Zenato Lugana di San Benedetto 2018, Italy
Cost: $19-21
I t is fun to explore Italian wines because you come across so many grapes about which we might not know much.
Today’s example is the Trebbiano grape. It can show up in Cognac, Armagnac, Orvieto and a few other wines. It is widely planted in Italy, France and Australia, but often does not produce memorable wines, so many wine drinkers don’t think about it much.
But Trebbiano di Lugana, as it is known in part of the Veneto region, has scored big with Zunato Lugana di San Benedetto ($19-$21). It is a crisp, refreshing wine that pairs well with a variety of foods.
It is a pale lemon color in the glass, with pleasant floral and banana aromas. On the palate you pick up notes of peach, pear, apricot, citrus fruits and herbs, all balanced by bright acidity.
It is made from 100 percent Trebbiano di Lugana grapes grown on the San Benedetto parcel on the south shore of Lake Garda, the largest lake in Italy. It lies in the northeast corner of Italy, west of Venice.
The wine is aged in temperature-controlled stainless steel tanks for six months, with no time in oak. Sometimes that can produce a harsh wine, but this is a smooth, round, easy-to-drink wine.
The wine should be chilled, but as it warms in the glass, more flavors unfold. If you chill your wine in the refrigerator, leave it out at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before drinking.
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 is easy to see why this wine is still popular.
The Zenato winery stresses its link to the rich local history and culture. The estate surrounds Lake Garda, giving it a perfect microclimate for grape growing. They are committed to producing wines of exceptional quality at affordable prices.
The winery’s flagship wine is Ripassa, a Valpolicella Superiore DOC created in a unique method: the best selection of Valpolicella wine is “passed over” the still-warm residue of the dried grapes used to make Amarone wine. This ancient method was rediscovered in the 90s by Sergio Zenato and produces an intense wine rich in body, color and aroma. It is a terrific red that sells for about $30.
Winery: Zenato Winery began as a dream of Sergio and Carla Zenato in 1960 in the Veneto region of northeastern Italy. Now their children Nadia and Alberto Zenato have taken over and adhere to the same principles that guided their parents.
Alberto says it this way: “From father to son. When the first steps are immersed in the frame of the vineyards. When family meals are fueled by the hope of a prodigal harvest. Difficult, then, to escape the call of the earth. Hard to forget who you are. But above all, don’t think about what you could do for your wines if, in an authentic way, your hand is intertwined with that of your parents.”
Nadia handles marketing and promotion while Alberto oversees all aspects of wine production from vineyard to winemaking.
Zenato produces wine from two different areas of Veneto, Lugana and Valpolicella. Lugana is a beautiful area surrounding Lake Garda. It produces crisp, aromatic white wine. Valpolicella, a hilly area just east of Lake Garda, is the most famous red wine producing area of the Veneto. “Valpolicella” translates to “valley of many (wine) cellars.”
The winery says its operating principles are quality (from the vineyard to the bottle and consumer), passion and tradition (respecting the roots of the territory and local culture).
Goes with: We had this wine one night recently when I needed a quick dinner. My wife, Teri, and I steamed some shrimp that we brought back from Edisto Beach and had a peel-and-eat night. We added hash browns, canned peas and a salad to complete the meal.
I like light, but flavorful white wines when we have steamed shrimp. This was a perfect match, with all the crisp fruit flavors bringing out the delicious shrimp flavors. I usually drizzle lemon juice on the peeled shrimp and dunk them in a tangy cocktail sauce, so I like the wine to have some fresh flavor, but nothing too heavy or sharp. The Zenato delivered nicely.
You could also pair this wine with grilled mild fish, carbonara dishes, Asian dishes, roasted chicken, seafood pastas, hard Italian cheeses or pesto.
If you have questions about wine you can email Dennis Sodomka at dennis@bottlereport.com

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