Music: De Curtis | Lugana Addio
There is an old Swedish saying that goes something like this: It’s always good to be away, but great to come home. About a week ago I returned from a great trip to Lugana, Italy. These trips tends to be filled with new experiences, meetings, flavors and facts – so full that you need a few days to relax and let it all sink in. And there starts the next step of the trip down memory lane. Many of these can be found already on facebook, instagram and twitter – just follow the hashtags #lugana and #winelover.
This is a first (or rather second – I did one in Swedish yesternight) attempt on summarize some of the impressions that lingers in my mind. Let’s start with a quick sum up: So damn good! That is my lasting impression. Turbiana variations – one grape, white wines, grown in clay, ca 1200 hectares of vineyards – still lots of variation. Acidity, minerality , elegance, ageing potential are a few key words. I am a #turbianalover I am!
It’s good to be home but I want to go back… soon!
One can divide the Lugana in many different ways: Small producers vs. large producers, producers that grow and make wine in Lugana vs. producers who buy grapes and produces outside Lugana, producers that just do Lugana wine vs producers who also are big in other areas such as Bardolino, Valpolicella , Marche etc.
Large, small, inside Lugana, outside of Lugana , traditional, experimental , it doesn’t really matter – the wines are of such high standards that basically no one lets you down, ie the bottom level is really high – then there are those that are more fun than others, mainly due to a matter of taste.
There are those who experiment with thier wines but there are no bio-dynamic wines or natural wines. But most avoid herbicides and pesticidesbut. Among the experimentations going on are the use of concrete amphoras, organic farming, oxidation, cru wines, pas dosé (zero- dosage) sparkling wine and so on. So who knows maybe we’ll see a bio-dynamic or natural Lugana wine soon enough…
The one stretching the limits the furthest is probably Pasini with thier Busocaldo, an intense wine with exotic fruits, a nutty flavor with hints of hazelnut and almond, a deep pronounced minerality and lots of character. Find it buy it, love it!
Then again Lugana shows that you don’t have to be experimental to do great things, there are several great producers, big and small. To get a feel for Lugana a good starting point is Cà dei Frati or Tenuta Roveglia and Zenato. For sparkeling CàMaiol is good starting point. As they are big brands they’re likely to be available in many places and they do good stuff. After you’re hooked I would recommend a few om my personal favorites with includes Pasini, Cascina Maddalena, Azienda Agricola Fraccaroli, Selva Capuzza, Perla del Garda and Olivivi… (I probably forgot a few – so I might have to update)
In Lugana there is one grape to know – Turbiana (formerly known as Trebbiano di Lugana). To be labeled Lugana wine it must contain at least 90% turbiana, but basically they all stated that they use more or less 100% turbiana. There are around 100 winemakers in Lugana, and a few more growers, add to this about another 70 or so making Lugana wine on bought grapes outside Lugana. No new producers outside Lugana can do Lugana wines, but those who have done it for a long time have the right to continue to do so, but the grapes must be grown in Lugana. Interesting to note is that there are no cooperatives. The Lugana is about 1200 hectare viticulture, 2-300 acres is threatened as the state wants to build a new railway straight through the area. Read more about that in Elisabetta Tosi’s article: Stop that train! Save Lugana wine!
Most wine is made to be sold young, most of them are probably opened the same year. Most wines are made in stainless steel and a lesser amount are made in oak barrels, Riserva. Different styles, great wines. About 50 % goes to export.
Lugana wine is also known to be wine that can be aged for a long time and do so well. We got to try a lot of older vintages and it is evident that the wines do age well. It was also evident that many of the older bottles were not made to be stored. Many of them were oxidized, faulty or corked but those that had survived were amazing. We had great wines from the 70’s, from the 80’s and the 90’s. This shows the potential of Lugana if aged and today you treat the bottles in a completely different way than you did back in the days. They are stored better, they use better corks and some do age them to sell them – a good move. One of these is Cà dei Frati who has a really good 2007 in stores now.
Music from one of our hosts, Luca Formentini of Selva Capuzza, here in one of his music projects: Tavole di Flos with Stefano Castagna.
Everything is wine on these trips, it’s also food, culture, landscape and friends, both new and old ones, #winelover-s, bloggers and journalists. The landscape is beautiful at times adorable beautifully. Lugana is at the southern end of Lake Garda, the landscape is flat and the soil is clay, but you can see the mountains towering to the north and even though it’s hot there are usually cool breezes.
I ‘m already longing back ……
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