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

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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