Lugana and the Turbiana grape
One of the highlights of the annual Wine Bloggers’ Conference (now appropriately renamed to the Wine Media Conference), is the opportunity to learn about wines from around the globe. 2016 and 2017 introduced me to wines from Alsace in northern France. 2018 brought a new treat in learning about the wines of the Lugana D.O.C. in central Italy.
The Lugana D.O.C. is a diamond shaped area that straddles Lombardy and Veneto. Lugana lies just south of Italy’s largest lake, Lago di Garda. The region only produces one grape varietal – Turbiana. All wines produced in this region must have at least 90% Turbiana grapes, with the majority containing 100%. Lugana has started producing sparkling wines and some late harvest offerings from the Turbiana grape.
Luca Formenti and Carlo Veronese, led the conference participants in tastings of 6 different wines produces from the region. Luca and Carlo are very passionate ambassadors for Lugana and walked us through the history and celebration of the 50th anniversary of wine production in the region.
The tastings provided a study in aging with offerings from 2015 through 2017. The 6 wines tasted were:
- Lugana DOC Selva Selva Capuzza – 2017
- Lugana DOC Molin Ca Maiol – 2017
- Lugana DOC Benedictus Le Morette – 2016
- Lugana DOC Riserva Vigne Di Catullo Tenuta Roveglia – 2015
- Lugana DOC Vend. Tard. Rabbiosa Marangona – 2015 and
- Lugana DOC Back to Silence Ottella – 2017.
As with most white wines, the nose, color and flavors took on different levels of acidity, sweetness and complexity as they aged.
The 2017 offerings were generally higher in acidity, with noses that leaned on the herbal side. Selva Selva Capuzza had a sharp herbal nose and taste, with hints of pear. This wine was served cold and I believe that the tastes would have been fuller had the wine been tasted closer to room temperature. Molin Ca Maiol had a lighter herbal nose with hints of white flowers – almost a little lavender to me. It had a lower acidity level and I found a hint of salt taste to round out the pear and hear flavors. The exception was the 2017 Back to Silence Ottella. While it was as acidic in taste as the Selva Capuzza, it also had the same level of saltiness as the Ca Maiol. The nose was not as herbal and much more earthy with an almost musty smell created through the process of fermentation.
The 2016 offering was my favorite. Benedictus Le Morette had a honey and peach nose. It reminded me of honey suckle vine scents from my walks home from school as a child in late spring. The taste highlighted the impact of the use of oak in aging with hints of vanilla and peach. The acidity was light and I believe that one additional year of aging and serving closer to room temperature would bring out even more flavors of the Turbiana grape and the artisan winemaker skills.
The 2015 Turbiana offerings took me to a higher level of minerality where the clay soil terroir showed itself. The Riserva Vigne di Catullo Tenuta Roveglia had a heavier honey and vanilla nose with almond flavors. It was definitely a sweeter wine with mineral and oak flavors imparted through the process of fermentation and aging. The Vend. Tard. Rabbiosa Marangona showed a more floral nose and also a heavier sweetness almost like botrytis – a form of mold that can be common among grapes that have hung on the vines longer than normal.
With over 125 producers of wine in the Lugana DOC, Luca and Carlo did an excellent job of introducing to most of us, and re-introducing, the Turbiana grape to the blogging community. These wines are not as readily available in the United States so work with your local wine store to determine the best way to acquire them. If you are a white wine lover, I would highly recommend that if you see a wine at your favorite restaurant with the Lugana DOC designation that you enjoy a bottle.
Remember to drink what it is that makes you truly happy and always think positively!