We admit it. We had never heard of the Lugana wine region in Italy or the Turbiana grape until last month. And now, we can’t get enough of it. Lugana Turbiana checks all our boxes for beautiful white wine – mineral-driven, elegant and complex, with citrus, salinity and good acidity.
Lugana Turbiana wines shine with personality and character in every single sip. They are age-worthy, unique, food friendly and wallet friendly. Thanks to an educational program called Wine Studio, we are now Lugana lovers. Read on to learn more about the region and the delicious white wine that we have come to love.
Lugana DOC is a small northeast wine region near Lake Garda, Italy’s largest lake and one of the deepest in the world. Temperate breezes help keep the grapes healthy and free from pests. And the minor difference between day and night temperatures creates a “climactic cradle,” which is perfect for growing the Turbiana grape.
DOC stands for Italy’s denominazione di origine controllata system, introduced in 1963. It specifies the production area and methods for each wine, and also guarantees the quality. Terroir characteristics, based on soil composition, micro-climate and traditional grapes, define DOCs.
Just four years later, Italy established Lugana DOC in 1967. But Turbiana grapes have been cultivated in the region since the Roman Empire. A unique terroir features a combination of soils that range from clay to sand. They are morainic, a result of a glacier that used to occupy the region.
Andrea Bottarel, the director of Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC, says vineyards closer to Lake Garda produce slightly sharper wines with more salinity, while the ones closer to the lower, sandier hillside produce slightly bolder whites.
Until recently, the Lugana wine region was a secret shared among thousands of tourists who enjoy the beaches, restaurants, Roman ruins, castles and golf courses at Lake Garda. But as Lugana’s wine quality improved, word spread further. These days, Lugana’s fourth-largest export market is the United States.
More than 120 members of Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC craft five styles of Turbiana: Vintage, Superiore, Riserva, Spumante (Sparkling) and Late Harvest. But these classifications don’t represent a hierarchy of quality. The difference is largely stylistic – for instance, fresher versus richer-flavored and more complex. In addition, Superiore must age at least one year before release. Riserva must age for at least two years prior to release.
The price points range from an amazing $9-$25. And the unique, full-bodied wines also have the potential to age and evolve. Vintage can be cellared for two or three years, while Superiore and Riserva can mature gracefully for a decade or so.
In terms of food pairings, Lugana wines can stand alone as a refreshing apertivo or with cheeses such as parmigiano or gorgonzola. But Turbiana also pairs well with herring, other freshwater fish, grilled chicken, pizza, Thai, Chinese, Japanese and Indian foods. It is very versatile.
Our Wine Samples
As part of the Lugana Wine Studio program, we received four sample bottles to enjoy. As a result of this experience, we will definitely be buying more.
Colli Vaibo Lugana DOC
Colli Vaibo is sophisticated, with great character and balanced acidity. We enjoyed it as an apertivo on our deck by the lake. One of our friends called it “a patio pounder.” This wine bears the trademarks of Turbiana — light straw color, an abundance of minerality, salinity and a wonderful personality. The nose mirrors the flavors of apples and pears, with hints of citrus. While Colli Vaibo is a summer sipper, you can also enjoy it all year round.
Selva Capuzza Lugana Riserva DOC Menasso
Oh my, the nose on Selva Capuzza Lugana Riserva DOC Menasso is gorgeous – almond, green apple, flint and citrus, which are repeated on the palate. The grapes for this rich and refined Riserva grow in nutrient-rich clay and stones. As a result, the minerality weaves through the delicate yet complex flavors. Typical of a Riserva, this wine is a more vibrant color with more complex aromas and softer on the palate.
Sgreva Lugana DOC Sirmio
This elegant Sirmio opens with aromatics of tropical fruits, fresh pie crust and bread, followed by flavors of citrus, pineapple and pear. This Turbiana is classy, expressive and a perfect balance of the salinity and minerality that are hallmarks of the region. Simply put, this wine is just plain delicious. Azienda Agricola Sgreva is a small family winery, which has been located in the city of Sirmione for more than 50 years.
Montonale 2018 Lugana DOC Montunal
Montonale 2018 Montunal might just be the best of the Lugana wines we tasted (although we loved them all). This stunning wine is elegant, complex and unique. Aromas of white peach and lemon zest lead into flavors of apple, nectarine, lemon and wet stones with a high level of minerality, good acidity and an almond finish. Montonale makes this beauty from a selection of the “best bunches” of Turbiana, and it shows.
We are now proud Lugana lovers. Above all, many thanks to Consorzio of Lugana for the samples. Moreover, we also appreciate the dedication and education from sommelier Tina Morey at #WineStudio, and wine educator Susannah Gold of Vigneto Communications.
Margot and Dave