Going with Lugana in 2021 #ItalianFWT

Colli Vaibo “Gemma” Lugana Riserva DOC

Like many wine writers, I’m asked all the time what’s my favorite wine. My response is always: what’s on the menu?

Because there are so many unusual and indigenous wines in Italy, choosing a favorite Italian wine is even harder, as impossible as choosing a favorite child. (Fortunately that one’s easy for me as I only have one child!)

In January 2020, here on Wine Predator we considered how to introduce someone to Italian Wine, selecting several favorites. In “4 To Try in 2020: Italy’s Franciacorta, Friuli, Chianti, Mt. Etna” we offered these four wines ranging from northern Italy to southern Sicily:

  • Instead of Prosecco, we asked, how about a sparkling wine from Lombardy’s Franciacorta?
    Introducing: Franciacorta Brut DOCG NV Girolamo Conforti, specifically, a Brut made from 80% chardonnay and 20% pinot bianco.
  • Instead of just any pinot grigio, we suggested how about one that is DOC from Friuli?
    Introducing: 2017  Terlato Friuili Pinot Grigio – D.O.C.
  • Instead of an inexpensive, generic, chemical and pesticide laden sangiovese, we proposed how about a DOCG Chianti that’s organic?
    Introducing: Monte Maggio – Chianti Classico – Riserva – DOCG
  • Instead of any old rose, we asked how about a biodynamic one from old vines grown on the high altitude slopes of volcanic Mt Etna in Sicily?
    Introducing: 2016 – Vinudilice – Vino Rosato 

In yesterday’s post, Sue Hill –my partner here on Wine Predator– chose 20 of her favorite pairings from 2020 and no surprise, many of them featured Italian wines. For example:

I’d also add wines from these wineries imported by Verovino:

But lacking a clear favorite, or direction for a meal, I’m going with Lugana, a white wine from northern Italy, and we have five to suggest paired with various seafood dishes from informal fish tacos to seared ahi tuna and cracked crab. We’ve also found this wine pairs wonderfully with chicken — from grilled with pesto and asparagus to chicken piccata.



Located beside large Lake Garda, Lugana DOC is very small and straddles two larger and better known regions: Lombardy and Veneto. Milan is a two hour drive to the west and Venice is about 90 minutes.

We wrote a series of posts Fall 2018 a year after my introduction to Lugana in 2017 at the Wine Media Conference where I first tasted it and attended a guided tasting and seminar led by Deborah Parker Wong.

In this introduction to Lugana DOC, I wrote that Lake Garda “was formed by glaciers coming down from the nearby Dolomites at the end of the last Ice Age. When the glacier receded, it left a large moraine which dammed and retained the melt water. Before agriculture, a dense, marshy forest called “Selva Lucana” covered the land. According to the Consortia Tutelar Lugana, the soils are “stratified clays of morainic origin while sedimentary in nature are Calcareous and rich in mineral salts, with more sand in the hillier part of the D.O.C. Difficult to work, the soil compacts easily, becomes hard during drought, and soft and muddy when it rains.

“However,” they point out, “it is these very chemical and physical features that make it the source of Lugana’s organoleptic qualities, because they give the wine clean, powerful scents that combine hints of almonds and citrus fruits, as well as acidity, tanginess and a well-balanced structure.”

Lake Garda regulates the temperatures in the vineyards in the region (see above) by providing consistent cool breezes to moderate the heat which makes for a more balanced wine with plentiful acidity but generous fruit.

Lugana wines come in five styles:

  • “Lugana” — recently released
  • Lugana Superiore — aged at least one year
  • Luguna Riserva — aged  at least 24 months, 6 of which are in bottle
  • Lugana vendemmia tardiva — late harvest
  • Spumante or sparkling

According to Andrea Bottarel, director of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana DOC, “It is extremely important to understand that, unlike some other regions, due to the territory being mainly flat and with subtle differences in soil composition and climate, there may be a difference in wine profiles, but not in quality. Vineyards closer to [Lake Garda] will tend to produce slightly sharper wines with a more distinctive salinity, and the ones closer to the lower and sandier hillside, will tend to produce slightly bolder whites, sometimes with bolder fruit. This of course applies to single vineyard wines, but there are also producers aiming for balance and either growing or buying grapes from different parcels.”


What is it about Lugana?

It has so many different expressions, and it changes radically when treated with oak, given some age, or presented as a sparkling wine. Regardless, I find something magical about it — in younger, fresher, unoaked wines, it has a zesty personality while in older wines there’s an almost foamy lushness and richness to the palate.

All wines are 
samples for my review consideration. No other compensation was provided.

  • 2018 Malavasi San Giacomo Pozzolengo, Lugana DOC   
  • 2017 Le Morette “Mandolara” Lugana DOC
  • 2015 Le Morette Riserva Lugana DOC 
  • 2015 Gemma Colli Vaibo Riserva Lugana DOC
  • 2016 Tenuta Roveglia Vigne di Catullo Lugana Riserva DOC


2018 Malavasi San Giacomo Pozzolengo, Lugana DOC
ABV 13%
This wine was supplied so I could participate in a #WineStudio twitter event.

Color: Very pale yellow, there is an appearance of very tiny bubbles

Nose: Soft, lemon creme chiffon, sweet on the nose, minerals, wet stone, lake shore waters,

Palate: There is a smooth quality on the palate, nice acidity and minerals. Fresh and alive, even though there is the appearance of tiny bubbles in the glass, there isn’t any effervescence on the palate.

Pairing: The ocean essence of the oyster goes very nicely with the wine.  So great with Sue’s super sourdough bread. I can imagine a glass of this wine with a cup of chowder and sourdough bread. The nutty richness of the sesame oil and the rich meatiness of the fresh seared tuna are a wonderful compliment to the wine. The fresh tart boysenberries compliment the wine.


2017 Le Morette “Mandolara” Lugana DOC
ABV 12.5%
SRP $19

Color: Lemon, pale

Nose: Citrus, stone

Palate: Light, bright, citrus

Pairing: Oysters, seared ahi on greens salad.

2015 Le Morette Riserva Lugana DOC
ABV 13.5%

I am in love with this wine; the spice and lingering finish makes memories.

Color: Lemon gold, medium hue

Nose: Spice, nutmeg, spiced apple cider, clove, cardamom, coriander, citrus flowers, saffron, snow along a stony creek

Palate: Rich chai spices, spiced apple cider, lemon spice tea, round enveloping mouthfeel, thick and Lucious with a long finish.

Pairing: Cracked crab dipped in melted butter with garlic on a bed of buttery penne pasta was divine. So good no photos!


2015 Gemma Colli Vaibo, Lugana Riserva DOC
ABV 14.5%
This wine was supplied so I could participate in a #WineStudio twitter event.

Color: Pale lemon

Nose: Caramel apple, oak, hint of pineapple. We were fooled by this wine in a blind tasting thinking it was an oaked Chardonnay.

Palate: Pineapple, caramel apple, nice round mouthfeel, there is a fair amount acidity, that makes you salivate, velvety on the palate. Tastes like oak and lees. If you like an oaky buttery Chardonnay, you will like this wine.

Pairing: Great with mussels and clams in butter with pasta.

2016 Tenuta Roveglia Vigne di Catullo Lugana Riserva DOC
ABV 13%
This wine was supplied so I could participate in a #WineStudio twitter event.

Color: Pale lemon, pale daffodil

Nose: This wine reminded Sue of sea grass and ocean breeze. Lots of minerality, very little fruit, possibly an under ripe pear, green apple.

Palate: This wine has a very interesting complexity. Bright acidity, such a lovely mouthfeel, I found some pepper, white pepper, perfect mouthfeel very round and viscous.

Pairing: So fantastic with our mango salsa, very nice with the fish tacos, and the mexican rice which brings out a fruity sweetness in the wine.

Here’s another wine and some more pairings:

The Italian Food Wine Travel group of writers are sharing their favorite Italian red and white wines with you!

  • Wendy at A Day in the Life on the Farm will be featuring A Lovely Bottle of Taurasi paired with a Delicious Meal of Beef Tips Marsala.
  • Robin at Crushed Grape Chronicles serves up Bacon and Butternut Pasta with a Langhe DOC Nebbiolo.
  • Susannah at Avvinare will be Taking a Closer Look at Vernaccia di San Gimignano.
  • Camilla at the Culinary Adventures with Camilla will be Capping off the Old Year with Cappelleti in Brodo + G.D. Vajra Barolo Albe 2016.
  • Lynn at Savor the Harvest will showcase how Lagrein Reigns in Alto Adige.
  • Terri at Our Good Life is cooking up An Italian favorite: Chianti Classico with Baked Salmon and Stuffed Mushroom Caps.
  • Linda at My Full Wine Glass will talk about What if you could blend your own Pinot Grigio?
  • Li at The Wining Hour will be Keeping it Fresh and Fun with Fiano.
  • Cindy at Grape Experiences will bring us on A Return to Piemonte with Marenco Scrapona Moscato d’Asti 2019 and Bagna Cauda.
  • Gwendolyn at Wine Predator will be Going with Lugana.
  • Katarina at Grapevine Adventures will be sharing 3 Wines to Get 2021 off on the Right Foot.
  • Jen, our host, at Vino Travels is Starting the New Year off Right with Chianti Classico.

Pesto pasta with asparagus and mushrooms wrapped in grilled chicken


8 thoughts on “Going with Lugana in 2021 #ItalianFWT

  1. What a great slice of Italy you choose, such a picturesque area and oh that Lugana! I’ve yet to have Lugana with oysters but know that’ll be in my future. Happy New Year to you and Sue!

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I fell in love with the Wines of Lugana at a session at the Wine Media Conference. They are such diverse wines, and the Riservas are dreamy. I always picture sitting lakeside, quietly savoring a glass. Someday, I’ll visit.

    Liked by 1 person

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