Back in October `22, I was invited for a virtual tasting of various Lugana DOC whites, organized by Civilta del bere and Alessandro Torcoli. Longtime 1WD readers might recall Torcoli, who I met in Argentina when judging the Argentina Wine Awards, and for whose Italian magazine I once wrote an overview of the entire U.S. wine scene.
As always, it was a pleasure to catch up with Alessandro, who as an Italian will hopefully forgive me for taking so long to report on the tasting he so dutifully set up.
I won’t rehash the details about Lugana as a winegrowing region in today’s post—you can glean quite a bit on that from all of my previous boots-on-the-ground coverage on it. I will remind you that Lugana’s whites are made from the Turbiana grape—a variety with a rather odd history behind it in Italy’s Lake Garda area. This variety, confusingly, was previously known as Trebbiano (di Lugana), a variety to which DNA profiling has revealed that Turbiana has no actual relation. As it turns out, Turbiana is actually Verdicchio Bianco, (also, confusingly, known as Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbiano di Verona, Trebbiano di Lonigo, and presumably Trebbiano di whatever). Currently, Lugana’s Consortium of producers represents 100+ wineries and 200+ vineyards, with 70+ percent of the wine production exported.
We had no shortage of excellent bottled Lugana ambassadors on hand for that tasting, so let’s get to it…
Pasini’s Paolo Pasini told us that “one of the main factors of Lugana is the tuff-clay soil, that brings minerality to the wine.” Their vines in this case are also quite close to Lake Garda, so see some influence from that, as well. The lemon rind action is gorgeous on the nose here. It feels downright electric in the mouth, with TONS of minerality. Apple skin, herbal notes, and a nervy character, all of which remains poised throughout.
Since I visited, this producer is now part of the Santa Margerhita group, and settled into a new winery. They’ve also adjusted themselves stylistically: this vineyard selection from 20+ year old vines is a new approach for them, fresher and more focused. Their Lugana take is very fine, with apple notes and blossoms on the nose. Nice vibrancy, with hints of pleasant astringency in the mouth. A crowd pleser for sure.
A more classic Lugana style, sourced from 50-60 year old vines grown very close to the lake on clay soils. Its nose is predominantly tropical, heady and perfumed. Still quite fresh, with just-ripe apple and tropical fruit flavors and excellent minerality (along with saline and savory hints). This needs food, but is also intellectually stimulating.
Founded by a businessman, Olivini is now on its 3rd generation. Apple and flowers greet you on the nose. They’re definitely going for a more broadness on the palate (but still bringing the acidity and minerality, as this is quite fresh on the long finish). Very nice, and linear, though not as complex.
A traditional style, blended from two vineyards, from a family outfit on its second generation. Grilled citrus peel, apples, herbal spice, and dried flowers all show up on an interesting nose. Maybe some smoke in there, as well. Mineral and fresh, with rounded edges that go down smooth. They are not shy about the astringency/structure and bruised apple action on the palate. This one overachieves in the complexity and likely aging potential departments for the money.
Selva Capuzza is regarded by many as Lugana’s worldwide ambassador when it comes to engaging media and tastemakers (see the previous 1WD coverage here). This vintage of Menasasso is as elegant and balanced as ever, sourced from 40 year-old vines (their oldest vineyard, exposed to cooler northern winds in the morning, and warmer southern winds in the afternoon). Feels both lithe and rich, with ripe citrus and apple flavors. Floral, mineral, and delicious, finishing with toast and dried apricot flavors. “We like to find the most vivid and clear expression of Turbiana” we were told by Selva Capuzza’s Luca Formentini. They nailed it.
A delicate mineral and dried flower and dried citrus peel thing is happening here. But then… The palate swings between citric, lemony freshness and more tropical hedonism, all with a side of almonds. Almost zero RS in this one, and it focuses like a laser on the tongue and pulls few of its punches. Lots of toast and structure on the way out, so plan your accompanying meal accordingly.
Roveglia are notable for their historic 14th Century building, now owned by a 4th generation Swiss family. Their Riserva is fresh, but is definitely going for seduction with its riper apple and tropical fruit approach, creamy lees expression, and broader palate feel. Almost chewy with its acidity on the finish (and it is LONG).
Fabio Zenato (Consortium president), sees a “unique bond between the grape variety and the type of soil we have in the territory.” Wines like this one really underline that. Wow – exuberant is the word for the nose, with fresh and dried flowers and cut lemon, and hints of passion fruit. In the mouth, there are dual tracks of mineral freshness and juicy apple fruit flavor. This is long, vibrant, and fabulous, a nice showcase of what’s possible when you let your Lugana sit for a bit.
From a tiny, 5.5 ha plot that’s a true clos (enclosed by walls), right at the boundary of Veneto and Lombardy hails this little treasure. Almond, grilled citrus peel, bruised apple, fresh lemon… one could spend a long time contemplating this one’s evolving and involving aromas. Impeccably balanced on the palate, it’s still fresh as a daisy with all of that citrus flavor bouncing around. Saline, mineral, toasted nut… I love this finish, and it’s just begging for another sip… Incredible length. This is LEGIT!