Lambrusco is an Italian Sparkling DOC and also the name of the grape that makes it.
The DOC is located in Emilia-Romagna, with a small amount extending into Lombardia. Rich soil in this region can support high production of lightly sparkling, high acid cherry tasting and often sweet wine. Meaning ‘wild grape’ in Italian; there are 60 different varieties of the Lambrusco grape. It has been called the Coca-Cola grape, and it became popular in the United States and northern Europe in the 1980's. Since then white, pink and even a light version (alcohol removed) have been created.
There are four different DOC's within Lambrusco that make higher quality wines:
Lambrusco Reggiano DOC grows the grapes Lambrusco Marani and Lambrusco Salamino. It is slightly sweetened by up to 15% Ancellota grape must, which also gives it darker color. It is the largest of the Lambrusco DOC’s, with 250,000 hectolitres (6.6 million gallons) produced. It is the lightest of the Lambrusco and wines are usually sweet.
Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC is made from the varieties Lambrusco di Sorbara and Lambrusco Salamino. This region is considered the highest quality, making the most balanced wines for sparkling production, with a great balance between light tannin and high acidity. There are 115,000 hectolitres produced of dry or off-dry, frizzantino reds and rose.
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC is 85% from the variety of the same name. These are also higher quality wines, with the best comparable to Lambrusco di Sorbara. These are the fullest bodied and most alcoholic of the lambruschi, and considered higher quality. There are 65,000 hectolitres of dry or off-dry, lightly sparkling wines made.
Lambrusco Samamino de Santa Croce DOC must be from 90% of the variety of the same name. This clone is known for relative deep color and high acid. The best are as good as Sorbara. There are 55,000 hectolitres produced of dry or off-dry, semi-Spumante reds and rose.
There are rules to follow, but they are generally more relaxed than in the France’s Crémant regions. Maximum juice yield is 70 litres per 100 kilograms of grapes. Today, most Lambrusco is made by large wineries and co-ops. Grapes come in from several different Lambrusco areas, and are blended so much that the individual terroir is lost. The wines are made by charmat (tank) or bulk method, with heavy filtration, stabilization and pasteurization. Wines undergo a cool primary fermentation to retain fresh fruity aromas, while extracting little tannin. Many of these wines are sweeter, and this is achieved by adding Rectified Concentrated Grape Must (RCGM).