Are you thinking what I was thinking? What the heck is Soave (swa-vay)? I had never heard of it – not surprising, since Italy boasts more than 1,000 varietals of wine alone – but was for sure intrigued by the name. It reminded me of a nickname we had for one of the managers of a restaurant I worked at in high school. 🙂
The first time I learned about Soave was at one of my favorite Milwaukee restaurants, Onesto. I’m pretty sure I’ve previously mentioned my wine guru bartender from there; he’s the one who suggested I try this white out, after knowing that I am tough to please when it comes to drinking white wines. Guys, I’m not even kidding – my mind was blown. I could not believe he found a white I actually liked! So much so that I actually took a picture of the menu so I’d remember not only the wine, but the date: August 14th, 2017 drinking the Bertoni Soave from Monte Tondo, Italy. I’m pretty sure that was the night I was recapping/reliving my wedding with my friend, Sarah, so I may have had a glass before partaking in this selection, but delicious nonetheless.
Anywho, Soave actually comes from the garganega grape (anyone else think of Gargamel from The Smurfs?), grown solely in northeastern Italy. It has an identical twin grape grown in Sicily by the name of grecanico. Garganega, which is Italy’s 6th most planted white grape, typically makes a delicate wine that has a lot of lemon and almond notes. There are certain classifications of Soave, and apparently the classico, which is what I poured for this post, comes from the hills of Veneto where traditions run deep and the majority of garganega is grown. When it’s grown outside or harvested and produced a different way, you’d call it something other than Soave Classico. Grecanico ripens a bit later than its sister garganega, so it may produce a more acidic wine when all is said and done.
Garganega can be used as a blending grape, typically with chardonnay, verdicchio or pinot grigio, but can also hold its own. This grape grows in looser clusters, which allows the grapes to dry a bit better. We’ve talked a bit about grape rot, and when the berries grow tightly packed, they’re more prone to encounter molding or rotting on the vines. This grape can produce wines that are relatively light in character, or highly perfumed, or even sweet. It depends not only on when the harvest occurs (maybe they let the grapes ripen a little longer to produce the sweeter wines), but also how the wine is fermented.
I actually bought this bottle several months back at Eataly in Chicago. If you have not been there YOU. MUST. GO. NOW! They’ve essentially packaged up the essence of Italy and put it in a giant building with restaurants, food, books, gadgets, etc. I promise, you won’t be disappointed!
Back to the wine. After getting my first taste of Soave, I took a lunch break to visit Eataly in search of a bottle of Soave; there, I found the 2015 Soave Classico from Suavia for just under $15.
This wine has 12.5% ABV, which is on the higher range for whites, but still doesn’t compare to some of the reds I’ve been drinking. Though I mentioned the garganega grape can be blended, this bottle is 100% pure garganega. It’s a beautiful label, but it also has a beautiful note on the back:
This is Soave according to Suavia. It is a wine for flowered terraces and summer nights; a wine for bars with umbrellas and tables on the cobbles of an old illuminated square. It is a profoundly Italian wine. Our idea of Soave: fresh, fruity, easy to drink but with an unmistakable character at the same time.
Well, I can’t say I met any of the criteria for where/how to enjoy this wine, but home sounds like a good enough place as any to open a bottle of something that could transport my thoughts to a warmer time and place. I’ve kept this bottle in my wine fridge, at a cool 49 degrees, so I serve the whites right! However, Soave is recommended to serve ice-cold, so I guess I didn’t quite get there. Maybe for day two.
Appearance: Medium to deep straw color. You could see a slight tinge of green – ever so slight – and with the glass tipped, the rim of the wine was nearly crystal clear.
Nose: It was highly perfumed with apricot, lemon and pineapple fruits, which were supported by a fresh scent of white flowers.
Taste: Okay first sip actually seemed a little sweet, but never judge a wine by the very first sip! This light-bodied beauty was so interesting! The wine was very acidic at the beginning of the sip, but it smoothed out and felt as though it became a very light syrup which coated the inside of my mouth. Not like I had maple syrup or honey in my mouth, but simple syrup – just barely there, but you could feel and taste a coating. It was very fruity, pulling those lemony notes through, and bright.
Overall: This wine certainly did not disappoint. I was really digging how the wine coated my mouth – it reminded me of what I look for in red wines, and I was surprised to find a white which could be delicate but still leave a lovely, lasting flavor. I would definitely recommend this wine, and I would definitely buy this again…maybe I can actually hold out for summer, or at least mid to late spring to sit out on my balcony.