In September I had the pleasure of attending a Colors of Soave Master Class hosted by Master Sommelier Evan Goldstein and Giovanni Ponchia, at Nostra Spaghetteria in San Francisco. Having attended last year's Soave class I was keen on seeing what was to be learned at Soave 2.0. Evan ever the professional did not disappoint. This class focused on the soils and site differences in the Soave region. Having worked at several wineries in Northern Italy, Giovanni serves as an enologist and marketing ambassador for the Soave Consorzio Tutela. The Soave Consorzio's mission is to promote Soave wines.
In San Francisco there are typically only a few handful of days where the mercury approaches ninety plus and this was one of them. I could not think of a better way to spend a sizzling afternoon than sipping the wonderful Cru Soaves that were on hand.
The Soave region twelve miles due east of Verona, in north eastern Italy, with the hills of Valpolicella flanking its left shoulder and Cru vineyard names like Castelcerino, Casette Foscarin and Salvarenza leading the charge for quality, is making a legitimate call for being recognized as a top producer of white wines. When one talks of Cru Soave it's important to note you are referring to the hills of Soave and not the alluvial flatlands. These hillside vineyards range in elevation from 125 to 1,100 feet.
Evan noted that Garganega based wines like Soave are very nuanced, and "if you're looking for a wine of place, Soave can be a fire hydrant directly out of the terroir into your mouth". The class started with a historical perspective of the Soave region and an explanation of the various types of soil that can be found throughout the region. How the different soil types impacted the style of wines produced became very clear as we tasted the wines. In general one could say the calcareous limestone based soils yielded more linear, citric, floral and austere wines. I think these wines would age more quickly. Conversely wines from grapes grown in the volcanic red and black basalt soils were richer, thicker, oilier with more texture.
We started with 2014 Latium Soave DOC "Campo le Calle". From alluvial based soil, 100% Garganega, 30 year old vines, 15 to 25% of the grapes are dried for 15 to 20 days. Pale gold color, aroma of hawthorn, fresh cut grass and citrus. On palate citrus and lemon with zippy acidity. 14% abv $20
2013 Vicentini Agostino Soave Superiore DOCG "Il Casale" is 100% Garganega from calcareous alluvial based soils from the hills of Colognola. Raised in stainless steel vats only, grassy lemon-lime aromas and flavors with a delicate acidity and finish. 13% abv $25
2013 Cantina di Soave Superiore Rocca Sveva DOCG Classico "Castelcerino" 80% Garganega 20% Trebbiano di Soave - A cooperative of 2,200 growers Cantina di Soave produces roughly one out of every two bottles of Soave sold. Rocca Sveva represents the high end of their portfolio. The grapes are pergola trained therefore they are handpicked. Stratified calcareous rock soils, grapes from the top 100 best growers, the wine spends nine months in the tank before bottling. Gravity only, no pumps are used to move the wine. Light golden yellow color, with mineral, melon , pear and honey notes, bright and crisp 13% abv $20
2014 Marcato Soave DOC Classico "Monte Tenda" 80% Garganega, 20% Trebbiano di Soave from 11 year old vines, fermented and aged in stainless steel for 6-8 months. Light gold color, aroma of white flowers and yellow apples. On palate lemon citrus flavors with a light finish. 12.5 abv $18
2014 Cantina del Castello Soave Classico DOC "Pressoni" 80% Garganega 20% Trebbiano di Soave, clay-basaltic soil, raised in stainless steel, three months "sur lie", aged four months in the bottle before release. A very engaging tropical nose of melons, papaya and peaches. More weight on the palate than the previous wines, vibrant acidity with a long finish. I'm still trying to find some of this for my wine stash, delicious. 13% abv $17
2012 Monte Tondo Soave DOC Classico "Casette Foscarin" 90% Garganega, 10% Trebbiano di Soave Operated by the 2nd and 3rd generation Magnabosco family harvested from 25 year old vines, tufaceous and basaltic soil. After primary fermentation aged in barriques and 5hl tonneau for about six months. Aged one year in bottle before release. An international style Soave for sure, with a vanilla, coconut and tropical fruit nose. Full bodied on the palate with a pleasing oily sensation, and a richly flavored, savory finish. This one will be hard to locate on retail, you're more likely to find it on restaurant wine lists. Don't hesitate to buy if you find it. 13.5% abv $29
2013 Gini Soave DOC Classico "La Frosca" 100% Garganega grown in basaltic rock and limestone, the Gini Brothers craft beautiful wines. Traditionalist the vines are trained by pergola rooted in basaltic rock and limestone. No sulfur additions in the winery with the wine spending at least 8 months on the yeast in stainless steel and barrique. A delicate green apple, pear and mineral nose. The extended oak aging seems to have only added a delightful depth and textural component to the wine while allowing the fruit to remain at center stage. On the palate persistent minerality and acidity, a tongue tingler. Very impressive now, this will be a good one to purchase and enjoy over the next decade. Yes Soave can and does age well. 13% abv $25
2014 Cantina di Monteforte Soave DOC Classico "Vicario" Cantina di Monteforte is a cooperative with around 600 growers. 100% Garganega, basaltic soils, partially barrel fermented, vibrant peach, pineapple profile, medium bodied with good concentration12.5% abv $12 At twelve bucks this a no brainer case buy.
2014 I Stefanini Soave Superiore DOCG Classico "Monte di Fice" 100% Garganega grown in grey and black volcanic soils, fermented in stainless steel and resting on the lees for 9 months. A deep golden color, tropical aromas, mango, peach, medium bodied with low acidity. 13%abv $27
2014 Franchetto Soave DOC "La Capelina" red basaltic based soils, 100% Garganega, straw color, white flowers and citrus aromas, juicy white peach fruit in the mouth, finishes crisp and mineral with good length. 12.5% abv $12
A tip of the hat to Limeng Stroh at Full Circle Wine Solutions, the staff at Nostra, Evan and Giovanni for putting together a fantastic event. If you want some basic knowledge of the Soave region and wines, please review our previous podcast on Soave. Cheers!