One of the trends that we’ve been noticing this summer is that countless wine and lifestyle writers in the U.S. have been recommending Lambrusco as their ideal pairing for steak.

That’s great news… but it’s no news to us!

One of the things that a lot of people don’t realize about Lambrusco is that the family of Lambrusco grape varieties is among the most tannic among Italian grapes.

Here at Lini, we make most of our wines with Lambrusco Salamino, one of the darker and more tannic varieties.

But the thing that sets Lambrusco apart from the classic tannic grape varieties paired with steak like Cabernet Sauvignon (arguably the most popular) and Pinot Noir is that Lambrusco also delivers wonderful freshness and lower alcohol levels than its still counterparts.

In Emilia where Lambrusco is made (and where we live and eat), steak and lamb are regularly served at home and in restaurants. And Emilians, who religiously and almost exclusively serve Lambrusco, regularly pair their steaks and other grilled meats (pork chops in particular) with Lambrusco.

Try it and you’ll thank us!

That’s Alicia (right), the fourth generation of the Lini family winery, and Leonardo LoCascio, an Italian wine industry legend and founder of Winebow, Lini’s US importer (as of this year).

LoCascio is widely considered to have been one of the main architects of the Italian wine renaissance in the U.S. during the late 1980s and 1990s.

It was way back in the 1970s that he had a vision of bringing top Italian wines to north America. At the time, Italian wine wasn’t considered “fine wine” in the U.S. And the historic estates that he brought to this country for the first time played a fundamental role in reshaping American consumers’ attitudes about and perceptions of Italian wine here.

Many in the Italian wine trade don’t realize it but he also revolutionized the way that Italian wine was shipped and imported to the U.S. His model for shipping and customs consolidation radically changed the way business was done here, in no small part because his “DI” (direct importing) model reduced the importer’s costs significantly. As a result, high end Italian wine became much more affordable in this market. Today, his DI model is the industry standard in a field that continues to expand some forty years after he founded Winebow (1980).

Winebow remains the premier importer of Italian wines in the U.S., legacy that spans a generation. But LoCascio never imported a Lambrusco — ever. Lini Lambrusco is the first Lambrusco that Winebow has ever imported. And the Lini couldn’t be more honored or more excited by this new chapter in their family’s history.

Chapeau bas, Leonardo! You are a pioneer, a visionary, and an Italian wine original! Thank you for everything you have done for Italian wine in the U.S. over the decades. Without you, none of us would be here today.

We loved this tasting note by writer Shana Clarke, part of her round-up of summer wine recommendations for the Equinox fitness blog this month. Spot on!

    Effervescent and served chilled, Lambrusco is always refreshing in warmer weather. This version, from a fourth-generation-run estate, features raspberry notes without becoming too sweet. Thanks to its structure and complexity, it’s still robust enough to stand up to hearty dishes like burgers and steak.

According to the results of a consumer survey published by the popular wine trade magazine Drinks Business this week, Italy is the “best wine country” in the world.

“Italy has been ranked as the best country in the world for wine lovers,” report the editors, “beating France and Spain.”

“Italy emerged victorious due to the abundance of wine tasting experiences on offer throughout its 21 wine regions running from the top to the bottom of its boot.”

Italy prevailed over other countries “due to its higher number of consumer wine experiences and having a larger number of wineries open to the public.”

Click here to read the entire results of the survey.

The following editorial reflects the views of our American blogmaster Jeremy Parzen.

Late last month, the venerable local masthead Gazzetta di Modena published an “opinion” piece with the following title: “Lambrusco vs. champagne [sic]: Lambrusco will soon take the lead.”

The author, Paride Rabitti, who goes by the Twitter handle “Lambruscologist,” writes: “Lambrusco di Sorbara [is] the most refined and most worthy competitor for French bubbles.”

“If we continue to produce high-quality classic method Lambrusco…,” he contends, “in a few decades people will talk about [Lambrusco di Sorbara] with the same deference with which they look to our French cousins in Champagne.”

(Translation mine.)

Wine writer Lisa Foletti reacted to the piece in her own op-ed published this week by the popular Italian wine blog Intravino.

“There’s no question that there are some truly interesting classic method Sorbara [wines] out there,” she writes, “very refined and complex… But the value of these products doesn’t lie in their resemblance to Champagne. It’s the opposite: The thing that makes them so good to drink is the uniqueness of the grape variety and the terroir.”

(Translation mine.)

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

As a longtime observer of the sparkling wine trade, I’ve seen this time and time again: Wine writers and wine lovers just can’t resist comparing (and confusing) a method with a wine.

Like many progressive Lambrusco producers, Lini makes a classic method Lambrusco. It’s delicious, it’s complex, and it’s a cut above the rest (read this excellent tasting note for the 2005 Lini Lambrusco Metodo Classico by Alberto Lupetti, Italy’s leading expert on sparkling wine).

But the point of this wine is not to make the “Champagne of Lambruscos” (my Italian colleagues are probably unaware of the vintage marketing campaign for Miller High Life beer, “the Champagne of Beers”).

The idea behind this wine is to explore and reveal Lambrusco’s immense potential to deliver distinctive and compelling wines.

Winemaker Fabio Lini and his family are huge fans of Champagne. They often drink Champagne at home and they make classic method Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, unfortunately not available in the U.S. (yet).

But their classic method Lambrusco isn’t trying to compete with Champagne.

It’s an expression of their viticulture and their terroir. Not someone else’s. Theirs.

And it represents a new and exciting chapter in the ever evolving history of and future for Lambrusco. It’s not the result of competition. It’s the fruit of good taste.

Jeremy Parzen

The views espoused here are my own.

Andrea Scanzi is one of Italy’s leading political essayists, wine writers, television personalities, and gourmets (see the Wikipedia entry on Andrea here).

Here’s what he had to say about Lini’s Lambrusco Metodo Classico nearly 10 years ago. The rest is history…

The family’s Metodo Classic Lambrusco, he wrote, “is made using [Lambrusco] Salamino grapes. I find it to be one of the most elegant and winning wagers by a Reggio Emilia winery ever undertaken. It’s even more fascinating than some of their classic method wines” made from conventional grapes.