Robust Lambrusco varietal grapes—there are many sub-varieties, but the wines themselves are almost always fizzy, fruity, and red— are cultivated for a wine of the same name in central northern Italy in the Emilia-Romagna region. The Lambrusco is the principal grape grown in three Emilian provinces: Modena, Parma and Reggio nell’Emilia. To be sure, the Lambrusco grape is cultivated elsewhere in Italy (Piemonte, Trentino and Basilicata), but this Emilian trio of provinces comprises the epicenter of a wine that first captured American palates in 1970s and has continued to the present.
Famed for their Lambrusco wines, the Cavicchioli family has been cultivating vines in the San Prospero province of Modena (Sorbara DOC) for more than a century, but it was not until 1928 that Umberto Cavicchioli began bottling the wine under his family name. Since then, family’s focus on vineyard ownership, low yields and DOC production has been key in establishing Cavicchioli as one of the few leaders in high-quality Lambrusco and Sparkling wines. The pleasure all Cavicchioli Lambruscos and Sparkling wines offer underline the family’s philosophy: “Life is sweet.”
Umberto’s two grandsons, brothers Sandro and Claudio, are still part of the business today: Claudio looks after the commercial side of the family business and Sandro is the Winemaker. The Cavicchioli family is among the largest landowners in the Modena DOC with 235 acres of vineyards of which 173 acres are of the prized Sorbara variety. Here, the climate is always humid with cold winters and hot summers and vineyards are planted in the pergola system to keep the vines dry.
Modena remains the center for production of quality Lambrusco. To the North of Modena are the fertile plains of the Po River Delta, resulting in the richest agricultural center in Italy. Here, the Sorbara and Salamino varieties grow on soils of alluvial origin rich in sand and clay, resulting in delicate wines, which in the case of Sorbara, are extremely fragrant and light in color. To the South of Modena, and around the town of Castelvetro, are the foothills of the Apennines where sloped vineyards lay on poorer, rocky soils ideal for the Grasparossa. Wines from this variety are denser, darker, more structured and made in the dry or abboccato (off-dry) style.