According to Charles Baudelaire, “A man who drinks only water has a secret to hide from his fellow men”. Perhaps that quote has its roots in the notion that an inebriated man has a loose tongue! Regardless, there is nothing secretive about the Medici company, which for over a century, has been producing artisan Lambrusco from family owned vineyards across Emilia Romagna.
The story begins with Remigio, who founded a wine cellar in the late nineteenth century with the aim of making the most of the family vineyards. Remigio’s son Ermete expanded the business and consolidated its reputation, before handing over the reins to his sons Valter and Giorgio, who carry on the work of their father and grandfather. Today, the company owns 75 hectares of land spread among the finest wine growing areas in the Emilia Romagna region.
What lies behind the family’s success is the idea of creating a close link between the individual vineyards and the wines produced. Coupled with rigorous grape selection that often leads to yields as low as 30-40% less than the quantity permitted by the DOC, it’s easy to see why the family’s wines have earned several Tre Bicchieri awards from Gambero Rosso.
I love Lambrusco. I almost always start festive meals with chilled Lambrusco over antipasto. Given the range of antipasti that are typically prepared, I find nothing is more versatile. Not Prosecco. Not Champagne. Americans do not drink enough Lambrusco and believe me, they are the worse for it. Perhaps this holiday season they will step from their comfort zone. One can hope. I’ve given plenty of encouragement, for on this site I’ve written about and recommended Lambrusco from Opera and Lini. However, recently I had the opportunity to get acquainted with the exceptional wines from Ermete and they turned my head.
The first wine was served alongside antipasto on Thanksgiving Day. There were crostini with goat cheese and roasted peppers, triple crème brie and baguette, prosciutto, spicy jalapenos stuffed with sausage and cream cheese and olives.
The Medici Ermete I Quercioli Lambrusco Secco (Non Vintage) is a deep purplish black color with medium body and is refreshingly frizzante. What I would call “off dry”, the wine has a mild sweetness that teams with the acidity to cleanse the palate of the various appetizers. Delicate aromas and flavors of blue flowers, black fruits and almonds, this finishes soft, fresh and lively. Made from the Lambrusco Salamino and Lambrusco Marani grapes. Highly enjoyable and quite the bargain. 88 points. You’ll struggle to pay more than $10 for this. Find this wine.
The next wine we tried is far more substantial. Vinified almost completely dry, The 2016 Medici Ermete Concerto Lambrusco sets the bar in many ways. For starters, it’s vintage dated, which isn’t something you typically see in Lambrusco. Secondly, it’s a Tre Bicchieri winner, not for one or two years, but for 9 vintages in a row. Third, it’s a Cru-Single Vineyard selection, the first Lambrusco to be so produced. All of this passion manifests itself in the final wine.
The 2016 is a black purple color throughout, but with swirling you can see puffy pink foam at the edge of the bowl. I love that! The nose of the wine is complex with crushed blueberry, boysenberry, vanilla and almond notes that are persistent. On the palate, the wine is medium bodied with flavors that follow the aromas, particularly wild black fruit preserves dotted with vanilla and warmed bread. Bone dry, this finished with a slightly bitter twinge. Fresh and lively, this was paired both with Amatriciana and simple homemade meatloaf. It was delicious with both. The bottle wasn’t finished on night one, and the next day, it hadn’t changed a bit. 90 points. Another amazing value as you’ll be hard pressed to spend $20 on this. Find this wine.
Finally, at a recent family birthday gathering, the last wine of the trio was served with assorted antipasti: Tuscan beans and shrimp, brie and warmed baguette, “pigs in a blanket” and prosciutto, coppa and olives. Again, I reiterate, the pairing was excellent.
I have to say, as much as I enjoyed Concerto, I think I enjoyed the next wine even more. The Medici Ermete Le Tenute Solo (non vintage) really opened my eyes. The wine sits at a dryness/sweetness level between the previous two wines and is ripe, juicy and fruity. Comprised of 51% Ancellota and 49% Lambrusco Salamino, this is bright purple in the glass with aromas of crushed blackberry, spices, almonds and floral notes. On the palate, the wine is fruity and forward with refreshing effervescence and persistent flavors of blackberry pie, blueberries and vanilla spice. It’s classy and despite the forward nature of the fruit, you can tell that it’s meant for food. This wine will be on my Christmas table in some capacity. 91 points. A screaming value under $15. Find this wine.
Another final note about these trio of wines; they are all under 12% alcohol. They are fresh and vibrant so as you enjoy them before dinner, you aren’t fatigued from drinking them. Also, pay close attention to the serving temperature. It’s ok to refrigerate them, but take them out a little before so they are 57-59 degrees. If they are too cold, they flavors and the aromas will be muted and “steely”.
Salute! Let the hunt begin and open your eyes!