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Hi my friends, and welcome back! Before we flip the calendar page to May, I thought I’d bring you back to a wonderful tasting of Italian wines “From The Archives”….

Something *completely* different – from Italy!

Something *completely* different – from Italy!

Though I’ll happily pop the cork of a crisp Sauvignon Blanc or creamy Chardonnay when I’m enjoying “white wine food” – or an aromatic Riesling, Pinot Gris or Gewurztraminer for a change of pace – I’ll always welcome the chance to try something completely different.

So naturally, I jumped at the chance to head into San Francisco yesterday for an exclusive, industry-only tasting of wines from two historic growing regions in north-central Italy.

You’ve probably heard of one of them – Valpolicella, in the province of Verona.

 

"Brolettino" from Ca' dei Frati, a Lugana white made 100% from the native Turbiana grape varietal.

“Brolettino” from Ca’ dei Frati, a Lugana white made 100% from the native Turbiana grape varietal.

Today, though, we’re spotlighting the other region – Lugana – which lies just west of the better-known Valpolicella.

Fairly small and well-contained, bordering gorgeous Lake Garda and straddling both Verona and Lombardy, Lugana is only just starting to become known in the U.S.

 

And in my not-always-humble opinion, its unique, delicious and versatile wines *definitely* deserve a prominent place at America’s table!

Luca Formentini, president of Lugana's Wine Consortium, shows how the cold climate of the Alps affects the Lugana wines. (The blue area is Lake Garda.)

Luca Formentini, president of Lugana’s Wine Consortium, shows how the cold climate of the Alps affects the Lugana wines. (The blue area is Lake Garda.)

Because of Lugana’s geography, geology and cool climate, white grapes dominate here.

(Think chilly Germany and its Rieslings, Gewürztraminers… you get the picture!)

In fact, when you see the name “Lugana” on a bottle, you know that the wine in it is white.

By far the main varietal grown here is an indigenous, winter-hardy grape called Turbiana, which has adapted beautifully to Lugana’s often-rugged conditions.

 

The powerful aromas of Lugana wines make it a great "standalone" wine – but it truly shines at the table.

Lugana’s fragrant whites are great “standalone” wines – but they truly shine at the table.

Before even taking my first taste of a Lugana white, I was struck by the *look* of it while it was being poured for me. I didn’t even need to swirl it to see how viscous it was, and how it coated the glass.

This is common with sweet, late harvest-style wines – but these Lugana wines are dry.

What’s more, I could smell the wine before I’d even lifted it from the table to my nose.

 

Wow! Ripe peaches and apricot (wines from some of the other producers came through with guava, papaya and passionfruit), plus nuts like almond and hazelnut, and some exotic florals.

A delicious "spumante" (sparkling) wine from Lugana.

A delicious, crisp and amazingly food-friendly “spumante” (sparkling) wine from Lugana.

All this, plus a soft, mouthfilling texture and crisp finish. Beautiful wines on their own – beautiful wines to enjoy with food.

They’re varied, too – especially since many producers also make “Superiore” and/or “Riserva” bottlings, with even more complex flavor profiles.

And if that’s not enough, you’ll even find “Vendemmia Tardiva” (late-harvest) and “Spumante” (sparkling) styles of Lugana.

 

Could Lugana wine be America's next big white?

Could Lugana wine be America’s next big white?

See what I mean when I say that Lugana wines deserve a prominent place at America’s table?

Join me next time – we’ll switch our palates from white to red, while we meet some of the top producers from both Lugana and Valpolicella.

Until then,
Cheers and happy tastings,
Rosina

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Cheers,
Rosina