Category Archives: Lugana Wines

Lugana — the Wine of Lake Garda

It is aways a pleasure to attend a tasting and lunch at Il Gattopardo organized by Susannah Gold. This time is was Lugana wines and Susannah was the speaker. IMG_6805

Lugana comes from an area that is on the border between the two provinces of Brescia and Verona and 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. 

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 a bottle. Lugana goes best with white meats or fish. Try it with sushi.

Lake Garda is one of my favorite Italian lakes and in summer 90% of the tourists are German.  The biggest market for Lugana is Germany.

Lugana Wines

IMG_6814We started with Sguardi di Terra Spumante Brut Lugana Metedo Classico “Inlàri” DOC NV made from 100% Turbiana. Grapes are grown organically. Hand harvested. Traditional winemaking method 15 months in the bottle on the lees. Hand harvested. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow fruit and brioche.

IMG_6809First CourseCasoncelli Tradizionali di Burro e Salvia

IMG_6807Citari Lugana Sorgente 2020 made from 100% Turbiana. The soil is moraine with calcareous clay combinations and rich in mineral salts. There are 5,800 wines per hectare. Harvest from young vines takes place the last week of September. The grapes are picked manually into boxes, two rounds. Vinification is in stainless steel. The wine ages for 7 months of which 6 is on the lees.

IMG_6808La Meridiana Lugana 2020 DOC (BIO) 100% Turbiana from a 4 hectare property located in Desenzano at 80 meters. The exposure is southeast, the training system is guyot and the soil is clay. Grapes are hand- picked then a soft pressing and fermentation starts with indigenous yeasts in stainless steel tanks on the lees for 4 months. This is a well balanced wine with hints of white flower, citrus fruit, and a touch of almond with nice minerality.

Second Course

IMG_6812Capù ripieni di Carne in salsa al pomodoro

IMG_6820Tenuta Roveglia “Limne” 2020 100% Turbiana grapes from vines 25/35 years old grown spots of 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 without the skins, 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.

IMG_6818Colli Vaibò Lugana DOC 2019 made from 100% Turbiana. The training system is single bow. The must is obtained with a slow grade pressing of the whole grapes fermented at a controlled temperature in stainless steel tanks with selected yeasts. The wine is kept on the lees for about 4 months until it is ready to be blended and put on the market after it has been in bottle for one month. The wine has pear, peach and a touch of spice and floral notes good acidity.

IMG_6817Zeni Lugana DOC Vigne Alte 2019 made from 100% Trebbiano 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.

Third Course

IMG_6822Trota del Garda in Carpione

IMG_6821Seiterre Lugana Superior 2018 Lugana Superiore DOC made from 100% Turbiana di Lugana. The soil is clay and limestone. Grapes are harvested by hand 10 to 15 days after the usual harvesting period. Gentle pressing follows and fermentation is in stainless steel tanks at a controlled temperature. The wine is then aged in barrel or barriques.  It has hints of citrus fruit, ripe apple and a touch of spice and a note of minerality.

IMG_6819Zenato Riserva 2016 made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana from the oldest vineyards, the 13 hectare Podere Masson vineyard at 165 ft with a southeastern/southern exposure. The soil is clay-loam, and the training system is guyot. There are 1,440 plants per hectare planted in 1994. Fermentation takes place in barrels for 21 days. Malolactic fermentation does take place. The wine is aged in 54 HL barrels of French oak one year old for 8 months. The wine is in bottle for 12 months before release. Residual sugar 6.4 g/l. The wine has floral notes, with hints of stone fruit, a touch of vanilla and a drop of honey.

IMG_6825Tenuta Roveglia Lugana late harvest  DOC Filo di Arianna (Ariadne’s thread) 2017 made from 100% Turbiana from vineyard south of Lake Garda at 100 Meters. The terrain is flat with clayey calcareous soil rich in mineral salts. The age of the vines is over 55 years. Harvest is the second week of November,  a late harvest by hand in small crates. The wine is soft pressed with a maximum extraction of 50% of free run must. The wine is aged in 30 hl barrels. In January/February of the third year following the harvest the wine is marketed after about 6 months in bottle. Dry extract is 39g/l. The wine has hints of exotic fruit, pineapple, toasted almonds and minerality.

IMG_6824Cobue 31 October 2019 made from 100% Turbiana coming from vineyard Campo Lugana, the vines are 8 years old. The soil is calcareous and clayey and the training system is guyot. There are 4,500 grapes per hectare. Fermentation is in steel tanks. 70% of the wine is in steel for 12 months and 30% in barriques for 9 months and one year in bottle before release. This is a pure late harvest dessert wine, made from grapes picked when overripe on October 31st.  It is produced only in years when it is possible. Residual sugar is 68 g/l.


IMG_6823La Torta del Paradiso

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Old and New Italian Wine with Daniele Cernilli aka Doctor Wine

Old and New Italian Wine with Daniele Cernilli, aka Doctor Wine.

I always enjoy the Zoom tastings with Daniele Cernilli.  Even under difficult circumstances, Daniele has a way of making his talks and presentations very interesting and informative.  This time, representatives of most of the wineries under discussion were present. 

IMG_6761There were 10 wines: 3 whites, 6 reds and a Moscato d’Asti.  IMG_6768The wines to be tasted were in miniature bottles with screw caps except for the Moscato d’Asti which was in a 750 ml bottle.

The White Wines

Lugana Monte Lupo DOC 2020 (Lombardy) Cobue  made from 100% Trubiana from vineyards in the localita Cobue blended with other grapes from other vineyards in the same area owned by the winery. The soil is limestone and clayey and the training system is Guyot. There are 4,500 plants per hectare and harvest takes place in the middle of September. Fermentation takes place in steel tanks with batonnage and the wine is on the lees for six months. Malolactic fermentation does not take place. This is a fresh dry wine with hints of citrus fruit, peaches and apricots.  Daniele said the Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana) grape is related to Verdicchio. $12

Breganze Vespaiolo DOC “Brenta” 2020 made from 100% Vespaiolo (Veneto) Le Vie Angarano. “Brenta” is the name of the river that crosses Bassano del Grappa and whose right bank borders the vineyard. The vineyard exposure is north south and the vineyard was planted in 2006. The soil is alluvial and clay of medium texture. Training system is single and double curtain overturned guyot with 8 /10 buds. There are 4,400 wines per hectare and the grapes are harvested and sorted the third week of September. Sur lees fermentation in steel tanks at a controlled temperature for at least 4 months. Then cold pressing and alcoholic fermentation at a controlled temperature for 2 months. This is an aromatic fresh wine with hints of pink grapefruit and tangerine peel with excellent acidity and minerality. Daniele said the vineyards are organically certified.  This wine can age. $15

Friulano Vigneto Storico 20 DOC Friuli Colli Orientali  Gigante made from 100% Tocai Friulano coming from a 75-year-old vineyard on the hillside of Rocca Bernarda in the village of Corno di Rosazzo. The vineyard is 1.4 ha at 190 meters with a south-east exposure. The soil is predominantly marl. There are 3,500 plants per hectare  and the training system Cappuccina or Friulan short double guyot. Grass cover and no herbicides are used. This is their second year of organic conversion. Harvest and grape selection by hand takes place the last week in September. The grapes are destemmed and crushed at 14 degrees C. Maturation is for ten months on the lees with frequent battonage. The wine is aged for a time in bottle before release. This is a full bodied, complex, intense and well-balanced wine with hints of apple, citrus, wildflowers, lavender and marine notes. It has a very long finish with notes of almond. Daniele said this is a wine that can age 10 to 15 years or more. $38. Daniele was very impressed with this wine and with the winery.

IMG_6765Moscato d’Asti DOCG NV made from 100% Moscato di Canelli (Piedmont ) Luca Bosio. The vineyards are at 200/300 meters and the training system is guyot. Soil composition is clayey calcareous. Vinification takes place without the skins for 5 days in steel tanks at low temperature (15 C) The wine ages for 2 months on its own yeast. Total residual sugar is 130g/l. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, apricot, pineapple, peach and honeysuckle. $18

Another time, the red wines…

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Le Morette Winery and Lugana DOC

Sometimes on a press trip I visit so many interesting wineries that I do not have enough time to write about all of them. In September I visited Lake Garda on a trip sponsored by Vignaioli Veneti,  a newly-formed organization of over fifty of the Veneto’s top small producers. One of the wineries I was very impressed with was the Le Morette-Azienda Agricola Valerio Zenato Winery.

The winery is based in San Benedetto di Lugana , in the thin belt that divides the southern bank of Lake Garda and Lake Frassino, which is an important naturalistic site and natural reserve. Gino Zenato founded the winery over 60 years ago and in 1981 the management of the farm was taken over by his son Valerio. His sons Fabio and Paolo today manage the winery.  Fabio greeted us at the winery and he took us on a tour of the vineyards.

Fabio Zenato

Fabio said that the area of production of the Lugana DOC wine reaches out towards the southern bank of Lake Garda, in the towns of Peschiera del Garda, Sirmione, Desenzano del Garda, Pozzolengo and Lonato.  There are 30 hectares of vineyards on three different estates, two in San Benedetto di Lugana, and one near Sirmione.  All the vineyards are on clayish soil. Everyone agrees that the best grapes come from the area close to the lake which has the most clay.

Fabio added that the company was first a farm for wine shoot production, intended for viniculture, and the nursery branch of the farm continues with the production of wine shoots. It was Valerio who began the production of high quality wines.

Fabio did a tasting of the wines.

Lugana DOC “Mandolara” 2016 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. 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 and peach 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. We also tasted the 2012 and 2009.

Lugana DOC “Bendictus” 2015 100% Turbiana from the area of Lake Garda. Grapes are hand harvested and only the best grapes, the ones that get the most sunlight, are selected. Harvest takes place in the middle of October, later than the grapes used for Lugana Mandolara. After the harvest the grapes remain in contact with the must for 24 hours at a controlled temperature. Part of the must is fermented in tonneaux oak barrels and a portion of the wine is aged for 6 months in tonneaux oak barrels. This is a more intense wine with hints of exotic fruits and a touch of spice. We also tasted the 2007. Fabio said they are using less new oak in the 2015 than they did in the 2007.

Lugana DOC Riserva 2013 made from 100% Turbiana cultivated and selected from the estates vineyards with the highest clay content–over 40%. Vinification is in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks after a brief maceration. There is a slow fermentation using natural yeasts and then aging on the lees for 12 months. A small portion of the wine is aged in tonneaux. This is a complex and elegant wine with a natural mineral quality.

There is much confusion over the Turbiana grape which was aka Trebbiano di Lugana.  Fabio always  referred to his wines as being made from the Turbiana grape.

All of the white wines can age.

We also tasted the Bardolino Classico Chiaretto 2016 made from 55% Corvina, 35% Molinara and 10% Molinara. The vines are cordon trained and there are 3,800 vines per hectare. Manual harvest takes place the last week of September. It is aged for a minimum of one month before release. Maceration on the skins lasts for 12 hours. The wine has hints of peaches and strawberries with a touch of violet.

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