I have had the good fortune to visit this region quite recently – post-Vinitaly – but have not yet written about it on this blog much to my chagrin. Lucky for me, I had the opportunity to chat with Carlo Veronese, the Director of the Consorzio of Lugana, last week when he was in town for the start of Lugana month at Eataly. Lucky for you, you too can taste these wonderful wines at Eataly at the restaurants and take a class at La Scuola with the very engaging new wine director, Emily Hand.
I first discovered Lugana, a white wine from the area around Lake Garda, some years ago when I met a producer from the region. I had never heard of the wine in the past. I was duly impressed with its full body, good minerality and acidity as well as soft and appealing flavors. I tasted some very young Lugana and some with a bit of age on them, also impressive. I began to be intrigued as to why this wine wasn’t more popular both in Italy and in the U.S. I think I was just a bit ahead of my time because of late Lugana is making ever more frequent appearances in wine shops and on wine lists throughout both the US and in Italy. Once you try Lugana, you too will be of the same mind.
The wine is made with the Turbiana grape, a local name for a clone of Trebbiano that only grows in this area that straddles both the Lombardia and Veneto regions.
As I always make my first stop of the day in the Lombardy pavilion when visiting Vinitaly, over the past few years, I have tasted a considerable amount of Lugana. You too can have the same experience but much closer to home – if a New Yorker. Some 17 wineries participate in the events at Eataly giving you a range to taste from including a sparkling Lugana.
According to Veronese, “People have heard of Lugana but don’t know it as well as say Pinot Grigio, Gavi, Soave or Verdicchio. It is something different, fresh with body and a great balance between sweetness and acidity. It also has a very nice price, just around $20 in most stores.”
We also spent time discussing what to pair with Lugana. “You can drink it any time of the year because it really is about what you are eating. Pairing is personl but I think Lugana is great with fish, white meats and even Sushi,” he said, “In Milan, the Sushi restaurants all have Lugana on their lists.”
The biggest market for Lugana is Germany, no surprise to anyone who has spent time on Lake Garda where 90% of the tourists seem to come from Germany. “We were some of the first wineries to participate in Prowein, over 20 years ago. Germany is only four hours from Garda so you can see why it is such a popular destination.”
About 12 million bottles of Lugana are produced each year and they usually finish their wine in the cellars by mid July, Veronese noted. No small feat with the tough competition these days to sell wine.
During the next two weeks I will write more about the trip I took and the wonderful producers I met but I just wanted to get this out before the Eataly events ended. Take advantage of this great opportunity to try these wines.
On another note, tonight is the night of the shooting stars – San Lorenzo. Apparently the moon will be incredible and expectations are that you can see many shooting stars – make a wish.