Cleto Chiarli Centenario Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile NV DOC

Medium ruby color; cherry, orange zest, spice on the nose; blackberry jam, cherry tart, strawberry, raspberry, plum on the palate.

Cleto Chiarli Centenario Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile NV DOC

Amabile is a sweetness level in Lambrusco. It is Italian for “tender, gentle, friendly, lovable, sweet.” It is similar to demi-sec in sparkling wine. While this represents the sweeter side of Lambrusco, it is not so sweet as to venture into dessert wine territory. Lively acidity plays well with the amabile sweetness. Rich and full in the mouth. Easy drinker. Frothy head. 8% ABV

Cleto Chiarli introduced this wine in 1960, the 100th anniversary of the winery’s founding. Thus the “Centenario” in the label. The wine is made with lambrusco grasparossa, a grape with deep color and natural high acidity, which helps balance the sweetness. Centenario is made using the Charmat process where fermentation is done in a tank. Prosecco and other sparkling wine is made using this process. There is no second fermentation in the bottle. Lambrusco, by the way, means “wild grape” in Italian.

Cleto Chiarli vineyard and winery

Lambrusco is a family of eight closely related grapes used in winemaking (some studies suggest there may be more than 60 lambrusco varieties). Lambrusco grapes grow almost exclusively in north-central Italy. Lambrusco grasparpossa—the grape in this effort—produces the boldest and darkest wine. It is noted for power and fruitiness rather than the refinement and delicacy of lambrusco di sorbana.

Cleto Chiarli makes quality lambrusco. The tank/Charmat process allows a winery to make sparkling or semi-sparkling wine cheaper and quicker than secondary fermentation in the bottle, and winemakers churned out gallons of puerile plonk in the past. Forget sugary dreck of yesteryear. Italian winemakers reduced yields, cleaned up their acts, developed a drier and more sophisticated inventory of lambrusco wines. This is a leader in that welcomed quality wave. Although this is sweet, it is well-done semi-sweet with excellent balancing acidity. You will not need a diabetes test after sipping it.

Cleto Chiarli principals

The Chiarli family’s history is closely tied to lambrusco. Visit the website (link below) for the interesting story. It started with Cleto Chiarli making wine for his Modena restaurant in the mid-1800s. The winery thrived and became the largest privately-owned producer of lambrusco. It is the oldest winery in Emilia Romagna.

The website notes: “Our belief in the our ‘terroir’, a combination not only of the climate, the soil, and the grape varieties grown in the area, but also—and above all—the culture. It is not a static concept, fixed in time, instead it changes continuously with the arrival of new and innovative techniques.”

As a result of this philosophy, Cleto’s great-grandsons Mauro and Anselmo Chiarli “decided to spin off a new production center that would move away from mass-market Lambrusco into a more artisanal, quality-driven style. In 2002, they began building a new facility to produce a higher-end line of Lambrusco wines using carefully selected, estate-grown grapes and state-of-the-art equipment. The new company was named Cleto Chiarli after the founder.” This effort comes from that new direction and winery.

Cleto Chiarli Centenario Lambrusco Grasparossa di Castelvetro Amabile NV DOC is a charming sparkling effort that is sweet, but not cloyingly sweet. Rustic elements. Ripe dark fruits galore. It could serve as a dessert wine, but also could work as an aperitif. There are some classic food pairings—sausage pizza; hard cheese; red meats. In general, all lambrusco styles pair well with food. $11-14

Chiarli website

Dalla Terra winery direct; importer to U.S. website

Cleto Chiarli vineyard
Cleto Chiarli vineyards
Cleto Chiarli winery
Cleto Chiarli beginnings
Cleto Chiarli today