Sparkling wine – Lambrusco

Mostly industrial co-op produced tank method non-DOC wines, with a simple profile of red berry fruit, sweet, low alcohol and frizzante – slightly sparkling; DOC wines have higher quality, are off-dry to medium sweet, with a characteristic bitter finish, and a pressure between frizzante and spumante; there are metodo classico offerings too.

DOC in northern Italy, 4 provinces in 2 regions.

  • Region of Emiglio-Romagna – Provinces of Modena, Parma, and Reggio Emilia – all in the plain of the River Po, south of the River.
  • Region of Lombardy – Province of Mantua (Mantova) – north of River Po.

Mediterranean – mild wet winters, hot dry summers.

Fertile alluvial plain of the River Po.

Name of the grape = name of the wine
5 DOCs – Lambrusco di ..

  • Castelvetro (Grasparossa di)
  • Mantovano
  • Reggiano
  • Salamino di Santa Croce
  • Sorbara

Co-ops dominate, buying from growers by the tonne.
Latest figures – 600k hl, 180m bottles; 50% to US, then Germany, France, Spain and Brazil.

Wine labelled as Lambrusco must be made from at least 85% lambrusco grapes.

In order of volume produced in 2014, according to Italian Wine Central, the five DOC areas are:

  • Lambrusco Reggiano 78 khl
    Allows 15% ancellotta to be added for extra depth of colour and sweetness – made slightly sweet, in the amabile style.
  • Lambrusco di Sorbara 38 khl
    Good acidity and depth of fruit, the most highly prized varietal is sobara and this plus salamino are used.
  • Lambrusco Grasparossa 62 khl
    From south of Modena, fullest, most alcoholic – must include 85% grasparossa
  • Lambrusco Mantovano 14 khl
  • Lambrusco Salamino 48 khl
    Most widely planted varietal of same name – 90% salamino must be used.
    Clusters resemble shape of a salami.

Lambrusco, a red variety, prone to developing clones/sub-varieties, of which there are about 60 – so there is no one singular lambrusco variety.

The most important 6 plus ancellotta, a red variety, and of those marked * are the more important of these:

  • Ancellotta (not a lambrusco variety) – may be used to add colour and sweetness.
  • *Grasparossa – produces deeply coloured wines, gives a bitter aftertaste.
  • Maestri
  • Marani
  • Monterrico
  • Salamino – most widely planted, sausage-shaped clusters.
  • *Sorbara – produces pale salmon wines, highest quality. Training – high on pergolas, to avoid mildew, high yields.

Tank method – 95% made this way, heavily processed, made in industrial quantities by co-ops or large wineries; sediment after 2nd ferment in tank removed by filtration, bottled under pressure.  Typically frizzante with 1-2.5 atm, but recent change (2012) to production laws, allows spumante pressure from 3.5 atm up to the full champagne pressure of 5-6 atm.

Sweet versions produced by blending in ancellotta, or interrupting fermentation to give residual sugar – then have to filter out yeasts to avoid fermentation in bottle. Methods:

  • Non-DOC – large proportion of production, tank method, sweet, partially fermented, at about 4-5% – white, rose or red; under screw cap; colour stripped out for pink and white.
  • DOC – tank method, dry frothy strawberry scented with bitter finish, low in tannin, 11%, under mushroom cork.
  • Metodo classico – in the last 20 years growing artisan production of bottle fermented spumante versions.
  • Some pick and vinify in stages for later blending –  early for fresh and extra late for texture components.

Barrel-aged chardonnay is sometimes blended.

None, they are made to be drunk young, in the spring following harvest; and has a shelf life of up to 2 years.


  • Overview – soft fizz, crisp fruit flavours and low alcohol, white, pink and red; made to be drunk young, in the spring following harvest (Decanter 2012)
  • Non-DOC – sweet, white, pink, red and low % versions for export with % and colour stripped out for pink and white, balancing medium acidity; slightly sparkling with residual sugar.
  • DOC – dry, frothy strawberry scented, medium – medium (+) acidity, low-tannin, light to medium body, frizzante, with a bitter finish – a characteristic of grasparossa.
  • Metodo classico – often off-dry or medium-sweet.


  • Frizzante, spumante.
  • Non-DOC, DOC, Metodo Classico.
  • Red (rosso), white (bianco), rose (rosato).

Tasting note
DOC – dry, deep purple, red berry – morello cherry, wild berry, red plum, raspberry and floral aromas (strawberry and violets), medium (+) acidity, light body, frothy mousse, refreshing tart kick on the finish.

Lambrusco in Australia
Wines labelled as Lambrusco are being, and have been produced in Australia. Since 2011, when agreement was reached with the EU,  only wines made using Lambrusco grapes may be labelled as such – previously other varieties were blended. Chalmers in Victoria are an example.


  1. Decanter, Italy supplement, 2012.
  2. Italian Wine Central grape varieties and more. [online] accessed 09/11/18.

Updated 09/11/18

About citbp

I am interested in everything about wine, from site selection to tasting.
This entry was posted in ITALY, italy emilia romagna, SPARKLING WORLDWIDE. Bookmark the permalink.

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