Last week, I realized that during the month of January, I have been fixated on wines from Italy. The wines in our January Wine Club box highlight the Barbera grape, which is one of my favorite varietals to enjoy because of its juicy fruit and versatility with foods. The wines we have shared with you have been red wines from the two top wine growing regions in Italy – Piedmont and Tuscany. To continue our Italian theme and close out the month of January, I thought we should highlight a couple of white Italian wines that we carry, but that you may not have noticed. There are delicious white wines made virtually all over Italy, many that are extremely affordable, but I decided to focus on two from the north: one wine is from as far north as you can go near the Austrian Border and the other wine is from just south of the point of the beautiful Lake Garda.
One of the more scenic wine trips I have experienced was to Alto Adige and the town of Bolzano. The drive there was incredible. Driving from the south, up narrow and winding roads, we traveled through the Dolomites, a mountain range in the Italian Alps close to the border with Austria. As I traveled closer to Bolzano, I noticed the signs were printed in both Italian and German. I think it was April and it was snowing heavily; I could not imagine how people grew grapes here! But they do, very well actually and it is certainly a region to know especially for white wine lovers. Pinot Grigio in general is light and dry, something many people look for in a white wine but lots of people tell me they are too light and thin. Not the ones from here, in general the Pinot Grigio from these high-altitude vineyards are packed with stone fruit, almond and citrus flavors.
Colterenzio is one of the most successful cooperatives in Europe. If you are not familiar with this in terms of wine, a cooperative is a group of farmers in a specific area, all who are too small or lack certain tools to make their own wine. Together, they pool their resources, and in this case, grape juice! Colterenzio comprises over 300 families working together on over 700 acres of steep vineyard sites. Wines from here consistently receive outstanding reviews. Today’s featured wine has been awarded over 90 points for the last five vintages. Some of their wines I have seen score over 95 points. The microclimate here has a huge contrast between day and nighttime temperatures, retaining brilliant acidity in the wines. I think this is a wine fans of Pinot Grigio should try, but also if you are skeptical of this grape, try it, it may change your mind.
While Pinot Grigio is a very well-known wine, Lugana is still a bit of a secret among Italian wine insiders. It is made with the rare Trebbiano di Lugana grape, now called Turbiana. For years it was believed to be closely related to Trebbiano despite growers denying any similarities. Recent studies show Turbiania is much more related to the Verdicchio varietal. Regardless, the Lugana DOC is located on the southern shores of Lake Garda, an important factor that helps the area cool during the summer, stay warmer in the spring and it has a constant breeze to help ward off disease near harvest.
The Lugana we carry is from Azienda Agricola Ottella. Ottella was founded in 1880 by the Montresor family who were grape growers for many generations near Lake Garda. The winery remains in the same family today, owned by Lodovico, Francesco and Michele Montresor. They farm approximately 60 acres of Lugana. They produce two different Lugana's; today’s offering and a bottling called "Creete" which is harvested a little later, spends more time on its lees and has some oak aging. Ottella Lugana DOC is very aromatic, crisp and flavorful. It is a little like an un-oaked Chardonnay sometimes showing tropical flavors. I love enjoying it with white fish, chicken piccata or risotto!
While it might be cold outside and we think more of red wines this time of the year, these are both refreshing and very well made, perfect for when you have lighter meals this winter. We have carried both of these wines for years, if you have not tried them in the past, now is a great time. In stock at all locations, give them a try, you might want to grab a case (or two) come springtime!
90 Points - Wine Advocate
"A value production of 180,000 easy screw-cap bottles, the 2020 Alto Adige Pinot Grigio offers fresh layers of lemon, green apple, kiwi and a hint of summer grass or dried straw. This is an easy-drinking wine with a cheerful and immediate personality that would pair with an epic platter of fried shrimp. However, you also get that touch of extra complexity and tonic freshness that comes easily to the high-altitude wines of the Italian Dolomites." - Monica Larner
91 Points - Wine Enthusiast & Editors' Choice
"Intense aromas of white spring flower, grapefruit and pineapple leap from the glass. The grapefruit note marches over to the tangy, refreshing palate along with white peach, tropical fruit and crisp acidity. It closes on a saline note." - Kerin O’Keefe (09/21)
Comments will be approved before showing up.