One Great Bottle: Fiamberti Oltrepò Pavese Bonarda 2012

I’ve never been a huge fan of Lambrusco, mainly because it can tend towards a cheap candy (think Cherry Chan) flavor profile. Having been exposed to other wine writers and lovers gushing about the sparkling red stuff, however, I’ve tried my best to keep an open mind and sample as many as I can. Perhaps that’s why I took a flyer on this bottle of (non-Lambrusco) frizzante red, just $12.99 at Wines from Italy (out of stock as of this writing).

Confusingly, Bonarda dell’Oltrepò Pavese is made from Croatina grapes, not the variety with which it shares a name. And though a still ‘Bonarda’ can also be made in this new (since 2010) Lombardian DOC, the most common version is naturally sparkling – though only slightly – and features, as the winery puts it (with perhaps something lost in translation) “a peculiar red foam.”

Regardless, Fiamberti Bonarda dell’Oltrepò Pavese Bricco della Sacca 2012 is a fascinating wine on every level. On the nose it comes across as pure old world, with savory, earthy notes, yet on the palate it’s fruity, almost jammy, with a bright freshness accentuated by a touch of effervescence.

Though commonly served with first courses, especially salumi, I went rogue and paired it with chili. That’s right, one of the most difficult wine pairings known to man. Incredibly, perhaps – or knowingly, due to my personal pairing, uh, genius – this wine was an excellent choice for the complex and spicy flavors, as the slight sweetness and refreshing bubbles helped clean my palate after each bite.

#ItalianFWT

This post was part of the May 2017 Italian Food Wine Travel topic on Italian sparkling wine. Here are the other participants: