Poderi Fiorini where Lambrusco wines have been made for nearly 100 years

Some background information
Lambrusco, a sparkling wine, started being made in the XVIII century and it immediately had an incredible success. Up to the beginning of the 1970s Lambrusco was a traditional wine that was re-fermented in the bottle without subsequently removing the lees. Starting from the 1970s Lambrusco is mainly produced with autoclaves, although now many estates have started to make Lambrusco in the traditional way (with re-fermentation in the bottle).  It is made with the homonymous grape varieties (Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Salamino and others) which can be considered the most indigenous varieties in the world as they represent the genetic evolution of the “vitis silvestris occidentalis” which was domesticated in the zone of Modena.
These wines are perfect for the incredibly rich and vast gastronomic heritage of Emilia-Romagna, but they are also an ideal match for international cuisine.

The family of Lambrusco grape varieties
The family of the Lambrusco grapes is one, but the various varieties adapted to different zones and conditions. The name “Lambrusco” probably originated from the Latin name for the wild vine “vitis labrusca” or “vitis silvestris” that was domesticated in the Po valley and more specifically in the zone of Modena. But the family of Lambrusco grapes has no connection with the “vitis labrusca” (the group of American vines), as it is part of the group of “vitis vinifera” that has a euro-asian origin.
The main Lambrusco grape varieties are:
Lambrusco di Sorbara: it is a variety that ripens early, the skin of the berries is thin, the wines have a light colour and high acidity.
Lambrusco Grasparossa: it is a variety that ripens late, the berries have a thick skin that releases a lot of anthocyanins (the phenolic compounds responsible for colour in wine). In fact the wines are a deep ruby red with purple reflections, they are full in the mouth with evident tannins and a good acidity.
Lambrusco Salamino: the name is due to the fact that the shape of the clusters is similar to a small salame. At Podere Fiorini it is used only to make Aceto Balsamico.
Other Lambrusco grape varieties (not grown at Poderi Fiorini) are: Lambrusco Maestri, Lambrusco Marani, Lambrusco Ancellotta.
Pignoletto: this an indigenous white grape and it is made in a sparkling and still version.

The appellations of the wines made at Poderi Fiorini
Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC
Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC
Lambrusco di Modena DOC
Colli Bolognesi DOC
Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG

Poderi Fiorini

The history of Poderi Fiorini
Alberto and Cristina Fiorini, brother and sister, are the fourth generation of a family that has produced Lambrusco wines since 1919. The family is originally from the area of Sorbara. The first property was located in the district of Panzano (commune of Campogalliano, province of Modena). There were four branches of the Fiorini family: two made wine at Grasparossa and two made wine on the flatland. After the second world war the grandfather of Alberto and Cristina, Ugo, started managing vineyards and land owned by the Zanasi family (a very well known family of this area) in Ganaceto. A first cellar was built there, Lambrusco was then made by fermenting the wine in the bottle. In 1968-1970 a new cellar was built (by enlarging an old barn), Lambrusco was still made by fermenting the wine in the bottle, the entire production was bottled and the wines started being sold in a more organised fashion. At the end of the 1970s the first autoclave was purchased and the production technique changed. Over the years hectares of vineyards were gradually purchased. The total vineyard extension is now 30 hectares. Alberto, an agricultural technician with a longstanding experience in wine marketing (he worked for large and famous Italian estates) started managing the family estate in 1991 and contracted vineyards on hilly areas that were later purchased. In fact a property was purchased in 2011 on the hills of Savignano Alto where the present cellar was built and completed in 2012.
The estate is in the conversion phase to be certified organic.
The total average production is 200,000 bottles/year.

The staff
Alberto follows the cellar, the production process, he supervises and decides upon the style and identity of the wines and he also follows marketing. Cristina Fiorini follows marketing and the administration. Francesco Clemenza is responsible for the work in the vineyards and in the cellar. Emanuele Lelli is the cellar master. Enzo Mattarei is the consultant oenologist. The agronomic work is supervised by a company that specialises in organic viticulture.

The three properties of Poderi Fiorini and the vineyards
Poderi Fiorini includes three separate holdings within the province of Modena. A distinctive characteristic is that the soil of the various plots is quite different. In fact a very careful research has been carried out in order to choose the most suitable rootstocks and clones for each type of soil. The microclimate also varies: it is airy in the property near the new cellar and it is more humid in the plots on flatland.
As already mentioned, the total vineyard extension is approximately 30 hectares. The grape varieties that are grown are Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa, Lambrusco Salamino, Pignoletto and a small extension of Barbera, Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The estate is within the zone of four DOCs (Lambrusco di Sorbara, Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro, Lambrusco di Modena and Colli Bolognesi) and within the zone of Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG.

The three holdings:

  1. A historic holding in the area of Secchia-Soliera. This is where the original estate was located. The vineyards stand on flatland and were planted with Lambrusco di Sorbara (9 hectares) and with Lambrusco Salamino (3 hectares) in 1995 and in 2001. The vine training systems are GDC (Geneva Double Courtain or GDC trellis design consists of a horizontally divided canopy that has the appearance of two “curtains” on each side) and cordon spur. The vineyard density is 3,000 vines/hectare (Lambrusco Salamino) and 3,500-3,700 vines/hectare (Lambrusco di Sorbara). The grape yield of Lambrusco di Sorbara is 11 tons/hectare. The soil is medium texture tending to sandy.
  2. In the district of Garofano there are two adjacent plots, one at the foot of a hill at 50 meters above sea level, and one on flatland on the ancient bed of the Panaro river (that flows nearby). The grape variety that is grown here is Lambrusco Grasparossa. There are 2,000 square meters of prephilloxera ungrafted vines that date back to 1932. The vineyard extension is 6 hectares. The composition of the soil is clay in the plot at the foot of the hill and gravel on the flatland (the bed of the Panaro river was very extended in ancient times). The vines were planted in 1991 and in 1985. The vine training systems are GDC and cordon spur. The vineyard density is 3,500-3,700 vines/hectare.
  3. The third holding was purchased in 2011 and it is located in the area of Savignano Alto. The new cellar was completed here in 2012. The property is named after a medieval tower, Torre dei Nanni, which is at the top of the hill. The altitude here is approximately 200 meters above sea level. The main grape varieties that are grown here are Lambrusco Grasparossa and Pignoletto with a small extension of Barbera, Merlot, Sangiovese and Cabernet Sauvignon. The holding is right on the border between the province of Modena and the province of Bologna and this zone is also within the area of the Colli Bolognesi DOC and of the Colli Bolognesi Classico Pignoletto DOCG appellations. The vineyard extension is 11.5 hectares of which 8 hectares are planted with Lambrusco Grasparossa and 3 hectares with Pignoletto. The composition of the soil varies: it is white with loam near the cellar while the soil is darker and clayey on the top of the hill near Torre dei Nanni. The training system of the older plantings is GDC while cordon spur is used for the new plantings.

Type of viticulture
The estate is in the conversion phase to be certified organic from 2016. The practices in the vineyards have always been environment friendly. Spontaneous cover crops are left on the aisles so that no weed killers are used. Green harvest is carried out and the clusters are carefully selected in the vineyards during the harvest. The harvest is strictly manual.

The cellar
The new cellar is built underground by excavating the hill at the Torre dei Nanni holding. It blends perfectly into the landscape. The surface is 1,000 square meters and the equipment is modern. The grapes are destemmed and crushed and the must flows into the vats per gravity (it is not pumped). There are two pneumatic presses, one for the white wines and one for the red wines. The stainless steel vats (of a total capacity of 1,600 hectolitres) are all with temperature control and so are the eight concrete tanks (which are used only for non sparkling wines). There are 5 autoclaves of a capacity of 50 hectolitres and 2 of a capacity of 28 hectolitres. Batches of 6,800 bottles are bottled at a time in the on premise bottling line.

The production technique of Lambrusco at Poderi Fiorini
Click here to read the article on the wines and their production technique.

The philosophy
“The aim is to try and integrate the different soils and territories of the three holdings, which have distinct characteristics, in the best possible way”. Alberto Fiorini tells us. “We also try and enhance the character of the different grape varieties we planted. The evolution of the production process of our Lambrusco Grasparossa DOC “Terre al Sole” (re-fermented in the bottle from the 2015 vintage) and of our Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC “Vigna del Padre a Giuseppe” (re-fermented in the bottle for 7 months, 2015 is the first vintage) is precisely to enhance the different characteristics”. 

Aceto Balsamico Fiorini
Alberto and Cristina Fiorini also make wonderful Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP and Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP.
Aceto Balsamico Tradizionale di Modena DOP can be “affinato”, aged for 12 years minimum, and “extravecchio” aged for a minimum of 25 years. The base is fresh grape must of Trebbiano di Spagna and of Lambrusco Salamino grapes. The must is boiled for 20 hours until 27-28 “Babo” degrees  (this is the value read on a densimeter. Each “Babo” degree corresponds to 10 grams of sugar in 1,000 grams of must) are reached. The fermentation is started up, a small percentage of alcohol is formed and, due to the contact with the air, the acetic fermentation starts. The must is then fined in 5 barrels with a decreasing capacity and made with 5 different kinds of wood (acacia, oak, cherry, chestnut, juniper). The barrels are filled at 90% of their capacity and kept under the roof so that the liquid is exposed to difference in temperature. During the summer the liquid ferments and the volume decreases. In January the so called “rincalzo” is carried out. This practice consists in racking a part of the must from the larger barrels to the smaller ones. After 12 years Aceto Balsamico Affinato is obtained from the second smallest barrel.
Aceto Balsamico di Modena IGP. Two types of vinegar are made:  a vinegar which is aged for 8 years (5 years in barriques and three years in small 50 litre barrels) made with the must of Trebbiano di Spagna and and a vinegar which is aged for 5 years (in barriques) made with the must of Lambrusco Salamino.

The wines

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC  “Becco Rosso”
Grape variety: 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa
Production zone: Savignano Alto, Garofano
Average production: 80,000 bottles/year

Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro DOC “Terre al Sole”
Grape variety: 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa
Production zone: Savignano Alto
Average production: 30,000 bottles/year

Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC “Corte degli Attimi”
Grape variety: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara
Production zone: Secchia, Soliera
Average production: 30,000 bottles/year

Lambrusco di Sorbara DOC “Vigna del Padre a Giuseppe”
Grape variety: 100% Lambrusco di Sorbara
Production zone: Secchia, Soliera
Average production: 4,000 bottles/year

Lambrusco di Modena DOC “Re Gusto Amabile”
Grape variety: 100% Lambrusco Grasparossa
Production zone: Garofano
Average production: 5,000 bottles/year

Colli Bolognesi Classico DOCG “Spazzavento Torre dei Nanni”
Grape variety: 100% Pignoletto
Production zone: Savignano Alto
Average production: 70,000 bottles/year