Back in March (yeah, yeah, I know…) I attended, as a media guest, the 2016 edition of the well-executed but unfortunately-named L’Anteprima Lazise (seriously… how many of you knew that was a town near Lake Garda in N. Italy?). The event marked the first time that the nearby winemaking regions of Chiaretto, Lugana, and Bardolino all shared a single en premier style event, with an early showcase of what the 2015 vintage for each had to offer.
You might expect, then, that I’d discuss the vagaries of the vintage, with an extensive run-down of what wines fared best in 2015 for those regions. Along with an exposé on the amazing food and beauty of the area (the two exist, for sure, and in abundance). To wit:
And you’d be very wrong, because this is me, and this is 1WD; if you came here expecting what everyone else is doing, then you’re almost as crazy as I am.
And while I can certainly recommend some 2015s for you (during blind tastings, I particularly enjoyed the Luganas from Avanzi, Bolla, Citari, Le Morette, and Olivini), and tell you that I like where the drier style of Chiaretto rosés are headed in general, I am instead going to focus exclusively on Lugana, and only on three wines.
My rationale, not that I need one (this is my friggin’ website, after all), is that I had a vinous-conciseness-expanding experience during my sojourn to Lake Garda, centered on that wily Lugana white wine grape. It seems to be the region where Trebbiano di Lugana (more commonly known as Verdicchio) feels most completely at home, comfy in its own skin, doing its Netflix-and-chill-under-the-snuggie thing.
It’s a tricky little grape, too; it’s tropical, fresh, and effusive in its youth, belying (in the better vintages, and from the right hands) the ability to age into something much more compelling, serious, and lovely. And trust me, it’s not easy tasting tank samples (or recently bottled from tank samples), since almost all wines smell like bananas at that time, and it doesn’t help that young Lugana smells like bananas anyway, tank sample or not. See what I tough job I have? Whatever…
And so, I present three wines from the various tastings presented during L’Anteprima 2016 that, for me, showcase Lugana done right, and highlight the arc of its development through time with grace and poise:
2012 Provenza Cà Maiol “Fabio Contato” Lugana Riserva (Lombardy, $NA)
Salty, floral, and heady, with abundant citrus and almond aromas, this Lugana has a fantastic nose, and one that is already showing off the complexity that comes with these wines when they start to get a few years under their belts. The palate is elegantly broad, toasty, and downright lovely, with more citrus fruit flavors, and hints of those minerals that everyone likes to talk about but can’t really ever explain properly. Bottom line: delicious enough for almost anyone, complicated enough for the geeks.
2011 Marangona “Il Rintocco” Lugana Riserva (Lombardy, $NA)
Things get a little more hot-under-the-collar with this Lugana. It’s showing more age than the Fabio Contato, with almonds, toast, dried lemons, and white flowers showing up on the nose. The palate, though, is all sexiness; broad, balanced, citric and salty, lovely and inviting. This wine manages the richer feel of the fruit with leanness of its acidity. The result is a sort of bedroom eyes look for your mouth.
2002 Cà Lojera Lugana Superiore (Lombardy, $50)
This might be the single most celebrated Lugana producer, and with good reason; their wines are consistently excellent (which I can tell you with a modicum of authority now, from having tasted back through several vintages in short order during my stay in the area back in March). You can pick up recent bottlings of their Riserva del Lupo label for $20 or less, which, if you do, you may thank me for later. Their 2002 Lugana Superiore is simply stunning. On the nose: toasted nuts, candied lemon peel, dried white flowers, and biscuits. On the palate: citrus, mineral, saline, pith, dried tropical fruits. The wine is linear, lovely, focused, and downright gorgeous. This is what aged Lugana is all about.