Above: winemaker Fabio Lini, one of the greatest sparkling winemakers I know, pours the wine, center. And that’s Alicia Lini, his daughter and my cherished friend on the right.
In January 2007, my then employer sent one of my colleagues and me to Italy as a bonus for a successful year in the New York City food and wine scene. I was working for an Italian restaurant and importing group at the time. And while my boss gave us a budget and simply told us to have a great time, I was determined to source a classic method Lambrusco for the company.
Nice work if you can get it… My colleague Jim and I ate at all the great restaurants in Emilia that were on our list. And at each meal, we asked what the owner’s favorite classic method Lambrusco was. The name that kept coming up, over and over again, was Lini.
(At the time, nearly all Lambrusco was produced using the tank method, whereby both fermentations were carried out in a stainless steel tank, the first not pressurized, the second pressurized. Classic method or “bottle fermented” Lambrusco is made using a technique lifted from Champagne whereby the second fermentation is carried out in bottle and the wines are disgorged before the final bottling.)
In April of that year, our boss tasted the wines with us at Vinitaly and it was decided: we would import Lini and make the wines the centerpiece of our fall campaign at the restaurants, including a swanky new downtown location we were opening.
It was my first “up at bat” as a wine trade marketing specialist. And it was Alicia’s as well. By the end of the year, we had landed coverage in the Times, Men’s Vogue, Food & Wine, and on WNYC. By the end of the season, Lini had been christened the sparkling toast of the town — literally as well as figuratively!
It was also the beginning of my deep bond and cherished friendship with Alicia and her family.
The events of that year indelibly shaped both of our lives as professionals. For Alicia, they showed how her family’s soulful wines could reach the greatest heights. And to me they gave the blueprint for a career in wine and food marketing.
I couldn’t be more thrilled to see Alicia, her family, and her family’s wines featured in the December 2020 issue of Food & Wine. Ray Isle, executive wine editor for the masthead, visited the Lini family last December for their Saint Lucy’s Day celebration. His wonderful dispatch includes the Lini family’s personal recipes for their traditional Christmas meal.
I wish I could share the entire article with you here but I can’t, of course. I do encourage you to check it out. It’s worth the price of admission and more.
Warmest congratulations to Alicia and her family! They are some of the nicest people in the wine trade and I love how Ray captured the joy they put into their wines and everything they do.
Dulcis in fundo: Alicia will be joining us on Thursday, December 17 for my final virtual wine dinner of the year here in Houston at Roma restaurant, my client, where I’ve been hosting the events every week since the late spring.
Just let me know if you’d like me to save you a spot for an evening of bubbles and great food.