For the grapes he purchases, he works hand in hand with local growers from pruning to harvest, then carefully vinifies the different lots of grapes. Lugano is a serious student of oenology and is an expert on the local grape varieties. His passion extends to the preservation of local traditions and this is reflected in the distinctive character and personality of his large range of wines from the Cinque Terre region.
It takes a heroic effort to cultivate vines on the steep slopes of the Ligurian coastline high above the Mediterranean Sea. Mechanization of vineyard tasks is out of the question and everything must be done by hand. Only truly passionate winegrowers are willing to carry on the traditions that have come down through the generations since the ancient Greeks first planted vines on the steep, stony slopes here. Lugano works closely with several small, local growers. He believes, as we do, that wine is made in the vineyards and he closely controls the work done in the field. Further, he has embarked on an ambitious program to purchase his own parcels in prime zones throughout the Cinque Terre and surrounding areas. He staunchly defends indigenous, and increasingly rare, grape varieties and works tirelessly to ensure that they do not disappear for future generations of wine lovers. He is in the forefront of the movement to prove the worthiness of the Bianchetta Genovese, the Alberola and Bosca as well as the scintillating Ciliegiolo.
The small but very well equipped cellar is designed so that each lot of grapes can be vinified individually. With the exception of an occasional experiment with barrel aging, Lugano vinifies his entire range of wines in stainless steel to preserve the essential fruit of each vineyard site and each grape type.
|2016 “Bianco delle Venezie” Vino Frizzante Trevigiana: Dynamic and tireless Pierluigi Lugano is not only our source of great Ligurian wine from indigenous varieties—he is responsible for one of the highlights of our sparkling wine portfolio: the ever-popular frizzante known as “Glera” for the past several years, which takes on a new description as “Bianco delle Venezie” with the 2016 vintage. For many years now, Lugano has worked with his good friend Eli Spagnol of Torre Zecchei in the elite Valdobbiadene district of the Veneto, tailoring the production of a racy, vivid, beautifully brisk Prosecco to Rosenthal Wine Merchant’s exacting specifications. In a sea of vapid, overly sweet Prosecco, this frizzante stands out proudly. Spagnol is in charge of a mere 30 hectares—tiny by Prosecco standards—and our wine is hand-harvested from shockingly steep hillside vineyards in the DOCG zone of Valdobiaddene. Made using careful temperature regulation in order to preserve delicacy and freshness, the wine is bottled with just two grams per liter of residual sugar—a refreshingly bone-dry offering that stands in sharp contrast to its many cloying peers. Clean, bright, and refreshing, it presents notes of acacia honey, white flowers, crunchy green apples, and tart nectarines atop a subtly mineral underlay. Glera Explained|
|Bisson Cimixa “L’Antico”: A true obscurity, indigenous Çimixà was on the brink of extinction in the 1970s when a local pastry chef sourced a mere 500 vines purported to be Çimixà and planted them together in a single plot. While the family resemblance is undeniable, Pierluigi’s “L’Antico” (“the ancient one”) bottling stands apart from his others in its balance of elements and its texture. Its resplendent fruit is more viscous than his two Vermentino, and though there is no shortage of salinity, it is the sumptuous mouthfeel of the Çimixà that grabs the attention first. Furthermore, while it is just as driven by minerality as its brethren, “L’Antico” is characterized more by chalk than by brine, and the wine overall possesses a greater sense of heft and solidity. As with Pierluigi’s other white wines, it is fermented and aged on its lees in large stainless steel tanks after undergoing a three-day pre-fermentation skin maceration. We should count ourselves fortunate that such a characterful variety was saved from elimination and is produced in such a boldly delicious fashion as at Bisson.|
|Ciliegiolo, Golfo del Tigullio: is a traditional red grape variety that is rarely seen. Piero Lugano vinifies it to showcase its light and fruity character. When presenting it, we group this wine with our classic series of Rosés as it is released in the spring following the prior year’s harvest. Lugano proudly maintains this variety in both the Trigoso and Campegli vineyards situated in the hills above Sestri Levante and Chiavari, respectively. It is vinified dry, tastes of red cherry and wild berries and its brilliant cherry color is a particular joy to behold. Approximately 400 cases are imported for the US market annually.|
|Vermentino Vigne Intrigoso, Golfo del Tigullio: from Lugano’s most prestigious vineyard site: “Trigoso”; these steeply terraced vineyards produce low yields of a full bodied wine with mint, mineral, and tea leaf flavors; the intensity of flavors and the rich, golden color are produced from extensive lees contact during the fermentation and elevage; the wine is normally bottled in May of the year following harvest; very limited production … approximately 100 cases per annum are allocated to the USA.|
|Vermentino Vignaerta, Golfo del Tigullio: a more elegant expression of Vermentino, leaner than the Intrigoso” but with great complexity, showing bright acidity, brilliant length and strong minerality leavened by notes of citrus, almond, and licorice; the grapes for this cuvée are sourced from the slopes of the Campegli vineyard located in the village of Castiglione Chiavarese; approximately 100 cases per year are exported for our use in the USA.|
|Bianchetta Genovese U Pastine: the term U Pastine is from the local dialect indicating a very special product, appropriate for this rare white grape found only in Liguria. Lugano has saved several parcels from extinction and from which he creates a truly unique white wine that is delicate, lively and satisfying, filled with vibrant minerality; it is particularly delightful when married to the white-fleshed fish that frequent the shores of this part of Liguria … the bianchetti, the nasello and tiny, exquisitely flavored langostino.|
|Pigato: quite limited in production as it is difficult to produce and even more difficult to find the “true” variety. A wine of finesse without the body of the preceding whites but with unique and intriguing flavors that pair exceedingly well with the fish married to herbs that is traditional in Lugurian cuisine. There are two vineyard plots: the “Tenute di Trigoso” in the hills of Sestri Levante and “Verici” situated in the commune of Casarza Ligure. The wine is bottled in the spring following the harvest and rarely gets a chance to show its aging ability since the precious little quantity that is produced is consumed within the year!|
|Marea Cinque Terre: made from a blend of several traditional local grape varieties: Bosco (60% of the blend), Vermentino (20%) and Albarola (20%). The vineyards that produce this wine are situated on south-facing slopes in the hamlet of Volastra in the town of Riomaggiore, the heart of the breathtaking Cinque Terre region. In this instance, Lugano opts to leave this cuvée on the lees for an extended period of time, respecting the old traditions of the region. The result is a full-bodied, earthy wine of immense character, almost briny, with a deeper golden tint to its color than is found in his other whites and marked by the aromas of heather, broom and juniper.|
|Il Granaccio: the sole red in our portfolio from Lugano is made from the Granaccio grape, better known as Grenache. At home in this coastal Mediterranean climate, this powerful wine is produced from Lugano’s prime vineyard site “Tenute di Trigoso” on steeply-sloped hills in Sestri Levante. The wine is dense and carries the dominant flavor of ripe blackberries, an aromatically compelling hint of pine resin and an intriguing bitterness to the finish. Aged in stainless steel, “Il Granaccio” is bottled in late summer of the year following harvest.|
Enjoying the raw beauty of Liguria is a breeze, but making wine here is no mean feat. As with Cassis (spotlighted in last month’s piece on Domaine du Bagnol), Liguria produces scant quantities of wine that are dispensed of in large part by tourists who flock here to partake in the psychedelic gorgeousness of its
Raise a glass for holiday wines. By Andrea Clurfeld | | November 27, 2017 It’s the time of year when almost everyone’s thoughts turn to gift giving. Yes, ’tis the season to be giving. There’s hardly a situation when giving a gift is wrong. The rub, it seems, is what to give. I’m going to
An ideal time to become familiar with our exceptional growers We at Rosenthal Wine Merchant have championed great and distinctive sparkling wines for the entirety of our near-forty-year existence. Since 1981, we have imported the elegant, classical Champagnes of Guy Larmandier in Vertus—long before there was even a “grower Champagne” movement to speak of. We