Another Glass, Please - no. 3

 

I had lunch the other day with a fellow wine importer at the Brackenbury in Hammersmith (a lovely local restaurant) and, most generously, he brought three wines with him for us to taste.  All were excellent.  However, the stand-out bottle was the Lugana 2016 from Cà dei Frati, an estate located in the north-west of Italy, a tiny area between Lombardy and the Veneto.

Production of wine in the region has been under threat for some years now, due to proposals to build a high-speed bullet train connection between Milan and Venice. Should it go ahead, it will rob the area of some 25% of its 1,100 hectares of wine-producing land, carve a gash into the scenery and severely impact the region’s tourism. One can only hope that this development doesn’t come to pass, as the wine I drank that afternoon was seriously impressive and deserves to be better-known.

Made from 100% Turbiana (aka Trebbiano di Lugana) and genetically identical to the oft-maligned Verdicchio, these grapes, grown on the mineral-rich glacial soils of the southern shores of Lake Garda, display somewhat different characteristics; the customary thinness and acidity of Verdicchio is richer and rounded-out, more florally aromatic and emphatically fruity.

After pressing, the juice is fermented and aged on lees for six months in stainless steel before bottling, followed by a further two months in bottle before release. Lees ageing (in Muscadet, seen on labels as ‘sur lie’), where the wine is allowed to maintain contact with the dead yeast cells and grape particle sediment (fine lees) for a period of time after fermentation, lends complexity, flavour and texture to white wines and its influence can certainly be noted here.

This gorgeously balanced dry wine opens with appetising aromas of lemon and honeysuckle, featuring more pronounced grapefruit and melon and apricot flavours on the palate. It finishes attractively lively and crisp, with a minerally savouriness.

It would make a superb aperitif, but has the heft, depth of flavour and intensity to cope with a creamy fish dish, such as the haddock, mashed potatoes, spinach and poached egg yolk I enjoyed for lunch. It would make a wonderful match for any poultry or white meat and is a guaranteed crowd-pleaser for those seductively warm late-spring afternoons in the garden.

Available for around £19.00 from Philglas & Swiggot (www.philglas-swiggot.com) and Valvona & Crolla (www.valvonacrolla.co.uk)


Richard Dudley Craig, Wine Consultant and Importer

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