Category Archives: Soave

Sandro De Bruno Winery: A Long Over Due Visit

I first met Sandro Tasoniero, owner of the Sandro De Bruni winery, at a tasting in NYC a few years ago. I was impressed with his wines, especially the Soave. I told him I would write about his wines and visit him the next time I was in the Veneto. However for some reason it just did not happen.

This winter I had only one free day in Verona, the day I arrived. By coincidence, Elisa Bosco from PR Comunicare  IL Vino asked me if I would like to visit the Sandro de Bruno winery. I knew I would be tired from the flight but I still wanted to go. Elisa picked me up at the hotel and in a short time we arrived at the winery.

Sandro Tasoniero

The winery is located in Pergola di Montecchia di Crosara just outside of Verona and the vineyards are in Montecchia di Crosara and Terrossa, where there are 12 hectares of vines at 600 meters on Mount Calvarina, a dormant volcano. The soil is lava, enriched with minerals.

Sandro spoke about the terroir of Mount Calvarina an area with a unique and ideal microclimate with a range of temperatures between night and day. Good rainfall, daily sun exposure, constant ventilation and perfect drainage.

Sandro said they always apply the principles of sustainable and integrated agriculture in the winery and try to create a natural balance without interfering with nature. No chemical products are used and this also goes for the weeding. It is the perfect combination between organic and conventional farming.

The Wines

Lessini Durello DOC Metodo Classico Riserva “Durello” made from 85% Durello and 15 Pinot Bianco. From Monte Calvarina at 600 meters. The soil is volcanic, there are 4,000 plants per hectare, the average age of the vines is 30 years, the training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. Fermentation takes place in 30hl oak barrels for the Pinot Bianco and stainless steel for the Durello. This is a wine with nice bubbles and hints of white flowers and citrus fruit and a mineral undertone.

Soave Doc “Scaligeri” made from 100% Garganega from small plots of land located on the slopes of Mont Calvarina. The vineyard is at 4,000 meters and the average age of the vineyards is 20 years. The training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. The soil is volcanic. There is manual harvesting using crates, grape sorting, de-stemming, grape selection, then a slow crushing of the grapes and pressing with nitrogen saturation. Fermentation takes place in stainless steel. This is a wine with hints of pear, figs, and almonds with good minerality.

Soave Superiore DOCG “Monte San Pietro” made from 100% Garganega from the hills around Roncà, at 330 meters. The soil is volcanic, there are 4,000 vines per hectare, the training system is Pergoletta Veronese and the exposure is south. Fermentation is in big oak barrels of 30hl. This is a well-structured, complex wine with hints of tropical fruit, white pepper and vanilla. This soave can age, I tasted a few bottles from older vintages and I was impressed with all of them. Sandro said all of the wines remain in the cellar for at least one year before release. This is why the wines age so well, even the whites. Sandro makes some of the best Soave I have ever tasted.

Pinot Nero “Nero Fumo” IGt Veneto made from 100% Pinot Noir from Monte Calvarina at 580 meters. There are 7,000 vines per hectare, the training system is guyot and the exposure is south. The soil is volcanic with basaltic rocks. The name Nero Fumo, black smoke, is the typical color of the basaltic rock in the vineyards. There is a manual harvest using crates the third week September. There is a grape selection, de –stemming and a selection of berries. Fermentation is in conic vats and the must is punched down for 30 days. This is a fruity and full bodied wine with hints of red berries and spic

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Filed under Durello, Pinot Nero, Sandro Bruno Winery, Soave

Eating Moleche and Drinking Wine in Venice

Pensione, Restaurant Wildner  Last time I was in Venice, I posted some pictures on Facebook and a friend, Faith Willinger, who lives in Florence and is a noted cookbook and travel writer saw them. She wrote that I should go to this “fantastic restaurant” and added that “the wine list will blow you away.” She told me to ask for Luca Fullin, the son of the owner, who is responsible for the wine list. With a recommendation like this, we just had to go.

Luca

Luca

The restaurant is right on the Grand Canal and there is a covered patio for outdoor dining. We introduced ourselves to Luca and told him that Faith had highly recommended the restaurant. As Faith had promised, we had a great meal.

We liked the restaurant so much that we decided to return again this year. I had the mazzancolle, large grilled red shrimp. They were plump and juicy just as I remembered them from last time.IMG_0468

I followed this with the moleche, baby soft shell crabs. They were crisp and full of flavor. I order them whenever I can because their season is very short.IMG_0469

We drank the Soave Classico DOC “Calvarino 2014 Pieropan made from 70% Garganega and 30% Trebbiano di Soave from hillside vineyards in the Soave Classico zone. Volcanic soils situated at 200 to 300 meters facing northwest. Traditional pergola Veronese trained, 3,000 vines per hectare. The vines are 30 to 60 years, hand harvested, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. Trebbiano di Soave is picked in mid September and the Garganega in October. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed with the free run juice fermented separately in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remains in the tanks on the fine lees for one year. It is aged in the bottle for a few months before release.IMG_0472

After dinner Luca suggested we visit his new wine bar called Local just around the corner, 3 minutes away. This being Venice it only took us 15 minutes to find it. But we liked its cozy appearance and contemporary style. Benedetta, Luca’s sister, welcomed us warmly.IMG_0473

They have a very extensive wine list and we ordered the Cerasuolo d’ Abruzzo, which is a Rose from Emidio Pepe 2014 vintage made from 100% Montepulciano d’Abruzzo . The grapes are vinified as if it was a white wine and are pressed by foot. The must is fermented without the skins. We had the 2012 last time at Wildner and it was much lighter in color but with this very “natural” winemaker, one never knows.IMG_0476

We had this with a plate of assorted cheeses and condiments from the Veneto area.

For lunch the next day we went to the highly recommended Trattoria Antiche Carampane, not far from the outdoor fish market. This is a lovely restaurant and it is better to go for lunch because it is very crowded for dinner.IMG_0482

Michele and I had the same dishes pasta with baby sepia in an ink sauceIMG_6269 mol

and fried moleche with fried Jerusalem artichokes cooked to perfection. IMG_0484We also loved our desserts, which included a layered meringue, cream and berry parfait. I had something equally delicious, but ate it so fast that I can’t remember what it was.

We drank the Soave Classico ‘La Rocca’ 2014 Pieropan 100% Garganega.IMG_0483

Single vineyard with chalky, clay soil situated at 200 to 300 meters, facing southwest. Spur pruned cordon trained with 5,000 vines per hectare. The age of the vines is 10 to 50 years. Grapes are handpicked at the end of October, often in two harvests to select the ripest grapes. The grapes are de-stemmed and crushed followed by a short maceration with skin contact in 2,500 liter barrels. After fermentation the wine is racked into 200 to 500 liter barrels and ages for 15 months on the fine lees and remains in bottle for a time before release. It was interesting to taste the two wines one day apart.  Both  Pieropan wines were excellent but the La Rocca is a bigger wine and needs more time.IMG_0487

We also drank the Trebbiano d’Abruzzo 2011 Eduardo Valentini 100% Trebbiano. The wine is aged in large botti of Slavonian oak for 24 months. This was a very complex full wine with a mineral character, hints of citrus fruit and apple, good acidity, great finish and aftertaste with that extra something that is difficult to describe.

 

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Filed under Emidio Pepe, Montepulciano d' Abruzzo, Pieropan Calvarino, Pieropan La Rocca, Restaurant Wildner, Soave, Uncategorized, Valentini, Venice

Tasting Soave

Soave has always been one of my favorite white wines. It is undervalued and always a great bargain on restaurant wine lists.

I have visited Soave a number of times and the last time there I was inducted into the Imperial Castellania Di Suavia as “Captain Spadarino, Protector of the Women of the Castello Scaligero” in Soave. This is a worldwide women’s organization that praises Il Vino Bianco Saove. received this honor for my contributions to Soave wine

A few weeks ago I was invited to a Soave Master Class. The speakers were Evan Goldstein, Master Sommelier and Giovanni Ponchia the enologist for the Consorzio Tutela Soave. I first met Giovanni a few years ago when I was invited on a press trip to the Soave region and was honored as Capitano Spadarino.  All the journalists on the trip were so impressed with Giovanni’s knowledge and his easy manner of presenting it that we nicknamed him “Mr. Soave.” Evan spoke about the individual wineries and Giovanni spoke about the Soave region.

Giovanni Ponchio "Mr. Soave"

Giovanni Ponchio “Mr. Soave”

The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals and there is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir-based wines.

Soave is a relatively small concentrated area and it has a history of selling grapes outside of the region. There are some 3,000 growers and the DOC is the largest in the Province of Verona accounting for 40% of the production. There are 52 crus in the zone and, like Barolo, different producers can work one cru. The vineyards are so close together that they all spray at the same time.

The grapes are the same for Soave DOC, Soave Classico DOC, and Soave Superiore DOCG. Soave DOC, Colli Scaliger, and Recioto di Soave.  Garganega is the primary grape and Soave must contain at least 70% of it. The other 30% is made up of Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco (Trebbiano Toscano has been excluded). The better producers use 100% Garganega, or very close to it. There does not seem to be much Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco used.  Trebbiano di Soave seems to be the new favorite, but Giovanni said that this was is a matter of controversy.

Garganega is the fifth most planted white grape in Italy and may be related to the Grecanico grape of Sicily. Giovanni said it is not markedly aromatic in nature, but displays a range of perfumes of which almonds and white flowers are the most clearly identifiable. It does not actually complete its ripening until October. Its skin is very tough and is a particularly deep yellow (verging on red) when ripe. It does not display especially high acidity but rather a balance of extract and fruit sugars.

Trebbiano di Soave has traditionally always been present in the vineyards. It has a tangy liveliness that some wine makers feel blends well with the typical structure and density of the Garganega grape.

The training system for the vines is very interesting. It can be single or double Espalier (Guyot and Cordon Spur) or a Pergola (known as tendone in the South). The vines grow on trellises and the leaves cover and protect the grapes from the sun. It can be a unilateral Pergola, or uni- or bi-lateral pergoletta Veronese- Veronese Pergola. This Pergola does not close all the way in the middle allowing some sunlight to come through. This is the method used on flat land even at high elevation. The Veronese Pergola is again becoming popular among the producers. Giovanni said many producers were very proud of this system. No matter what the training system, there can be no less than 3,300 vines per hectare.IMG_5669

There were 12 wines altogether, some were tasted blind. I liked all the wines but the ones listed below were the ones I enjoyed the most.

Cantina del Castello Soave Classico DOC “Castello” 2012 The vines are on the hills of the Soave Classico region, facing Soave and the Alpone Valley, between Monteforte d’Alpone and Brognoligo. The Vineyards are situated at 200 to 250 meters. Generally basaltic soil of volcanic origin but some vineyards are situated in areas with soils having a markedly calcareous skeleton of coastal sedimentary origin. The training system is Pergola Veronese and short espalier. Harvesting is by hand and takes place the middle of October. There is pre-destemming and soft pressing with a 60% must yield. Fermentation takes place in temperature controlled water-cooled stainless steel tanks. The wine is aged in bottle for two months before release.

Bolla Soave Classico DOCG Superiore “Tufale” 2011  85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. The vines are 25-30 years old and are located on the marly-tuffaceous soils in the once volcanic Classico zone in the commune of Monteforte d’Alpone. Southern and southeastern exposure at 200 to 300 meters and there is a significant temperature between night and day. The training system is the traditional Soave Pergolas. Harvest is in October. Mature grapes are macerated cold in a protected atmosphere for several hours. After removal of the stalks they are subjected to soft pressing then cold static sedimentation. Fermentation is slow and takes place at low temperatures. The wine remains for a time on the fine fermented lees with regular batonnage, while a small part matures in French oak barriques. The wine is bottled in March and aged in the bottle for two months before release.

Gini Soave Classico “La Frosca” DOC 2001 100% Garganega. The wine takes its name from the hillside La Frosca close to the town of d’Alpone. The vineyards are at 180 meters with a southeast exposure. The training system is Pergola Veronese and the harvest is in October. The grapes are hand picked. Soft pressing and immediate cooling of the must takes place. Fermentation at controlled temperatures takes place in steel and wooden vats. The wine is left for at least eight months with its own natural yeasts in steel vats and in 228 liter wooden barrels. This wine is 13 years old and is in perfect condition. When I visited the Gini winery on my trip a few years ago, we tasted a 1990 that also was in perfect condition. In the hands of the right producer Soave can age.IMG_5862

Cantina di Soave Classico DOC “Rocca Sveva” 2013 100% Garganega. The vineyards are located in the hills of the communes in Soave and Monteforte. The vines are planted in loose, medium gravelly clay soil of volcanic origin at 100 to 300 meters. The vines are trained for the Verona Pergola System the high, flat roofed system traditional for this area, in cover-cropped rows: cluster loke with cluster thinning. Harvesting is by hand and takes place the last week of September. The clusters are gently pressed and the must settles by gravity. Fermentation takes place with select yeasts at controlled temperatures. The wine is then drawn off and left to mature.

Monte Tondo Soave Classico Foscarino DOC “Casettte Foscarin” 2005 90% Garganega and 10%Trebbiano di Soave. The vineyards are on the western slope of Monte Foscarino and the soil is volcanic in origin, tufaceous and basaltic. The training system is Pergola Veronese and Guyot and the harvest is in October. A selection of the most sun-exposed grapes are harvested at different times according to their ripeness. Soft pressing takes place with low temperature maceration. The wine is aged in barriques and 5hl tonneau for about six months. Here is another example of how Soave can age and when I visited the winery there were a number of examples of excellent older wines.

Azenda Agricola Suavia Classico Monte Carbonare DOC 2011 100% Garganega. The vineyards are in Fittà, in the heart of Soave Classico at 250 meters. The soil is basaltic of volcanic origin and the training system is Pergola Veronese. Harvest is in the second half of October. There is a soft pressing of whole grapes and fermentation is in steel vats for 16 days. Malolactic fermentation is not carried out. The skins are in contact with the fine sediments for 15 months in steel vats. There is only one membrane filtration before bottling.

 Vincentini Agostino Soave Superiore Il Casale DOCG 2012. 100% Garganega The vines are at Colognola ai Colli, Il Casale and the soil is a mix of basaltic rocks and limestone. The training system is Pergola Veronese and guyot and the harvest is in October. There is a light pressing of the grapes and a long fermentation in temperature controlled steel vats.

El Vergo Recioto di Soave DOCG 2009 100% Garganega The vineyards are in Monteforte d’Alpone on the southern slope of Monte Foscarino. Harvest is by hand the last week of September and the First week of October. The grapes are dried for six months and the clusters are softly pressed. A very slow fermentation takes place at controlled temperature in steel vats. The wine is aged for three years in barriques.

Riccolo Grassi Soave La Broia DOC 2011 100% Garganega. The vineyards are in Mezzane di Sotto, which is the western area of Soave. They are at 100 meters and the soil is alluvial and rich in limestone. There are 7,000 plants per hectare and the training system is guyot. Harvest takes place the third week of September. 80% is fermented in barriques and 22HL Slavonian oak barrels the remaining 20% is fermented in stainless steel. The wine remains sur lie for 12 months. Malolactic fermentation is carried out mostly in barriques five and six years old. The wine is aged in 22HL oak barrels of Slavonian oak and 6 months in bottle before release.

 

 

 

 

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With A Little Help From My Friends

The Westchester Italian Cultural Center is located in Tuckahoe about a half hour by train from Grand Central. The center preserves, promotes and celebrates the rich heritage of classical and contemporary Italian culture by encouraging an appreciation of the Italian language, arts and letters, history, cuisine and commerce through educational programs, exhibits and events.  Patrizia Calce, the director of events for the center, asked me if I would do a wine and food tasting for members and their guests featuring Wines and Foods of Northern Italy.   IMG_2809 I was more than happy to do so but I explained to Patrizia that I would need a little help from my friends.  The first one I called was Gary Grunner of Grapes on the Go, a wine importing company.  Gary said he would donate the wines of Tenuta Santa Maria in Pieve in the Veneto and would also attend the event to say a few words about the winery.  Gary then asked Douglas Giachino of Vinvino wines if he would supply the wines of Andrea Oberto from La Morra in Piedmont.  Vinvino also distributes the wine of Tenuta Santa Maria della Pieve for Gary and Giachino agreed to help, too.

Last but not least I asked Louis Coluccio of A.L.C. Italian Grocery in Bay Ridge Brooklyn to supply the food.
Louis replied “Just tell me what you need.”  A.L.C. sells both top quality imported Italian food products and prepared foods to take away.  It is the closest I have come to an Italian food shopping experience in the New York area. IMG_2820
With so much cooperation and great wine and food lined up, the tasting at the WICC was a sure success.  Over 40 members and guests attended.

The Wines
Prosecco NV 100% Gela-formerly known as Prosecco, Luccio.  The grapes come from the rolling hills of the Veneto countryside just north of Venice and are harvested by hand. A soft pressing occurs and the juice is placed in stainless steel tanks. Before the primary fermentation process is concluded, the wine is run into a pressurized tank where a secondary fermentation takes place allowing it to become a sparkling wine.IMG_2812Soave “Lepia” 2010 IGT made from 100% Garganega Veronese. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve The soil is clay with calcareous-marly subsoil. The training system is the pergoletta, and there are 3,800 vines per hectare. The grapes are harvested in September at different times of ripening and crushed separately, with cold pre-fermentation skin contact. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented. The wine is blended in January and racked in stainless steel tanks with the thin lees. Then there is a short bottle refinement. The wine has flavors and aromas of pears and peaches with a hint of almonds and nice minerality. I like this Soave because it reflects the indigenous grape and the terroir. $22IMG_2813Gavi “IL Mandorlo”  2011 Tenuta San Pietro 100% Cortese.  The winery is organic and biodynamic. Soil is limestone-clayey with a good mineral content and the vineyard is at 300 meters. The grapes are hand harvested in the middle of September. Soft crushing is followed by fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks using natural yeast from the cellar. This is a well-balanced wine with floral hints, fresh fruit aromas and flavors and good acidity.  $16IMG_2816
Dolcetto d’Alba 2010 Andrea Oberto-La Morra, Piedmont
There are 4,500 plants per hectare, the soil is clayey and calcareous and the exposure is southwest. The training system is Guyot with short trimming. There is manual harvesting of the slightly overripe grapes in 20-kg perforated crates through a careful selection of the bunches. The grapes are transferred into the cellar where they are crushed and destemmed within hours.
A short cryo-maceration and thermo-controlled fermentation takes place at around 30 °C, and soft pumpovers  are frequent. There is a short maceration of the marc, about 100 hours. Racking takes place in stainless steel vats, where the must is thermo-controlled. In the vats the alcoholic fermentation comes to an end and the natural malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is aged for 8 months in stainless steel vats. $18IMG_2815Langhe Nebbiolo 2010 DOC Andrea Oberto 100% Nebbiolo
There are 4,000 vines per hectare. Vinification is the same as above except that the juice is in contact with the skins for 200 hours. Aging is for six months part in stainless steel and part in wooden casks. $22IMG_2814
Barolo 2008 DOCG 100% Nebbiolo Andrea Oberto Long maceration of the marc about 300 hours and racking in wood casks, where the natural malolactic fermentation takes place
Aging for 24 months in oak casks and 2 months in stainless steel vats and 6months in bottle before release. $45IMG_2818
Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35
Gary said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso.

IMG_2817Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2007 made from 75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. Tenuta Santa Maria Della Pieve  The training system is the pergoletta and there are 5,600 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in wooden trays inside rooms with well-circulated air for 4/5 months. In the middle of January after reaching their desired sugar content and losing 25%/30% of their weight, the almost raisin like grapes are pressed and fermented for 25/30 days at controlled temperatures with daily pumping over. After a period of decantation and refining in French barriques and Italian oak tonneaux, malolactic fermentation takes place. After 48 months the wine is bottled and remains for 6 months before release. It is a complex and elegant wine with hints of dried cherries, prunes and spice. The finish is very long and there is a lingering aftertaste. $90

Contact the Vinvino Wine Company- 212-463-7880 to find the retail store near you that sells these wines.

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Filed under A.L.C. Italian Grocery, Amaro, Amarone, Andrea Oberto winery, Barolo, Dolcetto, Grapes on the GO, Italian Red Wine, Italian Sparkling Wine, Italian White Wine, Italian Wine, Ripasso, Soave, Tenuta San Pietro, Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve, Vinvino Wines, Westchester Italian Cultural Center

An Historic Wine Producing Family of the Veneto

Franco Bernabei is the consulting enologist for two different wineries in the Veneto and it was interesting to taste these wines on successive days.  Franco was present on one day, but not at the tasting the next day of the wines of Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve.

Giovanni Bertani

Representing the winery was Giovanni Bertani.  Before the tasting and lunch at the Club Metropolitan in the Metropolitan Tower, I had a chance to chat with him about his winery and the other wines of the Valpolicella and Soave areas.  Giovanni began the tasting by saying that his historic wine producing family has put their love of the Veneto and passion for wine into making high quality handcrafted wines at the Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve winery.

Tenuta Santa Maria Alla Pieve was established in 1991 by Gaetano Bertani. The property had been owned by the Bertani family since the 1860’s and managed by Gaetano since 1971. Today Giovanni and Gugliemo, his two sons, assist him. Gaetano is the wine maker and the consulting enologist is Franco Bernabei.

The 21 hectare property is located at the border between the Valpolicella DOC and the Soave DOC areas. It is 16 kilometers from Verona inside the Val d’ Illasi zone which was colonized by the Romans since the Second Century B.C. The Pietra Romana, a Roman stone which lies in front of the Villa, has become the estate’s logo and is on the labels. Tenuta Santa Maria is part of the Colognola ai Colli commune.

The Tenuta Santa Maria alla Pieve wines were different from the wines I tasted the day before.  As Giovanni indicated, his father Gaetano is a hands-on winemaker and Bernabei is the consultant.

On the subject of new oak Giovanni said that the new oak barriques that they have are mostly for the Merlot ant the other barriques are second and thrid passage.

The Wines of Tenuta Sanata Maria Alla Pieve

Soave “Lepia” 2010 IGT made from 100% Garganega Veronese. The soil is clay with calcareous-marly subsoil. The training system is the pergoletta, and there are 3,800 ines per hectare. The grapes are harvested in September at different times of ripening and crushed separately, with cold pre-fermentation skin contact. The grapes are gently pressed and fermented. The wine is blended in January and racked in stainless steel tanks with the thin lees. Then there is a short bottle refinement. The wine has flavors and aromas of pears and peaches with a hint of almonds and nice minerality. I like this Soave because it reflects the indigenous grape and the terroir. $22

Chardonnay “Torre Pieve” 2008 IGT 100% Chardonnay. Giovanni explained that the training system is rammed cord of 9,500 vines per hectare with a maximum height of vegetation of 125 cm from the ground, a distance between each row of 110 cm, and from vineyard to vineyard one meter. He added that due to the training system, 80% of the work in the vineyard is done mechanically. The grapes are picked in the first half of September and cooled down a few degrees before pressing. The must rests to separate itself from the sediment. 50% of the wine is fermented and aged in new Allier barriques for about 150/180 days. The remainder is fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel containers. In February/ March the wine is assembled and stored at an ideal temperature for another six months.  It remains in bottle for another 4 months before release. The wine has aromas and flavors of fresh fruit with hints of pineapple, citrus and a touch of banana. $35

Veneto  Praga” IGT 2010 Made from Shiraz and Merlot selected from three different clones. The training is rammed cord and there are 9,500 vines per hectare. Because of the high density of the vines, more than 80% of the vineyard’s management is mechanical. The winter pruning and the green harvest in spring and summer are done by hand.

The grapes are picked in the second half of September after reaching full ripening. Vinification is conducted with low temperature maceration and temperature controlled fermentation. After pressing, malolactic fermentation takes place in stainless steel tanks. The wine is kept in bottle for a short period before release. It was interesting to taste a wine made from these grapes aged in stainless steel. It is an elegant wine with hints of black cherries, blueberries and a hint of black pepper. Giovanni said that they wanted to produce a wine from international grapes that expressed the local terroir with the natural flavors of the grapes. $22

Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35

Giovanni said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso. 

Decima Aurea 2007 Veneto IGT made from 100% Merlot from 3 different clones. Giovanni explained that this wine was expressing the local terroir with an international grape variety by combining Merlot with the Veronese tradition of the drying process known as appassimento.

The vineyard is situated in the Val d’Illassi, 10 miles east of Verona, with north to south exposure on a slightly sloping hill. The soil is primary clay with deep calcareous layers.  Giovanni said the training system was rammed cord but the winter pruning, selection of spring buds, the thinning of the branches and the harvesting for part of the Merlot, which is usually done mechanically for the light appassimento style is done by hand.  Some of the grapes are picked in late September and left to dry for about a month in protected airy locales on the estate. Another part of the harvest takes place in the beginning of October when grapes are becoming over ripe. The two harvests are separated, low–temperature maceration and temperature-controlled fermentation takes place and then they are blended for fining in oak barriques for about 14 months. The wine remains in the bottle for a brief period before release. This wine was the most modern in style that I tasted and lovers of California wines will enjoy it. $45

Valpolicella Ripasso 2009 DOC made from 75% Corvina, !0% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. The vineyards are located on clay hills with calcareous layers. The training system is the pergoletta, there are 5,600 vines per hectare and the harvest is by hand at the end of September. In the middle of October when the grapes have reached their optimal maturation and sugar level, they are pressed and fermented in temperature controlled stainless tanks for 25/30 days with daily pump over. The wine is later macerated and fermented a second time on the skins and raisins of the grapes used for Amarone, which are still rich in sugar.  This is followed by 24 months of aging in tonneaux and barriques where malolactic fermentation takes place. The wine is then aged for 6 months in bottle before release. $35

Giovanni said that a new law was passed that limited the production of the Ripasso wines. For every bottle of Amarone produced they are only allowed to produce two bottles of the Ripasso.

Amarone Della Valpolicella DOC 2006 made from 75% Corvina, 10% Rondinella and 15% Corvinone. The training system is the pergoletta and there are 5,600 vines per hectare. The grapes are hand harvested and placed in wooden trays inside rooms with well-circulated air for 4/5 months. In the middle of January after reaching their desired sugar content and losing 25%/30% of their weight, the almost raisin like grapes are pressed and fermented for 25/30 days at controlled temperatures with daily pumping over. After a period of decantation and refining in French barriques and Italian oak tonneaux, where malolactic fermentation takes place. After 48 months the wine is bottled and remains for 6 months before release. It is a complex and elegant wine with hints of dried cherries, prunes and spice. The finish is very long and there is a lingering aftertaste. $90

 

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Soave II The Wineries and the Wines

Bruno Trentini general manager of Cantina di Soave handed me an envelope and said, as a joke, that it did not contain soldi (money).   “But take it anyway because it is something you will enjoy.”   I assumed (which is always a mistake) that the other journalists in our group had received the same letter and when I went up to my room I put it away and forgot about it.

Very Medieval

On Sunday we were going to the Castello Scaligero in Soave to attend a ceremony and induction into the Imperial Castellania Di Suavia, a worldwide women’s organization that praises “il Vino Bianco Soave”.  The members are persons who love good wine and good food.  When we arrived, we found a band of costumed musicians playing medieval music and a coordinated flag throwing demonstration.  Many attendees also wore  Medieval attire.

Three Italian women were being inducted into the organization when Jonathan, the organizer of the trip, whispered in my ear to ask, “Can you make a short thank you speech in Italian?”  Before I could ask him what for, I heard my name being announced  and very nice things being said about me. As I made my way toward the stage I realized that the Society was inducting me as “Capitano Spadarino”, protector of the Women  of the Castle and for my contributions to Italian wine and food and Soave in particular.  They presented me with a spadarino, or short sword on an embroidered sash. That was what the letter in the envelope would have explained if I had taken the time to read it.  Yes, I did thank them in Italian and it is all on tape!

A Member of the I’Imperial Castellania Di Suavia and Capitano Spadarino

One of the highlights of my visit to Soave was a tasting in a vineyard arranged by Giovanni Ponchia, the enologist from the Soave consortium and our guide. We tasted 20 wines while looking at the vines growing on the Pergola Veronese. The wines were Soave Classico and Soave Classico Superiore and all single vineyards. The first 14 were Soave between tuff (a type of rock made from volcanic ash or dust) and basalt (volcanic rock, fine-grained that is usually black in color) and the last 6 Soave in black soil and white soil. We had detailed maps which showed where the vineyards for each wine were located and aerial photos of each site.  They really are into terroir and how it affects the wine. I was very impressed by the high quality of the wines.

Tasting in the Vineyard

These are the ones I liked the most:

Soave Superiore Classico “Foscarin Slavinus” 2007 Monte Tonde– 100% Garganega. Soft pressing and maceration on the skins for 24 hours- fermentation with the skins for 36 hours-fermentation in 50hl casks- aged in stainless steel tanks for one year and in bottle for 6 months months. $30

Soave Classico DOC “Casette Foscarin” 2007 90% Garganega and 10% Trebbiano Soave. The vineyards are in the North of the Soave Classico zone in calcareous soil of volcanic origin. The grapes most exposed to the sun are chosen and harvested at different times according to ripeness. The wine is soft pressed and aged in barriques and 5hl tonnellerie for about 6 months. $22

Soave Superiore Classico “Capitel Al Pigno” 2006 Bixio Produttori – 100% Garganega- The wine is aged 3 months in large casks and 4 months in bottle.

 Soave Classico “Corte Menini” 2009 La Mandolare  – 100% Garganega- traditional vinification without the skins, on the lees for 4 months in stainless steel tanks.

Soave Classico “Vigneto Senglialta” 2008 Balestri Valda Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave. The wine is aged in 20hl Slavonian oak.

Soave Classico “Frosca” 2008  100% Garganega. Gini Hillside vineyard with soil that is part calcareous and part tufaceous.  The grapes are soft pressed and fermented in both stainless steel and wood. It remains on the lees in stainless steel and wood and is then ages in small oak barrels.

Soave Classico “Salvarenza” 2007- 90% Garganega and 10% Trebbiano Soave. Grapes are from 90 year old vines from a part of the Frosca vineyard called Salvarenza. The grapes are harvested at the end of October which makes them almost late harvest. Fermented entirely on the lees in barriques of which 20% are new.  The wine remains in wood for 9 months.

What made visiting the wineries so interesting was that each one had something unique to show, tell or to taste. I also noticed that some of the wineries had olive or cherry trees planted near the vines depending where the winery was located. Almost all of them had spontaneous cover crops and grass cover between the rows of vines.

Trees and Grass Covering Between the Rows of Vines

 Cantina di Monteforte is a large cooperative that produces a wide range of wines including “wine in the box”. They gave us three wines to taste blind and then wanted us to rank them. I tasted the wines and said they could be the same, but no one answered me. After we voted we were told it was the same wine only the closure was different, cork, glass and synthetic cork. I could not tell much difference between the three wines. The wine closed with cork did come in #I. I like the glass closure but some producers were reluctant to use it because they were afraid it might crack and the glass would go in the bottle.

The wine I liked the best was the Clivus Soave Classico made from Garganica and Trebbiano di Soave from volcanic soil in the hilly area of the Monteforte d’Alpone district. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented in stainless steel.

 Ca’Rugate This is a family owned and operated winery. The Tessari family has owned vineyards in this area for four generations and opened this winery in1986. We were given a tour of the winey and the “Enomuseum” by Federica Bon. The museum is very interesting and worth a visit. The setting is a farm house of the late 1940’s and there are over 150 instruments and tools used by the Tessari family over the last 100 years for winemaking from the time the grapes enter the barnyard to the aging and bottling.

Federica then led us in a tasting of the wines and I was impressed with all of them:

Tasting Wine at Ca’Rugate

Soave Classico “San Michele” 2009- 100% Garganega $20 Next year they will add Trebbiano di Soave so that it will be different from their Soave Classico “Monte Fiorentine” which is also 100% Garganega. $30. Both vinified and aged in stainless steel.

Soave Classico “Monte Alto” 100% Garganega $39 The wine is vinified in stainless steel and the fermentation takes place in barriques (225 liter oak barrels) where it remains on the lees between 6-8 months.

Recioto di Soave DOCG 100% Garganega. The grapes are dried in plastic boxes in special “drying rooms” were the grapes become very concentrated. The spring following the harvest the grapes are crushed and fermented in oak barrels and aged in these barrels for 10-12 months.

Once again in order to demonstrate the importance of terroir, at Azienda Agricola i Stefanini, we tasted three wines.  Next to each was a container of the soil in which the vines were planted.  Francesco Tessari, the owner of the winery, and Giovanni Ponchia explained the soil and its relationship to the wine.

Francesco Tessari Pouring the Wine and Giovanni Ponchia Holding the Soil

IL Selese Soave DOC the wine is usually 90% Garganega and 10% Chardonay but the 2009 is 100% Garganega. The soil is alluvial clay, the vines are trained in the Espalier system and the vineyard is in the flat lowlands. This was from the part of the valley with  red soil, “Terra Rosa”. Fermentation takes place on the lees until March in stainless steel, and under goes partial malolatic.  It is kept in stainless steel until bottling.

Soave Classico DOC Monte di Toni  2008 100% Garganega, the vineyards are in the volcanic hills behind the winery. The soil is volcanic tufa, the average age of the vines is 25 years and they are trained in the Pergola Veronese system. It is fermented and aged on the lees until March in stainless steel and under goes complete malolatic fermentation.

Soave Superiore Classico DOCG “Monte di Fice” 2006 100% Garganega the vineyards are in the volcanic hills behind the winery. The soil is volcanic tufa. The wines are an average of 25 years old and are trained on the Pergola Veronese. It is fermented on the lees until March and under goes partial malolatic fermentation. Even though the two vineyards are a few meters apart, the Toni had more calcareous uplift stratum and the Fice is more ferrous volcanic soil.

Az. Ag Monte Tondo. This is a family owned winery.  The proprietor is Gino Magnabosco along with his wife and daughter Marta, who conducted the tasting, run the winery.

Soave Classico Superiore DOCG “Foscarin Slavinus “ We did a vertical of this wine from 2003-2009.  Monte Foscarino is basaltic origin and the slopes are very steep. The wines were all very good but the one that caught my attention was the 2004.  I asked if I could buy some to take back with me but was told it was not for sale.

 

Recioto di Soave DOCG 100% Garganega This is a selection of the best grapes with the highest sugar content. The grapes are handpicked and left to semi-dry in small crates and in well ventilated rooms called fruttai.  At the end of January the grapes are pressed and left to age for 18 months in small oak barrels.

Recioto Soave Spumante DOCG “Round Mountain” 2008 100% Garganega from the Soave Classical area. I do not think I have ever tasted this type of wine before. It is only made in small quantities. The grapes used are those most exposed to the sun with the highest sugar content. They are handpicked into small crates and dried in rooms called fruttai.  The wine is stored in stainless steel for 90 days after undergoing the Charmat Method to obtain a sparkling wine. This was a very interesting wine.

Of all the wineries that we visited perhaps the most interesting was Cantina di Soave in the town of Soave in a very lovely setting where there Borgo Rocca Sveva facility is located. This large cooperative makes Borgo Rocca Sveva, their top of the line brand right, down to Duca their wine in a box, and everything in between. The Company was founded in 1898 and today has over 2,200 members which make it one of Europe’s major wine producing companies. They give excellent winery tours open to the public and have a large retail store where you can buy wine and other products.

We went to visit the vineyards with the agronomist from Cantina di Soave and he explained how the coop works with the growers, the control they have over how the grapes are grown and, of course, all about the terroir and the different training systems for the vines.  They use all the latest modern methods in the vineyards, “Sistema Alta Selezione”, and are able to register the origin, health, quality level and variety for every batch of grapes delivered to the winery.  We were given aerial photos of the section of the vineyards we visited.  There were many olive trees planted near the vineyard and we were told that it was customary in this area.  Everyone connected with the winery was very helpful and gave us information not only about the winery but about Soave and the Veneto in general.

Capitano Spadarino Explaining the Pergola Veronese

Soave Classico DOC 2008 Borgo Rocca Sveva – 100% Garganega. The vines are planted in loose, medium-gravelly clay soil of volcanic origin. The wines are trained for the Pergola Veronese system. The grapes are soft pressed and fermented and aged in stainless steel.  $14.99

The Cantina di Soave  wine in the box, Duca del Frassino, was the best one I tasted.

Cantina del Castello – It is in heart of Soave just below the Scaligero Castle. While they have been making wines since the 1960’s it was not until Arturo Stocchetti took over 20 years ago that the winery reached its true potential. Arturo is very charming and has a passion for wine that you can feel when he speaks.  He always wants to produce typical wines that express the terroir in which the vines are planted. Arturo is also the president of the Consorzio Tutela di Soave.  He is very well known for his sweet wines and is a Recioto specialist. He makes two Recioto di Soave- Recioto di Soave Classico DOCG “Cortepittora” – 100% Garganega from the Pressoni vineyard of clayey basaltic soil of volcanic origin in the Monteforte d’Alpone zone. The grapes are hand harvested and dried in well ventilated rooms until Jan/Feb then undergo soft pressing and fermentation in Allier oak barrels, medium toast, 4 to 5 years old. It is aged in the same barrels for one year then aged in bottle for 1 to 2 years before it is released.

Our group with Arturo Stecchetti( In Middle) of Cantina del Castello

Recioto di Soave Classico DOCG “Ardens” 100% Garganega. Training system is the pergola Veronese semplice and short espalier.  Manual harvesting into small crates in a single layer. Dried in well ventilated rooms until Jan/Feb, very soft pressing with a 35% must yield. Fermentation is stainless steel for 30 to 40 days. The wine is “cleaned” by decanting which is the traditional method. The wine is bottled in May/June after a mild filtration that allows a natural refermentation “sur lie” in the bottle-the wine is on the lees until it is consumed. The wine spends 7to 8 months in the bottle before it is released. I understand why Arturo is a Recioto specialist now that I have tasted his wines.

Antonio Fattori Pouring Wine

Fattori winery Soave Classico “Danieli” the owner Antonio Fattori said that this was a family nickname. 100% Garganega from hillside vineyards of volcanic soil. Maceration for 36 hours, gently pressed with a pneumatic press. The wine is left for 24 hours and after static decantation the wine is fermented in stainless steel.

 Soave Classico “Runcaris” 100% Garganega. The average age of the vineyard is 25 years, in volcanic soil and the vines are trained in the Pergola Veronese system. Vinification and fermentation in stainless steel. Signore Fattori said that it was traditional to use 10% of late harvested grapes. He also said that they use nitrogen to control the fermentation process but do add a small amount of sulfites during the static decantation and bottling.

Soave DOC “Motto Piane” 100% Garganega. This wine borders on desert with a residual sugar content of 6.5 gl. The average age of the vines is 30 years. Guyot trained. Harvesting begins the second week of September and the grapes are handpicked. They are dried on straw mats for about a month. Maceration is for 24 hours. The must is fermented in stainless steel until alcohol reaches 2%. It is then put in large casks, tonneaux, and stainless steel to age. The wine remains on its lees until February and is bottled the following spring.

Reciotto di Soave DOCG “Motto Piane”(Flat Hill) 2008 100% Garganega. Vines planted on hill of volcanic origin and cordon speronato trained. The grapes are dried until the following March. They lose 50% of their weight and the sugar content is 33%, then the grapes are macerated for 72 hours. The must is decanted naturally and yeast is added. Stainless steel tanks are only used when the fermentation process is under way. It then goes into barriques until the alcohol level reaches 14 to 14.5. The wine contains 9 grams of sugar per liter which Signor Fattori believes is perfect. The wine is reracked stopping the fermentation process. Then it goes back into the same barriques for 14 to 15 months.

Az. Ag. PRA Graziano We had a tour of the winery and a tasting conducted by Laura Meile followed by a lovely lunch overlooking the vineyards. Giovanni Ponchia once again went into the vineyard, this time we could watch from our seats at the table, as he   talked about the soil, the Pergola Veronese, and the other training systems. All he had to do was point to what he was explaining.

Soave Classico 2008 100% Garganega Monteforte d’Alpone area and the vineyards are 25-30 years old. Vines are trained in the Pergola Veronese system and the wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel. $18.

Az.Ag Agostino Vicentini Agostino Vicentini This winery was in an area called the valley of the cherries because there were so many cherry trees planted here. Agostino is very passionate about his vines and his wines. He took us out into the vineyard and spoke about the vines. He liked the Pergola Veronese because it protected the grapes from getting to much sun and “burning”. However wind can be a problem because it can break some of the canes and he showed us some examples of broken ones which he removed. Agostino believed that grapes trained by Pergola Veronese were best for Recioto di Soave but felt that Guyot was best for his other wines. All of his white wines are in stainless steel.  Since he wants to let the wines reflect the terroir, there is as little interference by the winemaker as possible.

Agostino Vicentini with his Vines

Soave Superiore DOCG “IL Casale” 100%  Zone of production Colognola ai Colli. Guyot vineyard system and the grapes are picked when they are very ripe.

Recioto di Soave DOCG Zone of production Colognola ai Colli, localita S. Zeno. Grapes are selected and picked by hand at 32-35 brix and put in boxes and left to dry until March. The wine contains about 110 grams of sugar

 

Az. AG.Gini  Sandro Gini gave us a tour of the winery and a tasting of a wines from a number of different vintages going back to a good 1993 and a sensational 1990. As I said before I was very impressed with these wines especially the La Frosca 1990,  2001,2004,2007 and 2008 and the “Salvarenza” 2001 and 2007.  Sandro said that these wines need at least 3/4 years before they begin to be ready to drink.

This was one of the most informative and interesting wine trips that I have been on and I look forward to returning next year.  There is a real desire in this area to make wines that reflect the terroir without relying on oak.  Very few producers used new barriques, and if they did it is a small percentage. Some producers are using barriques that are 7 years old. Others only use stainless steel but the majority seems to use a mix a stainless steel, barriques, tonneaux and botti. I did not find more than one or two wines that I could say were over-oaked.

 

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Soave: One of Italy’s Great Terroir Based Wines and It Can Age

Recently I was invited to a PR event that included an invitation to a NY Knicks game at Madison Square Garden. After the event I was told that they had run out of tickets but to make up for it they would send me on a press trip to Soave!

  I have been drinking Soave for over 30 years and it is a lovely area and town. I always wanted to spend more time there, so I said yes. Before leaving, I was told that a surprise would await me in Soave, but no one would tell me what it was.

 I was picked up at the airport in Venice by Giovanni Ponchia who was to be our guide through the vineyards and wineries of Soave. Giovanni is an enologist who works for the Consorzio Tutela Soave, who hosted this trip.  The Consorzio was established in 1970 to protect and promote Soave.  Giovanni is interesting, knowledgeable and passionate when he speaks about Soave and our group of journalists agreed that having him with us was a great help.

Tasting the Wines of Soave

 Giovanni by use of slides and maps gave us an excellent introduction to the Soave area and its wines.

 The Soave production zone lies in the eastern part of the Province of Verona in the region of the Veneto. The production zone is of volcanic origin and the hills where the vineyards are planted have rocky strata that are a result of lava flows that turned into sediment over time. The soil is dark, stony and rich in minerals. There is a difference between the soil of the hills and the soil of the flat lands. The soil does make a difference. Soave is one of Italy’s great terroir- based wines.

Azienda Agricola i Stefanini- the wine and the soil

  Soave is a relatively small concentrated area and it has a history of selling grapes outside of the region. There are some 3,000 growers and the DOC is the largest in the province of Verona accounting for 40% of the production. There are 52 crus in the zone and like Barolo one cru can be worked by different producers. The vineyards are so close together that they all “spray” at the same time.   

The grapes are the same for Soave DOC, Soave Classico DOC, and Soave Superiore DOCG., Soave DOC,Colli Scaliger, and Reciotto di Soave.

 Garganega is the primary grape and Soave must contain at least 70% of it. The other 30% is made up of Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco (Trebbiano Toscano has been excluded).The better producers use 100% Garganega, or very close to it. There does not seem to be much Chardonnay or Pinot Bianco used.  Trebbianio di Soave seems to be the new favorite, but this is a matter of controversy. One producer, Ca’ Rugate, next year will add Trebbiano di Soave because they felt it would make one of their wines a little different.

 Garganega is the fifth most planted white grape in Italy and may be related to the Grecanico grape of Sicily. Many of the wine makers said it is not markedly aromatic in nature, but displays a range of perfumes of which almonds and white flowers are the most clearly identifiable. It does not actually complete its ripening until October. Its skin is very tough and is a particularly deep yellow (verging on red) when ripe. It does not display especially high acidity but rather a balance of extract and fruit sugars.

 Trebbiano di Soave has traditionally always been present in the vineyards. It has a tangy liveliness that some wine makers feel blends well with the typical structure and density of the Garganega grape.

Giovanni Ponchia talking about the Veronese Pergola in the vineyards of the Pra' winery

 We spent a lot of time in the vineyards looking at the vines and the way in which they are trained. The training system for the vines is very interesting. It can be single or double Espalier Guyot and Cordon Spur) or a Pergola (known as Tendonne in the South). The vines grow on trellises and the leaves cover and protect the grapes from the sun. It can be a unilateral Pergola, or uni- or bi-lateral pergoletta Veronese- Veronese Pergola. This Pergola does not close all the way in the middle allowing some sun light to come through. This is the method used on flat land even at high elevation. The Veronese Pergola is again becoming popular among the producers. Many were very proud of this system and talked about it everywhere we went. No matter what the training system, there can be no less than 3,300 vines per hectare.

  The agronomist of Cantina di Soave said that in very hot years they would use the grapes grown under the Pergola for their best wines. In cool years, lacking sun they would use the grapes from the espalier vineyards.

Vineyard of one of the growers for Cantina di Soave

 Soave wine is split up according to the production regulations between Soave DOC, grapes grown outside the Classical zone, Soave Classico DOC, Soave Superiore DOCG, Recioto di Soave DOCG and Soave Colli Scaligeri DOC, grapes grown in the hills outside the Classical zone.

.Soave DOC grapes grown outside the Classical zone make a very refreshing wine that should be drunk within a year or two. It is usually vinified in stainless steel which gives it the floral and fruity notes.

 

Soave Classico DOC is a wine that comes from restricted zone between the hills of the   communes of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone. This is the oldest original classical zone and the wines must be harvested and vinified there. It is a complex wine with mineral notes and floral and fruity character depending upon the soil in which the grapes are grown. When it is aged in barrels (barriques or botti) it can last for a number of years. This was demonstrated by the number of older vintages that we tasted and how well they have stood the test of time. There were two that were particularly impressive. The Soave Superiore Classico Foscarin Slavinis 2004 from Monte Tondo and the incredible 1990 Soave Classico “La Frosca” from Gini                                        

 

Soave Spumante DOC.  This is a very interesting sparkling wine but we did not taste any examples of it.  The few that we did try were very good. Vinification can be by Method Classico or the Charmat method.

 Soave DOC Colli Scaligeri– derived from grapes grown in the hilly area outside the Classical Zone.

 Soave Superiore DOCG The production zone is limited to the hillsides in the Classical zone and in the Colli Scaligeri. New vines must be trained using the Espallier system (Guyot and Cordon Spur) with at least 4,000 wines per hectare. For those vines planted before 2002 the Espallier, Pergola Inclinate and Pergoletta Veronese (mono or bilateral) are allowed.  It must have an alcohol level of 12% and 12.5 % for the riserva. Soave DOCG may be released on to the market only after 1st September of the year following the harvest and after bottle ageing of at least three months so as to emphasize characteristics of maturity and complexity. Wines aged a minimum of two years may be labelled as “Riserva”.

Gary Grunner and Luca Sabatini

 Luca  Sabatini from Cantina di Soave explained the quality difference by use of a pyramid.

“There is a natural and logical pyramid of quality that the rules for Soave are very much intended to reiterate.  At the top of the pyramid is Soave Superiore D.O.C.G., a true synthesis of selection and strict production methods, designed to be the upmost expression of quality. Then just below, there is Soave from the hillside sites, both in the Classico version (if obtained from grapes grown in the historic production area) and that from the Colli Scaligeri. At the base of the pyramid we have Soave D.O.C., which stands for its excellent price–quality ratio.”
Recioto di Soave DOCG– in 1998 this was the first Veneto wine to receive the DOCG.

In the Veronese, dialect the word Recioto derives from “recia”, the upper part of the bunch of Garganega grapes which is exposed to the most sunlight and therefore richest in sugar. Just before the harvest, a selection is made of the best bunches which are laid out on racks to dry. They are dried indoors in open plastic containers for from four to six months and lose over 50% of their moisture. In the past straw mats were used. A long, slow fermentation often takes place in small barrels in which the opening on top is closed with cement.

Recioto di Soave from Ca'Rugate in oak barrels with the date 31-01-08 written in cement

Arturo Stocchetti, a Recioto specialist of Cantina di Soave, makes three different Reciotos. One of them I have waited many years to taste and when I did I was not dissapointed. More on this wine in Part II and my adventures in Soave, visits to the vinyards, the crus, wineries, tastings and how I became “CAPITANO SPADARINO” delle terre di Suavia ( my surprise).

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