The bottle-refermented "Fondatore", meaning founder, is a Lambrusco steeped in meaning for Chiarli. It reminds us not only that Cleto's wine business began in 1860 with this method, now called Ancestrale, but also that bottle re-fermentation has accompanied the history of Lambrusco from ancient times until the introduction of the Charmat Method in the mid-1950s.
It was customary for peasants, merchants, innkeepers, and families to produce 'their' Lambrusco, starting with harvesting and crushing the grapes, followed by racking and rest throughout winter. In early Spring, according to tradition, the wine was bottled on its lees during the waning moon of March. When the first warm days arrived, the residual sugars fermented into alcohol, creating the typical Lambrusco mousse. Cleto was the only producer to successfully produce a bottle re-fermented Lambrusco Sorbara on a large scale. In 1900, his wine received the prestigious Mention Honorable at the Paris International Exposition, and more than 100,000 bottles were sold annually.
The success of the entirely empirical production system depended mainly on the skill of the 'artisan' but also on unpredictable factors, so much so that the quality could have been better and, unfortunately, was often disappointing.
The advent of the Charmat method, introduced in the 1950s, guaranteed a consistent quality result with wines that were "cleaner", fruitier, and more palatable, thus perfect for enjoyment in markets worldwide. This revolution in the world of Lambrusco eclipsed the Ancestral Method, nearly wiping out the method in a few years.
At Chiarli, even when their Ancestral method customers dwindled to a few dozen, and consequently the production of "bottle fermented" wine consisted of a few thousand bottles, they never gave up that fascinating method of producing Lambrusco that had marked the history and successes of the Company.
This commitment continues today thanks to experience and modern technology, allowing us to produce, in compliance with the Ancestral Method, a Lambrusco that encompasses the freshness, aromas, finesse, and elegance of Sorbara without losing that evocative scent given by the yeasts present in the wine.
The "Founder" Metodo Ancestrale, like Vecchia Modena Premium, has received the highest accolades from the most prestigious industry publications and inclusion in Wine Spectator's Top 100 wines in the world.