2018 Montesissa Emilio Rio Mora (Barbera/Bonarda)
Region: Emilia-Romagna < Italy
Grapes: Barbera, Bonarda
Vineyard/cellar stats: Organic farming; grapes are hand-harvested in small wooden boxes and gently pressed after a short period of rest; fermentation on indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks, must is left to macerate on skins with no temperature control; frequent pumping over for 14 days; after a winter break on its fine lees, juice is bottled under crown cap with no fining or filtering; fermentation of residual sugars is completed in the bottle creating a naturally frizzante wine typical of the region; 12.5% ABV
Winemaker: Elisabetta Montessissa
Located just north of Tuscany, Emilia-Romagna isn't well-known by most Americans for wine, but it happens to be one of the most prolific wine producing area, with some of the oldest vines in the world, as well as a hotbed for natural wine. The region is famous for it's food, being the homeland of Parmigiano-Reggiano, Balsamic vinegar and rich, meat-laden pasta (Bolognese sauce! Tortellini!) Lambrusco -- a semi-sparkling or 'frizzante' style red -- is the lifeblood of this region, featured in every cafe, trattoria, and enoteca -- because it goes so well with their rich food. Tart with just a hint of sweetness, the local fizzy red is easy drinking and a perfect pairing with the ubiquitous plate of cured pig and cheese.
The Montessissa Emilio estate dates back to the 1930's, with 4th gen Elizabetta Montessissa now in charge and on a mission to carry on her family's old-world winemaking traditions while upping the ante on organic farming and minimal intervention in the cellar. Instead of traditional Lambrusco grapes for the 'Rio Mora' bottling, Elizabetta uses a blend of Barbera and Bonarda to make this easy, super drinkable frizzante red blend that leans more tart red and black fruits (vs. Lambrusco's purple) with deeper notes of fig, earth and savory herbws. Pair with pasta or an afternoon cheese and salumi plate and pretend you're living the pre-Covid life in a cafe, on the piazza, somewhere in Italy...