An irrefutable dynamic duo of Lugana and Wine, but so much more….
The duo of Italy’s Lugana region and fine wine is a tried-and-tested ideal combination. Why? As respected Italian wine critic Luigi Veronelli aptly states: "Lugana wines have an extraordinary ability to be identified, a most rare element in wines. You taste a Lugana and if you are a good taster, you cannot forget them.”
While the Lugana area doesn’t admittedly feature as many traditional products as some other Italian districts, those that local producers do create are recognized internationally for their quality and distinction. Thanks indeed to this elevated quality, there’s little doubt about the Lugana’s contribution to fine Italian regional gastronomy and cultural impact on visitors.
Extra-virgin Olive Oil
The Lugana area is another region producing fine Extra-virgin Olive Oil, or EVOO. This production cycle has often accompanied the area’s political and economic development throughout history.
The beginning of the olive oil production in the Lugana area begins with the foundation of the area’s great monasteries. These religious structures required large amounts of oil in the use of illuminating their churches, as well as during the practices of religious rituals and everyday cooking for their brethren.
The resulting recipes of the Lugana territory elevates EVOO to a role of beyond simple condiment to a central ingredient present throughout regional recipes.
The main distinguishing characteristics of the Garda DOP extra-virgin olive oil are its lightness, its fruity, delicate notes, and the ease with which this oil is typically digested.
These elements are the result of the Lugana area’s micro-climate. Lake Garda’s large size and natural ventilation of this basin area have a direct impact on the development of the area’s climate conditions.
We find the finest area olives used in the production of Garda PDO (or DOP, in Italian) extra-virgin olive oil originating from the olive-tree friendly areas of Brescia, Verona, Mantua and Trento. Here, the most commonly-found cultivars include the Casaliva, Frantoio and Leccino varieties.
The area’s prized EVOO has an interesting spectrum of colors, ranging from pale to intense hues of green and yellow. On the nose, the Garda DOP oil features a light-to-mid note of fruitiness, with notable scents of fresh grass, aromatic plants, hay and artichoke.
As to taste, the extra-virgin oil from the Garda region is typically imbued with a harmonious scale of organoleptic notes, together with a typical almond-like aftertaste.
Pozzolengo’s Salami Morenico
The Pozzolengo area of Lugana introduces us instead to another local product with historic roots and origins in the Lugana area. Here, in order to safeguard this exquisite product, local producers have successfully been recognized for their contribution to Italy’s DOP product list. Exquisite, aromatic and unique, the Morenico Salami of Pozzolengo has rightly earned its spot on our noteworthy local products list.
This artisanal salami features 70-75% of lean meat cuts as part of its base. Adding flavor and spice to the blend is a 25-30% inclusion of fatty meat selections together with spices like salt, black pepper, cloves, and red wine. Infused for 6-8 hours together with fresh garlic cloves which are subsequently removed during the seasoning process, this salami is a specialty product found only in Pozzolengo.
The salami is indeed defined as a typical local specialty product born in nature and maturing alongside mankind. Producers create delicious Salamis that take their regionality, distinctiveness, and peculiarities “from their geographical origins, both in terms of natural factors, but also human factors. Together, these two distinct worlds have come together in perfect symbiosis to create the characteristics that make the Salami di Pozzolengo” such a unique local product.
Pozzolengo Specialty Saffron
While there are many nations across the globe producing Saffron, Italy remains a commonly cited country when speaking of top-quality Saffron.
The Grazioli family of Pozzolengo has been producing excellently-balanced saffron since 2001. Pozzolengo, a small town nestled in the morainic hills of lower Garda, is finely suited for Saffron production thanks to its Mediterranean microclimate and proximity to Lake Garda.
The result is a fine saffron with stable chemical and organoleptic properties.
Grana Padano DOP
Numbers speak volumes when we mention the following local specialty product. Grana Padano PDO cheese is one of Italy’s finest, most recognizable dairy products.
Remarkably, the hard, semi-fat cheese manages to maintain its nutritional features even during its aging process. During this time, the cheese acquires an unmistakable flavor that’s both sweet and savory.
Grana Padano DOP cheese is the result of milk taken during two separate occasions. The milks are then skimmed by a process of natural refinement. The milks are then processed according to the Grana Padano traditional methods, dating all the way back to Benedictine monk cheese-masters.
The Lugana area’s traditional production methods are clearly identifiable throughout a selection of local products, including the beloved Grana Padano DOP, as indicated above.
Lugana-area Grappa Liquor
The Lugana Grappa is a top-quality liquor enjoyed by those who love a good digestif following a red-meat menu.
This liquor is produced with local Trebbiano di Lugana pomace. The pomace is then stored in an anaerobic environment where it’s distilled with steam in a discontinuous system in small copper boilers, following the Lugana area’s ancient traditions.
Aromatically, we can pick up notes of banana, hazelnut, sage and sambuca flowers. Tastewise, the Lugana grappa leans towards an elegant sweetness. The liquor isn’t aggressive, and conquers taste buds with gentle delicacy. The ideal grappa to sip and enjoy, it’s also a successful digestif following a heavier meal.
Pairing Local Delicacies with Lugana Wines
Like many other fine Italian wines, the traditions of the Lugana area are inextricably linked to its wines and culinary heritage. Lugana wines find their perfect partners within the area’s classic gastronomical repertoire.
One significant local ingredient is the freshwater fish from Lake Garda. The area has always maintained an important relationship with freshwater fishing, from both the social, commercial, and culinary perspectives.
Lake Garda is home to a wide array of unique fish species, and thanks to an equally wide range of cooking methods, we can find no shortage of interesting dishes with which to pair Lugana wines.
From fish-based appetizers to fried fish, from boiled sea bass, shrimp and sturgeon, you’ll always find a young, fresh Lugana wine as the perfect partner for your dishes.
Lugana’s culinary traditions
Lugana’s culinary traditions also feature more complex, weighty dishes for those in search of a more substantial feast. Try speciality selections like local Garda Pike served with house sauce, Boiled Pike with Fried Anchovies (using Garda EVOO to fry, of course), Grilled Eel, Trout with Grape Sauce, Risotto with Frogs, Grilled Shellfish and Mussels, Sea Bass baked in Salt.
White meat dishes also are an integral part of the local culinary repertoire, with chicken, capon, and rabbit making an appearance. Indeed, Baked Rabbit is a top recommendation.
What to serve with these richer options?
Try the Lugana Superior and Riserva labels for a true match made in heaven.
Delayed harvest wines pair splendidly with cheese options, for those looking to shake up the menu options. The freshest cheeses like Ricotta, Robiola and Crescenza are all recommended pairings. But if you prefer a saltier, more sapid pairing, we’d recommend classic DOP selections, including the ever-present Grana Padano, as well as the Monte Veronese and Provolone Valpadana options.
If you fancy a sparkling wine, Lugana has a wide range of possibilities to test with your entire meal. With the exception of dessert, we’d recommend pairing Lugana sparkling wines with just about every antipasto option you wish - they’re perfect with cold cuts all the way through egg-based dishes.
Why Stay in Lugana?
The Lugana area is a minute miracle of the Terrior-based wine production philosophy. Thanks to its unique, rare clay-based soils and the presence of Italy’s most important lake basin, Lake Garda, we have an area with stupendously perfect conditions for local vines to thrive.
The area’s climate and winds produce a memorable enological and gastronomic experience for lovers of fine Italian wines and food.