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Industrial Lambrusco, "a tattoo that defies removal or alteration."
"Unfortunately, Lambrusco secco is still a niche product." - Vanni Lusetti, Riunite-CIV (Merum 6/12) | 'Zero' to 'niche' in 15 yrs ('95-'10)— Re:Think Lambrusco (@SeccoAndRed) April 28, 2013
TLC: The Lambrusco Chronicles
Il Rinascimento del Lambrusco
1994 - 2010
"Lambrusco is, of course, always red, and either dry [secco] or amabile (medium dry).
"Se fino a cinque anni fa era molto difficile vendere un Sorbara fuori
"La cosiddetta “riscoperta” dei Lambrusco coinvolge soprattutto gli Stati Uniti."
The Rehabilitation of Lambrusco, the Wine with the World's Worst Reputation (1994-2010)
TOTAL IMAGE MAKEOVER
From "Italian cola" to top-quality dry Italian red Wine.
By 1983 Lambrusco, a true Italian original, had gone through an extreme makeover:
A classic DRY, lightly sparkling (frizzante) Italian RED WINE had been turned into a super-sweet, super-fizzy WHITE ("light red" and "rosato") WINE. 'White' (bianco) Lambrusco frizzante is as much a Lambrusco as 'White Zinfandel' is Zinfandel.
The "industrial" Lambrusco boom which had started in 1968 (see: 1968-1985) ended abruptly for various reasons in 1985.
As a result, Lambrusco was being 'replaced' by 'White Zinfandel' and 'White Wine Coolers' (see: 1985-1995).
The Lambrusco bust had a devastating effect on the entire region of Emilia. Lambrusco became known as the 'wine with the world's worst reputation.'
In 1985 Nicolas Belfrage publishes "Life beyond Lambrusco".
1994-2005: THE 'LONELY' YEARS
About ten years later (1994), the very first 600 bottles of real (RED, DOC, single vineyard, vintage dated, cork-finished, secco, frizzante (slightly fizzy), top-quality, limited production: 10,000 bottles) Lambrusco are imported into California and sold to two top restaurants in San Francisco (L'Osteria del Forno, a San Francisco "institution" and Rose Pistola; sommeliers: Peter Birmingham and James Atwood) and a private clientele in Los Angeles.
Two years later (1996) our 'True Lambrusco' is featured at Felidia, one of THE hottest NY restaurants at that time.
Slowly, but surely, many, many more top NY restaurants will follow over the next 6 years exclusively accomplished through marketing strategies (pricing, placements, education, website (vinofrizzante.com), tastings, etc.) developed by JKI, a small California specialty importer of Italian wines.
Matt Kramer was the very first wine writer ever to recognize the pleasures of true Lambrusco AND actually write about it: In 1996 he published the first great review about our 'True Lambrusco' in the LA Times (see: 1996). - Still, not a single restaurateur or wine retailer in Los Angeles was willing to give authentic Lambrusco a try or a chance. Not one.
A Los Angeles wine buyer of an up-scale grocery chain told us: "I need real Lambrusco as much as I need a hole in my head." (BTW, the very same retailer continues to stock exclusively industrial Lambrusco.)
At one of our many, many "Lambrusco Resurrection Tastings" throughout the country we were told by one of the largest US importers of Italian wine (New York, 1998) to see 'Big Night' (1996): "It would help us to understand why "genuine Lambruscos will never make it in this country."
"Lambrusco? Thanks, but no thanks!" was the standard response from every US retailer, sommelier, importer, wholesaler, distributor, and wine writer throughout the USA for the next 10 years (see 2004: "...calls to many of the better wine retailers in and around Manhattan [to find a respectable bottle of Lambrusco] produced little more than giggles...." - Eric Asimov, New York Times).
In 1998 we introduced 'True Lambrusco' at symposiums in Seattle, Chicago and New York. The event was moderated by Burton Anderson. Twenty of the 21 participating US importers featured Italian "in wines" like Amarone, Brunello, Barolo, and Super Tuscans --- ours was LAMBRUSCO SECCO - the only Lambrusco secco in the entire USA!
Against all odds our 'True Lambrusco' becomes 'famous' in NY and SF.
Our promotions via countless tastings throughout the USA (Boston, Aspen (Food & Wine Classics), Denver (Frasca is the first restaurant in Colorado serving a true Lambrusco which in turn gets Vetri in PA into Lambrusco secco), San Francisco, Las Vegas (B&B serves the first Lambrusco secco in Vegas), Seattle, Washington DC, New York, Miami, Chicago (Spiaggia became the first and only restaurant to serve authentic Lambrusco in the state of IL (Henry Bishop), Miami, Los Angeles, San Diego, Santa Barbara, etc.) were starting to pay off.
By 2005 our 'dry fizzy red' had been placed on wine lists of some of the most important restaurants in New York (Babbo, etc.) and San Francisco (Delfina, etc.).
Nobody had thought that this was going to be possible. Nobody! Not another US wine importer, not a wholesaler - not even the producer of the Lambrusco (see 1995: 'The Judgement of Verona".)
2005-2010: LAMBRUSCO ALLIES: 10 YEARS LATER
Yet as a result of our top NY restaurant placements - starting in 2006 - more and more authentic (and more commercial/industrial) Lambruscos are finding US importers and their way into New York, thereby helping further to re-build the market for real and "not-so-real" Lambruscos.
Finally, in 2006, Eric Asimov (NY Times) and Jon Bonné (SF Chronicle) publish excellent articles on authentic Lambrusco (see: 2006) and at last, starting in 2009/2010, other food and wine writers (see: WSJ's story in 2010) and wine bloggers are beginning to take a closer look at real Lambrusco - one of the most enjoyable classic Italian RED wines and a true world original.
Yes, even Banfi (American Riunite) starts to import not one, but two DRY Lambruscos (listen here) into the USA!
Our 'True Lambrusco' placements at two top restaurants in Las Vegas (top-quality Lambrusco secco by the pallet!) opened eyes and helped to spread the word about real Lambrusco throughout the USA and the world.
Lambrusco's world image had been rehabilitated by 2010 (see: 2010) after it had been known as "the wine with the world's worst reputation" for 25 years (1985 - 2010).
All of this had been started and accomplished not by a famous PR agency with a "multimillion-dollar" advertising budget or the largest US importer of commercial Lambrusco or one of the Italian Lambrusco Consorzios, but by three guys from California who had made it their mission to exclusively import top-quality, authentic, indigenous, completely unknown, unrated Italian wines in 1991.
2010: TRUE LAMBRUSCO IS HERE TO STAY
Today (2010), it's possible to say (without 'giggles'): Here's to Lambrusco, quality Lambrusco secco, one of Italy's coolest red wines!"
"You're going to see Lambrusco making a comeback in the
FINE WINE market." - Victoria Stagmer, 03/2013
- "The Lambrusco Secco Song"... :)