Newly rein­vig­o­rated, to­day’s lam­br­usco is a far cry from the sickly-sweet ver­sion you may re­mem­ber, ex­plains Mike Ben­nie.

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“EV­ERY­THING OLD IS new again,” runs the say­ing. I’m not slip­ping into some flares, but with wine, per­haps fash­ion is cycli­cal. “We’ve seen a huge rein­vig­o­ra­tion in peo­ple’s in­ter­est in lam­br­usco,” says award-win­ning wine pro­fes­sional James Hird of Syd­ney’s Dol­phin Ho­tel and Ice­bergs Din­ing Room and Bar.

The cheap, bub­bly lam­br­usco of sickly sweet­ness is a not-so-dis­tant mem­ory. But the ex­pert con­sen­sus is that the style has been poorly rep­re­sented.

“It’s not all about these ul­tra-sim­ple, bor­ing, hor­ri­bly sweet-sour, big-bub­ble wines,” says Piero Tan­tini of Godot Wine Im­ports. “There is an in­cred­i­ble range of styles, rep­re­sent­ing some re­ally in­ter­est­ing indige­nous grape va­ri­eties, from ar­ti­san pro­duc­ers who re­ally care.”

“It’s the most un­der­rated wine style on the planet,” says Hird, who likes its ver­sa­til­ity with food, from South­east Asian spice through to more tra­di­tional red sauce pas­tas or sim­ple-done-well piz­zas. “Most im­por­tantly,” he adds, “it’s in­cred­i­bly de­li­cious on its own – full of crunchy red berry-cherry char­ac­ter. Best ex­am­ples are bone dry and savoury, and the zippy acid­ity is mas­sively re­fresh­ing.”

“We see it as an ul­ti­mate aper­i­tivo,” says Gio­vanni Par­adiso of Syd­ney wine bar 10 Wil­liam Street. “Be­yond this, most of the great ex­am­ples are from or­ganic farms, pro­duced with­out ad­di­tives.”

So why did lam­br­usco fall from favour? It seems that mass-mar­ket ver­sions ended up fa­tigu­ing drinkers, with al­ter­na­tive sparklings, in­clud­ing light, fresh pros­ecco and af­ford­able Aus­tralian fizz, usurp­ing the once widely pop­u­lar Ital­ian wine.

These days we’re priv­i­leged to see a breadth of types, in­clud­ing Aus­tralian­grown ex­am­ples, along­side those from canny im­porters. These wines sit well with our Aus­tralian sense of fun and en­joy­ment of drink­ing al fresco, along­side seafood and Mediter­ranean cui­sine. Lam­br­usco ticks all these boxes, and more.

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