Lawrence Osborne on Lini: “Sophia Loren? Her, and a dash of Monica Vitti with a few bubbles of Gina Lollobrigida, too.”

From “Bubbling Under: Can the scion of an Italian winemaking dynasty bring back Lambrusco’s once-sparkling reputation?” By Lawrence Osborne (Men’s Vogue 2008).

“I jumped at the chance to have dinner with Alicia Lini [above],” wrote acclaimed writer Lawrence Osborne in 2008, “and to drink four wines from her stable: the traditional Lambrusco lineup of red, white, rosé, and metodo classico. Pleasantly enough, Lini in person is also a bit like Sophia Loren.”

    “It’s been an uphill struggle for Lambrusco,” she admitted as we started on the special Centovini menu created, as it were, for her. “It’s taken 10 years for people to realize that we didn’t make that awful stuff. But our winery has been around for many decades.” In fact, the family-run operation goes back to 1910, and Alicia represents the fourth generation of Lini Lambrusco makers. “We have always made a cork-finished dry wine that is nothing like what most people think of as Lambrusco.”
    I asked Alicia if these were the kinds of Lambrusco her grandfather would have drunk. (Or mine, for that matter.)
    “Certainly. It’s not a romanticism to say so. We never changed our style for a moment. It’s the same wine as always.”
    We drank the red Labrusca Rosso — the operation’s flagship — with tortelli in brodo. It had a purply foam that died off almost at once and a taste of dark cherries. The wine was coolly playful, fresh, racy — and with an unexpected hint of depth. We went through the whole bottle comfortably. Next up, the rosé, which Lini makes from the Salamino and Sorbara clones: It brought a sparkling touch to [a] bollito misto — the traditional wintry “boiled dinner” of short ribs, veal tongue, capon, and cotechino sausage. Lambrusco, I realized, isn’t just a summer drink.
    But the evening’s crown jewel was the metodo classico, an apple-gold wine good enough to be mistaken for a small-house Champagne. Sophia Loren? Her, and a dash of Monica Vitti with a few bubbles of Gina Lollobrigida, too.

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