Soave,...a name that for decades stood as one of Italy’s most worldly available white wines. At a time it became literally the most sold, widespread and exported Italian white wine. Along with the huge success and numbers, came the large industries that ended up eventually dismantling it’s stronghold reputation down to a pile of yesterday’s bricks. But the castle of Soave stands strong to this day and those “in the know”, know just how quality driven, terroir driven and varietal driven this ancient cult white of the region of Veneto still is. Especially when coming form properly farmed, quality driven, family owned producers such as Coffele (among a good handful of others).
Soave is produced in the North Eastern Italian region of Veneto, specifically in the county of Verona, right next to the adjacent famous red wine appellation called Valpolicella. Indeed, it was its proximity to the big red boys of Veneto that allowed Soave to flourish commercially as a “white in the land of reds”.
The wine can be made in both a regular DOC classification and the higher classified DOCG version, specifically dedicated to the “Superiore” type of Soave (with mention on label) that is made form riper grapes, containing over 13% alcohol and showcasing an increased structure and body, sometimes even aged in oak. The most celebrated though is the regular DOC, which really emphasizes the more food friendly, grassy, almond driven fresh personality of the wine. Made with at least 70% Garganega (the real rock star white grape of veneto) and 30% maximum of Trebbiano di Soave.
Five percent of ‘other varietals’ authorized in the area is also permitted although rarely implemented. The best examples will usually be made from 100% Garganega. Soave (pronounced So-Ah-Vay) is a dry white wine with intense mineral and dry fruit, lemongrass & almond characteristics, given by Garganega’s noble character and the presence of uniquely ancient soils of volcanic origin (some of the fewest in Northern Italy).
It is really this little niche of volcanic soils intertwined with limestone that provides the mineral backbone to balance out the juiciness and beef of Garganega, which only here in Soave reaches these levels of personality. It does not have strict aging regulations, which is left up to the style and will of each producer. Wines aged a minimum of 12 months may be labeled as Riserva and usually undergo oak treatment, although these versions are not the most traditional.