We are lucky in Chicago to have many different wine consortiums come to town for tastings and seminars on their wines. I recently went to a lunch and tasting given by the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC at Spiaggia Chicago.
The Lugana wine region is found at the foot of Lake Garda in northeastern Italy. The region is mostly in Lombardy but a small part, but the largest volume produced, is in the Veneto. Lugana is not to be confused with Lugano, the Swiss town found on the western shores of Lake Lugano. The Italian lake region includes the lakes from west to east, Orta, Maggiore, Lugano, Como, Iseo and Garda. You can read more about the entire area on the site, the Italy Travel Guide.
The Lugana DOC comprises 2700 acres of vineyards, along the southern shore of Lake Garda. It is bordered by Sirmione, north, Pozzolengo, south, Desenzano west and Peschiara del Garda east. It encompasses 2 provinces, Brescia and Verona and two wine regions, Lombardy,the Veneto.
The area is a wine region and a wine tourism area. If you go to the Consortium’s site, the pictures of the area are gorgeous and here is a 4 minute video of the region . No wonder, tourists want to visit and stay in the area. This was definitely a “Traveling By the Glass” episode for me.
Grapes have been grown in the area, since the Romans. The Lugana DOC is Lombardia’s most significant and important still white wine, although it is produced in 3 styles, still, sparkling and Vendemmia Tartiva. It is produced with a grape of many names, Turbiana or Trebbiano di Lugana. It is known for its fruitiness, crispness, minerality and medium body. It has since been found that the grape has DNA links with the noble grape, Verdicchio which is a good thing.(‘Grapes’ Jancis Robinson, Julia Harding, Jose Vouillamoz)
The heart of the denomination is between Rovizza and Lugana – villages that produce the mineral style of Lugana DOC. This is the historic and top-quality zone, even though over time the size of the vineyard area has had to make concessions to building for the local tourist industry. According to Luca, the maximum allowable grape production per hectare is 12500 kg. The max allowable yield for the wine is 70% of the grape weight, approximately 87 hl/hectare and some are lower than that because of the age of their vines reduces the yield.
The soils of Lugana are stratified clays of morainic origin and are sedimentary in nature. They are predominantly calcareous and rich in mineral salts, and in the hillier part of the D.O.C. they become more sandy. This is not easy ground to work: just as it is compact and hard during times of drought, it becomes soft and muddy when it rains. However, it is these very chemical and physical features that make it the source of Lugana’s organoleptic qualities, because they give the wine clean, powerful scents that combine hints of almonds and citrus fruits, as well as acidity, tanginess and a well-balanced structure. (from the Consortium’s site)
There has been an on-going issue with the construction of a new high-speed train from Verona to Brescia that was to go right through the Lugana wine region. According to Luca, it looks like the issue may soon be resolved in a positive way.
The young version of the wines are straw-colored, with delicate scents of white flowers and citrus and on the palate a fresh, medium body with an almond note on the finish. The older wines had a more intense yellow color and more notes of pineapple and mandarin with a rounder, lusher style. Given its proximity to the lake, the wines pair really well with lake, river fish and lighter bodied ocean fish, seafood antipasto among other things but the richer, older wines can go with more complex dishes. Lugana is a name to say yes! to if you see it on the wine list. Producers to look for are below and the members of the Consorzio can be found here.
The producers wines poured at the lunch were:
Cesari Cento Filari 2015