One of the wines that impressed me the most during my early February trip to Italy was this Lugana fermentazione spontanea (spontaneous fermentation) by the Sansonina estate, a property and label that Nadia Zenato is developing for her family.
Back in the 2010s, she began experimenting with wild yeast fermentation using grapes sourced from a vineyard planted there in the 1970s. The first release of the wine was from the 2014 vintage.
Man, this wine has eno-hipster written all over it!
The “old-vine” (40+ year old) Vigna del Moraro vineyard — one of the Zenato family’s top holdings — is farmed organically, she said, and will soon be certified.
It’s planted to Turbiana, the hyper-local clone of Trebbiano used to make monovarietal Lugana.
The grapes are picked by hand and vinification is carried out in stainless steel using only naturally occurring yeast.
I loved the way the savory component in this cru-designated wine played against the white flower notes on the nose and the fresh and gently dried stone fruit in the mouth. Subtle oxidative character accentuated the wine’s delicate almond notes that seemed to float ethereally throughout its body without ever weighing it down. The texture was lithe but balanced and confident in the mouth, the finish was a gift that just kept giving dried fruit and nuttiness.
It made me feel so hip that I thought I was going to grow a handle-bar mustache!
But just as I was about to break out my Brooklyn Grooming Commando Old School Pomade (animal fat and petroleum product free), it occurred to me that the word natural hadn’t been uttered during my tasting and conversation with Nadia. She seemed genuinely surprised when I speculated that the wine, hitherto unknown to me, must be a hit among the natural wine crowd.
If ever there were a Lugana that “speaks of place,” that stands apart as an expression of “site,” this would be it, for sure.
As we moved on to the estate’s flagship Merlot, also excellent, it occurred to me that Nadia hadn’t conceived this wine with marketing in mind. It was a challenge: a desire to create the purest and truest representation of an appellation her father helped to create and a vineyard that she and her mother hold extremely dear.
I loved it and I admire Nadia for growing, raising, and bottling it. What a great wine — everything and nothing “natural” about it!