What is Turbiana wine?

Turbiana, until recently called Trebbiano di Lugana and thought to be part of the wider Trebbiano family, was recently discovered through a DNA profiling, that is actually Verdicchio

By Lucie Robson
Nov 04, 2021
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Turbiana in 30 seconds

  • Turbiana is a white grape that makes fruity wines with high acidity and aromas, gentle salinity, and flavors of orchard and stone fruit.

  • Turbiana is versatile and used to make still dry, off-dry, and sparkling wines.

  • The traditional center of Turbiana production is Lugana DOC close to Lake Garda in Northeast Italy. Lugana straddles the provinces of Verona and Brescia.

  • Turbiana is known by other names including Trebbiano di Lugana, Trebbiano di Soave, Trebbiano Verde, and Verdicchio. While it’s related to some of these varieties, it has its own phenological make up. 

Learn about Turbiana

Turbiana is genetically similar to another more famous white Italian grape: Verdicchio. While they are closely related, they are distinct varieties and Turbiana has its own place in Italy’s register of grape varieties. A relatively rare grape, entry-level still Turbiana makes fresh, acidic, medium alcohol wines with orchard and stone fruit while higher-quality expressions feature tropical fruit, citrus, and nutty notes as they age. Sparkling Turbiana features bright fruity notes.

 

Turbiana Flavors

Turbiana is an early budder but a late ripener. As it ages, it changes from a pale straw hue to golden in color. This leads to later, slower ripening which accounts for its stone fruit profile and tropical notes. This grape also features distinct almond notes, especially in the aged wines. The nearby large Lake Garda provides cooling breezes which contribute to Turbiana’s acidity and fresh character. Sweet Turbiana has a delicate sugar with an off-dry rather than a very sweet character.

Turbiana Tasting Notes

Regulations in Lugana DOC dictate that the wine must be at least 90% Turbiana with 10% permitted for other white grapes. Often winemakers use 100%. Still wines are fresh and acidic with a light body.
Youthful Turbiana has delicate aromas and flavors of florals, green apple, pear, and peach. Aged Turbiana features florals, lemon, pineapple, and almond aromas and flavors. It’s acidic with a light to medium body.
Sweet Turbiana has rich stone fruit flavors and bright acidity.
Sparkling Turbiana has delicate fruit aromas and flavors and a gentle, persistent mousse.

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Turbiana Wine Styles

Turbiana from Lugana is made in five styles covering youthful dry and aged dry, sweet, and sparkling expressions.

Youthful still wine: Lugana DOC: Young, fresh wines released shortly after harvest.

Aged still wine: Lugana Superiore: Must be aged for at least 12 months before release.

Lugana Riserva: Must be aged 24 months before  release including six months in bottle.

Sweet and sparkling: Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva: Grapes are harvested late until late October or early November to concentrate sugars for a kiss of sweetness.

Lugana Spumante: Sparkling Turbiana made with the Tank Method or Metodo Classico (the same way Champagne is made).

 

Youthful Dry and Aged Dry Style

Youthful dry Lugana DOC Turbiana is fresh and fruity with notes of green fruit and peach. It has high acidity, medium alcohol, and a light body. Dry styles that are aged include Lugana Superiore which has notes of stone fruit and citrus, bright acidity, and more body than Lugana DOC. Another aged, dry style is Lugana Riserva which has complex orchard, stone, citrus, plus tropical fruit notes, lively acidity, a medium body, and a long almond finish.

 

Sweet Style

Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva grapes are picked late allowing the berry sugars to fully develop. This gives the wine an off-dry character, rich citrus, stone, and tropical tones, and notes of almond. Oak aging adds body and structure.

 

Sparkling Style

Lugana Spumante is a sparkling style of wine made from Turbiana grapes. If it’s made with the Tank Method, it’s light and fruity while with the Metodo Classico, there are hints of brioche as well as signature fruity notes.

 

Turbiana Food Pairing

Turbiana is a white grape that makes acidic, fruity wines ranging from youthful to off-dry, and gently rich. This profile means it’ll pair well with light meats and poultry, salads, risottos, fish, and delicate desserts.

 

Meat and Fish

Turbiana is a fresh, white wine so it pairs perfectly with a range of fish dishes. It also has the fruitiness to match poultry and light meats. The following meat and fish go well with this wine:

  • Charcuterie platters.
  • Seafood with light sauces or in deep-fried batter.
  • Seafood pasta.
  • Game and poultry dishes.
  • Light Asian and Indian cuisine.
  • Oysters.

Vegetables

Turbiana has the lightness and acidity to pair well with a huge range of vegetable side appetizers, side dishes, and entrées. These suggestions are examples of recipes that match this white wine:

  • Crudités with dips.
  • Salads with light cheeses and dressings.
  • A range of vegetable soups.
  • Creamy tomato or mushroom risotto.
  • Sauteed, grilled, or tempura vegetables complement Turbiana’s acidity.

Cheese and Sweets

Since it’s made in a range of styles, Turbiana matches a selection of cheeses and sweets. Whether dry or sweet, still or sparkling, it’s fruity and fresh profile, make it ideal for the following cheeses and desserts: 

  • Fresh cheeses like Ricotta and older, sharper cheeses like Grana Padano.
  • Lightly sweet creamy desserts like panna cotta or mixed fruit crumble.
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Turbiana types

There are two main areas in Lugana where Turbiana displays distinct characteristics because of the slight differences in terroir. These areas are the shores of Lake Garda and inland.

 

Lake Garda Shores Turbiana

Flavors/tasting notes: 

  • Saline quality.
  • Tart style.

Turbiana from vineyards close to Lake Garda like Desenzano, Peschiera, and Sirmione tends to produce tarter styles of wine with more distinct saline notes. However, its overall style, whether it’s Superiore, Riserva, Vendemmia Tardiva, or Spumante, also impacts the aromas and flavors of each wine.

 

Inland Turbiana

Flavors/tasting notes: 

  • Fresh & light.
  • Bright fruit.

Turbiana cultivated on the sandy hillsides of Lugana and farther inland from Lake Garda (Lonato, and Pozzolengo for instance) make bright expressions of the grape with fresh fruit aromas and flavors. If it’s made in a Superiore, Riserva, Vendemmia Tardiva, or Spumante style, its profile will further reflect the specific winemaking. 

 

Origin

Where is Turbiana grown?

Turbiana is the main grape in the Lugana appellation, but wines may contain up to 10% of other white varieties. The DOC hugs Lake Garda’s clay and mineral-rich shores in Northeast Italy with the body of water contributing cooling breezes to surrounding vineyards as well as a pleasant slightly salty tang to Turbiana wines. This picturesque region has winemaking roots that go back to ancient Roman times and has been a  DOC since 1967. It encompasses approximately 130 producers making around 16 million bottles annually. Turbiana is related to Trebbiano and was, for many years, confused with Verdicchio grown widely in Marche located on Italy’s east-central coast. It has since been confirmed as its own stand-alone varietal.

 

How is Turbiana made?

There are five styles of Turbiana in Lugana. They are Lugana DOC, Lugana Superiore, Lugana Riserva, Lugana Vendemmia Tardiva, and Lugana Spumante.

 

The first three are still wines and undergo vinification that focuses on preserving the fresh primary fruit flavors. Winemaking alters slightly with each style. Lugana Superiore must undergo at least 12 months of aging resulting in a more complex, structured wine than straight Lugana DOC. Lugana Riserva has to age for a minimum of 24 months, developing deeper fruit flavors plus smoky tones and rich minerality. Superior and Reserve is increasingly seeing lees (yeast remnants) and oak aging for more body and flavor.

 

Vendemmia Tardiva is made with passerillage grapes which means fruit that’s been left late on the vine before harvest. This enables sugars, acids, and flavors to concentrate.

Lugana Spumante is made in both the Tank Method and the Metodo Classico. The Tank method is free from lees or oak so produces bright fruity bubbly. The Metodo Classico features lees and oak so produces a more evolved fruit profile with bready notes and more complexity.

 

What kind of wine is similar to Turbiana?

Still Wines

  • Verdicchio dei Castelli di Jesi, Marche, Italy.
  • Trebbiano d’Abruzzo, Abruzzo, Italy.
  • Fiano, Campania, Italy.
  • Greco, Campania, Italy.
  • Soave, Veneto, Italy.
  • Full-bodied Sauvignon Blanc, New Zealand.
  • Grüner Veltliner, Austria.

Sparkling

  • Prosecco (Glera), Veneto, Italy.
  • Franciacorta, Lombardy.

Sweet

  • Alsace Vendange Tardive, France.
  • Spätlese, Germany

Fun facts

  • Turbiana is the official name for Trebbiano di Lugana.
  • About 25% of Lugana’s vineyards could be lost to tracks for a new high-speed train. The jury is still out on whether the plans will go ahead or not, and local vintners are fighting it.
  • The Lugana region received its first wine certification in the 1700s.
  • Lugana wine is something of a hidden gem and often unjustly overshadowed by more famous, neighboring wines. It’s worth tasting a glass of dry, sweet, or sparkling Turbiana before it gets too popular!
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