Lola. L-O-L-A. Lola.

By Celia Strong

And here we go again. A new good wine with a fun name. That just begs for us to start singing.  And a great new bottle. Totally reusable for all kinds of things. How much fun is this going to be?  Singing, drinking, recycling. We have to wonder what we’ve done to deserve all this. But, then, does it really matter?  Don’t think so. So, we will move on.

An interesting name for our winery this week. Lady Lola. The wine is from Italy, and more on that in a moment, but the name “Lola” seems to have a  Spanish derivation. Seems it is the shortened form of the name “Dolores.”  In Spanish, “Dolores” means “sorrows” and comes from the title of the Virgin Mary – “Virgen Maria de los Dolores” or “Our Lady of Sorrows.”  “Lola” can also be a short form of the German name “Aloisai,” and it is also  common in Africa. The name “Temilola” means “wealth is mine” and the name “Damilola” means “prosper me.”  A way happier meaning for the short form, “Lola.”

Even though, historically, the name started with the Virgin Mary, time has played with its meanings. Now, there are several sensual meanings associated with “Lola.”  In some baby name books, there are references to “Lola” being the Devil’s best home wrecker. (A reference to the song “What Lola Wants, Lola Gets” in the musical “Damn Yankees.”). And, too, there is “Lolita,” the diminutive form of the name. For many of us, because of where we were and what we were doing in 1970, The Kinks’ song “Lola,” about a young man and a transvestite named Lola, gives us plenty of background with this name.  “Walked like a woman and talked like a man.”  Some parents have even named their daughters Lola. Hmmmmm. Sorrows or prosperity?  Let’s see.

Our Lady Lola comes from northeastern Italy. The Venezie area. This area contains four of Italy’s 20 wine regions — Emilia-Romagna, Friuli-Venezie Giulia, Trentino-Alto Adige/Südtirol and Veneto. If you drink any Italian Pinot Grigios at all, you probably recognize one these regions from you bottle’s label.)  For wines, the diversity of cultures in this part of Italy means their wines are noticeably different and unique from each other.  The phrase “tre Venezie” or “Triveneto,” (literally, the three Venices) that appears on some labels refers to to the three sub-regions of just Veneto. And how complicated is that?

Historically, they were all part of the Venetian Empire. The Verona region, which includes the beautiful Lake Garda, is home to the white wine Soave and the red wines Bardolino and Valpolicella. And let’s not forget Amarone, really just Amarone della Valpolicella, a big, heavy red. The Trentino-Alto Adige region is mainly German speaking and, when you study this area or travel there, it is easily apparent that Italy was unified into one country from twenty smaller, distinct countries/empires/fiefdoms. Most of the wines from Alto Adige are exported to Germany, Austria and Switzerland.  But, the rest of the world, including the United States, gets lots of varietally labeled wines from here. Particularly Pinot Grigios, followed by Chardonnays, Pinot Biancos, Sauvignon Blancs and Gewurztraminers. The Friuli-Venezie Giulia sub-region was originally known for its red wines.  In the last twenty years, though, they have become the source for many Italian white wines. Again, Pinot Grigios lead the pack, followed by Pinot Biancos, Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs. Slovenia is the eastern border of this area, and the districts of Collio and Collio Orientali make some of Friuli’s very best wines.

Wines from the Venezie are labelled “della Venezie.”  An IGT level, this is one of Italy’s best known wine appellations. Most of the wines from here are crisp, light bodied Pinot Grigios. In fact, seven out of every ten bottles from here is Pinot Grigio. (It would be interesting to know how many of every seven come to this country.)  And the name “Pinot Grigio” means more than just the grape variety. It is also come to mean the style of wine made here. Light, crisp, not too serious.  This style of wine is so successful that other varieties like Pinot Noir, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay (all increasing in popularity with Italian growers) have not found as strong a foothold (vine-hold?) here as in other regions throughout the rest of Italy. Even the Garganega grape, that makes the wonderful Soave wines in the Veneto area, is only two percent of the total grape plantings. Sorrows and prosperity. L.O.L.A.  Lola.

So, now we come to our wine. Lady Lola Pinot Grigio. First off, we can’t miss noticing its bottle and stopper. The bottle is shaped more like a decanter than a regular wine bottle. And it has a wooden stopper instead of a cork.

So, of course, all kinds of ideas for how to use the bottle, after we’ve drunk the wine, come to mind. Flavored oils, bath salts, homemade liqueurs, all kinds of second uses. Personally, I think if you start now you could have enough bottles for gifting at Christmas time. Beyond the great bottle, though, we do come to this Pinot Grigio wine. Our winemaker is Michela. She was born in Tuscany, where her father and grandfather were both grape growers. With this background, and her passion for traveling, Michela ended up making wine in the della Venezie area. Prosperity?

The Pinot Grigio grapes for Lady Lola are grown in vineyards located in the hills of the Venezie, where the climate gives them warm days and cool nights. That gives the wines from these grapes enhanced, complex aromatics and zesty, crisp acidity.  When harvested, the grapes are pressed gently to maintain the fruitiness for the wine. The juice is fermented cold, also to enhance the wine’s fruit flavors, and then the wine is stored, with its yeast, in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks. Remember the phrase “sur lie” aging?   It adds flavor complexity to wines. More prosperity?  The Lady Lola is one hundred percent Pinot Grigio.  This wine pairs well with pasta dishes, especially those with seafood, tomatoes and tomato sauce, fresh salads, white meat dishes. Also, it goes well with warm afternoons and old songs. L. O. L. A.  (Singing again?)  For $10.99. (Now you’re singing?)

And, there is our new wine for this week. Don’t let the different bottle dissuade you from trying it. We can be so jaded in our thinking. Must be not so good a wine because the bottle is so pretty. Maybe, you get both a good wine and a pretty bottle. Prosperity?  One question still to look at. Why the name?  Lady Lola?  Guess what?  I have no idea. Which means we can each come up with our own version of where it came from.  So, here’s my game. The first one of you to give me a good reason, that I can make my own, gets a free bottle? Of Lady Lola Pinot Grigio. Another pretty bottle for one of you.

And a good wine. Enjoy!

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