A Journey to Lugana – Italy’s Elegant White Wines

Lugana DOC

This month the Italian Food, Wine and Travel group is focusing on the wines of Lugana.  The region is making a splash in the US, so take a journey with us to explore Lugana and its elegant, crisp, white wines.

Lugana is a small, treasured wine region in Northern Italy. The region produces beautifully elegant white wines.  It is a charming region at the base of Lake Garda with beautiful azure water and the Alps as a dramatic backdrop. Lugana DOC just celebrated their 50th harvest last year and some of the wines tasted below are representative of this very special milestone.

Map Lugana

Lugana was the first white DOC to be established in Lombardy in 1967.  It is a DOC which straddles Lombardy and  Veneto; 90% of the vineyards are in Lombardy and 10%  are in Veneto. There are close to 200 producers in Lugana with 2113 hectares. Some popular brands of the region are Zenato and Cà Maiol.

Five Variations of Lugana Wines
  • Lugana – Fresh and young in style, makes up 90% of the wines from this region.  They are pale straw yellow in color.  The aromatics are quite pronounced with delicate floral notes with a dry and lively taste.
  • Lugana Superiore – The wines need to  be aged for at least 1 year, so the flavor profile is more complex. The color is more golden. It has intense structure, nice acidity and textured mouthfeel . It will age well for several years.
  • Lugana Spumate – Spumante wines are made with the Charmat-Martinotti process. There is nice salinity and acidity with notes of almond and brioche.
  • Lugana Riserva –  Riserva wines are matured for 24 months with at least six months aging in the bottle. It has a bright hue and is more complex and evolved.  The wine is intense, full bodied and rich in flavors and complexities.  Has lovely minerality and  flinty, balsamic notes.  These are wines that can be aged.
  • Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva – This is a fun new category that allows more experimentation.   The grapes are late harvest and picked in October or November.  These wines are rich and concentrated but not overly sweet.  There are only two producers in Lugana that make this wine, so they are truly special

Lake Garda is the biggest lake in Italy formed by glaciers. The soils that are composed of fossils, clay, and limestone. Lugana lies at the bottom of the Lake on the southern end.  It is a small region approximately ten kilometers by ten kilometers. The climate is Mediterranean, with winds from the lake to keep the region warm.

The soils of the region are ideal for growing Trebbiano di Lugana(locally known as Turbiana). Trebbiano ripens late and thus the grape extracts a lot of richness from the soils.  Though there is only one grape varietal, there is no shortage of style and personalities amongst the wines.

Lugana DOC Trebbiano

Americans typically drink Chardonnay or Sauvignon Blanc, but Lugana wines are a great alternative. The wines are fresh and low in alcohol,  Lugana wines are not powerful , they are more restrained and elegant with its crispness, bright aromatic and an interesting balance between fruit and minerality.  Lugana gets better and better in the bottle and ages with complexity and balance. When looking for your next bottle of white wine, be sure to reach for an elegant bottle from Lugana.

I had the privilege to taste the wines of Lugana with the Consortium Di Tutela Lugana DOC at the Wine Bloggers Conference in Walla Walla on October 5th 2918.  Luca Formentini, the President of the Consorzio Tutela Lugana and Carlo Veronese, the Director, presented a guided tasting that introduced Lugana’s terroir and the winemaking that creates a broad range of wine styles from the indigenous Turbiana.  We had the opportunity to taste the current-vintage 2017s, Riserva and late harvest wines.  The seminar gave an in-depth  understanding of variety’s longevity and aging potential.

Lugana DOC Selva Capuzza 2017

This is Luca Formentini’s wine made on old vineyards that is 100% Trebbiano.  The vineyard is small with only 4 hectares,  The label has lovely circles on the bottle to note the  timelessness of Lugana wines.  Luca says, “Lugana wines are not afraid of time as they can age and develop beautifully with time”.  The wines are pure and a true expression of the grape. This wine was is extremely special for Luca as it is  the families 100th harvest.

Lugana DOC Molin Ca’ Maiol 2017

Ca’Maiol is widely available in the United States as it is owned by Santa Margherita group.  The wine comes from 15-25 year old vines.  You get nice salinity with lovely notes of almond .  The salinity comes from the clay soils.

Lugana DOC Benedictus Le Morette 2016

This wine is made on the Veneto side of Lugana.  Again we get salinity and structure.  The wine is a classic example of how Lugana wines have distinct personality from producer to producer. There is a fragrant aromatic profile of tropical fruit.

Lugana DOC Riserva Vigne Di Catullo Tenuta Roveglia 2015

There is a bright straw yellow hue. On the nose a lot of ripe fruit, peach and quince, with a creamy and harmonious mouthfeel.  It is aged 18 months in tank and 6 months in bottle.  This Riserva comes from 45-55 year old vines.  The wine honors the famous poet Catullo who was a passionate wine lover.  The wine has great potential to age.

Lugana DOC Vend. Tard. Rabbiosa Marangona 2015

The grapes for this wine were harvested on Nov 11, on San Martino which marks the end of agriculture year.  All agricultural products are harvested, and there is a big festival on this day.  This wine has only 14 grams sugar.  There are hints of botrytis with notes of honeysuckle and almonds.

Lugana DOC Back to Silence Ottella 2017

Silence Ottella is a new style of wine.  This is a more modern style Lugana wine, almost orange.  You taste the characters of Lugana with the salinity.  This is an experimental wine pushing the envelope on the style of Lugana wines.  Only 4000 bottles are produced.  Tasting this wine, it was evident that there is different styles and different personalities of Lugana wines.  On the palate very much like an orange wine.  Here the Trebbiano makes an absolutely fantastic variation as a near orange wine.  Notes of mandarin oranges, raspberry jam and a touch of dried pineapple. An incredible wine that surprised me in so many ways.

The following two wines were samples that were sent to me and are wonderful expression of the Trebbiano grape varietal.

Camilla Malavasi Lugana DOC 2016

Deep straw yellow color with pleasant fruity citrus bouquet.  Excellent fruit profile with pleasant acidity and long mouth finish.  Perfect with fish and pasta dishes.

Bulgarini Lugana DOC 2016

Straw yellow hues with delicate hints of peach and apricot.  Fresh on the palate with nice structure and intense flavors.  Notes of almonds that are typical of the Trebbiano grape.

I am sure Lugana wines have sparked your interest.  Be sure to check out the other articles from my fellow wine writers from Italian Food, Wine and Travel.  Gwen from WinePredator will be hosting this month so be sure to join our Twitter chat on Saturday, October 6, 2018 from 11:00 – 12:00pm EST. Our hashtag is #ItalianFWT.


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  1. Tasting at the recent conference with Luca sounds like a highlight! I’d love to try a few of the wines he discussed, especially Silence Ottella. Cheers to Lugana!

  2. I agree that Lugana is a great alternative to chardonnay and sauvignon blanc — it’s very food friendly and flexible too! What a wonderful opportunity to taste them at WBC18 — i know I loved my experiences with Lugana at WBC17!


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