With a perimeter length almost matching that of the M25 circling line, La Garda is Italy's largest body of water - 52 km long and 16 km across at its widest point. And what a wonderful holiday destination it is, with thousands of people flocking each year to enjoy its wonderful history, culture, fabulous food and natural beauty. But - did you know there' a keen wine production scene too going back thousands of years? It may not be Italy's best-known region, but it's one we're really getting excited about, having just started working with our first producer in the appellation of Lugana, one of Lake Garda's 10 appellations.
So then, what makes Lugana so special and the wines so distinctive? It all comes down to that magical French concept of 'terroir.' Crossing the regions of Veneto and Lombardy, the region sits in a fairly flat basin that was formerly a marshy area, with the lake to the north and low hills to the east, south and west formed by the southern push of the glaciers of the Ice age. The resulting soils are extremely clay-rich, and chock full of minerals. It's certainly not your most hospitable place to farm - soft and sandy when wet, and hard as stone when dry. And yet it's these conditions, along with the cooling influence of the lake where the Turbiana grape thrives...
Heard of Turbiana? Well, we weren’t entirely sure either until we tried the wonderful wines of Cascina Maddalena. If ever there was a wine made for summer toe dipping in Lake Garda, look no further! It's a highly versatile grape, with bright acidity, soft tropical and citrus flavour and distinctive mineral tang, as well as moderate alcohol levels and balanced salinity. And gosh do they age well too - in youth, there's a gently bitter green almond that becomes richer with time in bottle - almost hazelnut-like, with the merest hint of oxidation.
For years, it was confused with Trebbiano, as it was known as Trebbiano di Lugana, and was fairly recently shown to be almost genetically identical to Verdicchio. Closely related they may indeed be, but they are still genetically different! You could say Turbiana is one of Italy’s hidden gems, often overshadowed by its famous neighbors. Yet it totally deserves it time in the limelight and we think it could become your discovery of 2022!