Posts Tagged Medici Ermete

Lambrusco is having a fizzy, dizzy moment.

The wine’s dark acidic days are in the past thanks to a new breed of producers.

First published in The Irish Times, Saturday February 3rd, 2018.

Lambrusco has changed. Driven by a small group of ambitious producers, it now offers a string of interesting, complex, dry, lightly sparkling wines

Fancy a glass of chilled, fizzy, acidic red wine? I suspect not. It doesn’t sound very enticing, particularly on a cold February day. As one who finds it hard to love that Australian speciality, sparkling (red) Shiraz, until recently I have always avoided Lambrusco like the plague.

Lambrusco is a sweet, red, fizzy wine that weaned a generation of Americans on to wine as well as providing cheap alcohol for thirsty students in Ireland. Tesco offers a version of this, a 5.5 per cent wine for a mere €4.99. Lambrusco made a fortune for its first American importer, who invested the profits in the vast Banfi estate in Tuscany. It kept some of the farmers of Emilia-Romagna (where it is made) happy but gained the region an unenviable reputation.

But Lambrusco has changed. Driven by a small group of ambitious producers, it now offers a string of interesting, complex, dry, lightly sparkling wines. They are low in alcohol, fresh and quite unique. Not only that, the surrounding Emilia-Romagna produces some delicious still, red wines, and some very tasty dry whites too. All of them are amazingly food-friendly, especially when matched with the local cuisine.

On a recent trip to a wine fair in Bologna, I tasted my way through some excellent sparkling wines, Lambrusco included, red, white and rosé. Some were lightly frizzante or “pét-nat”, others fully sparkling. With their violet aromas, vivid delicate fruits, ranging from crunchy dark cherries to wild strawberries, the best examples are genuinely mouthwatering and utterly charming. Confusingly, Lambrusco is not a region, nor a single grape variety. It is a group of grape varieties, eight to 10, depending on who you talk to, that come in various shades of colour, as well as being the name of the wine.

Like many regions of Italy, Emilia-Romagna has a huge number of denominazione or appellations. The region claims to be the true home of Sangiovese (before those Tuscans got their hands on it), generally made in an intriguing soft, almost Pinot Noir-like style that can be excellent when done well.

I also visited the city’s many excellent wine bars. Bologna is a bustling student city, with one of Europe’s oldest universities, and the wine bars were the perfect place for sipping a glass of light, frothy, fizzy red wine with a plate of cold meats and cheese, despite the fact it was November. To follow, the restaurants offer rich satisfying food – Bologna is not known as La Grassa or “the fat” for nothing. The region produces some of Italy’s great foods, including Parma ham, Parmesan and balsamic vinegar, as well as being the home of ragù alla Bolognese. The latter goes down a treat with a glass of good Lambrusco.

Reggiano Rosso 2016, Emilia-Romagna
12%, €10.30

A blend of local grapes including Lambrusco, this is a lovely light wine with juicy dark fruits; an Italian version of Beaujolais? Drink with charcuterie/salami or pasta dishes. We had ours with penne, broccoli and sausage, a Rachel Roddy recipe.

Stockists: Marks & Spencer

Medici Ermete IGT Sangiovese Rubicone, Emilia-Romagna
11.5%, €12.95

Light, soft, easy, dark cherry fruits with a rounded finish; elegant and refreshing at the same time. Try it with home-made pasta with pancetta and Parmesan or spaghetti carbonara.

Stockists: Sheridan’s Cheesemongers;; Ashe’s, Annascaul

Reggiano Lambrusco Secco Sparkling
11%, €13.30

Light and dry with lovely floral aromas, crisp, lean blackcurrant fruits, plenty of fine bubbles, finishing with a flourish. Go local and serve with shavings of parmesan, perhaps some Parma ham, Mortadella and a few grissini.

Stockists: Marks & Spencer

Medici Ermete Concerto Reggiano Lambrusco Frizzante
11.5%, €25

A charming, light, refreshing, gently sparkling red wine with invigorating blackcurrant and dark cherry fruits, finishing dry. Excellent modern Lambrusco. Try it before a meal with a few cheesy nibbles or some good salami.

Stockists: Green Man Wines, Terenure; Sheridan’s Cheesemongers;


Posted in: Irish Times

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Midsummer Wines – the red wines of the Loire Valley


First published in the Irish Times, Saturday 25th June, 2016

As I write, it is a beautiful bright morning, with sun streaming through the window. This being Ireland, all may have changed by the time you read this, but the last week has been dry and sunny most of the time. These days I tend to drink lighter, lower-alcohol red wines throughout the year. But once the sun comes out, I find it difficult to think about big, beefy red wines.

Once the temperature starts to rise, the red wines of the Loire valley come into their own. Usually low in alcohol, with a mouth-wateringly refreshing bite, they have a lightness and vibrancy that seems to epitomise summer. In fact, virtually all of the Loire wines, white and rosé too, fit the sunny category.

I serve the reds cool, or even lightly chilled, to big up the refreshing acidity. This week, three of four wines hail from the Loire, one from the obscure appellation of Cheverny in Touraine. Here pinot noir is blended with gamay (a Loire version of the rarely seen burgundian “passetoutgrains”) and sometimes cabernet franc too. Gamay and pinot noir from the Loire can be very good, and the region is also home to most of the world’s great cabernet franc, one of my favourite grapes. Even the best wines, from Chinon, Bourgueil and St Nicolas de Bourgueil, are low in alcohol and perfect for summer. Touraine and other areas can also be good, and less expensive too. The key is to buy from a ripe vintage – 2014 was good and 2015 excellent.

Other names to look out for include all forms of Beaujolais, or Mencía-based wines from northwest Spain. From Italy, barbera, dolcetto and valpolicella can fit the bill, but check the alcohol levels before buying. Ideally you want a wine at 12-13 per cent. Cerasuolo di Vittoria is expensive but light and delicious.

Australian pinot noir fits into the same category, as does German spätburgunder. From Austria blaufränkisch and zweigelt are light and tasty. For value options, Chile is now producing some very good pinot noir. Some are a little high in alcohol but should be light in body.

The mere mention of the word lambrusco is enough to bring on a hangover with some wine drinkers. Memories linger. The good guys have always produced delicious wines, none more so than that featured today. Their website suggests you drink this delicious sparkling red at about 14-15 degrees with all manner of charcuterie as well as ravioli and risottos.

The other wines featured today would also be perfect with all forms of cold pork, from ham to salami to patés, chicken dishes, tarts and pies, as well as more full-flavoured fish such as tuna and salmon.

DSCF6528Domaine Bellier 2014, Cheverny

A delicious delicate blend of Pinot Noir and Gamay with seductive light red cherry fruits.


ImageLes Granges 2014, Domaine Baudry, Chinon

Delicious lightly peppery crunchy redcurrants and cherries. Yum!

Stockists: Grapevine, Dalkey (; Red Island, Skerries; Cabot and Co, Westport (; No.1 Pery Square, Limerick; McCambridges, Galway.

DSCF6624Concerto 2014 Lambrusco Reggiano, Medici Ermete

Effervescent raspberries and other juicy red fruits. Summer in a glass.

Stockists: Sheridan’s; Mitchell & Son; Green Man Wines.

ImagePinot Noir La Roncière 2014, Val de Loire

Light, floral and refreshing, with earthy dark cherry fruits. Serve cool.

Stockists: Whelehan’s Wines, Loughlinstown.

Posted in: Irish Times

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