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Winery #69: Corte Sermana (Lugana DOC, Italy)

Our final day of the Northeastern Italian Wine Tour began at Corte Sermana in the Lugana DOC located at the southern tip of Lake Garda. Lugana, not to be confused with the lake and city called Lugano, is one of the few Italian wine areas that’s split between two major wine producing regions. Veneto and Lombardy are the two regions, a fun wine fact to impress your friends!

Filippo, one of the owners of the family-run winery, was our host for the wine experience. We started in the vineyards where Filippo described Lugana’s unique terroir formed by a glacier millions of years ago, resulting in a soil consisting of a white clay that the locals call crea, in addition to limestone and gravel. With this interesting soil mix, the crea retains water, the gravel is well-draining, and the limestone retains water during dry periods and drains well during cold temperatures. Balance! The family owns six hectares of land and produces around 25,000 bottles per year. Filippo described how the family commits itself to maintaining a biodiverse growing area without the use of commercial fertilizers or pesticides. The primary grape of this area is Turbiana, a white grape that produces a rich and perfumed wine with high acidity and the ability to age for a long period of time.

After our walk among the grapevines, we moved to the production facility where our host described the production process. We had the unique privilege of tasting three wines directly from the large stainless steel ageing tanks: the 2020 Turbiana almost ready for bottling, the 2021 Turbiana destined for the reserve wine, and a 2021 Turbiana that will be used as the base wine for sparkling wines. The same exact grape produced in three completely different styles, amazing!

We learned that the family produces two types of sparkling wines with the Turbiana grape: one produced via the Charmat Method, also known as the Tank Method, and another using the Traditional Method, the same method that is used in Champagne. Both methods use a base wine, usually from a grape that produces high acidity (such as Turbiana), and both undergo a second fermentation to create the bubbles in the wine. One big difference is that the Charmat method uses a large pressurized tank to hold the wine when it undergoes the second fermentation, opposed to the Traditional Method where the second fermentation occurs in individual bottles. The other big difference besides the price (Traditional Method wines are generally more expensive to produce, and thus more expensive to buy) is that the Charmat method allows for the preservation of fruity and fresh aromas where the Traditional Method results in a toasty aroma due to the contact with dead yeast in the bottle, thus is more suitable for less aromatic grapes. Obviously, there are many more intricacies involved in both production methods, but we’ll save that for another time… maybe after a visit to Champagne later in the year;-)

At the conclusion of the production tour and tank tastings, we walked back to the tasting room for an in-depth tasting of seven additional wines representing the Corte Sermana range. Filippo surprised us with a lovely meat and cheese platter, and it couldn’t come at a better time as we skipped breakfast to make the 9:00am start time. When you are aiming for three to four wine experiences per day, you need to start early:-) This was our first time tasting a wine produced in Lugana, and we were blown away by the level of quality, aromatic and flavor intensity levels, and ridiculously long finishes. There were several favorite wines from the tasting, so it’s difficult to choose one. If we were forced to pick, our favorite was the 2016 Lugana Riserva Sermana. The wine’s color was a brilliant medium gold, and as soon as our noses neared the glass, we could sense the concentrated flavors of lemon peel, grapefruit, vanilla, cream, butterscotch, nutmeg, and walnut. The extremely round body clearly resulted from the Malolactic Conversion, lees stirring, and 100% oak aging regimen. Filippo expressed his love for the simplicity of this wine, one grape from one block of the vineyard to produce one wine. We argue that the wine was anything but simple, a truly amazing work of art!

We extend our enormous THANK YOU to Filippo for such a lovely wine experience at Corte Sermana. The winery is an absolute gem in an off-the-beaten-path wine producing area. If you happen to be vacationing in Lake Garda, we highly recommend a detour to visit Filippo at Corte Sermana!!

Experience Rating: 4 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 1 Paw Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Vineyard Tour, Production Facilities Tour, Tank Tasting, Standing Bar Formal Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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