Lambrusco is experiencing a revival in both London and New York, particularly with younger consumers who aren’t burdened by the Italian sparkler’s negative connotations. As reported on db.com, in a recent New York Times article in praise of Lambrusco, wine columnist Eric Asmiov commented: “I’ve been delighted to see delicious evidence of its rebirth here in New York.
“Restaurants dedicated to the hearty, rich cuisine of Emilia-Romagna, like Via Emilia and Osteria Morini offer extensive lists of Lambruscos. Five years ago, I would have been hard pressed to find a handful of Lambruscos in retail stores, now I can easily put my hands on a few dozen different bottle,” Asimov added.
Liz Nicholson, wine director at Roman trattoria Maialino in Gramercy Park, has also noticed a surge in demand for Lambrusco from young consumers. “We have people coming in and asking for Lambrusco. Even if they don’t really know what it is, they’ve heard about it,” she said. In London meanwhile, Quo Vadis in Soho, Obika in South Kensington and Michelin-starred Casamia in Bristol all have Emilia Romagna’s largest and oldest Lambrusco producer – Chiarli – on pour.
Owner Anselmo Pellini (pictured) is passionate about changing consumer perceptions. “My big aim is to get Lambrusco taken seriously again. We take our winemaking very seriously and want to bring the quality message back,” he said, adding, “It’s a tough challenge as Lambrusco’s reputation was badly damaged in the ‘70s and ‘80s with the cheap, low-alcohol versions sold in the UK and US. Our wines are nothing like that – the majority are dry and around 11% abv.”
A listing at three Michelin-starred restaurant Osteria Francescana in Modena, voted the fifth best restaurant in the world at this year’s San Pellegrino World’s 50 Best Restaurants, is helping to elevate Chiarli’s reputation. “What many UK and US consumers don’t know is that Lambrusco secco can be drunk throughout a meal. It pairs incredibly well with grilled meat, pasta and cheese,” Pellini said.
Ben Smith, communications manager at Enotria, has recently seen sales of Chiarli’s 100% Pignoletto, Modén Blanc Brut, soar in the UK. “People are going bananas for it, the British public can’t get enough of it,” he said, adding, “A lot of people think of Lambrusco as sweet, but the best examples are dry, clean and refreshing. And at around £15 a bottle at the top end, they’re also incredibly good value.”