We all recognize that women associate celebrating happy moments with a loving toast over a glass of fine wine, and every wine distributor in the world will agree it's the beautiful and artistic label on the bottle that attracts women when they are selecting wine, and that women tend to prefer white wines that are clear, crisp and light.
During a recent special tasting of Italian Lugana wines in the Magnolia Room of the Peninsula Beverly Hills Hotel, I found it interesting that the women present not only admired the attractive labels, but found the light (low in alcohol), clear and crisp wines an ideal compliment to plates to be found at any country club or woman's club function, especially so in California where salads and cold soups are star items on the menu. VIP food & wine women of the media at the tasting including Barbara Hansen, LA Times and LA Weekly, and Elyse Glickman, SOMM Magazine and Lucire Magazine shared my pleasure in the special woman’s appeal these wines inspire. The wine is really made for enjoyment with light plates such as antipasti, salads or seafood, but also works well with pasta, charcuterie or desserts.
Sharing notes with the wine and food media and VIP's attending the Lugana luncheon was fascinating and was highlighted by a sip by sip sampling and vintner description of each wine by Ian Blackburn, CSW, LAWine, along with individual introductions from representatives of Lugana D.O.C. The LA gathering was one of three being held in the United States to promote their wines. Currently more than 70% of Lugana D.O.C wines are exported mainly to Germany, Belgium, Northern Europe, China, Japan and UK.
Lugana is a small appellation region that sits on the border between Lombardy and the Veneto on the south end of beautiful Lake Garda, where the PoValley plain merges into Northern Italy's lake region and the Alps. Guests at the luncheon were given locator maps and a complete history on the wines of the Lugana Region, as well as the climate and earth constitution which lends to its unusually fine grape quality.
This unique wine growing area appears to be making strides in taking advantage of the complexity of their different soils and altitudes to create a new classification of the soils within the restricted borders of the region, similar to what exists in Champagne. The enthusiasm on the part of the Lugana wine makers regarding its delicious crispness and light clean quality was seconded by everyone at the luncheon. Lugana wine color ranges from the typical bright straw yellow to a slightly greenish shade, and after a years of aging it acquires beautiful golden highlights. Lugana has a very intense bouquet yet is elegant and well balanced, and dry, fresh and extremely pleasant on the palate. Lugana is one of the few white wines that can age. A good Lugana wine can easily be stored for 4, 5 years, longer if aged in barrels before bottling it. I personally found the earthy mineralogy of this wine rather seductive.
According to Italy's most famous wine critic Luigi Veronelli you should “Drink your Lugana when is very young, you will enjoy its freshness. Drink your Lugana after two or three years and you will enjoy its completeness. Drink it after ten years and you will be amazed by its composed authoritativeness. Lugana wines, rare quality for white wines, have an extraordinary capacity to be recognized. You taste a Lugana and, if you are a good taster, you cannot forget it. A great painter is recognizable, and so is a musician: every time, with a work, you feel it’s his.“ The wine produced in historical Lugana was registered as a DOC (Italian quality label) in 1967, among the very first ones to be protected by Italian wine regulation. According to the DOC production rules, a wine can be labeled Lugana if produced with at least 90% of Trebbiano di Lugana (Turbiana) grapes grown in the registered Lugana wine producing area, and the alcohol minimum content has to be at least 10.5% even if quality Lugana DOC are rarely below 12%.
Wines of Lugana region include:
Basic Lugana – fresh, fruity, dry, is for early consumption, and is mainly consumed within Italy.
Superiore produced since 1998, requires 1 year maturation (not necessarily in oak) and offers lower yields.
Reserva is aged for minimum 24 months; six months in bottle and oak maturation is not mandatory.
Vendemmia Tardiva is a late harvest containing approximately 12 g/l residual sugar, and is only made by three wineries.
Spumante (sparkling) is a very limited production of both Charmat and Metodo Classico Lugana grape varietals.
It was helpful to learn that If you are spending few days in Verona while on vacation and would like to know a bit more Lugana wine and its production area Amarone Tours can organize a half day or full day wine tour in the Lugana region. Lugana is only located 30 minutes drive from Verona. Amarone will select and book the best and most characteristic wineries in the area, take care of transport and the organization of the itinerary. After a tasting tour in Lugana cellar it is also possible to visit Sirmione and other beautiful villages on the southern coast of Lake Garda.
Following our special lunch prepared by the Peninsula Beverly Hills chefs, which included Housemade Gnocchi, Loup de Mer, Taleggio, Gorgonzola and Grana Padano Mostarda di Cremona perfectly paired with the Lugana wines, we shared our farewells with the charming delegation of hosts' from Lugana, who were leaving to catch the next flight to San Francisco to give their presentation to the local wine writers and VIP's in the 'City by the Bay' and then immediately returning to the new wine season in Lugana, Italy. For information on Lagana please visit: www.consorziolugana.it, and for WineLA tasting events please contact: www.WineLA.com.