There’s no cooperative winery in Lugana, but whether they have three or 150 hectares, local vintners cooperate and support each other, particularly the younger ones. This generational change is one of the appellation’s greatest strengths. Below, we introduce four of Lugana’s young winemakers.
A country family with its roots in the land and its fruits, three years ago Stefano Abate, 35, and his brother Marco, 32, decided to pick up where their forebears left off and make wine. Their grandfather sold wine in bulk in demijohns, while their father sold grapes and made wine for friends. The brothers began bottling wine with the 2018 vintage. ‘We had other jobs but have always loved the land’, says Stefano, ‘so in 2017 we turned back to our farming values and the relationship with nature. We wanted a change of lifestyle and to revive a shared family value’. With just under six hectares, 20,000 bottles and bags of enthusiasm, they have a new cellar project in the pipeline and a high-quality concept of Lugana.
Just five hectares planted with 20-year-old vines surround this family’s farmhouse hotel in Desenzano. They initially made bulk wine for the on-site restaurant but Giorgio Podestà, a 33 year-old architect, decided to return to the land in 2016. He and his old friend and cousin-in-law Riccardo Saleri, 38, bottled their first Lugana in 2017. Riccardo had plenty of experience as a cellarmaster, and still works for some prestigious Lugana wineries. ‘Now we’re producing around 11,000 bottles’, Giorgio smiles, ‘but we dream of the future: I’ve already designed the new cellar’. Riccardo believes the future of Lugana is in the new generations: ‘We’re professionally trained, we don’t settle, and we collaborate. Lugana is on the up!’
Mattia Zordan is a third-generation winemaker and the youngest Lugana producer. Now 30, he took over the business when he was just 18. ‘I lived and breathed this winery since I was small, and decided to embrace my responsibilities. My parents gave me carte blanche, while they supported my sisters and I’.
The four hectares in Lugana, planted with 20-year-old vines on silty limestone-clay soil, produce 35,000 Stelvin-capped bottles. ‘We don’t want to increase production’, says Mattia. ‘We’d rather focus on improving quality year after year’. Dynamic, passionate and forthright like his wines, Mattia’s symbol is an ECG graph incorporating a bottle and glass: because his heart beats in Lugana.
Roberto Girelli’s story brings his family’s dream to fruition. In 1911, his forebears planted their first vineyard and over time their estate expanded to 30 hectares. Upon his grandfather’s death, the property was lost and the last vineyard uprooted. Roberto, 39, always dreamed of resurrecting it all, so he became an oenologist. In 2000 he regained ownership of two hectares and over the years has managed to reconstruct his family’s original 30 hectares as one property. His brothers Claudio and Valentino joined him, and they began bottling their beloved Lugana, beginning with Montonale, in 2008. Four years later came Orestilla, the cru. This magical estate values biodiversity and sustainability, as evidenced by its innovative cellar.
Wines by the new generation
Abate, Lugana 2019 13%
The Turbiana grapes for this wine come from the Fenil Boi vineyard in the westernmost part of the historic zone, at a higher-than-average altitude of 130 metres. Vinified in steel, a bouquet of herbs and white flowers, then a palate revealing a vibrant, savoury, full character. 90
RRP £19.50 / $24.50
Armea, Vitium, Lugana 2019 13%
In Latin, Vitium can mean either ‘from the vine’ or ‘vice’. Indeed, Giorgio and Riccardo’s Lugana, made from vines planted on 1.5 hectares of clay-limestone soil, is downright seductive in its straightforward simplicity. Notes of thyme, citrus and calendula lead to an inviting palate that is fresh, acidulous and pleasantly dynamic. 87
RRP £15 / $18
Cascina Maddalena, Capotesta, Lugana 2019 13%
Turbiana grapes from a 20-year-old vineyard on clay-limestone soil around the farmhouse, just 300 metres from the lake, are harvested in up to three tries for this characteristic Lugana. With captivating citrus and floral aromas, it presents a saline vivacity and fresh acidity in the mouth, culminating in an energising finish. 92
RRP £13 / $16
Montonale, Orestilla, Lugana 2017 13%
A cru from a two-hectare vineyard where a marble arch dedicated to Roman matron Orestilla was unearthed. The vines struggle to grow in such tenacious, mineral-rich clay. Only native yeasts are used for this Lugana, producing gooseberry aromas and strong minerality which return in the mouth. Savoury and complex, with a vigorous, lasting aftertaste. 92
RRP £30 / $35