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The Enjoyable Wine Tasting That Didn’t Happen!

Lugana & Valpolicella winetasting

We live in the mid-Atlantic region, so it takes us 1 1/2 to 2 hours to make a trip into the center of Washington, DC via car and Metro. We don’t mind the trip especially when we are cordially invited to a special wine tasting. This week was the first time we had trekked into the city for a wine tasting and a seminar but there were no wines to taste! You may wonder why a wine tasting event did not have wines available. It was all explained to us.

One of our early wine courses emphasized the three entities that influence the wine in your glass. These include the vineyard, the winemaker and government. Government can control the vineyards with laws on whether you can irrigate or not. During winemaking, government may have laws regarding chaptalization. Then there are numerous rules regarding labeling the bottle. In short, it was government that controlled the lack of wine in our glasses. Ours; not their’s!

The tasting that wasn’t.

It seems that a specific customs agent in the United States was not happy with the paperwork. Even though the wine was labeled not for sale and it was for a media and trade tasting, the customs agent decided the paperwork was missing one small item. Crazy!?! Maybe she was new to this line of work, or maybe not… Was it the ugly side of prohibition re-occurring? We were told that the same paperwork passed customs in another US city. In any event everyone who arrived for the “tasting that didn’t happen” was interested in the extremely informative seminar that was presented. The event was worthwhile attending. Seminar details follow.

Lugana D.O.C, Italy

The tag for the Lugana seminar was “50 Years of Elegant and Charming Tradition.” The first presenter was Carlo from the Lugana Consortium  who provided an extensive look at the Lugana D.O.C located at the far end of Lake Garda in Italy. Carlo began with a description of the geography. Lugana is located at the foot of Lake Garda and is between Verona and Brescia. The soil varies between 35 m a.s.l. and 135 m a.s.l. The glacier during the RISS era brought pebbles and stones. Lake Garda moderates the temperatures of the land and as a result there is little difference between daytime and nighttime temperatures. The wind off the lake helps to lower the humidity in the vineyards.

The Lugana wine industry is known for the Turbiana grapes. Turbiana is related to the Trebbinao di Soave variety. In Carlo’s presentation, it was noted that the Turbiana grape is low-yielding. 

In 2017 Lugana had 2,113 hectares (5,221 acres) of grapes. Also Lugana winemakers bottled 16,188,673 bottles.  Lugana D.O.C. has 196 grape growers and 113 bottlers. Germany is the main market for the Lugana wines; however, they also ship wine to Japan, the United States and the United Kingdom. 

Lugana Wines

All Lugana wines may have 10% complementary grapes as long as the grapes do not influence the aromatics of the wine.

Ninety percent of Lugana D.O.C. wines are produced in the standard way.

Lugana Superiore wines were introduced in 1998. These wines are aged for a least one year after harvest. 

Lugana Riserva wines are aged for at least 24 months with 6 months of aging in the bottle.

Lugana Vendermina Tardiva is a Late Harvest wine. These wines are produced with grapes over-ripened on the vine.

The hashtag for Lugana is #savelugana. 

Valpolicella D.O.C. Italy

The presentation of the Valpolicella D.O.C. was by Nicola from Valpolicella Consorzio Tutela Vini, who introduced  Valpolicella as the “Land of Wine, Charm and Tradition.” 

The Valpolicella D.O.C. is located north of Verona. The area covers 30,000 hectares of which 8,000 hectares are vineyards. The Valpolicella region is strongly affected by Lake Garda and therefore the area has a moderate continental climate.

The area has four basic soil types.

  1. Limestone matrix
  2. River Alluvial Debris
  3. Adige Alluvial Debris
  4. Volcanic rocks

Valpolicella D.O.C. wines must be made with corvina and rondinella. Other optional varieties are  corvinone and Molinara. From one blend the winemakers produce four different types of wine.

The region produces three D.O.C wines.

  • Valpolicella D.O.C. 
  • Valpolicella D.O.C. Classico
  • Valpolicella D.O.C. Valpantena

While we have been to Italy several times, we have yet to visit the Lugana D.O.C or the Valpolicella D.O.C. – just two more destinations to add to our bucket list. We enjoyed the opportunity to learn more about Lugana D.O.C. and Valpolicella D.O.C. However, the experience would have been enhanced if the wines for the wine tasting had been delivered in time for the event. We hope to discover some of these wines in our local region so that we can write about them in future blogs.


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