Never heard of it? It's the local name for the grape Trebbiano in the wine region Lugana in northern Italy. Lugana's Trebbiano isn't the same as other Trebbianos in Italy. The region's climate and soils make the grape so distinctive that it is known as Trebbiano di Lugana.
Tasting more than 20 Lugana wines last week, I noticed how much they varied, even though made from the same grape. Usually, Lugana wines are 100% Trebbiano, although local regulations allow blending with up to 10 % of another white wine grape, such as Chardonnay.
The tasting took place outdoors on a hot day at the Peninsula Beverly Hills, and this showed how suitable these wines are for warm weather drinking. The hour-long sampling was the prelude to a lunch with seven more wines, accompanied by comments from Lugana winemakers, who were visiting Los Angeles for the first time.
Luca Formentini, president of the Consorzio di Lugana, said the gentle landscape and low hills of Lugana are influenced in soil and climate by proximity to Lake Garda, Italy's largest lake. You can see its location on the map above.
The region is small, just 15 kilometers from west to east and north to south, Formentini said, and tempered by cold winds from the lake in the north and warm winds from the south. Production is between 13 and 14 million bottles a year, or under 2 million cases.
Although the wines poured at the tasting may not be in stores yet, they indicate the good drinking you'll have if you can locate Lugana wines.
The mineral notes of these wines make them excellent companions to seafood. I almost caught the aroma of shrimp shells when tasting the 2014 Antica Casa Visconti.
Lunch showed how well Lugana wines combine with food. Five were set out to taste with a menu that began with a white asparagus radicchio salad with preserved lemon. Next, house-made gnocchi with pesto, pine nuts and Parmigiano Reggiano (above) gave them a chance to shine.
The 2013 Pratello, from an organic property, was lean, fresh and pretty, made without wood contact.
The next wine, 2013 Pasini San Giovanni, felt prickly on my tongue as if it were sparkling, only it wasn't.
The 2013 Ca' Lojera, which means home of the wolf (above), came from vines averaging 40 years of age. Geologically, the land was once part of Lake Garda, leaving it with mineral-rich clay soil. This gave a pleasing minerality to the wine.
The other wine with the cheese was the 2011 Marangona "Il Rintocco," a riserva, which means the wine had to age at least 24 months, six of them in the bottle. It tasted a little like a late harvest wine to me, although not sweet.
Lugana wineries also make late harvest and spumante wines, but we didn't taste these. Maybe we'll be able to do that the next time the Lugana winemakers come to town.