Though the Croci family has tended vines in Emilia Romagna since the 1930s, like many of our farms around here, it was milk that was the focus of the estate, with a small winemaking operation on the side for personal consumption only. That all changed in the 1970s when the family realized that, with rapid industrialization of agriculture, they would not be able to compete in the marketplace. It turned out to be the right move. The family initially produced very traditional sparkling wines but then transitioned to using the Charmat method–in which wines are pressurized in tank rather than in bottle. That is, until the current generation took over. Massimiliano Croci felt that the old way produced wines that spoke more clearly of his own terroir, and made moves to return to that style. The wines are fermented using native yeasts and are allowed to pause fermentation mid-winter, only to resume in the spring. They use only minimal sulphur, only at bottling.
Emilia Romagna is commonly referred to as the culinary capital of Italy. From Parmigiano to Mortadella, it’s certainly got a storied–and quite rich–cuisine. With that, it’s indisputable that you need light, zippy wines to quench your thirst. You probably know this region best for Lambrusco. And good Lambrusco can be wonderful. But this wine, though it may be a bubbly red, is no Lambrusco. It hails from the Colli Piacentini on the border of nearby Lombardy. As such they work not with Romagnan grapes but with Barbera and Bonarda (aka. Croatina). It is at once fresh yet very deep, with notes of barnardy funk, black briny olives, and fresh mountain herbs. It’s at its best served chilled, with richer fare.