It was a year ago and a month or two since I traveled to Lake Garda and discovered a wonderful part of the world I hadn’t yet visited. f I can’t hop on a plane to Italy right this minute, I can certainly travel there… in memories and stories. Come along with me.
We arrived in Milan and gathered our things. The van was outside waiting. We hop on the van, do introductions and enjoy a warm greeting with old friends and new.
Our guide welcomes all of us and explains that we will be heading out to the beautiful region of Lombardy, Italy to begin our wine journey. She explains that Lombardy (Lombardia) is 40 minutes north of Milan, south of the pre-Alps and Dolomites, west of Veneto, east of Lake Cuomo, on the shores of Lake Garda, a resort playground for the Swiss and the Germans for lake sports, cycling, historical touring and skiing – less glamour, less Hollywood and more charm than nearby, well known Lake Cuomo.
The wine regions of Lombardy themselves are most known around the world for sparkling Franciacorta and Oltrepo Pavese wines and also hosts the bragging rights for their outstanding and highly acclaimed mountain Nebbiolo from the Valtellina region in the Rhaetian Alps. Lombardy is also known for their still reds, whites and roses and the word is quickly getting out!
Our guide offers us choices, so many to choose from. Do we go to Valcalepio where they produce Rosso (Merlot/Cab Sav blend) or Bianco (Chardonnay/white and grey Pinot) or Moscato? Do we head to Lake Garda and taste their extraordinary Turbiana? There are wineries to choose from near the lake, with exquisite architecture, history. There are wineries with views of the Alps, ancient stories of waterbeds, wars, history. There are wineries with the most state of the art equipment with a focus on organic sustainable wines, making on naturally what the earth gives them. How do we choose?
Fortunately, the guide just decides for us:
- The ancient city of Sirmione and the heart of Lugana wines today
- Tomorrow we will see Oltrepo Pavese and the incredible Riesling, both German and Italian grapes and the outstanding and notable Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) being grown there (some Burgundian stock brought in over 100 years ago). And we will visit a winery tearing out most of their vines and starting new with optical scanners and all of the latest technology, working with the weather, climate, soil to create natural solutions.
- Last we visit Valcalepio on a half day trip and enjoy their Moscato di scanzo rosso and their incredible merlot/ cabernet sauvignon blends.
We tour, we taste wines with incredible stories, soul and beautiful representations of the love of wine, food and history the Italian people share with the world. The trip is incredible, our hosts outstanding, we combine historical tours, winery tours, tales of the old world and glimpses into the new. When we part, we part as old friends anxious to see each other again in a new part of the wine world around the country.
Thank you for taking that journey back to Lombardy with me. My articles at www.vinotripping.com highlight some of the extraordinary experiences we enjoyed and incredible people we met.
Today I share two wines we tasted representative of the extraordinary region.
2020 Ca dei Frati Lugana I Frati
Varietal: 100% Turbiana
Pairing: as an aperitif or accompany fish dishes, boiled, steamed or grilled
Aromas: light herbs, white spring flower
Palate: round, citrus, tropical fruit, ripe peach, strawberry
This wine is available in the US, they make about 2000 cases that make it into the US. I serve it often in wine tastings as it is a little surprising as it is so incredibly good – light, refreshing, and good with food – it is always a crowd pleaser.
Ca’ di Frara ‘Losana’ Pinot Nero Parcella 17 in Pavia – owned by the Bellani in the municipality of Mornico Losana since the early 1900s. The winemaker is has a cult following for his methods with his wines, Luca Bellani.
Varietal: 100% Pinot Nero
Pairing: mushroom dish or spicy poultry-based dish
Aromas: red berry, strawberry, earth and minerality
Palate: Light bodied and full of red berries and spice notes