Italy’s Lugana wines show variety of styles with rising quality
When Americans reach for a glass of white wine, they’re often likely to choose Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc. But the spectrum of flavors available in white wines is just as broad as reds, and there’s no better country’s white wines to explore for variety than Italy. There’s so much more here than Pinot Grigio! The wines of Lugana, a small region located in picturesque northern Italy near Lake Garda, are increasingly available in the U.S. Consumers would be wise to give them a try, as they are as delicious to drink on their own as they are easy to pair with cuisine.
Representatives from the Consorzio Tutela Lugana D.O.C. visited New York City in October and brought with them an expansive array of wines all made from the Turbiana grape. Lugana winemakers are focusing their efforts on producing the expression of wine that’s right for them, and the results can vary tremendously from one winemaker to the next. While some of the wines presented in New York had sizzling acidity, others demonstrated great balance, and others possessed a richer mouthfeel. One personal observation is that these wines, which I've been sampling for the last few years, seem to universally be rising in quality, even while they are broadening in focus.
At a lunch at il Buco Alimentari & Vineria, a broad range of Lugana wines made an appearance.
Antipasti: The following wines were paired with sashimi, ricotta, celery root salad:
Ca dei Frati Lugana, Ca Lojera Lugana, Ca Maiol Lugana
Secondi: These wines were poured during courses of risotto, wild striped bass, fingerling potatoes, and crispy polenta:
Cesari Cento Filari, Feliciana, Montonale Lugana DOC, Olivini Lugana DOC, Ottella Le Creet, Tunuta Roveglia Limne Lugana DOC, Villabella Ca del Lago Lugana DOC.
All wines were from the 2015 vintage, and these crisp whites are well enjoyed young. My favorites:
- Ca die Frati - Salty nose, crisp lemon curd flavor.
- Ca Lojera Lugana - A bigger wine with minerality, grapefruit, almonds.
- Olivini Lugana - High acidity, refreshing lime notes, creamy mid-palate, minerality on finish
- Tenuta Roveglia Limne - Key lime pie with whipped cream, a bigger structured wine with good balance.
To paint the wine with broad strokes, Lugana has a dry minerality on the nose and palate, with fruits leaning towards lime and lemon and high acidity. Some producers are developing richer mouthfeel by aging the wines on their lees; others are reaching for the heights of acidity. Expect Lugana wines to pair well with fish, poultry, cheeses, pastas, and a number of dishes both sauteed or sauced.