July 11th, 2012:
"Nice to see you feature Lambrusco! Just a bit of fact-correction for you:
Actually, Lambrusco REMAINS the #1-selling Italian red wine in the USA. Further, it STARTED its run of popularity almost 40 years ago; the pinnacle was in the mid-1980s, when it was selling 10-million-plus cases per year in the USA. Hope to see Lambrusco reviews in the future!"
- "Lambrusco Knight"
July 16th, 2012: "Wow Lambrusco Day, someone is condescending. I'm pretty sure that any wine you can legally purchase is "commercial." Or does "real" lambrusco come from non-profit organizations?"
- "Lambrusco Knight"
July 24th, 2012: "Lambrusco Summer, I keep seeing you spread lies throughout the internet about "authentic" Lambrusco and it's getting tired and old. Your "by law" alcohol levels are misleading and mostly nonsense.
Further, no one ever made a dry Lambrusco until the 20th century -- its searing acidity was always tempered by sweetness, just as they did/do in Champagne. Lambrusco is supposed to be a wine without pretense, and you're pushing it with snobbery and condescension!
Finally, it's disingenuous to "educate" people and not disclose your status as an importer of Lambrusco that just happens to exactly match all the requirements that you're spewing as "real" and "authentic." This current generation demands transparency!"
- "Lambrusco Knight"
"The Charmat method, which revolutionized Lambrusco production in the 60s and enabled it to go international (and also to go sweet, which it had never been before).
- Nicolas Belfrage MW, Life Beyond Lambrusco, 1985
"Lambruscos have been misrepresented by industrial versions that have the soda pop flavor they think Americans want."
- Lidia Bastianich, chef and host of PBS's Lidia's Italy
June 31st, 2012: "We take our winemaking very seriously and want to bring the quality message back,” Pellini [owner of Chiarli, one of Emilia's oldest and largest Lambrusco producers] told the drinks business. “It’s a tough challenge as Lambrusco’s reputation was damaged so badly in the ‘70s and ‘80s with the cheap, low-alcohol versions sold in the UK and the US. Our wines [Emilian Lambruscos] are nothing like that, the majority are dry and around 11% abv,” he added."
"I mean real Lambrusco secco, dry, earthy and slightly bitter yet joyous and refreshing, beloved by millions in Emilia Romagna...We focused on dry wines, or secco, though Emilia Romagna certainly has a worthy tradition of semisweet Lambruscos."
- Eric Asimov, New York Times, June 30th, 2012
"Lambrusco. Once extremely popular fizzy red from nr Modena, mainly in industrial, semi-sweet, non-DOC version. Best is secco, bottled-fermented or in tank."
- Hugh Johnson's Pocket Wine Book, 2013
Lambruscos proudly presented to John Mariani by top Emilian restaurateurs and sommeliers:
"Until June  I had never ordered a bottle of lambrusco in Italy.
With memories of those sweet, fizzy, soda-like imports of the 1970s...I had no interest in revisiting such wines, even in Emilia Romagna, where lambrusco is made."
--- John Mariani
"Lambrusco Knight," asking for "transparency" and posting anonymously, calling me a liar instead of providing additional useful or helpful information, fact-based clarifications and corrections, having to use qualifiers such as "misleading" and "mostly", and pretending not to know what constitutes "commercial / industrial" Lambrusco (see sidebar for Lidia Bastianich's and Hugh Johnson's quotes), speaks volumes and reveals more about you than you think.
The entire LambruscoDay.org site is solely devoted to providing traditional and smaller Lambrusco producers a voice, media and foreign market access and educate wine consumers about, yes, "real", "authentic" Lambrusco.
THIS generation will - FINALLY - be able to make buying decisions between what Emilians proudly produce, serve and drink" and pasteurized Lambrusco styles "manufactured exclusively to carefully calculated specifications of an im/exporter" (Matt Kramer).
In my book THAT'S transparency!
LambruscoDay.org and the twitter account "ilLambrusco" have been promoting and continue to promote ALL genuine Lambruscos made in Emilia and Lombardia - not any particular producers, styles or brands (see: First ever 6-course dinner matched entirely with 6 top secco Lambruscos at Cube in Los Angeles in 2011.) THIS will give the "current generation the transparency" none of the previous generations - unfortunately - ever had.
If you take a look at the list of 'artisanal Lambruscos' on the Dozza Award site, you'll find that almost ALL of them "match all the requirements that [I'm] spewing as "real" and "authentic." --- Not only one!
Traditional / real / serious / authentic / classic / true / genuine Lambrusco has traditionally ALWAYS been SECCO in Emilia which is now defined - per DOC/P - as a wine that may have 0-15 g/l RS; i.e. it may be bone, off-dry and even sweet. That's why I prefer to use the term 'secco', not 'dry' which has no meaning what-so-ever. Surely, you must know that it doesn't take 60 or 80 g/l (about 2 to 3 oz.) of sugar to "temper acidity" in a Lambrusco or any other wine, respectively.
Lambrusco Frizzante has NOTHING in common with Champagne. Absolutely nothing!!!
Even the rarest type of Lambrusco frizzante, bottle-refermented or Lambrusco rifermentazione ancestrale, can't be compared to French Champagne:
There is no "dosage" or "disgorgement" and the pressure for Champagne has to be at least 3.5 atm (Lambrusco Frizzante: 1.0 - 2.5 atm.) Furthermore, you may start the secondary fermentation of Champagne by adding sugar; Lambrusco's can only be started with un-fermented must. Tank re-fermented (charmat) Lambrusco, introduced in the '70s, is yet another entirely different story!
Every single Lambrusco John Mariani reviewed in his terrific piece about real Lambrusco had a minimum of 11% alcohol (see sidebar.) What a coincidence!
Actually, it really isn't!
The alcohol percentage has turned out to be the easiest way for any wine consumers to spot a bottle of authentic Lambrusco (ancestrale and frizzante secco) on a retail shelf without having to "study" the front and/or back labels.
Let me quote the owner of Chiarli, one the oldest and largest Lambrusco producers in Emilia:
“Lambrusco’s reputation was damaged so badly in the ‘70s and ‘80s with the cheap, low-alcohol versions [3%-9.5%] in the UK and the US. Our [Lambrusco] wines [in Emilia] are nothing like that, the majority are dry and around 11% abv."
I rest my (Lambrusco) case.
Lastly, NOT A SINGLE TRULY ARTISANAL Lambrusco producer has ever produced or ever will produce a sweet / dolce (3%-9.5% alc.) Lambrusco. Not one. How do I know? I've been visiting many of these 'wine snobs' (according to you) on my many trips to Emilia Romagna over the past 20 years.
Yes, I understand, it's hard to believe, but some winemakers also DRINK their own wines.
Outside of Emilia - including Italy - nobody has had any idea that there was a "lot more to Lambrusco" than what was shipped, advertised and sold abroad by a handful of corporations.
None of the commercial / industrial Lambrusco producers and their ex/importers have had an interest of opening up the Lambrusco market to the hundreds of producers who continue to make exclusively traditional Lambruscos - not "bubbly fruit juice" (Enoteca Emilia Romagna) with 7.5% or 8.5% alcohol - or to educate US sommeliers, wine buyers and/or consumers about one of Italy's greatest food wines:
SECCO & 11% ALC Lambrusco.
For 15 years (1994-2010) we did exactly that:
We happily shared our love of Lambrusco secco with thousands of wine lovers throughout the USA, top sommeliers in SF and NY and in the end made it possible - with the help of "crazy" sommeliers, specialty retailers, cutting edge wine writers, and other wine importers (who started to join our "Lambrusco Revolution" around 2005 - 10 years later) - for ALL producers in Emilia and Lombardia to sell, AUTHENTIC, REAL Lambrusco (min. 11% alcohol) BEYOND Emilia (see: 'Proud', 'Thanks' and 'Fresh Air.')
The truth is, sweet commercial Lambrusco at 4.0% to 9.5% alcohol is what it has always been:
- A COMMODITY
- FOR PROFIT ONLY LAMBRUSCO
- RCGM (rectified concentrated grape must) added to dirt cheap bulk wine
- THE SOUND OF KA-CHING
And nothing more.
Rectified Concentrated Grape Must, aka. "Sugar Syrup"
2017/03/12: Some alcohol percentages mentioned throughout the text have been corrected.