This month, Lamberti’s tastings and special events are geared toward American wines. Why focus on American wines at an Italian restaurant? Let me explain our thought process.
The movement in the States to support local, handmade products is relatively new, but it’s a way of life for Italians. Their way is to trust and support the good things that they grew up with in their homeland. Historically, produce was bought from il mercato, and meats purchased from the town macelleria. And guess where both vendors found their products! Rather than importing every wine on the list, we want to find the good things made on our continent and make them more available. I’ll admit, California seems far away to most Texans. But they are our neighbors more than Italy ever will be and we ought to support the good things in our “neighborhood”.
In addition to supporting local products out of principle, we want to vouch for their artisanal quality. Again, handmade products are worth supporting in their own right. We think of the response any Italian will give you when you ask whom they consider the best cook in the world: “Mama!” That conviction is not so strong because she has the best technical skill or the best marketing… (though years of experience may have indeed given her that skill.) There’s something special about local, handmade products -- often made with a lot of integrity and heart -- and wine is no exception.
In America this appreciation for artisanal quality is best evinced by the craft beer movement, converting converted millions of “American Adjunct Lager” drinkers to local brewery regulars. Wine, though, is a handmade product too. There are some “BMC” equivalents in the wine world, but for most of its process, handmade attention is necessary. Take harvest, for example. Only the most commercial outfits use mechanical harvesters, and even they do a less-than-desirable job. While most winemakers aren’t stomping batches of grapes with their bare feet, most steps of winemaking requires direct involvement from human workers. The most important step being tasting, which definitely cannot be replicated with a machine.
The last reason American wine has a place on the Lamberti’s wine list is because American wine is usually meant to be approachable. This is the cultural piece of American wine that distinguishes it from the wine culture of say, France or Italy. Americans have left behind the idea that good wine can only come from coveted plots of land, and have taken on a practical approach to making delicious wine. It doesn’t take a refined French palate to understand why Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is yummy. It just tastes really good. House chardonnay on happy hour exists across the country, and it just gets the job done. Heck, throw some ice cubes in there on a hot day! When it comes to American wine, pedigree takes a backseat to enjoyment.
For all those reasons -- the desire to share local, well-crafted and approachable American wine -- we are excited to share with you Pinot from the Pacific Northwest, Napa Cab, Carneros Chardonnay, and some staff favorite blends. We’re especially pleased with our Stags’ Leap events coming up. There’s so much good, local, handcrafted wine being made within our own borders. Come and try a few we’re proud to share.