I met Cà Lojera's Ambra Tiraboschi, who looks rather like Maria Callas in the photo she puts up in her stand at Vinitaly, many years ago at Bordeaux's Vinexpo: It was the end of a very long day, my feet wished they belonged to someone else, and I had stopped to say hi to Paolo Abbona of Marchesi di Barolo. Sat down too, and found myself sipping a rather nice sparkling wine that turned out to be a Lugana from the southern shores of Lake Garda.
When I asked whose it was, Ambra raised her hand and smiled. Much has happened since then; they've redone their cellars and added a restaurant, which is open for dinner during the summer months, and Ambra's daughter Alessandra has had two delightful children. I make a point of stopping by her stand at Vinitaly every year, usually managing to catch her husband Franco too (he prefers to stay out of the limelight), and have noted with considerable pleasure that since I began liking their wines others have too. In fact, AIS, the Associazione Italiana Sommeliers, declared their wines the best of the Brescano area (Lake Garda's western shore) for 2009. And well they might:
Cà Lojera Lugana DOC 2008
Brassy gold with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is deft with herbal accents mingled with some sage and tart lemony citric fruit. Nice balance,a nd pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's pleasant, with lively white berry and lemony fruit supported by deft citric acidity and by clean slightly greenish accents that flow into a long clean citric finish. Quite nice, and though it is very young, and will age well for at least 5-8 years, will drink well with fried fish, grilled fish, and also fried meats now. Expect the bottle to go quickly.
Cà Lojera Lugana DOC 2009
They have a new label for this wine, and the wine was fermented under reducing conditions - the first time they have done this -- and stayed on the lees until bottling. It's brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is elegant, with heather and some spice mingled with underbrush and delicate white blossoms; by comparison with the 2008 it's less acidic on the nose. On the palate it's ample and languid, with rich fairly sweet honeydew melon fruit supported by clean bright honeydew melon and loquat acidity, and some glycerin, and slight brambly accents that add depth, and it all flows into a clean slightly greenish finish. Very nice, with considerable depth, and because it is a touch sweeter and a touch more fruit-driven, will work quite well with fish, and also be a nice accompaniment to oriental dishes, especially sushi. Approachable.
Cà Lojera Lugana Superiore DOC 2006
Pale brassy white with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is elegant, with fairly rich slightly greenish lemony acidity supported by some greenish vegetal accents and some spice. Nice depth and balance. On the palate it's full, with rich white fruit that's towards Regina Claudia plums, supported by savory notes and fresh slightly greenish mineral acidity that flows into a clean fresh fairly dusky finish with white fruit and lasting savory warmth. It's more confusing to write than to taste, and will drink very well with fish based risotti or pasta dishes, and also with grilled or roasted finish, and also will work nice with creamy white meats.
Cà Lojera Lugana Riserva Del Lupo DOC 2006
This is a vendemmia tardiva, or late harvested wine. Brassy gold with brilliant brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, with greenish herbal accents mingled with sour citric acidity and some bramble, also white berry fruit and some berry fruit spice. Pleasant. On the palate it's full and rich, with elegant slightly greenish apricot fruit supported by lively acidity that has dusky overtones and flows into a clean fresh berry white berry fruit finish with a savory acidic underpinning. It's still quite young, but has considerable depth and will drink well with grilled or roasted fish, and also with creamy dishes featuring white meats. I would, however, give it a year or two to come together and show its best, because we're not there yet.
Cà Lojera Lugana Riserva del Lupo DOC 2003
This was the first vintage of the Riserva; it's brassy gold with brassy reflections, and though it is a little darker than the 06 it's not that much darker. The bouquet is elegant, with rich white berry fruit supported by clean sour lemon acidity and dusky bitter honey, and by elegant savory gunflint that emerges as the wine opens. A lot going on. On the palate it's ample, with rich white fruit supported by strong savory accents and flows into a clean fairly sour brambly white berry fruit finish with considerable warmth that lasts, and lasts. Quite nice, and is very much alive; it has a great deal to say and one could drink it by itself (advice for hopeless wine geeks) though it will also work very well with succulent grilled fish, including lake trout, and also with roasted fish. I would also be tempted to serve it with white meats.
Cà Lojera Lugana Superiore DOC 2001
Brilliant brassy gold with lively brassy reflections and white rim; one wouldn't guess its age.. The bouquet is elegant, with minerality and some sour lemon fruit mingled with savory accents and clean bitter notes. On the palate it's ample though it begins to show its age, with warm decidedly mineral citric fruit supported by minerality and savory accents that flow into a clean mineral finish. It's clearly mature, but has a lacy elegance to it, and it has a story to tell. Something to seek out and listen to, even if you like young fresh whites, because the telling is interesting. It is entering middle age, but is still very fresh, and not at all tired.
Ambra has also decided to make a Metodo Classico, and a bottle taken from the bin where they are aging shows considerable depth and elegance, and is supported by nice acidity too. It will be something to look forward to.
For more information on Cà Lojera, check Ambra and Franco's Site.
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