Lake Garda is Italy’s largest lake, shaped strikingly like an outstretched brontosaurus with its head seeking the cooler northerly air. Along the southern shores, the Lugana DOC area is thriving, producing a selection of tasty textured white wines from the native Turbiana grape variety.
Lake Garda, Italy (Picture credit: European Space Agency)
Desenzano is one of the communes within the Lugana DOC demarcation. Looking out from the waters edge, my vista cut short by the thin jut of the Sirmioné peninsula to the right (another of the communes). Sirmione is a picturesque historic town drawing crowds of tourists each year to its pier-like promontory.
The winds of Garda
Lugana DOC straddles the border between the two Provinces of Brescia and Verona and looking out across the choppy morning water, I experience the cool caress of the famous northerly Pelér wind that blows down each morning in spring and summer until lunchtime and also feeds into some of the numerous smaller winds on the lake. The more famous Ora wind is created from the heat exchange of the water on the lake and the warmer air above and directly impacts much more the northerly end of the lake. However, it is the interaction of all the winds of Garda upon each other that contributes to the complexity of the microclimates.
|Paintings by Keith Coventry
Alan Wheately Gallery, SW1
The soils here form a basin consisting of glacial debris (called morainic), dating back millions of years to when the lake was formed. The winds, the geology, the mild climate that at once appears alpine in character but with a mediterranean touch to the skin, all contribute to the interlocking eden-like beauty of this region, producing white wines with poise, structure and fabulous flavour profiles.
Turbiana Grape Variety
- For many years thought to belong to the Trebbiano family (Trebbiano di Lugana) but from DNA profiling found to be related to Verdicchio, grown more widely in le Marche region.
- The grapes have thick skins and high acidity, making them versatile for making still, sparkling, sweet and Riserva wines. The latter can be aged for up to a decade.
- The name Turbiana is a recent labelling in an effort to give specificity the vines grown in this terroir.
Tompion Antique Longcase Clocks
Walwyn Antique Clocks of Kensington
Lugana in the moment
There is a striking beauty amid the fine balance of natural composition of this place. Yet, as the climate warms (as the chart below shows it is), the snowpack in the higher mountains is being reduced. This means the water feeding the lake, as well as the groundwaters that in turn feed flora and fauna, are being reduced.
In April 2023, Copernicus’s EU Drought Observatory, noted that Lake Garda was at its lowest level in seventy years. This year the weather extremes have been more than noticeable and next year they are forecast to be worse because of the El Niño weather phenomenon that drives up global temperatures.
All this leads us back to the fragile beauty of the wines of Lugana DOC. Tasting the wines the following day revealed another level of opulent and generous personality.
Lugana DOC wines:
Marangona Lugana Doc 2022, Organic.
Citrus notes, almonds, salinity, bright attractive energy. Turbiana very well expressed with harmony between flavour and structure. Has that ‘one-more-glass’ appeal.
Sgreva Lugana Doc Sirmio 2022
Floral notes, orange blossom - distinct and beautiful, the longer it is allowed to breathe the more it sings, comes out very pronounced after being open for a while. Some white peach - but the floral notes - wow.
Poggio al Garda Lugana Doc 2022
Lemon citrus distinct, vibrant body, some floral notes, salty tang.
Easily paired for summer gastronomy.
Citari Lugana Doc Conchiglia 2022
Almond notes, softer texture, decent long slight stoney finish. Perfect summer aperitivo wine.
Zenegaglia Flli. Lugana Doc Riserva Luna del Lago 2020
Citrus lemon and slight tropical note. Almond, creamy with succulent textured body, slight yeasty character on the finish. Really enjoyable and alluring. My no. 1.
La Rifra Lugana Doc Riserva il Bepi 2020 (cooler vintage)
Wet stone, some smokey notes, flowers, sweet spice savoury and mineral structure, fresh clean youthful finish. 24 m in Italian barrels. Greater complexity, well balanced.
Cadore Lugana Doc Riserva 2019
Be patient. Over time reveals layers of citrus fruits that include lemon and floral notes. Velo tank, 40% wood. Fresh well integrated flavours and structure.
Avanzi Lugana Doc Riserva La Borghetta 2018 (wet less concentrated vintage)
More apply aroma with juicy brightness, dry almost tannic finish. Creamy, slightly lactic. Serve not too cold to allow the flavours to show.
Wines recived via StudioCru and tasting led by Richard Baudains, wine writer for Decanter.
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