I have known Luca Formentini for about six years now thanks to his former role as the President of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC. We became friends through the years and toda I am writing about Luca and his family winery, Selva Capuzza. Today happens to be his birthday too! Auguri!
The Formentini Family has been running the winery since 1917. This year will be their 103th vintage. They also have an amazing agriturismo or guesthouse and a church on the property called Borgo San Donino from the 1200s. Their restaurant called Cascina Capuzza also makes wonderful local dishes. They make nine still wines and four sparkling wines from local grapes. Their wines are under the Lugana, San Martino della Battaglia, and Garda Classico denominations and come from Turbiana, Tuchì, Groppello, Marzemino, Sangiovese, and Barbera which grown on their mixture of clay-rock-morainic soils. The soils around Lake Garda are the result of a glacier that retreated. The soils have good drainage and the area is blessed with cleaning winds. My son calls Luca, Luca of the forest because the property is surrounded by so many trees and such lush vegetation.
Luca and his family are attentive to their carbon footprint as well as to the health of the grapes which are all handpicked. The winery is in the middle of the vineyards so there is little time between harvest and when the grapes go into the cellar. He is also careful about the weight of his bottles which I greatly appreciate.
The wine in the picture is called Campo del Soglio and is from the San Martino della Battaglia DOC. San Martino is one of the smallest DOCs in Italy with only 39 hectares under vine. Luca was the President of the Consorzio of producers already at the tender age of 19. The area is South of Lake Garda. There are 10 wineries in this denomination. To use the DOC denomination the wine must be at least 80% Tocai Friulano which is locally called Tuchì. There are both still and liquoroso versions of this wine. I have a bottle in my house so I opened it in Luca’s honor. At first blush it reminds me of Sauvignon but then the rich texture and amazing saline and mineral notes jump out of my glass and dance on my palate. I love the texture of this wine which is both waxy and almost chewy. The finish is long and elegant. I had it with a pasta made from beets. It was interesting and made me want to have it with Pesto but alas my pantry didn’t contain any and I have no Basil in my home.
Before the Hungarians won their fight before the European Court for the name Tokaji in 2008, the wineries used to use the name Tocai Friulano but when Friuli changed their grape name to Friulano, it didn’t work for this DOC so they came up with their own version. For a period of time when they didn’t know what to call the grape, Luca put a question mark on the back label.
There is a lot of background history to this particular DOC. It is named for the battle of San Martino and Solferino which took place on June 24, 1859. It saw Austrians fighting the Kingdom of Sardinia which was ruled by King Vittore Emanuele who was also aligned with the French under Napoleon III. The two armies were very close to one another asleep when a soldier discovered the opposing forces. The battle that ensued in this tiny area took place among 300,000 troops and left many dead. This battle was part of the Second Italian War of Independence. JJean Henri Dunant who witnessed the carnage on the field was so horrified that he helped to create both the Geneva Conventions and the International Red Cross as a result. Luca has a wine dedicated to him. The plaque in the picture above is at the Selva Capuzza winery and commemorates the battle which practically took place on their land. A very moving story.