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.

It’s always exciting to learn that someone liked your wine. It’s even more exciting when that person happens to be one of your favorite bloggers, Cara Rutherford, author of Caravino, one of the leading wine blogs out there (with a focus often on Italian wine).

Here’s what Cara had to say about the Lini Labrusca Rosé”

    right ruby red in colour, with aromas of cherry, candied violet and watermelon. Juicy cranberry, red currant, strawberry, cherry, melon and herbs with a squeeze of citrus glide atop consistent fizz. Clean minerality and bright acidity sparkle, whilst a savoury edge compliments the caramel apple finish. So fruity, so refreshing, a fizzy summer essential.

Click here for the complete review, including notes on the winery and winemaking philosophy.

Thank you, Cara!

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.

File under “sparkling wine production”

Above: Racks for “riddling” classic method wines at Lini. In this and upcoming posts, we are going to look at sparkling wine production terminology and methods.

In today’s world of heightened wine awareness, knowledge, and education, it’s regrettable that there is still so much misinformation on the internets about sparkling wine production.

One of the best and most useful posts we found in our search for well-informed and well-written explanations of the different methods employed for sparkling wine production was “How Sparkling Wine is Made” on the excellent (and wildly popular) wine blog Wine Folly.

We highly recommend it to you. Beyond the introduction to Christie’s World Encyclopedia of Champagne & Sparkling Wine, edited by Tom Stevenson, it’s probably the most comprehensive introduction to sparkling wine production (and it’s free to access).

All of sparkling wine is made by provoking a second fermentation of the wine in a pressurized environment. Sparkling wine gets its fizziness from CO2, a natural by-product of fermentation. When fermentation takes place in an unpressurized environment, that CO2 escapes and the resulting wine is still (in other words, not sparkling). When fermentation takes place in a pressurized environment, the CO2 is captured.

Lini makes sparkling wine using two different methods.

The first is (properly) known as the “tank method.” This is sometimes called the “Charmat method” after the name of a man who patented technology for autoclaves or pressurized vats used in sparkling wine production. Many think he invented it. In fact, it was not invented but perfected by an Italian named Martinotti (it was invented by a producer of Champagne). In Italy, it’s often called the Martinotti method. But for our purposes here on the Lini blog, we should call it the tank method because that best describes the process.

(See this post on the origins of the Charmat or tank method.)

The second is the classic method — a term that causes a lot of confusion. The classic method calls for the wines to undergo their second fermentation in bottle, a process perfected by winemakers in Champagne where it is called the méthode champenoise or “Champagne method.” Because European Union regulations prohibit anyone outside of the Champagne region from using the term, European winemakers use the term classic method or traditional method.

The qualifiers “classic” and “traditional” can be misleading. In upcoming posts, we are going to look at both the terminology and the processes they denote.

Stay tuned…