Wines for those who care about what they drink: Lago di Garda

So Many Choices

Italy’s Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry (MIPAAF) has determined that there are over 350 grapes that have “authorized” status in the country. In addition, there are more than 500 other documented varieties in circulation. With so many choices, wine confusion can bring on a migraine; however, it is easy to eliminate the anxiety by ordering wines from Lago di Garda (at a restaurant or a wine shop).

Lugana is the first wine of Lombardia to become registered as a DOC in 1967. The Lugano vineyards extend from Lake Garda to the first moraine hills in the north. The area enjoys an almost Mediterranean microclimate that is beneficial to viticulture. The name Lugana may be derived from the Latin lacus lucanus (Lake in the woods).

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A few of the Lago di Gardia cultivated grape varieties may be new to some consumers. One noteworthy grape is Nosiola; it can be a palate pleaser when accompanied by hors d’oeuvres. The Schiava and Lagrein varieties make fresh and fruity roses. Bardolino, a light red wine is made from the same grape varieties as the higher profile Valpolicella. These lower profile grapes are joined by their more popular cousins that include red Cabernet and Merlot, spicy and elegant Chardonnay, Pinot Bianco and Grigio, Sauvignon and Traminer Aromatico. Relatives that are part of the Italian grape family include the Moscato Giallo, (when Nosiola grapes dry on wooden trellis they are transformed into Moscato Giallo) and Trentino Vino Santo.

The Trebbiano di Lugana grape variety is the essential ingredient in the area’s white wines. Its success comes from the zone’s calcareous clay soils, rich in mineral salts that help the fruit reach ripeness and complexity. The wines are frequently acknowledged for their balance, structure and fragrance and characterized by freshness from the soil, fruit concentration, underlying floral and spice notes tempered with delicate acidity. All Lugana wines must be made from at least 90 percent of Trebbiano grapes.

Tasting at CorkBuzz

A few weeks ago, I had the good fortune to spend a few hours learning about the terroir of the region and savoring a few of the best wines produced for export.

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Leading the seminar were Carlo Veronese, Director of the Lugana Consortium; Susannah Gold, Vigneto Communications, and Luca Formentini, President, Consorzio Lugana and owner, Selva Capuzza winery.

1. Olivini Lugana DOC 2016

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Appellation: Lugana DOC. Vines: Trebbiano di Lugana 100 percent. Manual harvesting into boxes, followed by a gentle pressing and partial cold maceration for 12 hours at 5 degrees C. Alcoholic fermentation via selected yeasts at a controlled temperature; partial malolactic fermentation. The Oivini Family vineyard was started in 1970.

Notes

The eye appeal comes from the hints of gold flecks against a translucent background. The nose is rewarded with citrus and florals, spices, herbs and wet stones. The palate is delighted with a crisp, clear, taste experience that is enhanced by a hint of minerality. The finish is complex – but not haughty, almost seductive…left wanting more. Pair with risotto and seafood, or grilled fish.

2. Pasini San Giovanni Lugana DOC 2016.

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Appellation: Lugana. Vines: Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana) 100 percent. Fermentation and maturation in stainless steel; a few months of lees before stirring. For years, the vineyard of Castelvenzago near Desenzano has been organically cultivated and since 2014 it has produced excellent results. A bit more than a hectare of the native Turbiana variety has produced more than 8000 bottles of the first organic Lugana.

Notes

Sunlight is reflected from shimmering liquid in the glass, hastening the desire to inhale the enticing aroma. Hints of anise, stone, licorice, new leather, spices and savories rewards the nose. The palate is captivated by an experience that suggests earth and soil leading to a clear and clean finish. Serve as an aperitif or with fish, shellfish and seafood.

3. Selva Capuzza Lugana DOC 2016. wine.LDG.8x

Appellation: Lugana, Lombardy; Variety: Turbiana. Produced from the oldest and highest vineyard, Selva is one of the first single vineyards Lugana produced. Lugana, is the combination of low yields and grape selection at harvest time that produces an excellent white wine. All vinification takes place in steel tanks to protect and enhance the characteristics of the vine. Bottled at the beginning of the spring season, refined several months in the cellar.

Notes

The nose detects green grapes, trees in full blossom, wet rocks and rich soil. Fruit forward – but crispy and clean – like the first bite of a fresh red apple. Classic Lugana – it delivers a delicate, floral, fruity aroma, with scents of wild flowers and white stone fruits. The palate is pleased by a creamy and lush experience, leading to a light and refreshing finish.

4. Fraccaroli Lugana Riserva DOC 2014. wine.LDG.9x

Appellation: Lugana. Vines: Trebbiano di Lugana. Handpicked during the last week in September to the first of October. Soft pressing and fermentation in steel at a controlled temperature of 14-16 degrees C. Aged in wood for 18 months and 6 months in the bottle.

Notes

Clear with bright yellow highlights to the eye. The nose is rewarded with licorice, spice, leather and savories. The palate detects flowers and plums leading to a smooth and pleasant finish. Pair with quiche on a late summer afternoon.

5. Marangona Lugana DOC 2016 Vendemmia Tardiva. wine.LDG.10x

Appellation: Lombardy; Vine: Verdicchio. Vendemmia Tardiva: Different/experimental type of Lugana that does not have the sweet viscosity of a traditional passito. Made with over-ripened grapes that have been allowed to remain on the vine till the end of October – early November, instead of being harvested and then stored until dry.

This varietal is considered one of Italy’s best white wine grapes. The use of this grape dates back to the 14th century; however, it could have originated in Veneto where it was known as Trebbiano di Soave.

Notes

Elegant golden highlights catch the eye, while perky, spicy/sweet (paprika?) aromas hit the nose. The liveliness of the nose experience is tempered by hints of grass and fields of clover. The palate is introduced to fruits, wet stones, white flowers and pepper that provides a sensory experience of apples, citrus, and a bit of saltiness. The finish is energetic and expressive and absolutely fabulous. Serve with prawns and sweet potato fritters or roasted flounder.

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© Dr. Elinor Garely. This copyright article, including photos, may not be reproduced without written permission from the author.