Cantina Di Sorbara – Lambrusco, NV

Initially I planned to do this as a regular wine post, but after acquiring this bottle I decided it needed something special.

Back when I started this wine adventure, I listed out the major varietals and styles of wine that I wanted to try to “complete” my education. I based my list on the varietals listed in the Wine Folly book and decided that I needed to acquire a bottle and drink a glass of the varietal in order to check off the varietal in my list. (Yes, there is a spreadsheet with notes for each varietal also but that is a different story.) I’ve made a good dent in this list as many of the varietals, even some odd ones, proved not that difficult to acquire thanks to the internet and inter-state shipping. One wine that eluded me, however, was Lambrusco.

Over the last year I’ve checked my usual suppliers – Total Wine, the local wine shop, my internet sources – multiple times, but Lambrusco proved difficult to find. I was cautious abut the type of Lambrusco to pick up after listening to a podcast (Wine for Normal People if anyone wants an easy to listen to wine podcast) and hearing the stories of the horrible, sickeningly sweet wine that is generally Lambrusco in the U.S.; I really wanted to try a good, dry version of the wine.

When Bob and I were at our local wine shop around the holidays I saw a bottle of Lambrusco on the shelf. This was new and it was pretty inexpensive so I decided to try it. As I picked up the bottle one of the staff commented that he didn’t realize I liked sweet red wine. I told him I didn’t and he said, “don’t buy that.” I told him about my quest to try the major varietals and styles and this one was proving difficult so I thought I would take a chance. He just kept asking if I liked sweet red wine and when I would say no he repeated, “don’t buy that, you won’t like it.” After a few rounds of this conversation, the owner of the shop came over and said, “you like sweet red wine?” I told him the story of my quest and the difficulty I had finding Lambrusco so I decided to give it a go, knowing that I probably would not like it. Carmen, the owner, told me not to buy the bottle in my hand and said he would bring me a bottle of a good, dry Lambrusco from his cellar. I told him I just wanted to try the varietal and was ok with not liking it. He insisted and so I gave up. I kind of figured that if two people in the business of selling wine are telling me to not buy something, and one of them is offering to give me a bottle of the thing I am trying to buy, I had to just give in. Part of me thought that this offer was something that would be forgotten in the light of day and I didn’t think much about it after that.

Fast forward to February. Since most of January I spent getting sick or getting over being sick, we didn’t attend the Friday wine tastings at the local shop for most of the month. When we did arrive in the beginning of February the first thing Carmen said to me was that he had a bottle of dry Lambrusco in the back for me. I was pretty surprised. I was really touched too. How often does someone do something nice for someone they only tangentially know? It was a really nice feeling. So two bottles (yes, two not one) of Lambrusco came home with us earlier this month and we opened one because I just had to.

The results – it was one of the most interesting wines I’ve tasted.

Look: Slightly translucent raison colored wine. No noticeable fizz in the glass.

Smell: Prune, strawberry, some sugar and overripe fruit.

Taste: Light, not very bubbly but definitely fizzy. Little prune flavor and a lot like port. raison, red fruits – kind of juicy.

Conclusions: I loved this bottle not because I was ga-ga over the wine, but because of how I acquired it. I did drink a few glasses of this over a couple of days and while I can’t say it is my favorite, I did enjoy it. I’m not a port fan, finding it too heavy, so this was a nice alternative. I loved the texture of the wine in my mouth and how interesting it was. I do think this was a fantastic wine when it was younger (both Carmen and Robin told me it was an older bottle) and it might be a bit past its peak. I have every intention of opening the other bottle in the near future and enjoying it fully – probably after I get over this round of being sick – on the back patio on a beautiful day to remind me how lucky I am. Sometimes wine is wine and sometimes it is much more than that.

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Sparkling Wines

It is the time of year for sparkling wine and we decided to do an online wine class about different sparkling wines. It was a lot of fun and we learned a little bit about the bubbly.  Champaign is expensive (or good champaign is expensive) and there are a lot of other types of sparkling wine that are just as good and far friendlier on the budget. So, in the order we tasted them:

Nino Franco Rustico Prosecco: Valdobbiadene, Veneto, Italy, no vintage ($12.75 at Total Wine with coupon). Light, pale straw colored wine with a tint of green. Good bubbles that I initially thought were teeny tiny, but when compared to the other two, were a little bigger. Apple, pear and mineral on the nose. Good acidity with flavors of apple and bread. I liked this wine. It made me smile to drink it and I love the feel of the wine in my mouth.

Seguras Viudas Cava Brute: Penedes, Spain, no vintage ($8.50 at Total Wine with coupon). Very similar in looks to the prosecco with a pale straw color and tinged with green. Bubbles are much finer, but not as many visible. Was not crazy about the smell of this one – a little smoky with a little unripe apple. The bubbles were very fine when drinking with a mineral water texture. Lots of stone, granite and unripe apple in the flavors. Not my favorite, but it will make a great mimosa.

Albrecht Tradition Cremant D’Alsace: Reserve Rose from Alsace, France, no vintage. (19.50 at Total Wine with coupon). Very light, pale salmon in color with very fine bubbles – and lots of them. Strawberry and bread on the nose. Raspberry, strawberry, and bread in flavor with a nice, smooth finish. Of the three, my favorite. Easy drinking, pleasant mouthfeel with a lot of nice summer fruit.

The clear winner here for both Bob and I was the cremant. It had the best flavor, texture and finish of the three. The prosecco came in second with the cava a distant third. This was an interesting comparison, especially since we were at the local wine store’s weekly tasting the night before and they features prosecco and other sparking wines. With those wines, we liked the rose best also so it may just be that I prefer the fruity (not sweet) bubbly.

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Tesoro Della Regina – Prosecco, NV

  • Basic info: Tesoro Della Regina, Prosecco, Italy, No Vintage
  • Type: White bubbly – Prosecco
  • Price estimate: $5 – split bottle from Total Wine
  • Look: Very pale yellow, almost clear in color with fine bubbles
  • Smell: yeast, apple and a little candied pineapple
  • Taste: Crisp, bubbly, tart. green apple and pear with a little sweet note on the back end.
  • Conclusions: I really liked this one. It had just a touch of sweetness to offset the tartness, but it wasn’t a sweet wine at all. It was lovely to drink by itself, but it would also make a great mimosa.
  • Other notes: I picked this up on a whim at Total wine. I’ve had wine from this producer before and I’ve generally liked them, so when I saw the small bottle, I decided to go for it. I intended to hold off on any sparkling wines until I could do a full comparison – Champaign, American sparkling, Cava, Prosecco and Lambrusco – but am having a hard time finding the Lambrusco. Now that the weather is cooler, I might try the old internet order for this, but for now, I’ll go with this bottle. It was the perfect size to celebrate something (passing my state exam in this case) on a weekday. IMG_20170927_190925.jpg