Soave: a wine style to know
VENETO, in the north-east of Italy, is the home of some of your favourite wines whether you know it or not.
The benchmark examples of Pinot Grigio come from this area in DOCs such as Friuli, Collio and Alto Adige. Prosecco finds its home around the areas of Treviso and Conegliano north of Venice too.
The region is also home to some wines that you may have yet to discover or may have tried when visiting the area, but forgotten shortly after. Soave may just be one of these.
When we talk about Soave (pronounced Swah-vay), we are talking about a commune and a wine style, not a grape variety.
The commune of Soave sits east of Venice, closer to the city of Verona on the way to Milan.
The region started out as an area producing high quality white wines on the hillside vineyards planted in varying levels of limestone and volcanic rocks. Garganega makes up most of the blend with smaller parts of Trebbiano di Soave, and at times Chardonnay or Pinot Grigio.
The resulting wines show an intense rocky “minerally” edge softened by the use of oak aging or lees contact for a subtle creaminess and at times plumped up a little by Chardonnay.
As with so many of the wines in the area, they can often have a subtle nutty character on the finish, which varies in prominence from wine to wine, depending on the winemaking choices.
During the 1970s the Soave appellation was expanded down the hills and on to the flatter areas of poorer soil quality for high quality wines, which was only highlighted by the increasing use of Trebbiano, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Grigio grown at much higher yields than a quality producer would aim for.
Wines from this part of the region will be labelled as Soave DOC and can offer great value everyday drinking as light crisp whites, but you need to stick to good quality-focused producers as there is still plenty of thin, dull wine produced from the less fastidious producers.
The Soave Classico DOC and DOCG designation is where to look for the best quality examples, principally from the hillside vineyards.
In particular, the superior DOCG wines will be made up of at least 70 per cent Garganega and up to 30 per cent Trebbiano di Soave or other permitted varieties.
Some of these wines will be vinified quite simply in stainless steel and produce clean, lively fruit-driven examples of Soave, while many single-site wines will be built for medium to long-term ageing.
With the continuing weakness in our currency, many imported wines are moving up in price so to find a good example like this under $25 is becoming harder and harder.
Monte Tondo is one producer to look out for, though, their ‘Mito’ Soave ($19) bottling comes from their own vineyards spread across some of the most highly regarded areas of Soave.
It delivers what you want at this price point: fruit-forward in nature and quite a rounded mouthfeel driven by apples, pear and ripe citrus, there are hints of almond and white flowers, a stoney edge to the acidity, which tightens up for a dry crisp and slightly savoury finish.