Tasting Room Revelations – 2015 Ca’Lojera

Monday, February 20, 2017 11:49 AM

As I was taking out the week’s recycling this morning, I couldn’t help notice that the four wine bottles going into the bin were all Italian! This doesn’t happen very often. Though we do import and sell wines from Italy, we have soooo much else to choose from, that the odds of each week’s collection of half-poured, taken home samples to all be from the same country are big. Though considering that this week pretty much was Italian week around here, it does make sense.




Italian week. Yes, Gambero Rosso’s annual tre bicchieri tasting took place this past Wednesday at Fort Mason. Our friends, Enrico Pierazzuoli and Gianlorenzo Picollo were in town for it, as Enrico’s 2013 Carmignano Riserva was included in the tasting. Before they arrived, on Monday evening, we all found ourselves in a tasting room with a lineup of red wines from a Sicilian producer for whom we had high expectations. This is one of the ways we decide whether or not to import/carry a producer’s lineup. You can’t learn to swim from a book; and the same can be said about a wine’s tasting experience. Well, expectations being the harbinger of disappointment and all, it was a shame that the wines weren’t up to our standards. After taking in the aromas, Chris decided to not even taste the last wine. That’s how it goes sometimes. But as we often say, “We taste a lot of bad wine (okay, that may be a bit harsh in this case), so you don’t have to.” Many of the half-poured sample bottles didn’t even make it to any of our homes that evening.


Then Tuesday came, and with it, two of our pals from Italy. We tasted through their wines and they were all showing very well. There were no leftover samples on Wednesday morning! We tasted a few more of their wines on Wednesday, and ditto, nothing was left behind. Not even Enrico and Gianlorenzo. They were off to the east coast on Wednesday evening. Thursday came and went without incident, and then on Friday, the expectation/disappointment paradigm went the other way!


Winemaker Tiziana Settimo of Aurelio Settimo fame suggested we taste a lineup of wines made by some friends of her’s. The wines were shipped from Italy via air freight, and when Anya pulled them from the box, she exclaimed, “Ooh. The whites are from 2016 – these folks mean business. I’m really looking forward to tasting these!” First, David and Anya went through the lineup, then Chris and I had our turns. The consensus? We like them. A lot. As a matter of fact, we love them. Not only did all the samples disappear from the tasting room, there was noticeable tension among us while taking turns choosing which wines to take home. You will hear about them someday, when they get here; but for tonight, a similar yarn about an Italian producer whom we hold in high esteem: Ca’Lojera from Lugana.


Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi’s Ca’Lojera was David’s discovery. And as Anya wrote about years ago, he is not the kind of man who jumps up and down and screams, “Read all about it!” That’s more of what we do. David happily signed Ca’Lojera to our roster, and the rest is delicious history. Samples were shipped across the country for our staff to taste, and back at our old location, after we closed one day, we tasted the wines. Our reactions were very much like our reactions this past Friday, we loved them and could barely wait for them to arrive! With 5 successful vintages under our belts, we are pleased to announce the arrival of the Ca’Lojera Lugana from 2015!



A reminder: Ca’Lojera’s Lugana is made from 100% Trebbiano di Lugana, or Turbiana, as the locals call it. The vineyards are on the southern shore of Lake Garda, and the winery is located in the commune of Sirmione. (Um, if you search images of Sirmione, you may want to travel there soon). The 2015 vintage was a good one in the region, with healthy ripeness levels and well-balancing acidity. The 2015 Ca’Lojera Lugana has you at “hello.” Its fresh, clean aromas of rich yellow fruit, blossoms, and mineral greet you like a fresh breeze off a lake surrounded by orchards. The palate is harmonious and lively, the complexities abound, all threaded together by the buoyant acidity. The intertwined components all fade slowly on the crisp, yet somehow fleshy, finish. All in all, I have a lot of ideas as to what to pair this wine with. It seems to be as versatile as can be!


Well, Italian week has come and gone. We laughed, we cried. We tasted some wines with great promise, and we tasted some wines to which we will politely say, “No thank you.” We said, “Ciao,” more this week than we will over the next few months combined, and the thought of pairing Osso Bucco with Montepulciano d’Abruzzo will haunt me all day tomorrow. No matter what happens next week, I can be assured of one fact: there will be not one, but at least two bottles of Italian wine in next week’s trip to the bottle bank. For I am taking two bottles of 2015 Ca’Lojera Lugana home tonight to enjoy over next week! – Peter Zavialoff

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2010 Lugana Superiore From Ca’ Lojera

Monday, August 31, 2015 10:58 PM

 Ca’ Lojera
 
 
The Consorzio Tutela Lugana held an event in San Francisco exclusively for the wine trade this past July. On behalf of Ca’ Lojera,The Wine House participated in this tasting. Even among wine trade professionals, Lugana is a bit of mystery and for many, a new discovery. Not so for TWH customers, who have wholeheartedly embraced the delicious white wines (and reds) of Ca’ Lojera. We know andyou know how special Ca’ Lojera Lugana is, so you can imagine what a pleasure it was to introduce their wine to wine trade unfamiliar with the region. Ca’ Lojera stood outin the room, during the tasting portion of the event, and at lunch, where it was served with the appetizer course. I heard over and over again from the participants that Ca’ Lojera was their favorite. What appealed to most tasters is how Ca’ Lojera Lugana combines rich fruit with a forceful mineral drive.
 
A view of the vineyards from the winery
 
In order for Lugana to be labeled Superiore, the wine is required to be aged or mature for one year after harvest. Ca’ Lojera’s 2010 Lugana Superiore spent 18 months in large 25 hectoliter barrels. The large barrels allow the wine to comfortably mature without imparting strong oaky notes to the wine. At an impromptu staff tasting, we reacquainted ourselves with the 2010 Superiore and found it to be showing beautifully.
 
The winery
 
The 2010 Superiore has a lot of WOW! factor; explosive, layered aromatics, weight and opulence on the palate, and a long, long finish. I tasted a ripe core of fruit, golden almond notes and a thread of intense minerals that effortlessly piggy-backed the citrus-soaked fruit. The oak aging showed in the round mouthfeel. I remarked that the Superiore is a perfect example of how Turbiana (the grape variety in Lugana) can express itself in many ways depending on how it is vinified, not unlike Chardonnay. David was quick to point out that theSuperiore has a very different flavor profile than Chardonnay but agreed it does indeed compare in sophistication. Together we concluded that the 2010 Lugana Superiore is a wine geek wine without being weird or strange. Only thing lacking at that moment was a roast chicken or a simply prepared fresh fish fillet to go along with the wine.
 
 
The 2010 Lugana Superiore is by all means more than capable of being a centerpiece wine at a special meal. At $20.99 per bottle, I’d say for a wine like that – complex and sophisticated from a little known wine region – it’s an unbelievable bargain. But just to make it even more irresistible to try, the 2010 Lugana Superiore has a special sale price of $16.95 per bottle, valid through Labor Day.
 

I took the last vestiges of the 2010 Superiore home with me last night and finished it off with a baked breadcrumb-crusted fillet of sole topped with lemon slices. Delish! While savoring the last drops, my daughter gave a play by play description of her day at school with the Giants’ game droning on in the background. Turns out middle school is not as awful as she expected. I am keeping my fingers crossed, and saying a lot of prayers, that she continues to feel that way for the next three years. – Anya Balistreri

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2011 Ca’Lojera Ravel & 2007 Pierazzuoli Millarium

Friday, November 7, 2014 12:47 AM

Two Sweet Exclusives

TWH does not shy away from sweet wines. Many have marveled at our comprehensive Sauternes selection. I don’t have the scientific data to back this up, but I surmise that TWH has one of the largest selections of Sauternes in the country. But as much as we love Sauternes, why stop there? Two of our direct-imports from Italy, Ca’ Lojera andTenute Pierazzuoli, make superb passito-style sweet wines that are currently in stock at our store. In fact outside of Italy, we are the only place you can purchase these wines! (And I have the scientific data on that fact.) Yes, they are that special and we find them to be value-driven options when selecting something a little sweet for a special dinner or to serve as an aperitif when you want to shake things up.

calojera

 

Ca’ Lojera’s passito-style wine is called Ravel. Ca’ Lojera settled on this name as a reference to the composer Ravel whose most famous composition, Boléro, can evoke warm, passionate feelings in the listener. Likewise Ca’ Lojera’s Ravel is a moving expression of their local Turbiana grape. A small amount of Malvasia is added in for aromatic lift and perfume, but it is the Turbiana that plays center stage. The grapes are hand-harvested, dried on wooden trays for an extended period of time and then pressed. The wine is then aged in barrel before bottling. The 2011 Ravel is light on its feet with a fresh finish, not at all unctuous. An exotic coconut flavor dominates with cheerful lemon undertones. A glowy citrus yellow color lights up the glass and the lush flavors settle nicely on the palate. The coconut flavors give a nice toasted note without being overly extracted or heavy-handed. Frankly, this wine is better suited for aged cheeses than for matching with a dessert. This wine is perfectly capable of being a stand-alone dessert, no sugary caloric confections needed. In an email providing us with some background notes on their latest releases, Ca’ Lojera’s Ambra Tiroboschi signed off with this charming sentiment, “this is briefly the history of our wines, that derive from our projects and reflect our dreams.”

tenute

Pierazzuoli’s 2007 Millarium Vin Santo is a laborious endeavor. First the grapes are hand picked from vines that were deliberately left with only two bunches. The grapes were then hung up to dry in the rafters of their well-ventilated facility. The grapes dry for six months. The must is then fermented and aged incaratelli, very small barrels, for four years, during which time the wine is kept in an area directly under the roof in order to maximize temperature swings during the year. After bottling, the wine rests for another year before commercial release. Amazing isn’t it when you think about what it takes to make a wine like this especially given the usual turn-it-over fast, send-it-out-to-market-quick mentality? Making real Vin Santo is a commitment.Vin Santo, or “holy wine”, has many origin stories. The one proprietor Enrico Pierazzuoli shared with us is that the name is derived from the historical practice of pressing the wine during Easter. Actually what I found most interesting was Enrico’s description of his Vin Santo as being “an ideal wine for company and conversation, as an aperitif or at the end of a meal, it goes very well with sheep cheese served with green tomato marmalade or chestnut honey, or with liver pâté.” Please note that no mention is made of any type of cake, torte or sweet. Save that stuff for the espresso! The2007 Millarium Vin Santo is dark amber in color with a lightly honeyed note, lots of freshness, a slight herbal component that gives a minty spark and finishes with decadent burnt sugar and lots of roasted hazelnuts. Beautifully balanced without any over-compensating sweetness. A perceived dryness permeates the palate giving the wine a youthful sheen. – Anya Balistreri
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Ca’ Lojera: Lugana’s Best

Monday, June 23, 2014 7:45 PM

The Lugana DOC from Ca’ Lojera completes a trifecta of impressive TWH-direct whites from Italy that includes Montenidoli’s Vernaccia Tradizionale and Picollo’s Gavi. All three wines offer exceptional quality for the money and show authentic expression of their respective grape variety and place. They also happen to be family-run wineries. To my mind, those are key ingredients for enjoying a wine all the more! Ca’ Lojera’s 2012 Lugana is the fourth vintage to land in our warehouse. It has not lost any of its original luster to my palate.  Each vintage brings with it subtle variation, but always amazing depth, lushness, and a hallmark note of salinity. It is never boring and never palate fatiguing. A second glass, a second bottle, a second case is always in (and on) order!

 

Franco and Ambra Tiraboschi began growing grapes in the ’80s. Winemaker Franco comes from a family of farmers who did not grow grapes. Franco was met with skepticism when he embarked on grape growing but he persevered only to be thrown into wine production in the early ’90s when some of his contracts were not honored and he was left with grapes that had no where to go. It was a time when wine from Lugana was relatively unknown and had not yet regained the reputation and notoriety it has today. Once again the Tiraboschi’s persevered and now are known to make one of the finest Lugana in the region. Fortunately, David immediately recognized the exceptional quality of Ca’ Lojera during a 3-day wine seminar and tasting in New York City where he sampled through hundreds of wines and met hundreds of producers some years back.

 

The grape variety that goes into Lugana is known as Turbiana. It has been genetically linked to Verdicchio though at one time it was referred to as Trebbiano di Lugana. Ca’ Lojera’s Turbiana grows on mineral-rich, deep clay soils very near Lake Garda’s shore giving their wine that touch of salinity and savoriness. Flavors of melon, juicy tangerine, with intermittent notes of spearmint and herb, carrying forth in a fleshy texture that swirls around on your palate. All stainless steel tank fermented, the plushness of the wine is derived entirely from the grape and soil alone. Being situated on Lake Garda, the winery’s pairing suggestions circle around freshwater fish as well as ocean bound ones. I would include crustaceans like shrimp, crab or even lobster. There is enough stuffing to the wine to even pair it up with pork and chicken. It really has a lot of versatility. My family normally cooks nightly, but we’ve been barraged by work and end-of-school goings on, so have more than once relied on take-out in the past couple weeks. At San Anselmo’s Comforts, their ever popular, lightly-dressed Chinese chicken salad makes for a particularly tasty partner with Ca’ Lojera’s 2012 Lugana. 

 

I wait until the absolute last minute to write my weekend newsletter, usually writing it on a Saturday during business hours. This time I am bucking tradition (writing it on Wednesday) because I will be celebrating the epic union of Konstantin and Alla Zaharoff at their 60th Wedding Anniversary – yep, my parents! Oh jeez, I am already tearing up just writing down the words – I better get it out of my system! In the next few days I will be hustling, getting the party organized. Luckily, this is a family affair, so I won’t be going it alone. This much is true: no one will leave the party hungry or thirsty. As for the speech I am expected to give along with my brothers and sister? I’m going to try to keep it short or risk turning into a crying, messy puddle of mush. Growing up I was convinced that if my parents ever divorced it would be over whether or not the chicken was properly cooked. Raw, overdone, I guess it never mattered since if the only thing that they ever really argued over was the chicken’s doneness then their marriage was surely destined to remain intact. Our family is so blessed to be able to celebrate this long, happy marriage all together.
Pazdravlyaem s’ brilliantovoi svadboi!
 I love you Mama and Papa!
– Anya Balistreri 
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Ca’Lojera’s 2011 Merlot

Monday, February 10, 2014 7:34 PM

My go-to wine for 2014 thus far has been Ca’Lojera’s 2011 Merlot. Each time I serve it, my wine-drinking companions gush out “yum, what is this?” I am reminded of all the reasons why Merlot became so popular in the first place over twenty years ago. Tasting Ca’Lojera’s 2011 Merlot, you can’t help being charmed and delighted by its fragrant, sour cherry flavors, nuanced notes of green-tinged herbs, lightly forested aromas and the pleasing, soft tannin on the finish. It is enjoyable to sip while waiting for dinner to get to the table and it continues to impress as you dig your fork into the plate. How often do I hear people complain of heavy, over-bearing reds? Well, if you are one of them, check out the 2011 Merlot from Ca’Lojera for that taste of a Bordeaux varietal without all the heaviness. 

 

 

Ca’Lojera is located along Italy’s Lake Garda just east of Verona in the Lombardy region. The winemaker, Franco Tiraboschi, and his wife Ambra, who runs the winery, are a perfect partnership of opposites but united in bringing attention to the quality of Lombardy wines. TWH first imported Ca’Lojera’s Lugana in 2011, three years and four vintages of Lugana later, their wines continue to impress and gain favor with our customers, restaurant sommeliers and the wine press. With the success of the Ca’Lojera whites, we were encouraged to dip into their reds by first importing the Cabernet Sauvignon and now for the first time ever, their Merlot. Grown on the rocky hillsides overlooking the lake (unlike the Turbiana which is grown on the clay flats), the Merlot is fermented in steel tank giving it a freshness and fruitiness that matches its intensity. I applaud them for resisting the temptation to introduce any oak to this wine, as it would detract from the perky sour cherry flavors and bolster it in ways it doesn’t need. The 2011 Merlot is medium-bodied but not thin, it is fruity but not jammy, and it is quaffable but not simple. For years I have been erroneously predicting Merlot’s comeback, but poor Merlot simply cannot overcome its image problem and this is a shame. Believe it or not, I am not interested in drinking the “best-ever” wine each and every time I pour a glass. Generally and most often, I just want to drink something delicious and interesting for I am an everyday-glass-of-wine kind of gal and not a just-on-special-occasions/once-in-while kind of wine consumer. Therefore stocking up on a soft tannin red like this 2011 Merlot in my case of ok-to-drink-now wine is a welcomed find. 

 

 

I am not going to close here with some reference to how I plan on drinking the 2011 Merlot from Ca’Lojera because- let’s be honest- tomorrow I will be drinking beer and noshing on all manner of classic Super Bowl viewing snacks. Throughout the NFL season, I have tried to give my husband the opportunity to watch his games with few disruptions. In return, as my reward, he is making his famous wings for me tomorrow. It will probably be mid-week by the time I get the chance to prepare a proper meal. Then I will crack open another bottle of ’11 Merlot from Ca’Lojera to savor and take in the pleasure of the red ripe sour cherry fruit, peppery undertones and silky tannins. Bellissimo! —Anya Balistreri
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