Ancellotta is a work horse Italian red wine grape prized for its dense pigmentation. It is seldom made as a straight varietal wine, however. Instead, it is blended with apparent alacrity throughout central and northern Italy to bolster colour of wines deemed too pallid for the contemporary wine market.
Ancellotta's usefulness is particularly apparent in Emilia-Romagna, a region known for little noble wine. Here, its use transcends its more common role as a colour booster. In addition, Ancellotta is used to stretch yields and imbue many wines, particularly those Lambruscos made from the sub-variety Lambrusco Reggiano-Ancellotta, with a commercially viable sweetness when added as semi-fermented must. Indeed, DOC regulations permit up to 15 per cent of Ancellotta in Lambrusco.
Tellingly, the Italian vineyard census of 1990 established that Emilia-Romagna had 4,700 hectares of Ancellotta planted. Remarkably, this is more than any sub-variety of Lambrusco. Given that Lambrusco's star glows slightly brighter now than it did then due to a number of artisanal producers, this hectarage has likely increased.