Lugana is a wine region not well known in the U.S. but it is one that deserves far greater recognition that it currently possesses, in particular, for its eponymous, white wine, Lugana. While almost unknown outside Italy, Lugana maintains a level of renown at home for its highly concentrated, richly textured, mineral driven, fruity, white wines that also have the potential to age and evolve.
Located between Verona (Veneto) and Brescia (Lombardia,) wines from the Lugana region labeled Lugana DOC are permitted to be produced in five municipalities, Sirmione, Desenzano, Lonato, Pozzolengo and Peschiera, all charming, small towns either adjacent to or very near the beautiful, picturesque, Lake Garda. Formed by glaciers during the last Ice Age, Lake Garda not only moderates the Mediterranean climate of the region but also provides a near-constant breeze, warming in winter and cooling in summer, which helps explain the long, recorded history of quality, wine production in the Lugana area dating back to Roman times.
The soils within the Lugana zone are primarily hard clays and are extremely, mineral rich. The lake, moderated climate encourages a long ripening season for the Turbiana grapes used in the production of Lugana DOC classified wines. Trebbiano di Lugana, the native grape of Lugana, is properly known, as Turbiana, so named, as to not be confused with its lesser cousins, Trebbiano di Soave or Trebbiano di Toscana. The grape’s origin is not clear but it is genetically similar to both the Verdicchio and Trebbiano di Soave grapes. The Turbiana vine, however, produces lower numbers of grapes per vine, a factor that normally contributes to greater concentration and more intense flavor. Turbiana has the potential to express itself, as a mineral rich, artisan quality, age worthy, white wine.
In 1967 Lugana was one of the first wines in Italy to be awarded Denominazione di Origine Controllata (D.O.C.) status. There are approximately 120 members of the Consorzio of Lugana winemakers producing wines, still and sparkling, dry to sweet, along with a darkly rich, Chiaretto rose, all under the Lugana DOC umbrella.
There are three categories of dry Lugana accounted for under the DOC classification rules, with the primary difference being how long a bottle of Lugana is aged before release.
It should be noted that these levels of Lugana do not represent a hierarchy of quality. The difference between wine classifications is largely stylistic; fresher versus richer flavored and more complex but most producers save their best grapes for higher the classifications.
Production volumes of sparkling Lugana are very low and it is almost never seen outside of Italy. The wine is produced in both Charmat and Methodo Classico and I have personally enjoyed numerous, bright, delicious examples.
The Marangona winery was originally built, as a 17th century farmhouse in the Marangona municipality in the South-Eastern area of Lake Garda between Peschiera and Sirmione. The winery and vineyards are located in an area where Lake Garda’s microclimate and soil, rich in clay and white limestone meet to give rise to wines of great quality.
The first Marangona wines were produced in 1973. 2007 marked the arrival of Alessandro Cutolo, Maragona’s, affable, current owner, viticulturist and winemaker. Alessandro marries modern, creative insight and passionate, tenacity for quality with respect for tradition, pursuit of a pure expression of his vineyard’s terroir and a commitment to Marangona’s, foundational triad of minerality, flavor and freshness.
Azienda Agricola Marangona follows eco friendly, sustainable parameters with very low environmental impact. There is no manipulation or additives of any kind once the grapes arrive in the winery. All Marangona wines follow time honored, traditional, artisan production methods of the Lugana zone.
Maragona’s Tre Campagne (Three Bells) is produced from a selection of the Marangona’s best fruit harvested from 30-year-old vines. The wine is produced from a union of a small percentage of early, harvested fruit with a larger part of the wine produced from fruit harvested at full ripeness, later in the season. Fermentation is done in stainless steel tanks at low temperature with subsequent aging on the lees for 6 months until Spring.
Lugana, “Tre Campagne” offers fragrant, aromas and flavors of wild flowers, white fleshed, stone fruit, fresh apples and citrus with hints of floral pollen and bitter almond. The wine is richly flavored with deep, concentrated, complex minerality, balanced acidity and great depth and structure. From the moment of fruit rich, palate entry to the long, persistent finish, Tre Campagne exhibits an ever-present, lively, crisp, freshness on the palate.
Total production: 500-600 cases