Tasting Report With The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar: The Sparkling Wines of Emilia-Romagna!

We all love Emilia-Romagna in Central Italy.  We love and lust over the possibility of owning a Ferrari or Lamborghini.  Our favorite cheese is Parmigiano-Reggiano, our second being Grana Padano.   We can’t get enough Prosciutto di Parma or Mortadella.  We insist on only the finest, aged Balsamic vinegar to drizzle over roasted butternut squash.  We love Lasagna.

What we love most of all are the sparkling wines of this region.  There is nothing more magical then the pairing of fatty foods with these bubbly brutes.  Emilia-Romagna is Italy’s heartland and the center of the gastronomic universe.  Aside from Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna does not have many press friendly, famous, superstar wines, meaning one can find great value, and great surprise from off the beaten path growers.

For this tasting Richmond Wine Culture is joined by The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar.  Tredegar is located right here in Richmond down by the James River and is the nation’s first museum to interpret the Civil War from Union, Confederate, and African American perspectives.

The first 2 wines come from Cà de Noci, a property run by two brothers intent on continuing the thousand year old legacy of working with indigenous grapes and crafting wines that taste of the region.  Their farm sits up against a walnut forest (Noci means walnuts) and has just 5 hectares devoted to vines planted on rocky limestone soil.  “Querciole” is 100% Spergola, which in the old days was confused with Sauvignon Blanc and has a naturally high acidity level making it ideal for sparkling wine production. “Sottobosco” a blend of three different red grapes: Malbo Gentile, Lambrusco Maestri and Lambrusco Grasparossa.  These particular clones can resist the humid growing conditions in the area and are able to flourish without the use of pesticides and chemicals.  The wine is labeled as simple table wine because it does not grow within any of the delineated DOC Lambrusco Zones.

Richmond Wine Culture:  “I love this bottling of “Querciole”, it has a natural secondary fermentation that takes place within the bottle giving it a dancing frizzante characteristic.  The aromas are fascinating, something like orange peal and wheat.  In the mouth I get plenty of salty fruit and sprightly zing.  Perfect for cleansing the palate for that next bite of cured meat.”

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar:   “Upon entering the newly constructed pavilion, visitors begin their tour with “What Caused the Civil War?” an interactive film which orients your visit. As you continue through the exhibit, enjoy rotating artifacts, detailed timelines, unique hands-on activities, additional films, and more. Continue to move into the War years (1861-1865) and finish with the post-war “Legacies” section which helps to put our world today into perspective.”

Richmond Wine Culture:  “The “Sottobosco” for me is the most exciting of the two, like the “Querciole” it gets its bubbles from a natural secondary  fermentation.  People tend to think sparkling reds from this region are sweet and syrupy, not this wine!  It is tannic and chalky, superb with rich cream sauces and cured pork neck.  Definitely a little strange.”

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar: “In 1860-1861, the United States split apart. How did we get to that point?  Why did the Southern states leave the Union?  Was war inevitable?  What were the combatants fighting about?  You can explore these and other questions at the Center and learn what motivated Unionists, Confederates, and African Americans.”
Camillo Donati is a third generation wine grower located right outside of Parma.  Malvasia is an ancient varietal historically associated with the Mediterranean but now can be found throughout Italy.  Camillo produces both sweet and dry versions.  All the wines are fermented on their skins without temperature control or added yeasts or any form of acidification.  The Malvasia Secco also has a secondary fermentation naturally in the bottle without the addition of any sugar.  The bottle is closed with a crown cap and will throw off a lot of sediment.

Richmond Wine Culture:  “I am really taken by this example of Malvasia Secco.  It has a very unusual orange color, like a hefeweizen or an IPA, even some kind of cider.  Kind of smells similar to beer as well.  There is plenty of bitter almond notes to go with the coriander laced fruit.  It is almost painfully dry.  This bottle screams for grilled sausages and fried dough.

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar: “The Center is a place to learn about the Civil War—its causes, its course, and its legacies. It is a place where the people who decided America’s future tell their stories. Here, all of the main stories—Union, Confederate, and African American— get significant space together for the first time. By understanding these three perspectives on a subject that is still divisive almost a century and a half later, we can begin to see the war differently—as a shared national heritage.”

Alberto Tedeschi makes only one wine from one grape, Pignoletto.  Alberto farms just 2 hectares of land by hand, too small to bother using a tractor.  No fertilizers, chemicals or any other nonsense are used in the vineyard.  The grapes are fermented in open vats and then the finished, dry wine is transferred to large wooden barrels to mature and rest on its lees for 15 months before bottling.  Theses wines with their big structure can evidently age for years.

Richmond Wine Culture:  “Alberto Tedeschi has produced an exciting and racy wine.  The color is golden, the nose is complex almost overwhelming with big time rosemary, sage and dried fruits.  The mouthfeel is rich and opulent but is very fresh and cleansing.  The aromatics circulate within the back of the throat.  This is relatively inexpensive compared to other sparkling wines meaning it could be hard to find if it wasn’t a little strange.  Another great bottle for the table, I love that it also has a crown cap. ”

The American Civil War Center at Historic Tredegar: “What effects do you think the war continues to have on America? We hope that you will visit the American Civil War Center to learn more about how the Civil War and its aftermath shaped our country today. The Center provides a framework for thinking about the impact of the war on us today. We encourage you to think about these issues, learn about them, and discuss them with others.”

2008 Cà de Noci Vino di Tavola Sottobosco Frizzante. $20. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections

2007 Cà de Noci Vino di Tavola Querciole Frizzante. $30. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections

2008 Donati Camillo Malvasia Secco dell’Emilia IGT. $25. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections

2008 Alberto Tedeschi IGT Emilia Spungola Bellaria.  $25. Imported by Louis/Dressner Selections

All available in the Richmond area!

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