Above: Alicia and I did a tasting for Wolfgang Weber, who covers Italian wine for Wine & Spirits, on Wednesday at Centovini.
It’s been a long and arduous week and I have to admit I’ve seen brighter days. But yesterday brought professional reward and an unbelievable surprise.
Back in February of this year, I traveled to Reggio Emilia, Italy with my colleague Jim Hutchinson in search of a new Lambrusco for Domenico Valentino Selections (he’s the import manager and I do some consulting for them). After lunching at one of my all-time favorite restaurants in downtown Reggio, Da Canossa, we headed out to the countryside where we tasted at a number of wineries but didn’t find what we were looking for. We spent the night in Pieve di Cento where we dined with my old friends Dindo and Puddu at my friend Gilberto Buriani’s restaurant, Da Buriani.
The next day we headed to our last appointment at Lini, where we met the lovely Alicia Lini and her father Fabio. And it was there that our quest was fulfilled: Alicia’s wines were fantastic and she and her father were thrilled at the prospect of doing business with Domenico Valentino. In the end, the company decided to import her white Lambrusco (very unusual, a white wine made from red Lambrusco Salamino grapes), a classic Lambrusco Sorbara, a classic Lambrusco Salamino, and a méthode champenoise Lambrusco, in other words, a Lambrusco double-fermented in bottle, just like the wines of Champagne — also highly unusual. Although the wines wouldn’t arrive until June, I began a press campaign for the brand in April.
Above: Alicia and Leonard Lopate in the WNYC studios yesterday.
We generated a lot of great press for Alicia (including write-ups by some of NYC’s top food and wine writers) but the crowning achievement of the campaign was Alicia’s appearance yesterday on the Leonard Lopate Show (click the link for the archived webcast). Leonard wasn’t around when Alicia came out in the spring for a week of dinners but he and I dined one night earlier this summer at I Trulli where we tasted her wines and, after I discovered he is a lover of northern Italian master paintings, we argued over the fine points of Mantegna (his favorite) and Lotto (mine). I have always been Leonard’s fan and my dinner with him was truly fascinating (not always the case with food and wine journalists). Alicia had a great interview and the arc of a six-month campaign had finally come to a close with one of my greatest coups. After all, Alicia can now count herself among a small and illustrious group of Italian winemakers — Angelo Gaja and Maurizio Zanella are the others — who have been granted audiences by this king of radio.
Leonard covers many different subjects on his show, always topical but often eclectic. Yesterday, besides segments on Alicia and Sri Lanka, he interviewed Patti Boyd, the famed 1960s model and actress, wife of George Harrison and later Eric Clapton, and the inspiration for what are arguably the greatest love songs of the 1970s, Something, Wonderful Tonight, and Layla. She was there to speak about her new memoir, Wonderful Tonight: George Harrison, Eric Clapton, and Me.
Above: Patti Boyd (left) took George Harrison to India for the first time and introduced him to transcendental meditation. The rest is history…
I simply couldn’t believe it when I realized that Alicia and I were waiting in the hall with her. And when Wonderful Tonight came on (you can hear the show in the hallway), Alicia and I both got goose bumps… literally.
My friends know me to be a diehard Beatlemaniac. The experience of getting to meet Patti Boyd is rivaled only by the time that my band opened for Ringo at the Bottom Line in the Village the year that the club closed and the year that the current war started.
Above: Alicia Lini looked “wonderful tonight” at dinner last night at Centovini where we raised a glass to celebrate her Lopate interview.