I’M quite proud that my friends are beginning to listen to me. I know I go on about it a bit, but finally some of my pals have stopped drinking pinot grigio and are moving on to other whites.
Sauvignon blanc seems to be the fashionable choice; I’ve tempted them with viognier and picpoul de pinet; a drop of albarino and a white rioja.
One pal has said to me that she doesn’t need any frills or sophistication. As long as her wine is cold and wet that’s fine by her. Sounds like a number of towns I’ve lived in.
This week I found myself in a big supermarket chain, looking for a Soave, the Italian white. I’ll grab a bottle, I thought, while I’m here, to clink in my basket alongside the cod pieces and parsley sauce. But I couldn’t find one anywhere; wines were laid out “under £6” “under £8” and “under £10” and I thought to myself, have I got my nagging all wrong about being adventurous? Trying new wines?
Perhaps the majority of people always buy wine in their comfort zones, in the price bracket they want to afford … and as for the latter, absolutely why not. Purses and wallets aren’t fathomless pits.
But on all these price bracket shelves were the usual suspects, the pinot grigios, the chardonnays, the big brand bland conveyor belt labels. Soave can be as cheap and bland as pinot grigio, but it just wasn’t there. If I had fancied being a little adventurous in my chosen price bracket, there wasn’t anything to tempt me.
Woe, I felt, woe. I heard myself groan; though it could have been my knees.
But onwards and upwards. I already had some Soave choices at hand. I have been “encouraged” into trying some of these wines by an Italian lady colleague, who dismayed by my nonchalant dismissal of pinot grigio and all Italian whites, implored me to try again. So here we are, and I’ll come back for more. Well, at least of the ones I tasted.
Soave is made from the garganega grape, which is grown in the Veneto region of Italy, also home to the famous red, valpolicella. It’s a white wine which, well to be honest, is produced in bulk but you should look out for those labelled as “classico” which come from the best hillside area.
Pieropan is one of the better quality wineries, and Soave Classico Leonildo Pieropan (£12) is available online at winetrust100.co.uk. The garganega grape is blended with a little Trebbiano di Soave to create a creamy mix of nuttiness, lemon bite, dry honey and some almonds. A squeaky acidic finish. (Winetrust also sells La Rocca from Pieropan, and for £25 you’re getting something with a pedigree of winning the International Trophy at International Wine Challenge for best Soave and best overall Italian White).
Over at M&S, Soave Classico 2013 ( £7.99) won a commendation at the same competition. It packs a refreshing burst of lemon into each sip, but not before you’ve aromas of peach, lemon, hints of marzipan and honey have flirted under your nose. Summer bedding flowers too. I was quite surprised I liked it so much.
Finally, Tesco Finest Soave Classico Superiore (£7.99). I dipped into this expecting almonds, peach and lemons, but got so much more with a wave of honey, and on the palate richness of stone fruits and a waxy, creamy mouthfeel of more honey. Some of the wine is fermented in oak barrels, which explains the extra dimension of richness and flavour.
Also in my glass
Back to work last week after the staycation so drowned my sorrows with a weekend bubbly, Nicolas Feuillatte Brut Reserve (£28, John Lewis and John Lewis online). It worked.
I know all Champagnes are a treat, and this is in the price range where it borders on becoming a special occasion treat, but it’s worth it. A sweet apple crumble nose, with sprightly apple and lemon flavours twinkling and skipping in the mouth, but at the same time the wine is gentle, soft and silky like a puppy dog’s ears. I don’t know why I say such things either.
First published in the saturday extra magazine August 30, 2014