In Emilia the predominant wine is Lambrusco, produced in countless frothy variations from purple to pink, produced from the eponymous variety grown on high trellised vines in the flatland area between Modena and Reggio-Emilia, south of the Po river.
Romagna’s wines come primarily from the native Sangiovese, Trebbiano and Albana varieties. Lambrusco is produced in volume in the DOC zones of Sorbara, Castelvetro, Modena and Reggiano, though few consumers abroad have tasted the wine in its authentic dry style. Most Lambrusco shipped to foreign markets is Amabile (off-dry) or plain sweet, while what is drunk in the region is dutifully bone-dry.
Though there are historical precedents for both types, the dry is considered the unparalleled match for the region’s rich cooking. A new trend in DOC zones such as Colli Piacentini, Colli Bolognesi and Colli di Parma favors somewhat ambitious still wines from international varieties like Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Barbera, Cabernet and Merlot. Moving into Romagna, we encounter the hills south of Imola, Faenza, Forlì, Cesena and Rimini, known for still wines from the native Albana, Sangiovese and Trebbiano grapes, all of which carry the name Romagna.
Albana di Romagna, which emerged in 1987 as Italy’s first DOCG white wine, is most often dry and still with a distinctive almondy undertone and occasionally some complexity. Albana’s best expression seems to be as a richly sweet passito from partly dried grapes. The traditional semisweet and bubbly versions are usually consumed at home. Romagna’s Trebbiano, distinct from other vines of the name, is almost always light and fresh, whether still or bubbly, with a fragility that makes it best consumed in its youth.
The favorite wine in the region remains Sangiovese di Romagna, usually a robust red with a certain charm in its straightforward fruity flavors. But increasingly producers of Sangiovese are making reserve wines of greater depth of bouquet and flavor with the capacity to age gracefully.