Lugana wines: Worth their Salt

27 June, 2014

Fellow producer Michele Montresor, whose father started making wine at the Otella winery in 1966, agrees: “I fly all over the world to try to introduce the Lugana DOC and culture to other countries. It’s easy in Germany and the UK but not so easy in Seoul or Shanghai. First I try to explain Italian culture, cuisine and wine, then Lugana then Otella. So I speak generally about the region then only at the end I talk about our brand so people have an idea of the philosophy and passion behind the label.”

The winery has a capacity of around 500,000 bottles a year and its current markets include Italy, Germany, UK, Holland and US – with the focus on Germany. But Montresor, too, is nervous of this spread.

“Sixty to sixty-five per cent of our production goes to foreign markets – mostly Germany. It’s OK but could be a little dangerous because we have too much market in only one country. 

“I want to focus on South America, particularly Mexico, and also Australia and China. China is very difficult at the moment. It’s very important that the wine doesn’t sit in the customs office. The government power is very important.”

With consumers in many global markets setting so much store by ‘provenance’ and ‘history’, Lugana should be a force to be reckoned with, and producers have been quick to capitalise on this. The wineries’ glossy brochures contain not only complex and thorough tasting notes, but also detailed background on the area itself and its historical roots.   

Lugana is said to be among the first districts in Italy to earn a DOC, recognising the historical tie between the wine and its specific region of origin.

And the consorzio puts focus on historical records “pertaining to the origins of viniculture in Lugana” which “seemingly trace back to the beginning of time itself, as proven by the famous archaeological find of Vitis silvestris grape seeds within Bronze Age pile dwellings in Peschiera del Garda”. It is also fond of referencing the Latin poet Catullus, who is said to have sung the praises of the area.

In line with this approach, the wineries today – most of which are relatively small and still family-owned – take pride in their history and family ties, making a point of including information on these in their literature. 

A case in point is Selva Capuzza, which lies in the center of an area that in 1859 was the scene of the bloody Battle of Solferino and San Martino – the birthplace of the Red Cross organisation.

Heading up this winery, restaurant and holiday apartment combo is Luca Formentini, whose family has been making wine since 1917. He, too, is looking to impress Asia with the story behind the wines but also has another goal in mind in terms of advancing the fortunes of his wines – he is hoping to have the first 15ha of his 50ha declared organic by the next harvest. Already, the vines are grown “following the eco-compatability protocol and we dedicate an important care regarding carbon footprint”.

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