Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Villa Cialdini

Back in 2006, I was fortunate enough to travel to Emilia-Romagna and Tuscany as part of a culinary trip through the Smithsonian Institution. One of our very first stops was a vineyard owned by Cleto Chiarli, a vineyard outside of Modena.  Cleto Chiarli specializes in Lambrusco, a  wine that originates in Emilia-Romagna.  In 1971, Italy gave  a DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) designation to a part of Emilia-Romagna  encompassing the plain around Reggio-Emilia going northward to the Po River.  Lambrusco wines made from grapes grown in this region and are made according to fairly strict codes are entitled to the DOC designation.  If you are fortunate enough to try a  Lambrusco wine with a DOC designation, you will have an experience that cannot be replicated by the mass-produced swill sold by a certain not-to-be-named-but-very-well-known producer that sells as "Lambrusco" in this country.  Riunite, anyone?

Personally, Riunite Lambruscos turned me off of the wine. However, the Lambrusco made by Cleto Chiarli reignited my interest in this wine.  The Villa Cialdini is a great Lambrusco made from grapes grown  at the Tenuata Cialdini, which is located close to the Castelvetro di Modena area.  At this site, Cleto Chiarli grows the grasparossa grape, which has a rather long history.  The grape was grown by Etruscans and Romans.  The grapes are harvested relatively late in the season.  The wine is fermented for four months in stainless steel and then bottled.  The alcohol content is 11.5%.

The Villa Cialdini is dark red in color, has a full body and is very dry.  While it is carbonated, the froth quickly gives way reveal a very drinkable wine.   This wine pairs very well with the egg pasta from Emilia-Romagna  (see the recipe for Paglia e Fieno), as well as pizza or lasagna.  Always serve this wine chilled.

You can find the Villa Cialdini  for $11.99 at the Italian Store in Arlington, VA.

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