Bugno Martino’s Organic Lambrusco Defy Expectations #ItalianFWT

Q. “Giuseppe, what do you want to be when you grow up?”
A. “I want to be a Vigneron!”

Q. “What to do you want to do with all these grapes?”
A. “I will make Lambrusco, a real good one!”

Q. “Giuseppe, why do you make Lambrusco?”
A. “Because it brings me happiness!”

This summer, let Lambrusco defy your expectations and bring you happiness!

But not just any Lambrusco will do– it needs to be a really good one. And this month, just in time for Lambrusco Day on Friday June 21, the Italian Food Wine Travel group has a few to recommend! See the preview post here and links and titles of participant below.

Here on Wine Predator, we are excited to share two organic Lambrusco from Bugno Martino, Rosso Matilde, and Essentia, their traditionelle method Lambrusco which is such a new product that their website does not yet mention it.

While most Lambrusco comes from Emilia-Romagna (71%) with some from Puglia (20%), these two come from a small 9 hectare organic vineyard in the Mantovano area of the Lombardy region pictured in orange in the lower right of the map below. Lambrusco from this region comprise only 9% of production.

These two wines definitely defy the expectations most Americans have of Lambrusco, which conquered the market in the 1970s and 1980s with a syrupy sweet low alcohol cherry/grape bubbly.  At a tasting in Beverly Hills a few years ago, I learned otherwise, and convinced Sue as well when we tasted, paired and wrote about three from Medici Ermete in June 2017.

Because of a declining interest in this style of wine, the surface area of plantings decreased 41% between 2000 and 2010.



I also learned during my Vinitaly Wine Ambassador Course in February 2019 that —

  • Lambrusco used to creep along the trees and climb them to photosynthesize more efficiently and avoid powdery mildew.
  • Lambrusco is one of the most autochlonouns (indigenous, native) in the world.
  • Lambrusco vines are born spontaneously from seeds.
  • Lambrusco was mentioned in the writing of the Romans.
  • Lambrusco was named in 1596, and is one of Italy’s oldest.
  • Lambrusco is actually a family of eight closely related varieties (with over 60 total!)  including these six:

1. L Grasparossa del castelvetro:
Grown in hillsides, versatile, likes clay soils, structured wines, thick skins, earthy, tannic , dark fruit

2. L di Sorbara :
more elegant, pinkish in color
Grown around sorbara town north of Modena. Prefers sandy soils. Dioecious – only female so needs to be planted with another Lambrusco to pollinate  (often salamino)

3. L salamino di santa croce
Most abundantly planted, blended, but interesting to consider single

4. L maestri
Sofitest, originated Villa Maestri in Parma

5. L marani
fruity bubblegum enjoyed by consumers

6. Lambrusco Viadanese: Aka Lambrusco Mantovano in Lombardy.

 Lambrusco is described as a ‘kick-back’ wine: ”Let’s cut a slice of Salami, have a glass of wine and relax a bit!” Bugno Martino’s website says that this elegant lambrusco from the Province of Mantua in Lombardy “goes well with all the typical products of the Mantuan gastronomy, such as pumpkin tortelli and risotto. Excellent with white meats, roasts and cold cuts and cheeses.”  Importer Vero Vino’s Sheila Donahue says of the Essentia, “its sharper acidity could make it pair well with a more fatty/juicy dish, like grilled sausages.”

We were ready to try one of these pairings, but then Judy, who is Italian American and a lifelong learner who has joined us a few times in the past few weeks to taste wine, offered to host us AND make homemade pizza dough and sauce.

How could we pass that up? Bonus: Judy’s house had this great red couch to set the wines off against as well as a beautiful granite counter, and industrial sink, and an oven big enough to handle many large pizzas at once!

Sue balanced out the menu by gathering ingredients and making a colorful antipasto salad covered in cured meats, pickled vegetables, and cheeses.

The 9 hectare vineyard where they grow four kinds of wine grapes along with the winery of Bugno Martino is run by owners, husband and wife Giuseppe and Rafaela Zavanella. They live with their two toddlers in Motova near San Benedetto Po River where they have a new tasting room where they pour their all lambrusco natural wine. Check them out on instagram!


Bugno Martino, Rosso Matilde Lambrusco SRP $18
Blend of Salamino and Ancelotta
5k cases

This Lambrusco Mantovano DOP wine honors the famous medieval countess Matilde of Canossa who had a key role in the fight between the Papacy and the Empire around the 11th and 12th century by reclaiming the lands around San Benedetto Po.

Matilde also helped get area vineyards growing!

Blending in Ancelotta grapes adds fruit and color to this wine which is made using the Charmat method where a secondary fermentation takes place in a tank (not in the bottle like the classical method). Organically grown but not yet certified.

Color: Super dense, like pure grape juice, garnet, ruby red

Nose: Nice earthen notes, violets and iris, as well as a sense of being near the ocean, mushroom and loamy soil, with bright cherry fruit. Super interesting!

Palate: There is an earthen quality to the wine on the palate as well, but the effervescence of it cleanses as it goes across the palate, lots of minerals and acidity. It is almost as if you can taste the soil, like licking a river rock. Cherry fruit. Lively foamy bubbles.

Pairing: Loves uncooked and cooked salami, fun with the antipasto salad as well. John liked it with his pesto veggie pizza. Take this wine on a picnic with salami and cheese. This would be a great summer bbq wine, maybe fun for a brunch. With its earthy flavors, we thought it would go great with harvest fare like squash. Foods that would go well with merlot would most probably go well with this wine.

Bugno Martino Essentia  Lambrusco SRP $21 (such a deal!)
100% salamino
5k cases 

Organically grown but not yet certified. This wine is made in the metodo classico — with a secondary fermentation in the bottle to create the bubbles.

Dedicated to land, sun, time and work…the Essentials!

Color: Dense dark, you cannot see through it. Super purple, concord grape juice, violet.

Nose: Sue found the nose not to be as expressive, while I just wanted to drink the wine! Dried cherries, yeast, brioche, mulberries.

Palate: Mulberries, and light and bright red fruit in contrast to how deep and dark this wine is. The effervescence and acidity is so beautifully cleansing, balancing out the rich black cherry, plum, and brioche. Think a croissant with fresh fruit like raspberries cooked inside.

Pairing: Very nice with the cured Italian meats. Judy did not feel that it went that well with her pizza,  but Sue felt that it was really nice with the a red pizza with red sauce and mushrooms, and felt that it was exceptional with the antipasto salad.

Where can you get these wines?

Order on Vero Vino website! Importer, owner, and Italian Wine Ambassador Sheila Donohue is trying to create a community concept about the producers and the people interested in their products.

The objective of Vero — Vero Vino and Vero Gusto — is getting people to know about the producers and the products.

While the wine came first, food is a natural addition as many of these producers produce olive oil as well. La Maliosa’s wines are wonderful, but their olive oil won an award as third best in Italy! Sheila will be adding that oil and other similar products.

This being June, we’re halfway through the year!

Where have we been and where are we going?

January: Camilla M. Mann Italian Wines for Cold Winter Nights; my post here.
February: Jeff Burrows Umbria, with a focus on Sagrantino; my post here.
March 2: Gwendolyn Lawrence Alley Biodynamic Wines; my post here.
April: Jason Or Jill Barth Island Wines of Italy; my post here.
May: Lynn Gowdy Marche and the Pecorino grape; my post here.
June: Jen Martin hosts Lambrusco; my post above.
July: Camilla M. Mann – Prosecco; we’ll be joining! My post here.
August: Kevin Gagnon Whites of Northeastern Italy; we’re in (but we didn’t just do whites!)
September – Katarina Andersson Passito Wines; we will participate!
October – David Crowley Abruzzo; yes we’re in!
November: Wendy Klik Outside the Norm of Chianti in Tuscany (Montecucco, Bolgheri, Maremma, Valdarno di Sopra).
December: Susannah Gold Lesser Known Wine Regions of Italy (Molise, Basilicata, etc); if we can acquire the wines, we’ll do it!

24 thoughts on “Bugno Martino’s Organic Lambrusco Defy Expectations #ItalianFWT

  1. The facts you learned in the Vinitaly Wine Ambassador Course are so interesting! Is this course worth the $? They are offering an online version of it. Great and high quality Lambruscos you have chosen for this post. Love the salami dish you put together!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting that Sue didn’t care for the lambrusco with pizza, since that is a classic pairing. I do think though that Lambrusco pairs wonderfully with cured meats, so an antipasto salad with an acidic vinaigrette sounds just perfect. What a lovely gathering of friends and fizz! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Pingback: Revisiting Lambrusco with Francesco Vezzelli Rive dei Ciliegi Grasparossa di Castelvetro – The Swirling Dervish

  4. Pingback: Lambrusco Shines with Red Fizz and Fun #ItalianFWT | foodwineclick

  5. Pingback: The Sleeping Giant of Italian Wine - SpitBucket

    • I know — pretty wild to find one from Lombardia so close to Lake Garda and Lugana! With only 9% of Lambrusco coming from there I’ll agree it’s darn special! But so was the other 2 wines we tasted that Sheila is importing to the US! I’m just so fortunate I met her at VinItaly and that her California base is in my hometown!


  6. Pingback: Lambrusco(s)- The Star(s) of Emilia-Romagna (#ItalianFWT) | Joy of Wine

  7. Pingback: Italian Old-School Classics: Easy Drinking Lambrusco with Spicy Vegetarian Pensa Romana - Grape Experiences

  8. Pingback: La Collina Biodynamic Bubbles — Lambrusco! – L'OCCASION

  9. Super post, as usual! My favorite nugget was learning about Lambrusco’s habit of climbing tree trunks to get better exposure to the sun. Adaptive and resourceful – guess that’s why it’s still around after all these years.

    Liked by 1 person

Please Comment! I'd love to hear from you!

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s