The SOMM Journal

June / July 2018

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Page 65 of 132

{ } 49 G reat wine often celebrates its terroir, exuding characteristics that speak of soil types, climate, and a general sense of place. When you add in sustainable viti - cultural customs, deep-rooted winemak- ing traditions, and winery stewardship passed do wn through generations, you complete the ultimate package of authen - ticity: the proverbial story-behind-the-wine intrigue so many savvy sommeliers and consumers demand. With this in mind, the venerable Italian wine group Santa Margherita recently acquired two new picture-perfect properties for its portfolio of premium and ultra-premium wine estates from Italy: Cà Maiol in the Lugana region of Lombardy and Cantina Mesa in Sardinia. With these acquisitions, more than 200 hectares of vineyards and nine new wines will be imported as part of the family-owned company's mosaic of stellar, industry-leading assets. When one thinks of Santa Margherita, the iconic, much-loved Pinot Grigio undoubtedly comes to mind, evoking images of la dolce vita and al fresco dining in Venice. But Kristina Sazama, Santa Margherita USA's Wine Educator, reminds us that the group cur - rently represents ten diverse properties, most of which symbolize classical Italian wine regions like Alto Adige, Prosecco, Tuscany, and the Veneto. "The addition of Cà Maiol and Cantina Mesa wineries expands our depth and provides consumers with new choices of top-quality Italian wines, taking us beyond Pinot Grigio and usher - ing in lesser-known varieties like Trebbiano di Lugana, Groppello, Marzemino, Carignano, and Vermentino," she explains. Sazama says Santa Margherita USA will offer selected wines from these estates that deliver styles and price points best suited for the U.S. market. "Lugana and Sardinia are so unique and beau - tiful. These are wine regions with a long history of winemaking, intriguing stories, and deep-rooted connections to their individual terroirs," she adds. "We are proud to offer a new generation of wine lovers something fresh and exciting: buzzworthy wines that celebrate their regions and exude the authenticity, diversity, and verve consumers seek." Read on for profiles of Lugana and Sardinia, as well as the re - gions' corresponding wineries that are now the newest additions to the Santa Margherita family. LUGANA The Lugana DOC wine region fans out across a flat basin— formed during the Ice Age by the southern push of the great Alpine glaciers—on the southern shore of Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake. Surrounded by low morainic hills and moderated by the cooling breezes of the lake, Lugana is defined by its distinctive stratifications of clay and chalk soil. It's also a sweet spot for the Trebbiano di Lugana variety (aka Turbiana or Verdicchio Bianco), a grape that produces an aromatic, refreshing white wine typi - cally favored by thirsty tourists as they eat Lake Garda trout on cypress-shaded verandas. To the west of Lugana lies the smaller Valtènesi DOC with its clay and gravel soils. The native, dark, and spicy Groppello and Marzemino red grape varieties thrive here, along with smaller quantities of juicy, vibrant red-fruited Barbera and Sangiovese—all typically blended for rosé and fragrant, medium- bodied rosso wines. Italian journalist Zeffiro Bocci once wrote that Lugana is "two- faced," as it straddles both the culturally- and linguistically-disparate Veneto and Lombardy regions. However, about 90 percent of the small, diamond-shaped Lugana DOC lies within Lombardy, includ - ing approximately 1,800 hectares of Trebbiano di Lugana vineyards. The region is home to more than 125 wineries, one of the most distinguished of which is Cà Maiol. CÀ MAIOL Recognizing that Lugana's pleasant microclimate and stratified limestone soils create a distinct terroir for wine production, Wal- ter Contato founded Cà Maiol winery in the heart of the region in 1967. Named after the farmhouse ("Cà") built by Sebastiano Maioli in 1710, the winery now features a state-of-the-art cellar and modern tasting room with spectacular views of the vineyards. Fabio Contato, Walter's son, currently oversees winemaking operations, including man - agement of 140 hectares of estate vineyards and the annual production of 1.5 million bottles. In addition to being the first Lugana winery to receive the prestigious Tre Bic - chieri award from Italian food and wine magazine Gambero Rosso, Cà Maiol has also been experiment - ing with organic viticulture. One parcel in the historic Molin vineyard recently achieved formal organic certification. PHOTO COURTESY OF ISSAC74 VIA 123RF PHOTO BY WISLAW JAREK VIA 123RF

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