Is Soave Back In Style?

I was invited to a tasting of Soave the other day by Colangelo PR. Wearing my wine journalist and blogger hat, I sat down with some friendly faces and tried a variety of different expressions of the Garganega grape.

The Soave region, located in the Veneto is one of 20 DOCs. There are three different classifications for Soave:

• Soave DOC, includes the sub-zones of Soave Classico and Soave Colli Scaligeri
• Soave Superiore DOCG (2001) includes wines with the “Riserva” designation
• Recioto di Soave DOCG (1998), a dessert wine

On the whole, the large area which can use the Soave appellation has a Mediterranean climate and a blend of volcanic, calcareous and alluvial soils. These produce wines with highly aromatic and floral notes. Most of the wines are fresh and bright and are made in stainless steel. I got some yeast and toasty notes on some of the wines but that is due to lees aging/stirring and not wood. If wood is used in Soave, it tends to be older oak which is neutral.

On the whole I liked the wines and can definitely see the pitch that Soave can replace Pinot Grigio as everyone’s favorite Italian white grape. I like the bitter almond note I get on the finish of all of the Soaves, much more than the one I perceive on the finish of Vernaccia di San Gimingnano. I think it’s the inherent minerality in the Garganega grape that I prefer.

Light and easy, this can be a nice quaffing wine or something somewhat more serious. Like many people, I know the very famous Soave producers quite well such as Pieropan.

On Tuesday I had the occasion to try a number of wines from producers that I know such as Inama and some from ones I have never heard of such as Rocca Sveva, La Cappuccina, Coffele and Gini.

Of the group, I liked the Inama for its minerality and good acidity, the La Cappuccina for its elegant herbal notes, the Gini for its more oppulent notes and the Coffele for its full bodied, white fruit notes and richness which the 5% of Chardonnay in the blend brought to the fore. The Rocca Sveva was probably the lightest of the group and perhaps the most approachable for a wide audience.

Many in the group liked the Cantina del Castello Soave Classico which was the biggest of the wines, at 13% alcohol. It was a blend of Garganega (80%) and Trebbiano di Soave (20%). It was richer and more lush than the others and a favorite in the group.

A number of the wineries, I discovered, practice organic farming and harvesting and some are attentive to biodynamic practices as well in terms of planting and pest management. I was surprised at this and thought it was a sign of how much times had changed.

On the whole I like Garganega and was excited to try my first Soave Spumante from Coffele. The wine spends eight months in tanks before being bottled. I thought it was lovely with nutty, yeasty, creamy notes which appeal to me quite a lot, in all seasons but even more so in the Summer.

Another thing I appreciated about these wines is their low alcohol content, somewhere between 11,5% and 13% for the most part, just where it should be in my opinion. These wines can be served with a wide variety of foods without overwhelming any of them.

I know that Soave hasn’t always had an easy time of remaking its’ image but if these wines are any indication of the more recent trend for the area, I think they have little to fear for the future. So is Soave back in style? I think so. It is for me. Then again, I’ve always been a fan. Auguroni!


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