It's been a memorable week. The Union De Grands Crus De Bordeaux passed through town pouring the newly bottled 2015 vintage. This came with several visits from our friends overseas. The tasting was a success, as the wines from Pomerol, Saint-Emilion, and the reds from Pessac-Leognan showed great expression and balance in consistent fashion. I recently wrote about the 2015 Château Olivier rouge, and after having tasted it this past Thursday, I stand behind my recommendation. That's all I'm going to say about Bordeaux for now, as the subject of tonight's email is a new arrival from Italy - the 2016 Lugana from Ca' Lojera.
A new container from Italy recently arrived, and we're breaking down pallets in an effort to get these new goodies onto our sales floor and into your hands! I don't know why this is, but consistently, I seem to have more need for white wine in the winter than any other season. Last week, I filled up my six bottle wine bag with six different bottles from the container's bounty. There are some evenings in which any formality around the ritual of opening and serving a bottle of wine is dispelled, and this particular night was one of them. A couple of after-work errands had me home later than usual, so in a hurry, I stir fried some chicken with vegetables. A peek into the fridge left me with a few choices. Knowing what I knew at the time, I felt the new Lugana from Ca' Lojera would work well with what would eventually end up on my plate. So I popped it. I poured out a glass and went on supervising the stove top. At one point, I reached for the glass and had a sip. I stopped in my tracks, my focus now on this wonderful, fresh, lively white wine in my glass. I didn't know what was happening; I've enjoyed the Ca' Lojera wines very much over the years, but I hadn't had an experience like this one! The aromas were clean and fresh, citrus blossoms, grapefruit, honeydew melon, and a hint of a minty nuance. Then, on the palate, this aromatic goodness lingered and was bolstered by a medium bodied, impeccably balanced mouth feel. I was smitten. Needless to say, the bottle didn't last very long. Not very long at all.
The catalyst of this experience was from an interaction with a customer who lives in the neighborhood. She regularly purchases Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi's Lugana made from a grape the locals call Turbiana. She was in the day before this happened and asked us if we had tried the new vintage. Shrugged shoulders and blank stares were the responses, but that question alone is how a bottle ended up in my wine tote. She bought two bottles that day and promised to report back with her impressions. When I came to work the day after I tasted it, I asked my colleagues, "Holy Cow, you guys. Have you tasted the 2016 Lugana yet?" At that point, nobody else had. That's changed now. I was pretty excited about it all day. At the end of the day, this customer was back. I looked at her and beamed, "I just tried it last night, and man oh man, you must be happy. I think this is the best vintage for them to date!" Her glowing smile in return was all I needed to know she enjoyed it very much. She bought six more bottles. A couple of days later, a bottle was opened as a sample for a wholesale customer. When the sample made its way back to the shop, Chris and David got to taste it. Chris was first to reply - he told me I was spot on with my assessment, and pointed in particular to the fresh acidity of the wine which helped fan the complexity across the palate. David nodded his head and smiled. He told me that the customer he poured it for liked it a lot.
Anya's take was more philosophical. "Here's a wine which I've enjoyed in every vintage we've carried it. Each vintage puts its own stamp on the wine, and the variation is what makes wine tasting enjoyable and thought provoking. One can get in trouble proclaiming a wine 'the best ever', because other vintages will follow. Remember when we first made the deal to import their wines? We got a call from a well-known boutique importer who took the time to congratulate us on the addition to our portfolio. The wines are that good. Their reputation is that good. They're a first round draft pick. We're very lucky. Is the 2016 Lugana their best? I have to say yes."
There's plenty more to talk about - another new producer and more goodies from our Italian container, more Bordeaux stuff, and 2015 red Burgundy, but that will have to wait for another time. January is always a very busy time for me, and this one was no exception. Now that it's almost over, I can relax. And eat. Sounds like Dungeness Crab is in order. You already know which wine I will drink with it. - Peter Zavialoff