While the history, importance, and beauty of Champagne are undeniable, I find myself ever seduced away from this monarch of bubbly by the unpredictable, lesser-known, and often unsung sparklers.
Lambrusco – the off-dry-to-sweet Italian sparkling red from grapes of the same name, which is the only wine readily associated with Emilia-Romagna – probably does not count as “lesser-known.” But Fondo Bozzole’s Incantabiss Lambrusco Mantovano is different.
Southeast of Emilia-Romagna, across the River Po, Lambrusco Mantovano DOC is the only appellation outside of Emilia-Romagna producing Lambrusco. Brothers Franco and Mario Accorsi farm their small parcels of old vineyards organically, amidst pears and apples, and have resurrected nearly forgotten varietals of Lambrusco – Lombardy natives, and cousins to the more famous Emilia-Romagna varietals.
And the wine itself, allowed to ferment with the yeasts present on the grapes at harvest, defies one’s expectations for Lambrusco. The red currant aromas in the fine bubbles that tickle your nose open to more red currants and a bit of raspberry yogurt – a sweet-tart, almost lactic note – on the palate, with a lovely bitter-herbal edge to cut nicely the slight sweetness. Unlike many Lambruscos, this wine is fermented almost dry. Incantabiss is the perfect palate-cleansing accompaniment for any hearty meal, and is one of the (very) few wines I would dare to pair with something chocolate.