|The way I look at it, when TWH brings in a new producer, it’s like picking teams at school; you want only the best players. I’m sure this comes as no surprise to you. Our last container of wines from Italy has had nothing but first round draft picks rolling off the pallets, joining our already “loaded” team. And yet a curious thing can happen and it is this: The producers we import may begin as “teammates”, but quickly become something more like family. Such a magical transformation happened to me with Ca’Lojera. As I mentioned a few weeks back, the staff was eager to taste all the new stuff from Italy. Ca’Lojera, a producer from the Lugana DOC within Lombardy, is David’s discovery. David had warned us that they make terrific wines and that he couldn’t wait for us to taste them. For those of you who come by the store regularly, you know that David isn’t one to stand on his head shouting, waving his hands and making a fuss. No, that’s what I do. David is a Gentleman and when he makes a commitment to a producer like he did with Ca’Lojera, you know the wines have to be something special. And something special is what Ca’Lojera wines are.|
| My first encounter with the wines of Ca’Lojera left me speechless and struggling for words. My cryptic notes simply had big smiley faces and exclamation marks. Seems I was so busy enjoying tasting (drinking) the wines, I couldn’t be bothered writing anything coherent nor profound. The 2009 Lugana from Ca’Lojera is 100% Trebbiano di Lugana, or Turbiana as it is known locally. I couldn’t believe how good it was. You see, Trebbiano is a widely planted varietal and up to this point, I had never tasted wine from it that was, well, worth noting. Isn’t it amazing how it always comes down to the right varietal with the right soil and climate? The 2009 Lugana is a wine of distinction and refinement. Though no oak is used, there is a rich and round texture to the wine. Ca’Lojera is situated at the southern tip of Lake Garda about 20 miles due east of Verona, where it once was the bottom of the lake. Now flat clay soils chock full of minerals impart a unique flavor of salinity and savoriness to the vines grown on it. It is this unique microclimate that assists in creating a full, complex wine from Turbiana.
My next encounter with the wines of Ca’Lojera came over a week ago when I had the good fortune of visiting New York City during an epic blizzard for an Italian wine conference. I had contacted Ambra Tiraboschi from Ca’Lojera to tell her I’d be at the conference and as luck would have it, so was she. Ambra immediately took me under her wing and we had supper the very first night there. It became instantly apparent that all the qualities I found in her wines, like the refinement and distinction, etc., were a reflection of herself. Ambra is that producer who works the ground, touches the grapes, and produces wine that outperforms for price and quality. A few words in and I knew that making wine for Ambra is not a business but a passion and way of life. And lest you think I’m easily swayed, I was not the only one whom I witnessed come under her charm, wit and wine mastery. I spied other producers, buyers, restaurateurs and jaded wine biz types come by her table and address her with the kind of reverence saved only for a select few. Taste her wines and you’ll get what I mean. Ambra works side by side with her husband, Franco. Their long marriage and twenty year partnership in making wine from the 14 hectares they planted has made it impossible to delineate who does what. This is a true collaboration.
|Here is a link to a post by a wine blogger who out of the hundreds of producers at this Italian wine conference singled out Ca’Lojera wines: http://biggerthanyourhead.net/2011/01/29/vino-2011-a-little-learning-in-lombardy-part-one/
I returned home from NY with a miserable flu, but more importantly I came back with great memories of drinking beer at Grand Central Station during the storm with my nephew (I’m getting too old for these types of adventures!), reacquainting with many of our Italian producers and finding a few promising new prospects from Italy…so stay tuned!!!