I recently had the opportunity to taste a range of Lugana wines at an online seminar arranged by Studio Cru and hosted by Edoardo Peduto and Ambra Beradi of the Consorzio Lugana DOC and Richard Baudins, wine writer specialising in Italy.
The range tasted, as illustrated, was all from family owned estates. It was really fascinating, with the wines sharing a tautness and hint of bitterness, together with marked salinity. There was an incredible array of aromas, including, dill, orange blossom, peach kernel, melon and wet stone. The wines had great length.
I was particularly impressed by the Riserva wines. The 2020 Zenegaglia Lugana DOC Riserva 'Luna del Lago' is really expressive wine that zings and sings. The wine spends 18 months in Botti, and has a very gentle spiciness. The 2018 Avanzi Lugana DOC Riserva 'La Borghetta' was fascinating. On the day of the seminar the wine looked a little flat, and tasted somewhat oxidised, smoky, and vegetal. This may have been an individual closure issue. However, I kept the opened bottle, which was 80% full, in the refrigerator for two days, and upon retasting it had 'unoxidised'. The topic of 'reversible oxidation' is briefly covered in my latest book. After the two days the wine was delicious. The 2020 La Rifra Lugana DOC Riserva 'Il Bepi' spends 24 months in large barrels, and is a powerful wine some spiciness, and pronounced almond flavours.
To me, the wines of Lugana exhibit a freshness and fullness that is as striking as it is exhilarating. The underlying power lifts them above the lake of other Italian dry white wines, wines that perhaps satisfy but never excite. But, of course, Garda is a lake of wine, in a cultural sense. And with their elegant femininity* and delicate perfume, the wines of Lugana really are the Lady of the Lake.
* There are several wine writers who believe that wines should not be described using such 'sexist' terms. But many wine descriptors are analogies, and I see words such as femininity as honest, valid and complimentary terms. I will make no apologies for using them.