Lambrusco gets a bad rap. Most Americans know it as that sweet, red, sticky fizz they sell for $5 at Trader Joe's—the stuff of a thousand suburban teenage hangovers.
Well, #NotAllLambrusco. In the right hands it's a party, good for pairing with sunny days or summertime food like barbecue ribs or hot dogs with grilled red pepper.
Oregon winemaker Brianne Day has been at the forefront of natural wines in this state, and her new summer fizz, Papacito, is a beautiful riff on Lambrusco that can be fizzy and dry, complex and savory-sweet.
Note, however, that it can't legally be called Lambrusco—that's a protected designation, not unlike Champagne, and restricted to certain Italian regional and grape variety requirements. Call it a New World Lambrusco, maybe—a free-form improvisation across wine styles from the Old World.
Papacito is made with a grape called primitivo, an Italian cousin of zinfandel grown in small quantities by noted vineyard tender Herb Quady down in the Applegate Valley. Day produces the wine at her new winemaking facility in Dundee, which she's currently upgrading to include a revamped tasting room and cellar.
More than clear blue skies and baseball, Papacito tastes like those heavy, humid, gray Portland summer days when the temp sits around 80 and just kind of…hangs. Dry, fizzy, refreshing yet weighty, this wine is like a red clay puddle in the park, or a cumulonimbus cloud ready to burst. More please. Recommended.