Posted by: tomciocco | February 15, 2014

RICCO…SOAVE

Italy produces hundreds and hundreds of fascinating and peculiar white wines, from the southernmost reaches of the island of Sicily all the way to the northern borders with France, Switzerland and Austria. The names of very few of these wines come readily to the tongues of the average wine drinker, but Soave however is definitely one of them.

Soave comes from the northeastern Veneto region, and is in a way the white wine fraternal twin of the red Valpolicella, and indeed these two wines are often produced cheek by jowl in directly adjoining vineyards since the two zones significantly overlap in the towns east of the city of Verona. The Soave zone is quite a large one, and the Veneti are well known throughout Italy for their business acumen, industriousness, and their technological advancement. In the production of textiles and fine audio equipment, these traits are undoubtedly assets, but when it comes to making wine, this once very poor folks from this region overdo these tendencies a bit, which leads to the all too frequent propensity to emphasize quantity over quality. I can unequivocally say however that this is definitely not the case with this wine.

The principal grape of Soave is called Garganega (gar-ga-NEH-ga), which despite the enormous acreage that it covers within the Soave zone, is one that is not frequently seen outside of this appellation, and almost not all outside of Veneto. Soave must be made from a minimum of 70% Garganega, but can produced from up to 100%, and many producers do take their wines in this “purist” direction. There is however a supporting grape that many producers feel is essential in making Soave what it should be, and that variety is known by the somewhat misleading name of Trebbiano di Soave. There are quite a few grapes along the length of the Italian peninsula that carry the name Trebbiano “something”, some of which are kin, others of which are are not, or are in truth members of some other larger “family” of vines, and that is what Trebbiano di Soave is, it being a particular representative of the Verdicchio lineage that found mostly in the region of Marche, well south of Soave’s decidedly northerly situation.

And where Garganega is complex, quite rich and elegant, Trebbiano di Soave is quite direct, spunky and gregarious. For me, really typical Soave needs to contain some Trebbiano di Soave to leaven Garganega’s somewhat unctuous seriousness, and that is precisely what we’ve got with this evening’s wine which is made from 80% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano di Soave, and mercifully 0% of “International” grapes like Chardonnay which are permissible in the blend, but for this guy, muddy the character of this ancient wine, and are best left in places like Burgundy from whence they originally come.

I matched this fairly plush but still very crisp wine with a first course of risotto with fennel and cannellini beans, followed by a main course of eggs fried/smothered with leeks, potatoes, cooked ham, and a liberal grating of a cheese native to the Veneto region called Piave.

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Vicentini Agostino Soave Vigneto Terre Lunghe 2012

Slightly greenish, “white gold” color. Pretty and elegant nose of yellow cherries, yuzu, and gooseberry fruit with supporting aromas of ground ginger, cedar, fresh herbs and grass, pale honey, and a subtle perfuminess. The palate of the wine is medium-light in weight and fairly delicate with fine and fresh minerally acidity but still with a notable solidity and cohesiveness and some richness as well with flavors of lemon, apricot, green melon, white pepper, Shiitake mushrooms, almond and vanilla bean. The wine finishes with a very clean flintiness.

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Responses

  1. Delicious review! Congrats for this tasty experience. It was a good choice.


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