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SEPTEMBER 2022/ DOUBLE TAKE: LAMBRUSCO


Countess Greffulhe, Otto Wegener, 1899 

INTRO

Typically, a double take can be thought of as a delayed reaction.  It happens when you look at something and then  look away thinking you understood what you saw.  As you begin to categorize it in the great card catalog of your memory, your mind stops you and says, “Wait- there’s something more”, so you look again.  That detail that made you return your gaze can suddenly seem so obvious and ridiculous that you don’t know how you didn’t see it the first time.  This phenomenon of intuition feels particularly special because you realize that you were only a moment away from missing a unique experience.  This is a moment to feel grateful to  your gut for talking to you, and grateful for your heart for listening.  All double takes don’t reveal the wonders of the world (they might just show you that everything is actually normal), but they do stop you in your tracks, and that is special these days.
This month you might find yourself doing a double take at your Club Caravan package when you find not only two Lambruscos, but two from the same producer, Ferretti Vini.  This side by side comparison not only allows us to learn about Lambrusco the grape, and Lambrusco the wine, but it allows us to see how Lambrusco might show different personality traits even when being grown on the same land and handled by the same producer.  Like siblings raised under the same roof, there are superficial similarities that make them clearly related.  But in looking back a second time, you  see them defined as individuals.  We invite you to do a long slow double take with your Lambrusco bottles this month.  Get to know them and appreciate the subtle differences that can only be illuminated through comparison.  You may discover you have a favorite.




Christoffer Relander, July

UNDERSTANDING THE ROOTS OF LAMBRUSCO: THE ETRUSCANS

Lambrusco hails from the northeast region of Italy covering four provinces: Modena, Parma, Reggio-Emilia, and Mantua.  This is an area home to some of the most divine flavors of the world- Parmigiano- Reggiano cheese, prosciutto di Parma, balsamic vinegar, and Lambrusco wine, one of the oldest Italian wines.  Could it be a coincidence that all of these rich and sensuous  items come from the same region?  Some may say it’s the Etruscans.
This ancient civilization covered a large swath of central Italy which we now call Tuscany, Umbria, Lazio, Emilia Romagna, Lombardy, Veneto, and Campania  from 900 BCE to 27 BCE.  As predecessors to the ancient Roman Empire and the earliest Iron Age culture in Italy, they are considered a kind of “cultural bridge” between the ancient Greeks and Romans.  The Roman name for this ancient civilization was Tuscī or Etrusī which serves as the root of the name of the region of Italy which they inhabited, Tuscany.  This is a civilization that evolved out of  the more primitive Bronze Age and were now creating large tower structures (which is the meaning of the Latin root of their name “Turs”) and developing beyond necessity into preference and expertise.  The Etruscans were known for their feasts and banquets and celebrating  the earth’s bounty through  food and drink.  They were oenophiles and avid olive oil makers.  It is this recognition of food and wine that allowed food to become more than just sustenance, but an experience, and one of pleasure.  We see this reverence of food and the sharing of meals carried through as one of the pillars of Italian culture even today.  The other being family, which the Etruscans also helped cultivate.  
While earlier Neolithic and Bronze Age cultures commonly buried families together, the Etruscans were the first to create large enough tombs for generations of a family.  They developed an importance of a bloodline and the history that is carried through it.  With the Etruscans, there seems to be a subtle relationship between the large banquet table and the large tomb.  In life and in death you are surrounded by those most important to you.  And Lambrusco was present for it all.


Anon (English School), Double Portrait, circa 1650

 

THE BOTTLES

Back in the early 1920s, the Ferretti family began making Lambrusco in the Case Cocconi village of Campegine in the Po Valley. By 1929, financial crises occurred and the family had to sell the property. They did, however, continue to work for the new owners for several decades. In 1970, the land was finally able to be reacquired by the Ferretti family.
Today the winery is run by sisters Denise & Elisa Ferretti. It was their great-grandfather Sante who started their business 100 years ago. With the two sisters at the helm, there is a focus on quality over quantity, which is a bit out of step with most consumer's memories of this style of wine. (Lambrsco has been suffering from mass-market overproduction of inexpensive and overly sweet styles that really started in the 1980s and continues still today) In the Ferretti vineyards, there is no invasive intervention and all vineyard work is done with a biological farming approach, leading to a protection and promotion of local resources. The harvest is entirely manual, picking only the perfect grapes at the perfect time. Once in the cellar, the wines are left alone. No adding of yeasts or other adjuncts to the wine, and no filtration. Denise & Elisa are reinvigorating the farm with a positive sense of purpose. 
The Pianura Padana (the Padan Plain or Po Valley) is particularly fertile due to the presence of springs and the Po River that comes from the Cottian Alps and extends west before ending in the Adriatic Sea near Venice. This valley has been a highly productive place for agriculture for thousands of years. The Ferretti's have a 7 Ha site with only 3 Ha given over to vineyards, and the rest being grasslands. They grow about 12 different grape varieties, 8 of which have gone into each of these two blends. (Did you know there are over 60 related varieties of the lambrusco grape?!). The name lambrusco means "wild grape" in Italian and it was believed that all Lambruscos were domesticated from local wild vines and recent genetic evidence has confirmed this.
The "Al Cer" and the "Al Scur" are each made from the exact same blend of varieties. Because the names of these grapes are so fantastic to read, they are listed here by their full names (read aloud for the full dramatic effect): Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Oliva, Lambrusco Barghi, Lambrusco A Foglia Frastagliata, and Ancellotta. 
Once in the winery, the juice is fermented only with indigenous wild yeasts, and no clarification or filtration. With no added sulphites, the wines remain bright and dynamic, and different from year to year. Having the exact same blend of grapes, what makes the two wines distinct is that the Al Cer undergoes an 8 hour skin maceration after crushing, whereas the Al Scur's maceration time is much longer at 4 days. To give the wines their distinctive sparkle, they go through a process known as Method Ancestral: this indicates that the wine finishes fermenting inside the bottle, with the remaining sugar eating up the yeast and producing CO2.  Both of the wines are aged for 6 months on the lees (dead yeast) which adds to the wines aroma and texture. 

 

WINE 1
Ferretti Vini, Lambrusco d’Emilia “Al Cer” 2020
ITALY, Emilia-Romagna, Campegine
SERVICE FOR WINE 1
Serve at 10° C
Pairs with: 
Grilled Things
charcuterie & gnocco fritto (not gnocchi!)
Also great with savory cheeses (Parmigiano and beyond)
Sushi

 

 

WINE 2
Ferretti Vini, Lambrusco d’Emilia “Al Scur” 2019
ITALY, Emilia-Romagna, Campegine
SERVICE FOR WINE 2
Serve at 10° C
Pairs with:
Cappelletti (pasta dumplings)
Cotechino: pork sausage, polenta & dumplings
White Bean, Tomato, Arugula stew
Always Pizza

Morris Louis, Janus, 1960

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Our aim is to give a glimpse into the many roles wine has played throughout history.  All subjects mentioned deserve more attention and research and we encourage you to keep exploring.  We are only here to pop the cork.

Many Thanks, Caravan Wine Shop

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