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Delhi Wine Club
Italy: Lugana for Ladies, S Martino for Men

Posted: Monday, 11 July 2011 15:04

Italy: Lugana for Ladies, S Martino for Men

July 11: Lugana wine region on the shores of Lake Garda in the northern Veneto region of Italy offers some excellent wines of which doc Lugana may be perfect for the ladies while the doc San Martino might be more tempting for men, writes John Salvi MW who was happy to visit his roots recently and to see the region show its potential.

I always enjoy anything to do with wine in Italy, or anything else in Italy for that matter! It takes me back to my roots and to my grandfather, Umberto Salvi, who was a professional opera singer, a tenore lirico.

This particular adventure was to the Lugana wine region on the shores of Lake Garda. Organised by the energetic and delightful Kerin O’Keefe in conjunction with the Consorzio Volontario Tutela a Lugana D.O.C., in Sirmione. The wines of Lugana
were praised by the poet Catullo some 2,000 years ago. However, to be up to date we have to remember that what were both D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. are now both D.O.P. (an unfortunate leveler for D.O.C.G.).

We were flown to Verona, driven to Sirmione and lodged in the small but functional Hotel Aurora with a jetty and a magnificent view over the lake from our bed. There were 7 of us, including Kerin, from 5 countries.

It was an extremely intensive trip, although informative, invigorating and highly instructive. Long day finishing well after midnight after generous and gastronomic dinners, especially the evening at the magnificent Hotel Villa Cortina, which we went to by boat from the jetty of our hotel. Hospitality was lavish and we saw clearly the immense expansion and progress of AGRITURISMO, which Italy does so
well and France so badly.


Agriturismo is people with agricultural properties, usually vineyards, who have houses, villas, cottages or apartments to rent on the property, often with swimming pools and with meals provided in their own delightful restaurants, which use their own wines and produce.

The Consorzio is fortunate in having one of the finest Presidents that I have ever come across –Francesco Montresor  who is also the owner of OTELLA ESTATE and of CASCINA GIROLDA AGRITURISMO. At this latter we had the most marvelous lunch with his finest wines. Here he explained Lugana wine clearly, concisely, informatively and with an endearing and quirky sense of humour. Would that more Syndicats, Consejos and Consorzios had such a President!

Turbiano and DOC Lugana
Trebbiano di Lugana, now Turbiano, is a white grape of both fragrance and delicacy. It is not classified as aromatic. The rules and regulations allow the addition of no more than 10% of other white, non-aromatic grape varieties. It is a grape that does not easily support oak and the wines we tasted that had been made with any quantity of it were not successful.

One wine, surely excellent originally, had been kept in acacia and was catastrophic. However, in spite of being delicate, the growers in Lugana proved to me beyond a shadow of doubt, what I was originally reluctant to believe, that the wine can age gracefully and elegantly if, and only if, it is originally conceived and structured to do so. A 1982 and a 1978 both tasted maturely harmonious and elegant.

The soil that produces these wines is largely stratified clay on the slopes, mainly calcareous, interspersed on the plains with micro-organic sedimentation, rich in oxides and mineral salts, of the last post-glacial geological era.

There are only 1,004 hectares of the D.O.C. (D.O.P.) Lugana, some lying in Lombardy and some in Veneto, so it is hardly surprising that it has not so far flooded the world markets or become a household name. The best of them certainly deserve a place on the fine wine lists of wine merchants and great restaurants.

State of the Art- DOC San Martino

A tiny D.O.C., SAN MARTINO, only 65 hectares, lies adjacent. They used to call their grape variety TOKAI, but this was then forbidden by law. As the grape has never been given another legal name it is something of a conundrum and one grower, with a sense of humour, calls it “innominato” – “un-named”. Such are the impossible to follow intricacies of the Italian appellation system and agricultural laws in Italy are regional to boot and vary from Lombardy to Veneto!

Something that surprised me immensely, for such a small and relatively unknown appellation, was the extensive use of state-of-the-art, modern and highly sophisticated vinification and wine making equipment. Everything from tangential membrane filters to grape cleaning and sanitizing machines and from cold storage, filtration and fining to the highly technical use of cultured yeasts and enzymes. This knowledge of technical wine making skills was highly impressive and very far from rustic or countrified.

Not only Wine

I cannot finish this brief review without mentioning their wonderful local olive oil, cheeses and salame with which we were regaled. Both the meats (scottona beef) and the cheeses accompany perfectly the more structured and matured wines, whilst the young, crisp and fragrant Lugana are perfect with the lake fish (tench) and as an aperitif making you wonder if San Martino was for men and the fragrant Lugana for the ladies!

The Consorzio, together with their indefatigable Carlo, are to be profoundly thanked for their generous and gracious hospitality and time, as are the numerous delightful and informative proprietors that received and entertained us.

John U Salvi Master of Wine

Tag words: Italy, Lugana, San Martino, Turbiano, Trebbiano, Tokai



John U Salvi Says:

The new EU laws have officially done away with DOC and DOCG and both are now DOP (Denominazione d’Origine Protetta) in Italy and the same has happened with AOC in France (AOP) and also in Spain (DOP), Germany (gU) and all EU countries although for a limited time each country can permit the continued use of the old appellations.
The law seems to say:
“Well-established traditional national quality-labelling schemes will be kept” and can be used on the label to indicate what the new DOP or IGP is replacing (don’t expect any of the old terminology to disappear from the bottle any time soon).
“In order to preserve the particular quality characteristics of wines …. member States should be allowed to apply more stringent rules in that respect”. The EU regulations are minimum requirements, with individual countries able to regulate over and above them to preserve their own quality traditions. John U Salvi, Master of Wine

Posted @ September 30, 2011 14:53


Alfonso Cevola Says:

Lovely article... The statement, "What were both D.O.C. and D.O.C.G. are now both D.O.P." could you elucidate? Thank you @italianwineguy

Posted @ September 28, 2011 12:40


Subhash Arora Says:

Could we find some connection between my ancestors and Sonia Ji's?! Unfortunately, I can't even find out if she drinks Italian wine- or Indian-or any at all. Else I could set the ball rolling by writing about it! Aiutarmi, per favor!

Posted @ July 15, 2011 16:58


Tarsillo Says:

reading the article, 1st I believed that Subhash had an Italian ancestor, then I believed that he really liked the indefatigable Mr Carlo...

Posted @ July 15, 2011 16:47


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