While attending the WBC 2018 in Walla Walla, Washington, I had the pleasure of experiencing wines of a region over 5,400 miles away – Lugana DOC, Italy. The Turbiana grape is a white grape that is related to the more well-known Italian grapes of Trebbiano and Verdicchio. It is grown just south of scenic Lake Garda, in northeast Italy, between the Lombardy and Veneto wine regions. The Lake provides cool breezes and a mild climate to the region and the stratified clay soil contribute to the unique wines of this region. We were introduced to the region by Luca Formentin, President of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana. He presented six wines of the region in a wine discovering tasting session. There are several types of wines, including a sparkling wine (spumante), a superior wine (aged one year), a reserved wine (aged two years) and a late harvest “vendemmia tardiva” sweet version. 70% of the wines of Lugana are exported to the UK, Germany, the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States. The price is terrific as well – the average of the wines we tasted was $25.
We tasted six wines. They had beautiful fresh acidity, notes of ripe apple, citrus, and orange peel. They are known for a beautiful floral aroma and the distinct note of green almonds, with a hint of salinity. Beautiful aromatics, fresh acidity, clean flavors, and a long finish. These wines would be perfectly paired with cheese, pasta with meat, polenta, and other regional dishes. Like many Italian wines,it is very food-friendly and has the potential to age.
One of the wines we tasted was made in an amphora, in the style of an orange wine. Ottella “BackToSilence” wine is fermented on the skins for 20 – 30 days as if it were a red wine. It was quite interesting and unique for this region of Italy; likely the only wine like this in the world.
Mr. Formentin is leading the #savelugana campaign. There are proposals to build a high speed train that would utilize a new track and threaten ⅓ of the vineyards in the small area of Lugana DOC. Luca is working to not only save these vineyards but to also preserve the cultural heritage of Lugana for the long-term. Protecting this wine region also protects the heritage of the people there and “Gives all the people that live there potential.” I have been hunting for Lugana wines since my return to Washington, DC. If you see one, buy it. It will be a fantastic deal, no doubt, and pair perfectly with so many dishes. Whether it is sparkling, a reserve or orange wine, you won’t be disappointed.