I am still toying with the shape and tone of this blog so forgive me as I feel my way. This week I feel compelled to comment on some Italian-wine news that has been filtering in over the last few weeks.
I included a throw away reference to Lambrusco in this space a few weeks ago and that simple act has opened my eyes to the onrush of Lambrusco related press floating around out there. ‘Brusco is the sparkly wine from Italy's Emilia - Romagna region which is often cited as Italy's stomach and has been a favorite of mine for years owing to its flexibility as a food wine and its unpretentious drinkability. The quality and quantity of Lambrusco available in the United States has been increasing swiftly over the last few years and recently the Consorzio dei Lambruschi Modenesi announced the bottling of its 500 millionth bottle. Additionally, one of my favorite producers, Lini, had a nice write-up in Men's Vogue of all places. I recommend the article for its no nonsense approach and for also linking to Riunite commercials from the 70s that will have some of you cringing and others just shaking their heads.
Speaking of Emilia-Romagna, in my post explaining the difference between the French and Italian wine law systems I used Sangiovese di Romagna as an example claiming that if it were more French there would be sub-zones within the greater DOC that indicated greater quality. In the back of my mind I think I might be responsible for this initiative that hopes to add sub-zone designations to the larger DOC. Right now this idea is in its infancy but it is an opportunity for the Italians to define the subzones carefully and place tighter yield and growing restrictions that will ensure higher quality wines are produced. In this way the Italian wine label might actually reach out to consumers and provide additional information as opposed to adding seven more unknown words for wine lovers to trip over. We shall see.
Also, hearty congratulations to Barbera del Monferrato Superiore for becoming Italy's 37th DOCG. This completes the recognition of Piedmont's workhorse grapes Dolcetto (see Dogliani) and Barbera. I will be exploring this elevation in more depth in another post but I did not want BMS fans to waste another minute in planning their parties.
And lastly for this week, in a news article that I can currently not confirm - so please take it as rumor - the Italian government seems to have approved the use of Bag-in-Box for Italian DOC wines. Exempt from this would be DOCG and any wines using the Riserva, Superiore or vigna designations. If true it would mark a significant departure from past dogma and open the door to the possibility of good quality Italian wine appearing in the Box format. I whole-heartedly support such initiatives and I hope producers take advantage of the new packaging options and begin to allow other modifications such as permitting screw caps for DOC wines as well.
Thank you for taking the time and see you again in two weeks.
Robert Scibelli is a lecturer and administrator at New York's premier wine school, International Wine Center.