Recently, I had a bottle of Soave Classico from one of the great producers of Soave, Pieropan. As I drank it, I couldn’t believe that I had drank Soave all these years and thought of it as rather plain and unexciting. Then I began to do some research on Soave and figured out that for Soave, quality counts!
Soave is a wine region in Northern Italy known for producing white wines. Soave wines are typically made from a blend of grapes: predominately Garganega with some Trebbiano di Soave or Chardonnay grapes. Soave is a huge geographical region and most Soave wines are produced from grapes that are grown on the flat plains. These grapes produce regular Soave. These wines tend to be rather uninteresting and dilute.
Soave Classico is produced from grapes grown on the hillside. Because these grapes are grown on the hillside, it is not easy to pick them mechanically so there is more care taken in selecting grapes to be used to produce wine. The grapes used in Soave Classico also get more canopy from the leaves and the hillside slope so grapes don’t get sun burned in hot years and are not as exposed to the elements in cold years. Grapes grown on the hillside also get the benefit of the presence of volcanic soils, which imparts a smokiness and gravel elements in the wines.
What makes Soave Classico so unique and attractive is that it has good acidity and light fruit flavours (white peach, lemon, lime and pear) with floral elements (acacia, roses and violets). It has high alcohol content with good body. It also has some green vegetal elements that are subtle and very little oak. I think it is much more interesting than Sauvignon Blanc but still has the great acidity to pair well with food. It doesn’t have the heaviness or oakiness of Chardonnay but is not light either.
Soave is truly a wine region where quality makes a huge difference. Top-end Soave will run you $30 to 50 but in my experience, the additional money spent is well worth it as you get a wine that is complex and speaks to the terroir of the region.
One of the greatest Soave producers is Pieropan. They are a Soave specialist and have been producing wine since 1880. The current owners represent the 4th generation of the family that have owned this winery so they know their Soave. Their Classico is already amazing but they produce single vineyard Soave from vineyards called Calvarino and La Rocca that are out of this world. You can sometimes find Pieropan at Everything Wine or other private liquor stores.
The B.C. liquor stores currently have three Soave Classicos in stock. The most affordable is from Bolla, which will give you a good introduction to Soave Classico. It is well priced at $13.49. If you can afford to spend a bit more, the liquor stores also have a Soave Classico made by Tedeschi at $21.99 and one made by Gini at $31.99. All are very good and worth a try.
So next time you are in the mood for a white wine, don’t reach for your normal choice but try a bottle of Soave Classico.
Until next time, happy drinking!
Tony Kwan is a lifestyle writer. Lawyer by day, food and wine lover by night, Tony aims to give you an insider’s guide to the best that life has to offer.