The enticing white wines from Italy's Lugana DOC

The four wines from Lugana DOC that I was sent for our #winestudio discussion

The white wines of the Lugana DOC first came into my life about four years ago at a media tasting in Philadelphia. The introduction to these Turbiana-focused wines left me impressed, but there hadn't been many opportunities to drink more until recently. Last month, #winestudio took a deep dive into these still-not-widely-known beauties from Italy's Lake Garda region. My impressions from the tasting four years ago were not wrong. Laguna is enticing.

The region is defined by one grape: Turbiana, an indiginous varietal. Strict consorzio regulation requires ninety percent of a wine to be from this grape to get the DOC label, but the majority of the region's wines are 100 percent Turbiana.

The wines of Lugana DOC are grown and produced in the area that's dark brown.

The DOC is located in a stretch that spans parts of Lombardy and the Veneto that shares a terroir. The Lugana vineyards that are closest to the lake have a slightly cooler climate and clay-heavy soils resulting in wines with a higher acidity. The vineyards located in the hills have a warmer climate and soils that are both clay and sand. Those vineyards produce wine that's slightly less acidic but may have a greater aroma. However, many wineries combine grapes from a variety of vineyards, balancing the vineyards' strengths.

One hard working grape: The 5 styles of Lugana DOC

Spumante, or sparkling wine, is one of the styles the region's producers can make from the Turbiana grape.

Turbiana is versatile. Winemakers in the region use the grape to create five different wine styles.

  • Vintage Lugana is the most common. About 90 percent of the wine that comes from the region is vintage. It's fresh, fruity, dry, and meant to be consumed within a few years, although some hold up longer.

  • Superiore requires one year of aging - oaked or unoaked - before release.

  • Riserva must be aged a minimum 24 months - oaked or unoaked - with 6 months in bottle.

  • Vendemmia Tardiva is a late harvest wine that contains approximately 12 g/l residual sugar.

  • Spumante is a limited production wine and can be done in either the Charmat method or Metodo Classico.

The wines of Lugana

Put a glass of Lugana up to your nose, take a deep breath, and you're likely to recognize the aromas of white flowers, apples, citrus, almonds, peach, marzipan, minerals... it's typically a fresh and bright smelling wine.

The samples I received for #winestudio included three vintage bottles and one spumante. These whites are wonderful for summer, but they have enough enough depth and body to be four-season whites. They pair well with a variety of foods, too.

The Marangona Lugana Cemento pictured above was seamless with a quinoa salad with colorful raw vegetables and red wine vinaigrette seasoned with cilantro and garlic. (Recipe here.) Mangona also makes a slightly sweeter (3.8 g/L residual sugar) Lugana and had a nuttiness apparent in the dryer wine. It also worked with the salad.

I shared the brut Patricia spumante (Charmat method) from Pilandro and the Citari Sorgente were served as aperitifs with friends in my back yard. It was the first time we gathered after quarantine had been lifted here in New Jersey, so those two bottles will always remind me of the immense relief that came with a small return sharing life with friends.

We put our food offerings - cheeses, dips and crackers, caprese, and other treats - on a table in the center and each sat in our distanced chairs with a small side table next to each of them. The wines were on a separate table and we went up one by one to refill our glasses. Not the way we would normally serve food and wine, but it worked and we ate and drank and talked until well after the stars came out.

Wine is better when shared

I've had about a dozen different bottles of Lugana over the past several of years, and there was only one from the Philly tasting that my notes say was not to my liking. So I feel confident in recommending these wines made from Turbiana to you all.

In addition to their quality, there's another reason I'll be reaching for Lugana when I have the opportunity. It's associated with good memories. In addition to it being the wine I shared when my friends and I gathered together last month, there's also this:

Not long after the tasting in Philadelphia, a group of good friends and I flew down to Turks and Caicos to celebrate our birthdays. I tucked a special bottle of bubbly in my suitcase. Unknown to me, my friends Lisa and Kevin had tucked a bottle of Lugana from Brolettino Ca dei Frati in theirs. I was so excited to see that bottle when they pulled it out. It was my personal favorite from the tasting, and now I associate Lugana with that wonderful trip.

I imagine I'll always have that feeling of "a good time is about to be had" when I see a bottle of Lugana DOC.

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