It is a blend of four different red berried grapes. We don't say what grapes are, simply to "play" a little with those who try to identify them. It is not important to understand what vines it is, but it is essential to know that it is a grape variety, that is, grapes harvested and pressed together. This implies that one grape variety will be ripe, another slightly less, one overripe and so on. So a wine that, from the first fermentation in cask, comes from the combination of these four grapes that face the whole wonderful path of becoming wine together.
The result is a sparkling red wine, dry, simple, immediate, without an identity defined by the grape variety, but rather, characterized, as well as by the vintage as for the others, by the accords and discordances of the four grapes in being together throughout the fermentation.
Why such a wine?
The easiest answer would be to say that I wanted to make a wine as our grandparents did in Emilia, who often put all the white grapes they cultivated together and did the same with red grapes, to then obtain a white wine and a sparkling red wine.
For my part, however, there is something else, something deeper, personal ... a story, even that of the name, born and lived in the first years in which I started this wonderful job and shared together with an equally wonderful person It is very important to me that my name was Francesco, my father-in-law. And here I stop, I don't go further, I don't want to bore the reader, especially the sommelier, with personal stories.
The Donati estate is a family estate started in 1930 which is now run by the third generation of Donati -- Camillo, his wife and their children. They cultivate 11 ha of vines (7 of which they own as Tenuta S. Andrea and 4 which are leased at Tenuta Bottazza) using organic and biodynamic practices. They are about 20 km away from Parma in the hillside at an altitude of around 250 m with an eastern exposition.
There are a number of diverse strains of the Lambrusco grape family, but the main Lambrusco grape of the Parma zone is Lambrusco Maestri and it is planted on flat plains because of its characteristic resistance to humidity and mildew, and also for its relative abundant fruit. For this reason, the Donati do a severe pruning to produce low yields of better quality.
The Malvasia Candia is historically from Crete, arriving in this part of Italy many centuries ago, and it is also one of the oldest known grapes. Up until 30-50 years ago it was only vinified in sweet and demi-sec style, but Donati now makes both a dry and sweet Malvasia.
The range of vines at the estate also include: aromatic Sauvignon Blanc, Moscato Giallo, and Barbera. They also have a little of Trebbiano, Pinot Blanc, Merlot and Cabernet Franc. All the grapes are vinified and bottled separately.
All the grapes, including the white, are fermented like red wines (with skin contact), without temperature control, and use no other controls or enhancers at fermentation, no fining, no acidification or de-acidification, no selected yeasts, etc... They make Malvasia Dolce (sweet) from a stopped fermentation by filtration through a sack filter and it remains at about 4-6% alcohol with a bit of natural sweetness balanced by acidity. The other wines are fermented dry, including the Lambrusco.
The carbonation of these frizzante wines comes from the traditional method of refermentation in bottle, a method that does not require preservatives and which makes this wine, unlike those produced in charmat method, age better. The wines are not filtered and are topped with a crown cap (a traditional closure for some decades in this region). There may be resulting sediment and the bottles should be poured somewhat carefully without a lot of intense movement.
These are very delicate and natural wines that have immense glugability and unique character. They are meant to be drunk simply as you would a refreshing beer or cider at cold temperature (even the red) with simple foods. They go particularly well with cold cuts, prosciutto and dry sausages and gnocco – fried squares of dough – that are traditional in Parma.
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