I have visited the Lugana wine region in Northern Italy a number of times and have always enjoyed the wines. A few weeks ago I was invited to a lunch at Il Florista, a restaurant in NYC, to taste the wines of Cantina Ottella, one of the oldest wineries in the Lugana area. The speaker was Mariano Sansone from Vias, the distributor of Ottella wines.
Lugana wines come 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.
Ottella is a 90 hectare estate in Lugana in one of the best vine growing areas of the appellation. The Montresor family has been running Ottella for four generations. The winery was founded in 1905.
Lugana 2020 DOC made from Turbiana (Trebbiano di Lugana) in the San Benedetto di Lugana area located in the southern part of Lake Garda from estate vineyards. This is the best wine growing area because because there is a high content of white clay. The training system is double guyot. Harvest and bunch selection are only done by hand during the last ten days of September. Gentle soft crushing of whole bunches for most of the grapes while the rest are lightly destemmed by oscillation. Then a strict wine making process follows: racking off the lees by natural settling, slow fermentation at a controlled temperature, and aging on the lees for 5 months. The wine has hints a citrus fruit, white peach, a touch of grapefruit, and bright acidity.
Le Creete Lugana DOC. Made from 100% Turbiano from estate Le Creme vineyard in San Benedetto di Lugana overlooking Lake Garda. The soil is white chalk. There is a manual harvest when the grapes are fully mature from the end of September to late October. After a brief maceration on the skins, slow fermentation takes place in temperature controlled steel vats and partly in large wooden barrels for 6 to 8 months. This aromatic and elegant wine has hints of pineapple, grapefruit and tropical fruit.
Lugana DOC “Moleco” made from 100% Turbiana. The training system is double guyot and the late harvest takes place in October. Bunch selection is by hand. There is a partial malolactic fermentation followed by 18 months on the lees mostly is steel and the rest in barrels and barriques. The wine has a golden color with hints if citrus fruit, white flowers and mineral notes.
Lugana DOC “Back to Silence” 100% Turbiana from the estate’s small vineyard plots in the best wine growing areas in the municipalities of San Benedetto di Lugana, Sirmione, Pozzolengo and Desenzano del Garda. Training system is double guyot. Late harvest hand picked grapes in October. Vinification with long maceration o the skins for at least 20 to 30 days. Fermentation is in amphorae. The wine has hints of citrus fruit, yellow peaches, with notes of orange and grapefruit and overtones of lime.