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. This year her husband Franco, who dislikes the limelight, was not there, but there was another surprise: she had redone her labels, with drawings by Angelo Peretti, friend and colleague who is also Director of the Consorzio del Bardolino.
Cà Lojera Lugana 2011 Lot TF 02 12 Pale brassy white with brassy reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, with bright loquat laced with loquat acidity and some honeydew melon and underlying vegetal accents. On the palate it's ample and rich, with fairly sweet loquat fruit supported by some flinty bitterness and fairly bright acidity that opens with loquat and then becomes mineral in the finish, which is fairly long. Pleasant, in a rather languid key, and will work nicely as an aperitif or with fish, especially lake fish. 2 stars
Cà Lojera Lugana Superiore 2009 Lot LS.TF.11 Ferments in large wood. This is a prerelease sample; they are still selling the 2008. It's brilliant brassy white with brassy reflections and slight greenish highlights. The bouquet is powerful, with butterscotch and minerality supported by some dusky bitterness and moderate mineral acidity. On the palate it's ample, with rich loquat fruit laced with some honeydew melon and slight sweetness, and supported by moderately intense mineral acidity with a loquat underpinning that carries into a fresh fairly long loquat finish with slight butterscotch accents. Pleasant, with considerable depth,and will drink nicely with grilled or roasted fish or white meats, and will also age nicely for several years. 2 stars
Cà Lojera Lugana del Lupo 2009 Lot TF.11.09 This is a Vendemmia Tardiva; it's then fermented in steel. And is a slightly more charged brassy yellow with brilliant greenish brassy reflections and highlights. The bouquet is intense, with brambly heather and some greenish vegetal acidity laced with gunflint and struck granite; it's more mineral than fruit driven on the nose. On the palate it's rich, with elegant loquat fruit supported by honeydew melon acidity and by slightly flintiness, and flows into a long rather deft loquat finish that gradually fades into loquat tartness. Quite elegant, and will drink nicely as an aperitif or with grilled or roasted fish. Something to seek out. 90-91 Cà Lojera Belle Metodo Classico 2008 This is a pas dosée that spent 36 months on the lees; it's pale brassy gold with brilliant greenish highlights and fine perlage. The bouquet is fairly intense, with greenish minerality mingled with breadcrumbs and some savory notes. It's deft and rather crisp in a vegetal key. On the palate it's full, with powerful tart lemony loquat fruit supported by peppery notes from the sparkle and minerality, and by minerality that emerges in the finish, which is quite long. It's a bit exuberant, with the sparkle bursting forth strongly on the tongue, making for a sensation that is more peppery than creamy. If you like softer sparkling wines it wont work as well for you, but it does display a pleasing brashness. 2 stars
Cà Lojera Monte della Guardia Chardonnay 2009 This is a Vino da tavola because they put the varietal on the label and that's not accepted in what it would qualify as. Brassy gold with brassy reflections and slight greenish highlights. The bouquet is intense, with tropical fruit, passion fruit mingled with some golden delicious apple and slight mentholated accents with underlying sweetness. Nice depth. On the palate it's ample and smooth, with moderately intense lemony fruit supported by lemony acidity that has slight apple accents and flows into a fairly long slightly savory mineral finish with some citric accents. It's a bit more direct than the Lugana, and will drink well as an aperitif or with simple white fish or white meats. Refreshing. 2 stars
Cà Lojera Rosato Monte Della Guardia Lot TF 80 11 This is a Vino da Tavola because the local appellations don't forsee making a rosé from Merlot and cabernet; as such it doesn't have a vintage on the label, though the lot indicates 2011. Pale rose petal pink with brilliant pink reflections and white rim. The bouquet is fresh, with ras mingled with some wild strawberry and some ripe underlying forest berry fruit that's moderately sweet. Welcoming On the palate it's is smooth and fairly rich, with bright strawberry ras fruit supported by moderate acidity and slight tannins that flow into a finish that has slight gunflint accents to balance the sweet smoothness of the fruit. It's a deft, smooth fairly soft Rosato that will drink nicely on a hot day, either among friends or at a picnic. Not quite enough acidity (for me) for it to work as a cookout wine. 2 stars
Cà Lojera Merlot della Guardia 2009 Lot TF ME 09 This is again a Vino da tavola. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is rich, with bright mentholated forest berry fruit supported by some peppery spice and deft berry fruit acidity. On the palate it's medium bodied and quite round, with fairly rich cassis fruit supported by moderate acidity and by tannins that are very smooth, but do displays some graphite shaving bitterness that carries into a fairly long warm graphite shaving laced finish. It will drink quite well with simple not too fatty grilled meats or ight stews or roasts. 2 stars
Cà Lojera Cabernet della Guardia 2009 Lot TF.01.09 Again, a VDT. Deep black cherry ruby with black reflections and cherry rim. The bouquet is quite varietal, with rich bel pepper laced with vegetal notes and some coffee, and also fairly intense spice and underlying forest berry fruit fruit. On the palate it's medium bodied, with rich cherry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have a savory vegetal burr, and flow into a fairly long berry fruit finish with greenish vegetal notes. A classic deft Cabernet, quick on it toes and quite fresh, and if you like the varietal you will enjoy the wine. 2 stars Ambra always brings a few older wines to Vinitaly:
Cà Lojera Lugana Superiore 2001 Lot 07.03 Time does show; it's a considerably deeper brassy gold than the current vintage, with brilliant golden reflections. The bouquet is powerful, with butterscotch and some spice supported by gunflint and citric acidity with some underlying clover honey too. On the palate it's deft, with bright citrc fruit supported by mineral citric acidity and slightl not too sweet honey, with hint sof butterscotch, and slows into a long rather mineral citric finish. Quite pleasant, and proof, as if any were needed, that Lugana is a wine that profits from additional time in bottle. Perfectly fresh. 88-90
Cà Lojera Vigna Silva Lugana 1999 Lot 5 9 00 Charged greenish gold with brilliant golden reflections and white rim. The bouquet is intense, with dried white pear mingled with minerality and some rather bitter honey, and also some minerality. On the palate it's bright, with lively loquat fruit supported by brisk loquat acidity and slight minerality, and whiule this is quick to write its beautifully woven, with a tight freshness that the more recent, somewhat hotter vintages with sweeter grapes struggle to achieve. A beautiful wine one would certainly not guess is entering its teen years. 91-2
Cà Lojera Monte della Guardia Rosso 2001 Lot 12.07 Almandine with black reflections and briwnish almandine rim. The bouquet is intense, and quite tertiary, with leaf tobacco and dried savory mushrooms mingled with spice and sea salt, and some underlying greenish vegetal notes; there's also underbrush and some forest berry fruit fruit. On the palate it's fairly rich, with pleasant forest berry fruit supported by dusky tannins that have a warm slightly earthy feel to them, and flow into a clean rather savory tannic finish. It's pleasant, but has aged considerably more than the whites, and something I would serve with a roast to a wine loving friend of the sort who likes to converse with the wine than to just anyone. 2 stars
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.