This advertising content was produced in collaboration with our partner, Lugana.
On retail shelves and wine lists, the wines from Italy’s Lugana DOC, which hail from the southern shores of Lake Garda, are becoming more popular from coast to coast. Made from the native white grape Turbiana, these gregarious wines are shapeshifters among Italy’s defining wines—ranging from featherweight spumantes to cellar-worthy riservas, and delivering value, versatility, and a sense of discovery in equal measure.
Formerly a well-loved secret of the tourists who flocked to the shores of Lake Garda each summer, today’s buyers are rediscovering the potential of these vibrant white wines. Discover five key reasons buyers everywhere are loving Lugana.
1. Lugana Encompasses a Wide Range of White Wines
Originally, the Lugana appellation was covered by the Selva Lucana, a dense, marshy forest, which likely gave the appellation its name. Today, those same soils lend the region its ability to cultivate the wide variety of elegant wines that bear the Lugana DOC label.
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The modern Lugana appellation curves around the southern shores of Lake Garda, across Lombardy and parts of the Veneto. Here, ancient glacial activity left behind a patchwork of clay, limestone, and sand soils ideally suited to the cultivation of Turbiana.
Meanwhile, Lake Garda itself moderates the otherwise alpine climate of Lugana. Warm summer temperatures and near-constant winds funneled across the lake from the Alps also reduce disease pressure. The area’s prized, highly mineral soils and the distances between vines and the lake shore also yield an incredible diversity of microclimates. These variations in terroir account for the famous diversity of Lugana DOC wines, which makes them so interesting for buyers to explore.
Lugana DOC wines are produced in five styles. The vast majority are current-vintage, or vino d’annata, Lugana wines, made in a traditional style designed for early drinking. These releases, which make up nearly 90 percent of the region’s production, are vivid and lively white wines that blend the region’s signature saline mineral notes with vivacious citrus and orchard fruit flavors. They also typically spend some time on the lees, adding intriguing and delicious texture.
A small amount of sparkling and late harvest Lugana wines are also produced in the region. Lugana Spumante wines, though produced in minute volumes, are a classic expression of the grape and historic representation of the region. Late-harvest Lugana, made from very ripe grapes left on the vine for an extended period of time, represents a new iteration of Lugana for modern consumers.
Lugana Riserva and Superiore wines showcase the potential of aged Lugana. Superiore is a designation that indicates a wine that has been aged for at least one year before release. Often more golden in color, these wines show a fuller-bodied side of Turbiana with complex citrus aromas and roasted, nutty undertones. Lugana Riserva goes beyond the Superiore aging requirements, signifying a wine aged for a minimum of 24 months—of which six must be in bottle—before release. Characterized by their full body and layers of minerality, spice, and fruit, these bottlings are harder to find in the United States, but well-worth the search and beloved for their elegance and nuance.
2. Lugana Wines Offer Incredible Value
Regardless of style, Lugana wines manage to transmit their terroir with uncommon clarity, at an uncommon price. While related to Trebbiano di Soave and Verdicchio, the Turbiana grape behind Lugana’s refreshing white wines is something wholly different: Fresh and fruit-forward, it’s known for balancing acidity and ripeness in equal measure, and usually for a retail price around $20.
The singular ability of these wines to provide simultaneous value and complexity led Lugana to become the first wine in Lombardy to earn its DOC status over 50 years ago—an award that established the deep connection between these wines and their lakeside origins on an international scale. Ever since, the wines have slowly gained steady critical acclaim, especially as modern technology and globalization increased awareness of Lugana’s singular value proposition. Today, the region produces more than 27 million bottles and exports over 70 percent of its production.
The majority of Lugana in the United States is made in a medium-bodied and easy-drinking style, which makes premier Lugana a go-to for sommeliers and retailers who can simultaneously please discerning consumers while sharing Lugana’s incredible value.
3. Lugana Wines Thrive in the Cellar
Nearly all producers in Lugana focus exclusively on the Turbiana grape variety, which is known for its incredibly high acidity—the primary factor that lends Lugana wines both brightness in youth and structure to age well.
Turbiana’s medium-sized, golden clusters are hardy and relatively resistant to pests and disease, giving growers in the humid areas around Lake Garda an advantage. The high-yielding variety is prone to overproduction when cultivated on fertile soils, but the highly infertile and heavily mineral soils of Lugana counteract its over-productive tendencies to yield complex and captivating fruit.
The combination of these factors is what allows Lugana Riserva and Lugana Superiore wines to develop rounded, toasty, and complex expressions over time. On the table, these styles of Lugana offer a delicious alternative to the light-bodied current-vintage and spumante bottlings.
4. Lugana Wines Are Super Versatile
Lugana’s range of styles and incredible value make the wines perennial overperformers on the table, whether classic entrees or ethnic cuisines populate the menu.
Lightweight, traditional styles of Lugana such as current-vintage Lugana and Lugana Spumante naturally lend themselves to lighter fare such as fish, white meats, and delicate raw preparations. Premier Lugana wines boast the same tension and mineral underpinnings as some of the world’s best-known classics, while offering buyers a value proposition that’s hard to top.
Though less common on American shores, Lugana Riserva and Superiore bottlings offer an inspiring canvas for developing food pairings because they can stand up to adventurous gastronomic combinations. Aromatic, spice-laden curries or hearty, herbaceous, roasted pork dishes are a natural match for the toasty complexities of aged Lugana.
5. Lugana Wines Offer Constant Discovery
As consumers become increasingly interested in discovering new and noteworthy wines, Lugana provides a valuable tableside conversation starter. The wines, thanks to their vivid aromatics and pleasant light to medium body, appeal widely to drinkers seeking an alternative to traditional, mass-produced white wines. Lugana’s uncanny ability to satisfy a range of drinkers while providing value and discovery set it apart.
Dominated by small, family-run wineries, producers in Lugana are consistently evolving as new generations embrace new and better technology to cultivate Turbiana. The result is a consistent sense of discovery in the glass in addition to continued investment from producers who see the potential of the small lakeside region. Today, an expanded interest from Italy’s next generation of winemakers is driving a renaissance on the shores of Lake Garda.
With 2,500 hectares under vine, the wines of Lugana offer a rare combination of value and nuance that makes them must-haves among forward-thinking buyers.
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