Posted by: tomciocco | June 17, 2013

THE LAKE, THE LIGHT, AND LUGANA

Location, location, location. This old saw applies not only to real estate, but to viticulture as well, and northern Italy’s Lugana region is a powerful testament to it too. The Lugana appellation has one foot in Lombardia and the other in Veneto with one of Italy’s largest lakes – Lago di Garda – splitting the two halves, and it’s the key to Lugana’s very existence.

If there ever was a microclimate in terms of wine, this is it. Lugana rests in an absolutely breathtakingly beautiful spot, literally in the shadow of the Alps, and indeed this perch shields Lugana from the frigid mountain winds, but nights can still turn very chilly nonetheless. Further, due to the temperature-moderating effects of this very large lake, as well as the tremendous amount of solar energy the water reflects back onto the vineyards, this spot, which without all of these factors would be far too cold for vine growing, actually becomes not only a perfect spot for viticulture, but even warm enough to support olive groves – by far the most northerly in Italy.

Lugana is a white wine (though it’s warm enough to raise red vines here too, as is done in the neighboring Garda appellation) made from a grape by the name of Trebbiano di Lugana. Unfortunately, the grape name “Trebbiano” is one of the most confusing in Italian viticulture. There are literally a dozen or more different “Trebbianos”, some of which are fairly neutral strains related to the grape the French call Ugni Blanc, others of which are located in Abruzzo (Trebbiano di Abruzzo) which are more properly called Bombino Bianco, as well as a third branch of the name to which Trebbiano di Lugana as well as Trebbiano di Soave (from the appellation of the same name) belong, which it turns out are two sub-varieties of Marche’s noble Verdicchio variety.

So the upshot of all of these unique factors that form a nexus in Lugana is nothing short of a truly unique white wine. This a wine with an incomparably bright but elegant acidity that is balanced by a rich and structured body as balast, and a pungent yet still delicate aromatic expressiveness that is second to no wine  – in Italy or anywhere else for that matter…Location, location, location.

I paired this wonderful white with a chilled, pureed cream of cucumber and mint soup, and then a main course of eggs poached in a nest of  shredded Brussels sprouts, ham, the local Piave cheese, garlic, onions, and white wine.

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Ca’ Lojera Lugana 2012

Very pale “white gold” color. Striking and vivid aromas of green apple, kiwi, sweet grapefruit, tarragon, boiled peanuts, acacia blossoms, powdered ginger, and wet stones. The medium-full body is clean, round and quite unctuous, but beautifully balanced by a bright and lively acidity with clear flavors of lime, white currant juice, white peach, almond milk, and a touch of white pepper. Very long, fresh and salty finish.

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Responses

  1. my favorite white, and maybe wine…at least at this moment in time.
    (bianco di custoza is a close second!)

    • No doubt, Joan, Lugana’s wines are real charmers!


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