The ”unhidden gem” of Italy: Lugana DOC (2)
By Rita Tóth, for wine-chronicles.com
(This three-part blog also has appeared in Jens De Maere’s Belgian Wino blog with full permission of the author)
Part 1 was a short overview of the Lugana region, but now we examine the surprising aging potential of some of its best wines.
Although 90% of the regions’ production is the ’basic Lugana’ style – as Italian consumers tend to drink the wine within one year – the average aging potential of the best Lugana wines ranges between 10-15 years, based on my tasting experiences.
They show their best at this age, although I encountered others that could age longer, due to the high tartaric acid and dry extract content of the grape variety itself. The mineral quality of the wines develops by aging. The early stages are about fruit and freshness, but – trust me – it’s worth waiting a bit more.
Ca’ Maiol by Provenza
The ‘unusual’ company name refers to the Provencal origin of the Contato Family, but in order to avoid confusion, the owners – Fabio and Patrizia Contato – are planning to restrict the promotion of their wines under the ‘Cá’Maiol’ brand, named after the very first building of the property. Provenza was the first company to promote the Lugana region starting with a company sign on the estate, which was not a ‘normal practice’ before. They have spread their passion – for both the Turbiana grape and Lugana terroir – by attending famous wine fairs worldwide. They were the first winery in Lugana that earned ‘3 bicchieri’ from Gambero Rosso. Their hard work has paid off: Provenza is exporting even to Thailand and Africa.
Being one of the ‘bigger’ players, the company owns 140 ha of vineyards in the heart of the region where the soil is naturally chalky and stratified compacted clay, meaning higher limestone content compared to other parts of the region. ‘Each Lugana is different from another and our wines are the mirror of our soul, terroir, terroir terroir,’ said Costantino Antonio Gabardi, the company’s brand manager. This philosophy is followed also in the cellar: oak barrel usage is very restrained, as it ‘covers the purity’ of Lugana wines, stainless steel and concrete eggs are favored instead. Michel Rolland is consulting the winery: Provenza is one of six Italian wineries that employ him.
The tasting perfectly demonstrated the excellent ageing potential of the wines made from Turbiana. The wines were technically exquisite, reflecting territory of origin and unexpected freshness was present even in the oldest vintage we tasted, namely: ‘Ca’Molin 1998’.
It had deep lemon colour, showing obvious ageing, pronounced flavour intensity of herbaceous and quince aromas on the palate combined with pronounced minerality and still vivacious acidity. It’s proof that Lugana wines can keep their outstanding quality even after a long time in the bottle.
The recently renovated winery and the showroom provide a precious environment for the guests of the estate and match the elegance and purity of the Ca’Maiol wines.
Busocaldo by Pasini – San Giovanni
Founded in 1958, the winery is being run currently by the third generation of the Pasini family: Paolo Pasini – owner and winemaker of Pasini – San Giovanni winery – is probably the most dedicated and passionate winemaker I met during our trip to Lugana. He is one of those smaller producers with a vision for the unique potential provided by the combination of the terroir and the grape of Lugana that can lead to a very promising future.
He believes that his land and vines are capable of producing peerless, long lasting wines and his belief was confirmed by the tasting presented in his vineyards. Paolo makes ‘basic’ Lugana, named ‘Le Lugana’ and the extraordinary ‘line’, from the ‘Busocaldo’ vineyard is made only in exceptional vintages with 1 years ageing on lees (with the use of battonage) and only kept in stainless steel, but micro-oxygenation had been used during the vinification.
We tasted the 2006, 2007 and 2009 vintages. While each had very different aromatic profiles, all were rich, mineral and dense with zesty acidity. The production of these wines is very limited, less than 2000 bottles per (selected) year.
In part 3 the fine bubbles will be on stage: the metodo classico sparkling wines of the region!
About the author
Rita Tóth, WSET Diploma aspirant and dedicated #winelover and #travellover, was born in Eger, Hungary where her family has a tradition in vinegrowing and winemaking. After gaining a BA in Business Administration she moved to Australia, where she started her career in the field of recruitment, but also drew inspiration from the vineyards of Barossa and Hunter Valleys to move towards the wine business. This career change occurred in 2011, when she was an intern at a winery in Basilicata, in southern Italy. Rita has experience in importing wines and had been traveling extensively within Europe over the past years to visit wine regions and attend wine fairs. Being an #winelover Ambassador she considers sharing her wine experience with the greater public as a mission.