The White Wine of Lake Garda: LUGANA

One of me favorite places to visit in Italy is Lake Garda. Not only is the lake a beautiful place to visit, but I also enjoy drinking Lugana wines.  An invitation to Destination Lugana to be held at Scampi Restaurant in NYC seemed like the next best thing to a trip to the Lake, so I was happy to accept.  The invitation was sent by Virginia Cademartori head of PR and Communication for Platinum Media LLC.

IMG_8526When I arrived, Virginia explained that Destination Lugana is a full week of celebration of the area and the wine. 28 producers were offering their latest vintage to 13 restaurants and two private clubs in Manhattan. Each location would create a special menu to go with the wines. The event is made possible by the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC which has been promoting Lugana wines since 1990.

IMG_8542Fabio Zenato, President of the Consorzio  Tutela Lugana Doc, said, “After two years of pandemic we are back in the USA with a great event addressed to a wine range of different consumers that covers the whole month of November. For us, this market is one of the most important and crucial for the success of our appellation abroad.”

Lugana wines come from an area that is on the border between the two provinces of Brescia and Verona. The DOC region stretches along an area south of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. The word Lugana may come from the early medieval word “lucus” meaning wood. In the past the area was covered by the Selva Lucana, a dense, marshy forest. Today the area is characterized by a very particular soil. The soil is white clay and limestone and difficult to till. This, however, gives the grapes here an extraordinary elegance and tanginess. Many agree that the best grapes come from the area close to Lake Garda which has the most clay.

Lugana wine can be described as being fresh with body and a good balance between sweetness and acidity. Lugana is made from the Turbiana grape, aka Trebbiano di Lugana, and may be related to Verdicchio.  There are 5 different styles of Lugana from sparkling to late harvest.  The wine sells at a good price around $20 to $25 a bottle. Lugana goes best with white meats or fish. Try it with sushi or turkey.  The biggest market for Lugana wines is Germany and Lake Garda is a favorite destination for them.

The Wines

IMG_8527Le Morette – Azienda Agricola Varicose Valerio Zenato Lugana DOC “Mandolara”  made from 100% Turbiana grapes from the La Mandolara vineyard on a narrow strip of land on the shore of Lake Garda. The training system is guyot, double and short modified and there are 3,500 plants per hectare. The soil is clayish.  Harvest is by hand in the second half of September. After a very soft crushing, vinification takes place in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and the wine remains in the bottle for at least one month before release. This is a fresh fruity wine with hints of apple, peach  pear and a touch of bitter almonds in the finish. The name of the wine comes from a particular protected species of wild ducks which nest in Lake Frassino.  The ducks are the symbol of the farm. I visited the winery a few years ago and was very impressed with all of the wines. Fabio Zenato President of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana Doc is the owner.

img_6820limmiTenuta Roveglia “Limne”  100% Turbiana grapes from vines 25/35 years old grown near Lake Garda at 100 meters. The land is flat and the soil is a mix of mainly clay with some limestone and rich in mineral salts. Harvest is at the end of September by hand in small crates. Vinification is without the skins and there is a soft pressing of the grapes with extraction of a maximum of 60% free run juice. Maturation is in stainless steel tanks for 4 to 5 months. The wine is sold after 2 to 3 months in bottle. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, with a touch of pear and a note of peach.

IMG_8536Lugana DOC Zamichele made from 100%. Turbiana in the Brescia/Lake Garda area. Manual harvesting into small crates followed by crushing and a soft pressing. Aging is in stainless steel. This wine has hints of tropical fruit, peach and mango with good acidity. 

IMG_8531Ca’ Lojera Lugana DOC made from 100% Turbiana from vineyards in Sirmione. The soil is Lugana white clay and there are 4,000 plants per hectare. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine has hints of melon, grapefruit, a touch of mint and floral notes.

IMG_8528Le Creete Ottella Lugana DOC. Made from 100% Turbiano from estate vineyards in  San Benedetto di Lugana overlooking Lake  Garda. The soil is white chalk. There is a manual harvest when the grapes are fully mature. After a brief maceration on the skins, fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel vats and partly in large wooden barrels. The wine has hints of pineapple, grapefruit and tropical fruit.

IMG_8534Tommasi Lugana DOC “La Fornaci  made from 100% Turbiana grown in the unique clay rich soil. The grapes come from two vineyards: Le Fornaci close to Lake Garda just 2 miles from Sirmione and San Martino which is further inland. Lugana Le Fornaci is obtained through a delicate grape harvest. The grape skins are left in contact with the must for one day at low temperature. Racking  takes place for natural sedimentation and there is a slow, temperature-controlled fermentation for about 7 days.  The wine spends approximately 3 months on the lees, followed by a maturation period in stainless steel tanks. The wine matures for 5 months in bottle before release. This is a crisp white wine with hints of tropical fruit,  grapefruit, spice and a note of almond.

img_6817zeniZeni Lugana DOC Vigne Alte made from 100% Turbbiano from the southern shore of Lake Garda. Hand selection of grape bunches that have reached optimum ripeness at harvest. Maceration is on the skins followed by a gentle pressing and must fermentation at a controlled temperature. Aging is in stainless steel vats. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, peach and pear.

San Benedetto ZenatoZenato San Benedetto Lugana DOC made from 100% Turbbiano from vines between Peschiera and Desenzano at the southern tip of Lake Garda at 60 to 80 meters. The soil is chalky/clay and the training system is guyot. The vines are 20/30 years old. There is a manual harvest the last ten days of September and the first ten days of October.  There is a gentle pressing of the grapes and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine remains in bottle for 2/3 months before release. The wine has hints of apple, peach, pineapple and a hint of vanilla

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