I’ve come back from exploring the Soave wine region in the north east of Italy and I had no idea of the beauty of the place. Soave wine has suffered from the image of pale, lacklustre, uninteresting Italian white wines. I urge you to think again.
I’ve met the makers of my recommendations, been to the vineyards and soaked up the love of the wines. I stayed in a bed and breakfast across from the Soave city walls and high up on the hill was the ancient castle. You can’t beat it. To really understand the soul of a wine, visit the region where it is born.
Here’s some Soave wine facts:
- The main grape variety in Soave white wines is garganega and it brings notesof almond, white flowers and lemon. It is often blended with the grape trebbiano.
- The soil is a mixture of volcanic basalt and white limestone and wine producers told me the dark soil is best for white wines and the white soil is best for reds.
- It is one of the richest areas of fossils in Europe as many sea creatures were left stranded after ancient volcanic eruptions.
- The basic wine is Soave DOC; Soave Classico DOC is better quality with grapes grown from the “classic” heartland of the region and Soave Superiore DOCG is the top-end style.
I strolled across the road from my B&B, through the walled gateway, turning down into historic passageways, to taste my first Soave wine, Soave Classico Castel Cerino, Coffele 2016 (£9.50, thewinesociety.com, 12.5% abv).
Giuseppe Coffele, 73, is the patriarch of the wine-producing family, a man with enthusiasm in his soul.
He said the garganega grape is like “a beautiful woman; she is difficult to control but when you have finally worked her out she gives you tremendous satisfaction”. His words aren’t very politically correct, but I get it! The wine had a lovely freshness with aromas of citrus fruit and springtime flowers and a vibrant acidity.
I tasted Inama Soave Classico 2016 (£15.99 or £13.99 in a buy six deal at Majestic, 12% abv) in the gaze of an ancient church, in the early afternoon shade, overlooking a wonderful vineyard. It was beautiful, as was the wine. Signature notes of limes, stone fruit, camomile, honey and almonds all shone through within a creamy finish. This wine would be fantastic with a simple creamy pea risotto.
The Cantina di Soave, is the largest wine cooperative in Italy. It has up to 2,200 members and its modern headquarters combines tradition and new facilities. It sits under the ancient castle at Soave. The cantina makes several wines for the UK export market, including this Wm Morrison Soave Classico (£6.75, Morrisons, 12% abv) which has simple floral aromas together with a flavour of crisp apples.
The emphasis at Cantina di Soave is very much on quality, not necessarily quantity. Winemaker Giancarlo Piubelli led us through a tasting of some of the cantina’s ultra-premium wines, including those under the Rocca Sveva label. The name Sveva has its roots with an ancient Germanic people.
I discovered a new Italian fizz in Soave. I was practically in the heart of Prosecco land but I didn’t taste a drop for days.
The sparkling wine is from a native grape called durello. I asked if durello is the new prosecco, but apparently it is little-known even in Italy.
The team at Cantina di Soave told me that they export a durello wine to the UK, which is good news.
Here it is. Settecento33 Spumante Brut NV (£10, www.oddbins.com, 12% abv). Why not give it a go if you love fizz, and you love trying new things. The wine is a treat. It has crispy apple and pears centre stage with layers of tangier fruit too, such as grapefruit and lemons.
The grapes are grown in the soils influenced by now extinct volcanoes and the wine has a mineral, upright edge.
Finally, a class act in Gini Soave Classico (£14.95, winedirect.co.uk, 12% abv). The Gini family is one of the oldest wine producers in the Soave Classico region. I enjoyed lunch at their winery, cheeses, meats and salads, including chicken caesar. It was perfect with a glass of this Soave wine which has fragrant white flowers, peach and pear on the nose, with a hint of almonds and a mineral, citrus edge.
Based on a story FIRST PUBLISHED IN OVER 30 TRINITY MIRROR REGIONAL NEWSPAPERS INCLUDING: