Paltrinieri is a family winery three generations and running. Achille Paltrinieri built the house and cantina in 1926. His grandson Alberto now takes care of everything in the vineyard and cellar, while Alberto’s wife, Barbera, is the factotum.

The vineyards and winery are just north of Modena in Emilia-Romagna, right off of the A1 autostrada, Italy’s main vertical thoroughfare. ‘Il Cristo’ is the Paltrinieri’s main vineyard. It got its name from a neighboring trattoria and well-known waystation just north of Modena, situated between the two rivers Secchia and Panaro. The locale and trattoria were established before the town and appellation of Sorbara. It’s a convivial and ancient waypoint for a pick-me-up when you’re a bit tired from traveling.

The Paltrinieris have 15 hectares of vineyards. Farming is a carefully-calibrated lotta integrata (lutte raisonnée in French; “sustainable” is probably the closest analogue in English), meaning that the producer will spray when rot or pest pressure in the vineyard dictates in their view. All fermentations, both primary and secondary, are with native yeasts and are longer than the norm. The longer fermentations “help preserve what’s there” in the grapes, according to Alberto. Total production is about 100,000 bottles per year.

As the Paltrinieri wines demonstrate, Sorbara’s Lambrusco is different from other Lambrusco DOCs, starting with its pale color of crushed cranberries. The sluicing acidity and less evidently fruity flavors suggest something savory, elegant, and even serious – which it is. ‘Leclisse’ is the cru bottling from the historical Vigna del Cristo. ‘Piria’ is the still-serious but also great picnic or barbecue wine that drains quickly. ‘Radice’ goes back to the ‘Roots’ of Lambrusco, pre-1950s, when the wine was traditionally fermented in the bottle.

Alberto likes to say that his wines are “semplici ma non banali” – “simple but not banal”. (Semplice is usually a genuine and heartfelt compliment in Italian, meaning direct, honest, and authentic.) That could be the epigram and rallying cry for all good Lambrusco and for many of the other wines

Paltrinieri Lambrusco di Sorbara 'Radice' [Metodo Ancestrale]

Why Be Curious? This frizzante hails back to Lambrusco’s Radici, or roots. Sorbara already wins the acid-head-of-the-year award among Lambrusco lovers; rifermentato in bottiglia and native yeasts make it that much more interesting.

Produttore / Producer: The winery is near Modena, right off of the A1 autostrada, Italy’s main vertical thoroughfare. It’s a convivial (and ancient) waypoint for a pick-me-up when you’re a bit tired from traveling.

Vigna / Vineyard: ‘Il Cristo’ is the Paltrinieri’s main vineyard. It got its name from a neighboring trattoria and well-known waystation just north of Modena, situated between the two local rivers Secchia and Panaro. The locale and trattoria were established before the town and appellation of Sorbara.

Cantina / Cellar: Destemming and gentle hydraulic pressing, static settling of juice, fermentation at 18°-20°C, remains on the lees for a period from 60 to 75 days. Refermentation in bottle for around 90 days. All native yeasts.

Il Vino / The Wine: One of those wines that is not about fruit. Bottles vary a slight bit in their degree of frizzante. Cutting acidity, grapefruit skin bitterness, and red fruits.

A Tavola… / At the Table… By itself for those that aren’t shy about bracing wines, or with a host of salumi or a steaming bowl of pasta al ragù.

Paltrinieri ‘Radice’ [Metodo Ancestrale]’

Vigna / Vineyard
Denominazione / Appellation: Lambrusco di Sorbara (the crown cap version is labeled Lambrusco di Modena).
Nome / Name: Il Cristo.
Ettari / Hectares: 15 hectares total for the winery.
Quota / Altitude: 25 m / 80 ft.
Suoli / Type of soils: Alluvial soil of mostly chalk and sand.
Vitigni / Varieties: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara.
Allevamento / Trellis system: Cordon (cordona semplice and cordone speronato).
Data di vendemmia / Harvest date: Second half of September.
Metodo di vendemmia / Harvest technique: Hand harvested.
Metodo agricolo / Agricultural technique: Lotta integrata (sustainable).
Resa / Yield: 140 hectoliters / hectare.
Cantina / Cellar
Fermentazione alcolica / Alcoholic fermentation: In temperature-controlled steel tanks with native yeasts.
Fermentazione malolattica / Malolatic fermentation: No.
Rifermentazione / Secondary fermentation: In bottle (Metodo Ancestrale) with native yeasts.
Zolfo / Sulphur: 45 mg/L.
Gradazione alcolica / Alcoholic %: 11.0-11.5%
Pressione / Pressure: 2.0-2.5 bars.
Tappo e bottiglia / Closure and bottle: Crown cap, 750 ml Burgundy-shaped sparkling wine bottle.