Posted by: tomciocco | July 8, 2011

WHEN SOAVE TRUSTS IN GARGANEGA…

Soave and Valpolicella, the most famous  red and white wine zones (respectively) in Veneto, are more than neighbors, they actually coincide somewhat like a Venn diagram. This fraternal twinning effect is more than geographical. Like Valpolicella, Soave is a largish, ancient zone with distinct sub-regions, and the ability to produce fine ageable wine, but for a host of reasons too often under-achieves, and equally often in dramatically poor fashion.

As you know, it’s never my intention to discuss plonk, and I’m not starting here. This is certainly one of the good Soaves. Azienda Agricola Pra`is situated in Monforte d’Alpone in the zone’s east side where the volcanic soils (as opposed to the marine/limestone soils in the western half) yield more minerally, structured, and nervous wines than in the warmer west end.

Garganega (gar-ga-NEH-ga) is Soave’s principal grape variety (70%-100% of the blend), with the balance potentially made up of mostly Trebbiano di Soave (actually an old Verdicchio clone, and always a welcome addition in my opinion) and (regretably) small amounts of Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc as well. It’s clear however that Pra`, and other producers as well, have the utmost faith in this thick-skinned, and if improperly tended, over-productive variety (hence the plonk potential from the quantity-minded), and consequently seriously restrict yields, resulting in wines with the weight and complexity more often associated with whites made north of the Alps. 

To stay with the weather (hot today here in NJ), I made a chilled rice salad with olives, capers, tuna, celery, red bell pepper, lemon, mayo, etc. and then a potato and leek frittata with dried thyme, and few slices of bread…

Azienda Agricola Pra` Soave Classico 2010

Slightly greenish pale coppery gold color. The nose exposes layered aromas of toasted almond and pinoli nuts, whole ripe pear, mixed herbs, powdered ginger and lemon curd. The palate opens with a salty minerality, good weight, and a stiff structure, with diverse flavors of yellow cherries, raw white mushrooms, cidery apple fruit flavors, candied fennel, hay, and petroleum notes, tied up with a well-integrated but pervasive and broad acidity. Finishes with a warm bitterish quinine note. A wine of sinuous complexity.

 

 

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