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SUAVIA SOAVE CLASSICO 2016
“I guess when there is room to improve, and where there is the desire to improve, improvement comes.”…. David McNeill
But some recoveries, in the minds of those not injured, take longer than expected. Then again, consumers were injured buying over produced Soave. So too were the producers who remained committed to making quality Soave throughout the responding consumer drought.
Soave is produced in Veneto (in NE) Italy and made from the Garganega grape. Prior to 1931, it was commonly referred to as “Petit Chablis,” so popular was the wine within Italy. As Italian wine became more commonly available in the U.S., people liked it. A white wine, it has a Viognier-like body and offers white stone-fruit and wildflower to the nose. Apple, some pear and hints of almond and nectarine greet the palate. Easy drinking. Clean with mouthwatering acidity, it entertains with an enjoyable see-saw of fruit sweetness opposing citrus lightened with floral notes. What’s not to like? A perfectly enjoyable, reasonably priced wine suitable for moving from the patio table to the dinner table.
In the 1960s, production of Soave could not meet demand. Italy’s response was to expand the zone from its original (Classico) 4200 hectares (4200 acres) to 7,000 hectares (17,297 acres). Instead of the sloping vineyards near Verona with volcanic and limestone soils, lowland areas with alluvial soils and some plots adjoining busy roads were included in the new growing area. With the majority of production being the responsibility of large cooperatives, growers were incentivized by volume instead of quality. Toward that end, Trebbiano Toscano, a grape vine producing bland grapes but in abundant quantity, was used to drive up tonnage.
And consumers lost interest.
And then they discovered Pinot Grigio.
By the 1990s, it became obvious that if Soave was going to remain, improvements needed to be made. They were. From 1998 to 2001, the Consorzio studied all aspects of the growing area and defined 51 distinctive crus. In the process, a quality pyramid was established with Soave Superiore DOGC on the top, Classico DOC in the middle and then Soave DOC). Yields were restricted and minimum alcohol levels established. Further, Trebbiano Toscano would no longer be allowed in the blend. Today, Soave must contain at least 70% Garganega. Trebbiano di Soave (a.k.a. Verdicchio), Pinot Bianco and Chardonnay may constitute 30%. Other grapes may also be used but even combined may not exceed 5% of the blend.
Top end, quality producers continued to produce the delicious, floral, fruity Soave of memory, some from single vineyards, but consumers, even today, associate it with cheap wine made from a massive output. It definitely suffers from an image problem. Too bad: the grape deserves better. Today’s wine of writing is a DOC, modestly priced and a value. In fact, because of the image problem, most Soave continues to be value priced though not the same wine as that deserving the scorn of yesteryears.
Suavia Soave is from the Classico (originally delineated) region. It is a DOC, not DOCG, wine. As such, it’s in the middle of the pyramid and offers excellent value on top of value. Pair it with pork and fowl. It goes excellently with Baccala alla Vincentia or shrimp in a simple olive oil & lemon juice sauce or clams with lemon and pepper. Try it with chicken breasts stuffed with pesto and curd cheese. Or just enjoy a glass by itself on the deck or patio after the day’s end when chores have been accomplished and you should reward yourself. With an ARP of $14., (w/o S&H), there’s room to spend on the meal.
This wine is 100% Garganega, allowing you the bonus of learning the unblended varietal’s character. Expect notes of apple and pear that carry onto the palate along with subtle notes of almond and white peach. Its texture (thanks to aging on the lees) is rich and coating. It finishes with a cleansing minerality. Notes of jasmine and tropical fruit but balanced by lemon zest acidity. A whispered hint of herb. Everything you want in a quaffable yet complex wine is in the glass. No wonder the Italians loved it. And we should reconsider these improvements and this wine. It is an inexpensive experiment.
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TECH SPECS & ECTECERA:
Grapes: 100% Garganega
Fermentation: Steel Vat, 14 Days
Temp: 15-18C (59-64.4F)
Malo? Yes, But Only On A Small Portion (% Unknown)
Maturation: 5 Months On The Lees
Filtration: 1 Membrane Only
Yield: 4 Tons Per Acre (10 allowed)
Year Vineyard Planted: 1960
First Vintage: 1983
Soil: Calcareous and Volcanic
Wine Enthusiast: 88 Points
James Suckling: 92 Points
Suavia Soave Classico
Imported By: Winebow, Inc (NY, NY)