A FORGOTTEN PLACE
We were first introduced to the wines of Camillo Donati in September of last year at Pierre Jancou’s wine bar Vivant in Paris. Pierre was, and still is, one of the driving forces of the natural wine movement in France. His first wine bar, Racines, was one of the first natural wine bars in Paris and he has been supporting and promoting the movement ever since. You can check out his work on his website.
It was a weekday lunch hour a couple of days after we had arrived in Paris. The girls wanted to go shopping. We wanted to actually do something that was fun. So they went shopping. And, we went to Vivant for lunch.
We’ve been to Vivant before and Pierre knows we are importers – so when we asked him to bring us something that we had never had before, something obscure, something stunning, something to . . . blow our minds – the guru of natural wine in Paris brought us: Camillo Donati.
Camillo Donati is a little-known producer from the far southern regions of the Emilia-Romagna – in a small forgotten place – which happens to be the only place that still remembers how Lambrusco used to be made: Methode Ancestrale style, elegant and fine, with no sulphur added. Simple grape juice that is allowed to finish fermentation in the bottle.
The village that Camillo lives in is so small that there is no need for addresses and it is so remote that the GPS always misses his house by two hills to the south-east. The only way to find him is to drive into the general area and start asking his neighbours for directions. Which is what we did when we went to visit him last October. Thankfully we had a trusty translator with us or we never would have found the place. It is here in a very small vineyard Camillo keeps the Lambrusco legacy alive making Lambrusco not with Charmat (injected bubbles) like the large volume commercially produced Lambruscos, nor Methode Champenois (which was imported from France), but in the traditional Italian way with Method Ancestral: The process first started by accident when wines were bottled by farmers in the winter after fermentation stopped and then fermentation restarted in the bottle when the weather warmed up again in the Spring.
He also does so with no added sulphites. To say that these wines are pure is an understatement. The ingredients in his bottles are grapes. Period.
This is the perfect wine for a hot summer day – fresh and pure with a light effervescence. Pop one open with your BBQ, charcuterie, pasta, or pizza and make sure you have an extra one in the fridge because it won’t last long.
We want to thank the rest of the world for forgetting about this place and the wines that it makes.