Saturday, January 4, 2020

Sharing Lugana DOC – Winter Whites With Friends #ItalianFWT #Luganawines

Kicking off 2020 with the #ItalianFWT blogging group, Jeff from Food Wine Click! invites us to introduce Italian wines to our curious friends. Well, most of my friends are no strangers to Italian wines. But have you heard about the ‘liquid gold’ - Lugana wines from northern Italy? Susannah Gold, the Lugana DOC Wine Ambassador on the East Coast, US invited some friends to a Lugana/Indian dinner at Spice Symphony in New York City during the holiday. It was a merry night - sipping these wintery, medium-bodied Lugana wines and enjoying the Indian food that was precisely prepared to match the wines. After all, learning about these unique Italian white wines from Lugana, especially their versatility in pairing with different cuisines, was super fun too!
Lugana DOC Wines Introduced at Spice Symphony- Photo Credit: Susannah Gold
Italy is the second-largest wine exporter by volume and by value in 2018 per OIV published in April 2019. The wildly popular Italian wines in the US include Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Moscato, Chianti, Super Tuscan, Montepulciano, Barbera, and Nebbiolo…to name a few. At any price point, consumers can easily find what they need. Lugana DOC wines are priced nicely at the range from $16 to $24. To me, it’s a great bargain for these textured white wines that have some ‘chews’ to them – totally appropriate for the winter.
Lugana is located at the south shore of Italy’s largest lake, Lago di Garda, and lies partly in Veneto and partly in Lombardy. Its geo features a fairly flat basin bounded on the north by Lake Garda. On the west, south, and east, it’s surrounded by low morainic hills, which were formed by the southern push of the great Alpine glaciers of the Ice Age. The unique terroir in Lugana is formed by its uniform clay soils, temperature moderated by the large lake, and the confining hills.  
Turbiana Grapes - Phote Credit:
Turbiana is the native signature grape of Lugana wines. To be qualified for the Lugana DOC, at least 90% of the grapes need to be Turbiana.  While the styles of Lugana DOC wines slightly vary from one producer to another, these wines, in general, are dry, lush, savory, and have the stronger mouthfeel that pairs well with well-seasoned cuisines like Indian and Chinese food. You could ‘chew’ on these wines to experience the texture and hold onto the longer finish than most of the other white wines. All these characteristics qualify Lugana DOC wines as the sought-after winter white wines.

There are five types of Lugana DOC wines:
  • Lugana Spumante: Sparking wines that are produced both by the Charmat (or Martinotti) method (prise de mousse in pressurized tanks) or the Classic Method (refermentation in the bottle).
  • Lugana: Fresh, young, “standard” or “basic” Lugana that is the driving force and counter stone for the denomination as a whole, accounting for almost 90% of the DOC’s wines.
  • Lugana Superiore: a Lugana that has been aged for at least one year after harvesting, and produces a more complex taste profile.
  • Lugana Riserva: a natural evolution of the Superiore type, which must mature for at least 24 months, 6 of which in the bottle.
  • Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva: the Late Harvest version of Lugana is an elegant sweet wine that is made by over-ripening the grapes on the vine and then picking them later than usual.
We started off sipping the Luguana DOC Classic Method 2016 Olivini, a light sparkler, while we were having the Panipuri. Panipuri is an Indian street food. It is a hollow, deep-fried crispy crepe that is filled with a mixture of chickpeas and mashed potato, and tamarind and cumin flavored water. The Olivini has solid acidity that co-mingled the acidity from the tamarind water and brightened up the oily texture of the deep-fried crepe.
The next bottle was Lugana DOC CA’Maiol Molin 2018, which has pleasant acidity, great structure, aromatic herbs, and sharp finish. Its freshness really cut through the fried samosas we were having. Samosa is a fried pastry with a savory filling such as spiced potatoes, onions, peas, meat, or lentils inside the pastry. An interesting twist to this everyday Indian side is having the filling outside the pastry – great presentation too with the Inside-out samosa. The CA’Maiol Molin also went well with the paneer cheese chunk that had a cranberry filling in it, echoing the classic compatibility between wines and cheeses. Paneer is a fresh, unaged and non-melting soft cheese commonly used in  Indian cuisine. 
While love was in every bottle, Lugana DOC Superiore CA’ Vaibo 2017 Fausto Bulgarini was a true love at first sip to me. The initial sip was savory and briny - continuing into hints of wild herbs, fuller body, balanced texture, and lush mouthfeel. 
When pairing with the non-saucy tikka masala chicken thigh, this wine was mighty and retained its taste profile in light of the spices.
As we moved onto the seafood platter - curry seabass, pan-seared scallop over sweet mango sauce, and curry-sauced Basmati rice, the Lugana DOC Riserva Vigne Di Catullo 2016 Tenuta Roveglia was poured. 
The Tenuta Roveglia has a fruity accent on the nose and features a dry, subtle mineral and citrus notes, which is a perfect complement to the mildly spicy fish and scallop.
With 26% residual sugar, the Lugana DOC Vend. Tardiva Rabbiosa 2015 Marangona was a dessert by itself. It first reveals fresh sensations of aromatic herbs, hints of saffron, wildflower honey, and cardamom, and then opens to the citrus sensations of limoncella and sweet spices. To pair with this wine, the Ras Malai, a dessert made with paneer cheese, cardamom powder and pistachios, was served. Wow… a big shout-out to Jay who is the sommelier at Spice Symphony for a fantastic pairing between Lugana DOC wines and Indian cuisine!

To learn more about other Italian wines, check out my blogger friends' posts...


  1. Sounds like a great evening. So much fun. Great company, great food, great wines. What more can you ask for?

  2. I love when ONE wine pairs with so many dishes! Thank you for the introspective on Lugana, an area certainly no well known, but with fabulous wine!

    1. Yes, try Lugana wines if you see them. You won't be disappointed.

  3. How lucky are you to taste through so many. I've just tasted basic and superiore but being a bubble lover would like to taste the spumante. Thanks for sharing your detailed thoughts.

    1. I loved the superiore the most but the spumante was equally food, especially with fried food.

  4. What a fabulous night!! I’d love to find the Spumante-looks delicious!

  5. Looks like such a fun evening. I love the wines of Lugana and can absolutely see them being an excellent match with Indian food. Lucky you to get to taste so many!

  6. So many wines in Italy, it's always possible to introduce a friend to something new!

  7. Great you got to enjoy an evening with Susannah. She's great! I love the wines of that region.