The Tasting Panel magazine

August 2015

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56  /  the tasting panel  /  august 2015 Luca Formentini, President of the Consortium of Lugana, and Paolo Fabiani, Director of Tenuta Roveglia, hosted a walk-around tasting and lunch at 25 Lusk. Amy Sherman (left), Gus Dado of Grape & Grain, Philip Goodband, MW and Luca Fermentini working through the wines produced in Lugana's Pozzolengo region. Importer Oliver McCrum recently added Marangona to his portfolio. EVENT RECAP T he gentle, rolling terrain and south- ern shores of Italy's Lake Garda are home to a unique indigenous white grape variety—Turbiana. Mistakenly referred to as Trebbiano di Lugana, the Turbiana grape is a relative of both Verdicchio and Trebbiano, but it's geneti- cally different from both, and the wines produced from it differ as well. "Lugana's wines are known for their precision and purity of flavor," said Consortium President Luca Formentini of Podere Selva Capuzza as he wel- comed a group of 40 press and trade for a tasting and lunch at 25 Lusk in San Francisco. "But with age, they can also be deep and nutty as well." At just 1,300 hectares, the region of Lugana cups the Southern shore of the lake with one foot in the Veneto to the east and the other in Lombardy to the west. As Lombardy's first DOC, the majority of the Lugana's wineries can be found in the Lombardy regions of Sirmione, Dezenzano del Garda, Lonato and Pozzolengo, while more than half of the region's production occurs in the Veneto area of Peschiera del Garda. While Lugana is split geographically east and west, its terroir differs from north to south with stratified, salty clay soils closer to the lake and picturesque hills of morainic washboard gently sloping to the south. Winds off the lake from the north help keep the vineyards cool and healthy. As a variety, Turbiana is thick- skinned and produces wines low in alcohol, with plenty of dry extract, about 20 grams per liter for most. "The variety has a very low pH at harvest and that gives the wines lon- gevity," says Formentini. "It's prone to botrytis, which gives some of the wines a nutty flavor marker and the basic wines have aromas of almond blossom, citrus and yellow fruits, lemongrass and a saline minerality." As they develop in bottle, the wines move towards tangerine, almond and spice, and the riservas, which require 24 months of aging, often take on smoky, flinty balsamic notes. "If you find a forgotten bottle of Lugana in your cellar, please taste it before you make risotto," said Formentini. Sur lie aging in stain- less steel is common for the tardiva-style wines, while spumante wines are made in both the tank and traditional meth- ods. Common trellising types include pergola and an arched-cane Guyot, known as archetto, with density averag- ing 4,100 vines per hectare. In addition to Turbiana, other white varieties grown in Lugana include Incrocio Manzoni, Trebbiano, Chardonnay and Riesling. Although Lugana is primarily a white wine region, red varieties, including Chiaretto, Groppello, Marzemino and Cabernet Sauvignon (DOC) are produced. Lugana exports as much as 70 percent of its production to the key markets of Germany and the United Kingdom, with the number of wines available on the West Coast is growing: Cesari has been imported by Romano Chietti of Siena imports for three years; Robert Sawicki of Tamalpais Wine Agency imports Pilandro; Cà Lojera is imported by The Wine House; and Oliver McCrum recently added Marangona to his portfolio. Through the Consortium's efforts to promote the wines with educational tastings at New York's Eataly, this event in San Francisco and a similar tasting in Los Angeles, the region is gaining more visibility for its superior white wines. However, the future poses some challenges. Up to 30 percent of vine- yard land will be lost to the construc- tion of a high-speed railway slated to run from Milan to Venice. When asked how he felt about losing such a significant portion of the region's best terroir to progress, Paolo Fabiani, Director of Tenuta Roveglia, shook his head in resignation: "This project has been in the works for 20 years; there's no stopping it now." Luxuriant Lugana CONSORTIUM OF LUGANA SHOWS OFF THE PRECISION AND PURITY OF THEIR WINES AT 25 LUSK IN SAN FRANCISCO by Deborah Parker Wong / photos by Stephanie Secrest

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