- Reggiano Lambrusco, Emilia-Romagna, Italy
Back in Italy in 2012, at a previous company—during what now seems like a previous lifetime—I was courting a Lambrusco producer. It wasn’t meant to be, but this producer said, “you should meet my cousin.” If you know Italy and its ionic bond-like familial ties, you know that these types of re-directions can go either way, completely fizzling or exceeding all expectations. Paolo Crotti of Podere Giardino met me at VinItaly, in the burgeoning ‘organic growers’ section. He didn’t have a stand, but he brought one bottle and we tasted rogue in a corner. I found Paolo and the wine honest and open, neither one trying hard to be something. I love healthy, lively, “whole wheat,” everyday wine, and this was it.
But Podere Giardino is not simply a vineyard and winery. It’s a polyculture farm, wine being a small slice of the pie—or, more apt, a small shard of the cheese. Siblings Paolo, Federica, and Marco wear many hats, shifting from commercial duties, vineyard work and wine production, or tending to their milk cows. Give them a call and you’ll likely hear a cow moo or a tractor purr in the background.
Fifty hectares are owned, only five of which are dedicated to grapevines. The rest of their land is for pasture for forage for the cows, grains and cereals, fruits and vegetables, and some uncultivated woods. Of course, being a stone’s throw from Reggio Emilia, they make excellent Parmigiano Reggiano. Paolo has been known to bring vacuum-packed boulders of cheese to NYC. The farm also sells raw milk, both in bulk and via a milk-dispensing vending machine at local farmers’ markets—insert some bills and fill up your vessel…
Ah, right, I’m supposed to be talking about wine…
The vineyards, like the rest of the farm, are certified organic. The grape varieties are the local ones: Malvasia di Candia Aromatica, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Salamino, Lambrusco Oliva, Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Malbo Gentile, and Ancellotta. For a few generations, grapes were sold to the local cooperative winery, made up of 300 grower members. As one of only three families farming organically, they felt it was time to break free from the co-op, and in 2007 made their first estate-bottled wine, a Charmat-method red Lambrusco called Suoli Cataldi, named for the sandy clay soils of the area. Since then, the range has expanded, including an increased exploration of metodo ancestrale, secondary fermentation in bottle, without disgorgement or sulfur. The wines delightfully toe the fine line between feeling natural and territory-driven.
We welcome Podere Giardino, which, though new to Bowler, feels as though it’s coming home to roost.
-Kevin Russell, Italy Portfolio Manager