History of Lambrusco
Situated between Lake Garda, the Mincio and the Po, Mantua is home to the Gonzaga dynasty and one of the production zones of Lambrusco. Since Roman times the wild vines (ruscus) that grew on the edge (labrum) of cultivated fields were known as Labrusca Vitis.
The wine-making tradition in the southern part of the Mantuan province dates back to the time of the Benedictines, who demanded their tenants pay a tax in the form of wine.
Although viticulture was introduced in 1100, modern wine production began in 1900, following the invasion of phylloxera, which led to the destruction of the vines.
Business soon began to boom and farmers set up seven wineries between 1902 and 1958. It was during this period that Lino Lebovitz began to sell wine, laying the foundations for the current cellar. Between 1950 and 1960 the agricultural land to the right of the Oglio and Po rivers was gradually converted, while the areas to the left of the Po and beyond were used for vine cultivation.
These are still today the production areas of Lambrusco mantovano, as certified by the rulings in 1987, following DOC (Denominazione di Origine Controllata) recognition.
The DOC area for “Lambrusco mantovano” is divided into two distinct zones, one comprising the Viadana – Sabbioneta area between the rivers Oglio and Po, and the other in the Oltrepo mantovano area beyond the river Po. The proximity of these two important rivers makes the land fertile, enriching even the sandy parts. The land has been shaped over time by the accumulation of sediments left behind from the flooding streams, rivers and canals that crossed the Mantuan plain from west to east : sand, silt and clay are found throughout this territory in approximately equal parts. In this hardworking and peaceful area the pace of life, dictated by a rural existence, remains intensely human. An atmosphere of peace reigns, reflected in the broad expanse of cultivated lands. However, the strictest and most selective judges are the local people, who know how to recognize what is truly genuine.
There are several varieties that can be used to create Lambrusco mantovano DOP, here we describe the main ones.
VIADENESE or RUBERTI: the traditional grape of the Mantuan area. Its wild nature is recognizable in both taste and smell, leading to hints of raspberries, strawberries and violets. The pleasantly bitter note of these red fruits gives this Lambrusco freshness and vivacity. The grape gives the wine a beautiful ruby red colour with very bright violet hues.
SALAMINO: the typical scent and aroma of wild fruits is more delicate than in the Ruberti grape. Suitable for products to be consumed young and pure, the grape gives the wine a bright vivacity.
MAESTRI and MARANI: are two widely used varieties of Lambrusco, which while providing the organoleptic characteristics of wild red fruits and flowers, here produce milder flavours of raspberry, cherry and blackberry.
ANCELLOTTA: although is not properly a Lambrusco grape, is used to ‘cut’ the Lambrusco since it balances the characteristics of the other varieties, adding harmony to the product. Its main olfactory characteristic is very ripe red fruit such as wild black cherry and blackberry. It ensures smoothness and sweetness.