Lugana is a small wine producing area just south of Lake Garda. Around 100 wineries produce a fresh and fragrant white wine from just one variety, Turbiana. The appellation is actually one of a handful of Italian growing areas that straddles regional borders. It is made up of five picturesque and historic communes in the hinterland of the lake: Desenzano del Garda, Sirmione, Pozzolengo and Lonato in the Province of Brescia, and Peschiera del Garda in the Province of Verona. Many of the vineyards are actually around the communes of Sirmione, Dezenzano del Garda, Lonato and Pozzolengo in Lombardy while much of the bottling takes place in neighbouring Veneto.
The most famous, or at least the most internationally recognised, of all the Lugana producers is probably Ca’ dei Frati, famed for their elaborate bottles. Their top wines are as good as anything I’ve tasted in the region, combining luscious stone fruit with the complexity of malolactic fermentations and lees contact. The large, but consistently good Zenato estate produces an approachable and good value wine as well.
Lugana wines can be found in a few different styles. As a light and crisp example I find the wine excellent, at times sharp but always refreshing. There are some great producers to look out for, notably Turina and Az. Ag. Brunello. Some of the more rounded Luganas come from the clay soils of the plains.
Producers such as Ca dei Frati, Pilandro and Sergio Zenato are able to craft wines with more herbaceous complexity, tropical fruit notes, and a softer body, while the denomination’s top wines show additional complexity, often the evolved notes of more mature wine.