As winter drags on, how about a fresh and delightful white wine that will transport you to summer, at least for an evening?
That’s the feeling I got as I tasted Zenato’s 2018 Lugana San Benedetto, a real bargain from the Lugana region of Veneto in northern Italy. The suggested price is $20, but Wine-Searcher lists it for as little as $13 at some stores.
The grape here is Trebbiano, which has been shown by genetic analysis to be the same variety as Verdicchio. Although it is grown throughout Italy, it often makes undistinguished wines and is overshadowed in prestige and familiarity by the ubiquitous Pinot Grigio. But Trebbiano di Lugana, as it’s known in this part of Veneto, deserves more attention.
Zenato’s wine is far more interesting than many Italian whites at this price, with tastes of stone fruits, especially pear and apricot, along with strawberry, citrus, banana, and touches of herb and spice.
Aged in stainless steel with no exposure to oak, there is still a nice roundness that, combined with ample acidity, makes it a pleasure to drink and will beckon you to the next sip (and glass). It will pair well with many fish and shellfish dishes and Asian foods, including sushi. The flavors come alive as the wine warms up a bit, a reminder not to drink white wines too cold.
The Lugana region of Veneto is known for its white wines and benefits from the cooling influence of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy; San Benedetto refers to the specific Zenato vineyard where the grapes are grown. While Soave, made from the Garganega grape, is Veneto’s most important white, Lugana may just be the region’s sleeper wine.
Zenato, a family-owned winery that produces 2 million bottles of its white and red wines a year, has made its Lugana San Benedetto since the company was founded in 1960. It’s easy to see why it has withstood the test of time.