So, you think you know Soave?

 
Summer of Soave

In one sense Soave is a classic – like the Victorian novel that everyone thinks they know. It is probably the most famous and definitely the most exported Italian still white wine. Garganega has been grown on the Soave hills for centuries. Soave was the first white wine in Italy to receive ‘vini tipici’ recognition in the 1930s, pre-dating the DOC system.

But Soave is poorly understood. Like the long ago read novel that it is time for you to read again. The post-war drive for consistency and efficiency made this small area (less than half the size of Valpolicella, or Chianti) commercially successful. Eighty per cent of Soave is exported, to 70 different countries. But despite the hundreds of truly premium wines from scores of world-class producers, awareness of this fine-wine side of Soave is very low. It is still too easily dismissed.

In recent decades the Consorzio of Soavehas put huge efforts into driving this premium sector. They have researched the terroirs of Soave, mapping each vineyard, and analysing their composition and effect on wine style. They have identified the importance of both volcanicand limestone soils. 

They have researched and championed the importance of the vine Garganega (the daddy of Italian white grapes) and Trebbiano di Soave in defining the Soave style. They have researched the role and relative benefits of different training systems, including the traditional Pergola Veronese. 

They have partnered with the World Biodiversity Association.And most recently, they have succeeded in having Soave’s traditional vineyards recognised by the United Nations as an example of globally important agricultural heritage.They are the first wine region to successfully apply for GIAHS recognition and protection.

The current generation in Soave is proud of their terroir, and of its nuances, and are determined to show them in the wines. There are not just a handful of producers making elegant, top quality, rewarding Soave. There are scores of them. And you can discover them during #SummerofSoave.

A longer version of this article first appeared in The Buyer, in March 2017.