Gianluca Bergianti’s Terrevive: The Spearpoint of Lambrusco’s Vanguard

Gianluca Bergianti enthuses to a visiting RWM group about his latest bottlings.

The underdog narrative in the world of sparkling wine is well established at this point. And happily, in places like Champagne, independent growers continue to grab larger portions of market share with each passing year. However, in other regions, those who toil against the tide operate in near-total obscurity, so imbalanced are the scales. Take, for instance, Emilia-Romagna and its beloved Lambrusco. With sky-high yields and bottom-of-the-barrel pricing, the overwhelming majority of Lambrusco is conventionally farmed, industrially produced, and heavily standardized. This approach, which treats Lambrusco as a beverage rather than as a wine, practically writes its own industry cliches: “a simple wine to accompany the hearty regional cuisine…” and so forth.

However, what if this zone of production has more to offer? What if our industry’s preconceptions about Lambrusco have more to do with the machinations of marketing rather than with any deeper truths of these terroirs? After all, wine has been produced in this gorgeous area for an awful lot longer than the Charmat method has existed—since the 7th century B.C., to be precise, when the Etruscans first started cultivating the vine in what today is called Emilia-Romagna.

Enter Gianluca Bergianti and his Terrevive project. Founded in 2008, Terrevive is a fully functioning biodynamic farm in the northern reaches of the Lambrusco-producing zone, in Gargallo di Carpi, just outside Modena. Here, animals, grains, and woodlands complement the farm’s ten hectares of vines—all traditional local varieties. Gianluca’s antipathy toward modern Lambrusco production (he named one of his bottlings “No Autoclave”) is matched by his enthusiasm for the immense potential of wines from his home zone, and we have been thrilled by his bracingly pure, low-tech renderings since we first encountered them nearly three years ago.

The Barbarians, who settled present-day Emilia, found that the area’s frigid winters tended to stop fermentations of the wild local varieties in their tracks; the onset of warm weather in spring started them back up, resulting in high-acid wines streaked with the refreshing effervescence of active fermentation. It is this joyous sparkle—rather than the carefully calculated mousse of wine engineered in a large tank—that Bergianti harnesses in his creations at Terrevive.

Utilizing spontaneous initial fermentations, then prompting secondary fermentation with the addition of a splash of unfermented grape must from the same harvest, and bottling with no added sulfur, Gianluca produces sparkling wines which sizzle with life—electrifying, mineral-saturated bottlings that revel in their expressive power. They offer a palpable and exciting drinking experience fully at odds with mainstream Lambrusco’s conservative simplicity; for us, tasting them was like encountering the truth of the region for the first time.

We have just received the 2022s from Terrevive—a ripe vintage with slightly lower perceptible acidity than the razor-sharp 2021s and 2020s, yet one which still rings on the palate with unabashed brightness and clarity. We are also excited to debut two new bottlings available in miniscule quantities: a passito called “BZZ” and a red metodo classico, details of which are below. Gianluca and his work are at the forefront of Emilia-Romagna’s vanguard, and they are an absolute must for all who are curious about Lambrusco’s true potential.

More on Terrevive here.