VinoTripping Blog

Move over Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay, here comes Lugana!

Perla del Garda

I have served Lugana Wines at tastings in the United States to friends and clients. Every single time the tasters respond with surprise, delight and a “where can I get this”?

I am in love with Lugana wines. They are beautiful white wines, pale straw yellow, with a delicate bouquet – a blend of floral, fresh fruit and almond notes. They are salty and savory, bone dry, making them a delightful pairing with a variety of foods. The wines are graceful, clean-edged with appealingly balanced flavors and aromas. The Lugana wines are made from Turbiana, a varietal only found in Lugana, and there a five styles consumers can choose from. Some can even be aged for 20 years.

Move over Pinot Grigio and Chardonnay. Lugana wines are poised to make their mark. They are hard to find in the US, so if you see one on a menu or in the store, get it! The price point is also refreshing, typically between $12-25, an excellent QPR.

The flavors of Lugana wines stand on their own, but add in the incredible tourist and vacation opportunities in Lugana, exceptional farm to table restaurants, history nd ancient ruins, incredible views of the pre-Alps and it is a trifecta for the perfect vacation.

Lugana is a region in Northern Italy, part of Lombardy, in a well-known tourist area surrounding Lake Garda. German and Swiss tourists have known about the region for a long time. In fact, Germany purchases most of the wine produced in this area. There is a new initiative to grow the distribution to the US, which also means growing production as many winemakers currently sell out just in their local area alone. But the word is getting out!

Lugana wine is made from Turbiana grapes (formerly called Trebbiano di Lugana). The term “Trebbiano” is used to describe most generic white grapes in Italy, but the specific Lugana version -Turbiana, is actually most closely related by genetics to Verdiccio by DNA tasting. Strangely it does not have a similar taste profile at all to Verdiccio. It has been concluded by the University of Milan that Turbiana is its own varietal, related, but not seen anywhere else in the world.

Grape vines have been planted in the area since the Bronze Age. Old vines, ancient wine making, combined with an uptick in the quality of the wines and the next generation of winemaking, this is a varietal you will love to discover.

2006 marked a change in the generations of winemaker, the quality of the wine and a view towards the future.

The new dedication of the region is to quality, making clean, organic, sustainable wines. Because water is at a premium and all of their families share resources and need to live and work in the area, a great deal of thought has been put into new systems of gravity flow, new state of the art machines and careful winemaking as well as exceptional hospitality, wine and food experiences. In fact many wineries over the last few years have established agritourism facilities for guests along with their high qualities of wine. Live and work on the farm, in the vineyard, while enjoying your vacation. Search out your truffles, eggs, veggies, etc. and the chef will make your meal or teach you to.

Lugana surrounds the base of Lake Garda, meaning boating, surfing, kayaking and all lake activites. This is a big cycling area. There are ancient hot springs and spas, Roman ruins, mountains, train rides through the alps, Verona is right next door making exceptional Valpolicella among other wines. The small towns of Descenzano and Sirmione boast cute shopping areas, chic restaurants and pubs on the water and great night life. This is all easily accessible by train from Milan.

This region has it all. Vacations, luxury lifestyle, exceptional wines at an exceptional price. And the wine, exceptional!

Basic facts of Lugana wines:

There are 5 variations of Lugana wines, sparkling, Regular, Superior, Riserva, Late Harvest and Spumante.

  • Spumante – Sparkling Lugana: 100% Turbiana
    • Bubbles are like music and give us an aromatical lift
    • Flavors are both savory, salty and mineral
    • Lugana Superiore – lower yield
      • Deeper gold, citrus, stone, riper, oaked, yeast, savory, minerality, honey notes, flint due to lower yields and care in the winery
      • The clay in this area forces the vines to grow deep for more water, underneath the clay is moraine, deep mineral deposits from ancient sea beds and from the retreat of the glaciers
    • Lugana Riserva – must be aged 2 years
      • Contains tannins and has the potential for ageing with high acidity and saltiness
      • Only 20 wineries and 90 producers in the region making riserva
    • Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva – Late Harvest
      • 14gl of res sugar
      • Only 4 producers currently making this wine
      • This style was only introduced in 1990’s, but it is very good

Aside from the flavors and aromas, what makes this wine so special?

  • Lugana sits in the end of a moraine complex, meaning the ancient glacier which carved Lake Garda ended exactly where Lugana is located
    • The glacier shows evidence of retreating and progressing many times, moving and leaving robust mineral deposits throughout the area
  • The northwest winds come through the vertical chute, created by mountains, over the lake which causes  cooling and reduction of disease and pests
  • The area overall has a mild climate due to size of Lake Garda and Turbiana is a late ripening grape
  • Lake Garda is the largest body of water in Italy
  • Lugana DOC is one of Italy’s oldest protected wine-growing areas. Lugana is also one of the few Italian wine regions that crosses over two provinces, Brescia and Verona, and the two regions of Lombardy and Veneto

About Author

After graduating from Brandeis University, Alison worked as a teacher at two op high schools in the country and spent her summers traveling the world. On one of her adventures, she visited Stellenbosch and Paarl in South Africa, which ignited a lifelong passion for learning about wine. In 2004, she worked as a Wine Consultant for the Traveling Vineyard and began to study wine more intensively. While working as a high tech recruiter, she completed her Advanced Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust in the UK in 2018. Her wine travels have taken her to the wine growing regions of the US, Europe, Africa and Australia. Alison is a member of the Boston Sommelier Society, a member of the Guild of Master Sommeliers and is a Wine, Travel and Lifestyle Media Influencer. She recently created and released her successful wine tasting card game VINO!. Currently, Alison is running her business, Artisan Wine Group, offering private and corporate wine events and sharing VINO! across the globe.

(2) Comments

  1. What a great piece! I wish we could have cloned ourselves and gone on the Lugana trip and Valtenesi, but alas, the cloning machine was down.
    I’m also a little envious that you found time to explore Sirmione. It was on our list, but we ran out of energy to get up early enough to do that before the conference. Oh well, I guess we will just have to go back! Want to come along?

  2. Wow, what an enchanting journey through Lugana! Your vivid descriptions truly transported me to the serene shores and lush vineyards of this Italian paradise. Reading about your experiences has ignited a wanderlust within me, urging me to add Lugana to my bucket list of must-visit destinations. Thank you for sharing your adventure and inspiring others to explore the beauty of Lugana.

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