The fascination of writing about wine is that there is always something new to be discovered. This was proven once again at The MacArthur Los Angeles tasting of Valpolicella and Lugana DOC wines from Verona, Italy.
Valpolicella is a well known Italian red wine. Not so with Lugana which is a white wine made from a local variietal named Turbiani. Production of both Valpolicella and Lagana is clustered around Verona and Lake Garda in Northern Italy.
To learn more about Lugana we had the opportunity to meet with Carlo Veronese who is director of Consorzio Tatela Lugana DOC.
The popularity of Lugana is fairly recent and now is growing at a very fast rate especially in export markets including Germany, the Northern European countries of Norway, Sweden and Denmark, but also in Japan and the U.S.
This growing popularity is also due to the fact that through the last decades Lugana has expanded into five varieties. These are Superior, Reserve, Late Harvest, Sparkling and Basic.
All these use only the Turbiana grape.
Many of the Turbiana vineyards are clustered around the southern shores of Lake Garda. Carlo explained that the lake's effect on the climate produces its own terroir with milder winters and cooler summers.
In our tasting at The MacArthur we did not neglect Valpolicella and also had the opportunity to meet and chat with Olga Bussinello who is director of Valpolicella Consorzio Tutela Vini.
Olga told us that the popularity of Valpolicella is such that 75 per cent of the wines are exported with eleven per cent of that total to the U.S. with California followed by New York as the best markets for the unique red wine.
The production of Valpolicella wines is truly unique since the grapes are not immediately crushed after harvesting. Rather the selected grapes are placed in large crates for about four months in cellars. They are then crushed and fermented in modern style tanks for about one month, the time determined by the winemaker.
The amount of time then spent in oak barrels will generally determine in what DOC category the wine is labeled. For instance a Valpolicella Classico could spend four years of aging in barrels before bottling. While a DOC Superiore could spend only one year in oak depending on the vintage. A DOC Riserva could be in barrels for Valpolicalla wines vary widely in alcohol, some at the traditional 13.5 per cent and others up to 16.5 per cent alcohol. Generally it is the DOC Classico wines that show the highest level of alcohol.
Many of the wineries growing grapes in the Verona region enjoy centuries of history in making wines. In all some seventeen wineries were present at the Los Angeles event. Some of the booths we visited included Ca Maiol, Benazzoli and Villa San Carlo.
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