Modena, Emilia Romagna

↑ Silvano and his “cousin”

Have you ever been chased out of a restaurant with a salami?

Not a slice of salami, but a whole cured salami that makes your mouth water every time you see one.

This happened to me, when Angela Sini, the brains behind the marketing machine that is Cantina della Volta, took my girlfriend Kelsey and I to lunch at Locanda “La Grande” before a visit to the winery. Silvano, the owner of the restaurant, was waving the salami at us, wondering why on earth we decided to eat lunch so late. He was joking of course, and eventually welcomed us into one of the most memorable meals of my life, and not just because of the entertainment. I had tasted the wines before, in fact at a very unique event called Chef to Chef where I met Angela, but never with food like this.


Fourth generation winemaker Christian Bellei is the closest thing to a rock star when it comes to Sparkling wines in Italy. In fact, many consider him THE authority on the subject.

Along with his father in the 80’s, Christian spent a lot of time learning how to make sparkling wine in Champagne, France. His quest, however, was to take the pesky, dirty, good for nothing Lambrusco di Sorbara grape and turn it into something magical, a champagne style wine in which second fermentation occurs in the bottle.

If you had polled fellow Lambrusco producers then, they would have thought Christian was nuts, and many of them will still tell you that today. However, Christian and his father were (and still are) ahead of their time and realized that the Lambrusco di Sorbara (one of several dozen Lambrusco clones found in Emilia Romagna) grape possessed similar characteristics to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay grown in France, particularly the acidity, crucial for sparkling wine production. With rigorous study and a natural talent for “spumante” Christian embarked on this mission in his winery Cantina della Volta.


With the backing of a group of very supportive friends, Christian has recently fixed up the original building of the “Bellei” family winery that was constructed in 1920. Inside the winery you are greeted by state of the art equipment that you rarely find in Italy. Grapes are harvested by hand and brought into the facility in seemingly perfect condition, very crucial for sparkling wine production. From there, the rock star goes about his business. After two plus years of aging, some of the most unique sparkling wines in Italy are ready for consumption, which is where I come in!

These wines are really one of a kind, and according to Christian, are a real validation of a territory that has been given a bad wrap due to the reputation of Lambrusco in the past. These wines are a true representation of Lambrusco and proof that there are hidden treasures beyond parmiggiano reggiano cheese and Prosciutto di Parma in this lovely region.


The winery was “rebuilt” in 2010 with a major emphasis on a cantina built for champenoise production. A Bucher Vaslin press is the crown jewel. This press is one of the very few authorized for use in Champagne, France, something very important to Christian to truly be able to create a high quality “champagne style” wine with his native Lambrusco. The entire winery is temperature controlled and so is the wine is stainless steel for that matter! Controlling temperature throughout the process is extremely important to Christian. Even when his wine leaves the winery he is constantly concerned about it’s well being, temperature wise. The winery is even equipped with a very modern bottling machine which will freeze out the lees in the bottle and add the dosage to the wine, the final touch for champenoise production.
Brut Rosso

Varietal : Lambrusco di Sorbara 100%

Brut rosso was the name of Christian’s father’s first classic method Lambrusco, and the Bellei’s have continued to push the boundary with Lambrusco di Sorbara. As with their vintage original Lambrusco, the Brutrosso is made Metodo Classico from the best Sorbara grapes of each vintage. The 2016 is the first vintage of Christian’s new wine, with the intention of having a brighter, fresher wine that is more attractive to those looking for a vibrant sparkler. The wine is younger and spends 9 months on the lees, resulting in brighter fruit notes like raspberry and wild strawberry, even hints of citrus. The color is brighter ruby, but the consistency of the bubble is long lasting, as in all of CDV’s wines champenoise method wines.
Prosciutto and Parmigiano are still key, perhaps younger fresher cheeses to match the fresh nature of this wine
Pizza with Prosciutto is Christian’s first choice
Sardines, bluefish pate
100% Sorbara. Nine months on the lees, Champagne method.
Lambrusco di Sorbara D.O.P.

Varietal : Lambrusco di Sorbara 100%

The color will stop you in your tracks. Bright, ruby red, a beautiful result of meticulous and artisanal production. So is what you smell and taste. Full of fresh, very bright strawberries and raspberries that have a sour component to them. Very dry and with lip smacking acidity, this is Lambrusco in its truest form.

The winery boasts that this wine is like drinking two wines in one, both visually and in regards to taste. The first few glasses are lighter in color and clearer in the glass. You will taste more of the fresh fruit, rose petal and the wine will be slightly leaner. The final few glasses are cloudier and take on more of a bready, yeasty component from the lees (dead yeast cells) that still remain in the bottle. It’s like a science project!

• Serve at 46°F (always nice and cold!)
• Classic Italian meats: Prosciutto, Mortadella and cheeses (Parmigiano) with crostini.
• Pizza
• Grilled meats
Harvesting Period: Last week of September

Grapes are harvested by hand and assorted in 17 kg crates and are taken in to be pressed under cold temperatures. Here there is less rigorous of a selection and press than the champenoise method wines.

Second fermentation occurs in the bottle with no addition of yeasts or sugar, nothing. This style of production is known both in Italy and France as the Ancestral method. The wine is added to the bottle and closed with a metal cork screw. From here the magic happens with a completely spontaneous second fermenation at a constant temperature of about 53 degrees fahrenheit. In the Ancestral method there is no removal of the lees like the other wines from Cantina della Volta nor is there an addition of a dosage. This is why this wine is so bone dry and has sour notes of red fruit. These fruits have not been balanced by sugar in the dosage. What you see is what you get here.

Lambrusco Rosé di Modena Spumante

Varietal : Lambrusco di Sorbara 100%

Beautiful peal pink dress covered by soft foam in its perlage. On the nose, a magical sensation full of bread perfumes, toasted nuts, ancient rose and pomegranate tones. Elegant, structured, body, brightened by its unique “acid-savory” synergy. The Rosé has higher acidity than the previous Lambrusco, and it feels very lively in your mouth.
• When pairing with this Rosé you have so many options due to the incredible acidity and freshness apparent in this wine.
• Recommended for an aperitivo (meats and cheeses!)
• Sushi
• Oysters
• Shrimp Tempura
• Tortellini with butter and sage
Harvesting Period: Last week of September

See Notes from Lambrusco di Modena Brut. The process is nearly identical, besides the fact that the grapes here will spend less time on the skins before pressing, thus it’s beautiful salmon, pink color.

Lambrusco in Bianco

Varietal : Lambrusco di Sorbara 100%

Christian continues to push the envelope when it comes to Lambrusco di Sorbara, now obtaining a white sparkling wine obtained from the red varietal. Each Lambrusco is different than the last, this one made in bianco having a savory note. Apple and citrus and floral notes leading the way, followed by brioche characteristics evident in the rose.
Aperitif wine, excellent with young cheese, sauteed vegetables, and mortadella
Immediate separation from the skins, using the middle 50% of the juice of the grape to develop a richer, more savory note. The wine spends 34 months on the lees before disgorgement
Il Mattaglio
Spumante Brut

Varietal : Pino Noir 60%, Chardonnay 40%

Golden reflections and persistent graceful bubbles make this sparkling wine uniquely elegant. As you drink the wine, you can immediately perceive layered fruit notes, with citrus leading the way. It is fresh and sophisticated on the palate, its flavor persists thanks to its distinctive balance of acidity and velvet finish. Its gorgeous color and elegant structure make for a beautiful glass of sparkling wine.
• Grilled Meats/Chicken
• Sushi
• Smoked Salmon
Harvesting Period: First week of September

The carefully selected vineyard in Ricco di Serramozzini is home to Pinot Noir and Chardonnay clones, selected by Christian and his father in the early 90’s. This site was chosen to mimic conditions in the Champagne region as much as possible, with a similar micro-climate, calcareous soils, and a nearby woodsy area.

Grapes are harvested by hand and carefully taken to the winery so as to not cause breakage of skins, thus allowing fermentation to start. A very soft first press ensues with only the “fior d’uva” being moved to temperature controlled steel tanks for fermentation.

Second fermentation in the bottle ensues after the wine has had six months to rest. Here the wine ages at least 20 months in the bottle helping to create even more complexities than the previous Lambrusco’s.

Visit the Cantina della Volta Website
(It’s in English!)