making lots of wine. Still, there are many small growers making remarkable wines from this rather unremarkable landscape.
There was an interesting question on the Master of Wine exam many years ago. Something about whether or not great wine has to come from a slope. My answer would have been something like "not necessarily, but great wine probably has to have some relation to a slope". I don't know if Podere il Saliceto is on a little hill in the notoriously featureless Po Valley, but they sure do coax intense flavors from their grapes. I relish the short annual release of their Falistra, and count it among my favorite Italian sparkling wines.
We recently received the 2021 Falistra. We also received the 2021 Cichin (pronounced "cheek-in"), a new wine for me, made from the rare Lambrusco Benetti cultivar, aka Cichin D'Benati, which is not sanctioned in the Lambrusco DOC, and therefore must carry an IGP designation. Both wines are fabulous, and though I may have a slight preference for Falistra, the Cichin is more limited and should not be missed.
Podere il Saliceto Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC 'Falistra' - $25 So pure and fresh, this has a yeasty and herbal dimension, but its focus is gorgeous fruit: raspberry, cherry, plum, pluot, vague citrus.... Elegant and sneakily dense, this has layers on the palate though it is ultimately a fresh and easy-going bubbly quaff. Loads of fun, after the bubbles subside the palate is gently stained with lingering citrus, fresh cherry, raspberry, and crunchy red plum notes. Superb.
Podere il Saliceto Emilia IGP Rosato 'Cichin' - $30
Maraschino liqueur, strawberry candy, pithy fresh orange, green flower buds, white pepper, a little mint, stone dust and pleasant nutty lees. Gentle frothy bubbles, tangy and juicy, lots of citrus and bright red fruit, nice lively herbal and floral tones too. Gorgeous Lambrusco here! Drink it up!
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