Mantova is a charming city in Northern Italy, just north of the Po river in Lombardy. The ancient city is currently filled with large piazzas crisscrossed by canals and surrounded by a medieval, man-made lake. In spite of being heavily fortified, or maybe because of the following history, Mantova is partially known for choosing the wrong sides of decisive wars in Italy’s history; from siding with the Senators and Pompey instead of Caesar to hosting the Austrians in defense against Napoleon. I am sure there have been times after delivering the vintage to the cooperative that a farmer felt he had chosen the wrong thing to grow.
That might be changing soon.
After spending a sunny autumn day in scenic Mantova, we headed out to Fondo Bozzole, along long roads through the flat lands and over the canals that once were the superhighways. We found an amazing vintage store that must have a severely OCD employee. Everything was categorized, labeled, and organized in a visually stunning manner. Upon arriving at Fondo Bozzole we were met with crossroads with no clear signage, or obvious vineyards. We get to a house with barking dogs, maybe this is it.
It is, and we are greeted and assured the dogs are all bark. I came with questions on Mantova, the food and their wine and appellation in general. Interestingly enough the areas planted with Lambrusco cover about the same areas as the Parmigiano Reggiano Appellation, and thus they both hop over the Po river into Lombardy. Lambrusco Mantovano has more in common with the style coming from Reggio Emilia. This also has to do with which type of Lambrusco is planted. The Mantovano has a richer style with bigger but soft tannins. It can have an umami texture that might be coming from the rich soil.
I had just assumed that these would have been Methode Ancestrale/Petillant Natural. After all, the best Modenese Lambruscos I have had have been this way. However they were all charmat! It was the vines and the grape, not the process revealing themselves. Fondo Bozzole has a nice line of 1 still red, 2 frizzante reds, 1 frizzante rose and a white that I was not able to try. Their production is less the 20,000. It mostly goes straight to a few restaurants in Mantova and then to Wine Bottega in Boston of all places. They had already sold out of all the white.
I always try to ask producers of whom have gone organic, bio, or less interventionist why they did so. Often it is that they tried something that made sense or they emulated the success of another. We are also familiar with the producers that have some philosophical reasoning against industrialization or maintaining the true terroir. It was relieving to hear their story was none of the above. They were fed up with the rock bottom prices they were getting from the cooperative for their harvest. When they started making it themselves they just did it in the same way they had always done their own house production. Confidence in their land, their “home recipe”.
Classic pairing of the region with this type of wine are:
(Favorite goes first)
- Tortelli di zucca alla Mantovana. A pumpkin filled pasta that also has crumbled Amaretti biscuits inside. YUM!
- Risotto alla Mantovana. With sausages and rosemary. A Mantovano way of Risotto is to leave the full amount of water in the pot rather than slowly adding it in as is so often recommended. My Italian professor who is from Mantova says it is because they are smart.
- With Lombardy being criss-crossed by canals, eel is often represented, grilled or steamed in the cuisine. This further accolades that Lambrusco is a type of wine that can pair with an extraordinarily wide array of foods.
Drink more Lambrusco!
Via Bozzole, 12