A recent tasting of Soave wines reminded me how delightful they are for summer and showed that this ancient wine area has recommitted itself to quality.
Soave is located in Italy’s Veneto region. Many wine consumers could probably not pinpoint the region on a map, but know its four top wines: the reds amarone and valpolicella, the sparkling prosecco, and the eponymous white.
After World War II, Soave became famous in America as the suave white wine of Mr. Hoboken himself: Frank Sinatra. I live in the Mile Square City with a Sinatra post office, Sinatra park, Sinatra Drive, Sinatra Museum, and a restaurant that has every square inch of its walls covered with Sinatra photographs and plays non-stop you-know-what music—so you’ll forgive me if I don’t care for Soave.
And the wine didn’t help its cause. As the decades progressed, vineyards were planted on flatlands and yields were far too high. Most Soave had little more flavor than water, and bottles ran to the tens of millions.
Soave’s principal grape is garganega (gar-GAH-nih-guh) and Soave-labeled wines must be made with at least 70 percent of it, with trebbiano di Soave composing the balance. Giovanni Ponchia, the winemaker of the Soave Consorzio, says trebbiano di Soave contributes acidity to the wine, and by the end of our tasting, I agreed.
If Soave were a boxer, it would be in the featherweight division. Its light body and restrained alcohol are a perfect combination for hot summer days.
My favorite wine of the tasting was the 2010 Cantina del Castello Soave Classico. The Classico designation means the grapes came from hillside vineyards between the towns of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone. The wine is a blend of 90 percent garganega and 10 percent trebbiano di Soave.
Its almond and sea salt aromas were a pleasing introduction to tart lime and thyme flavors. A long finish grew with complexity from the mineral, stony taste in the background. This is a featherweight that packs a good punch. Try a glass with a chilled seafood salad or ceviche.
The 2010 Cantina del Castello Soave Classico retails for approximately $17.
The 2010 Cantina di Soave Re Midas is from a cooperative winery of 2,200 winegrowers. Normally, cooperatives are the source of cheap, bulk wines. But that’s not the case with the Re Midas.
The wine is pure garganega. Its appealing sage and lemon scents were reinforced with a lemony fruit flavor that carried just enough acidity to keep the palate fresh.
It makes a pleasant aperitif, and the $10 price tag makes the 2010 Cantina di Soave Re Midas your summer house wine.
The 2010 Fattori Runcaris Soave Classico is another 100 percent garganega wine. Its hillside fruit emits a pleasing floral aroma and deposits on the palate a tasty guava flavor. Like other 100 percent garganega wines in the tasting, there is just enough acidity to balance the wine.
Enjoy it as an aperitif or serve it with one of my favorite Italian summer dishes, vitello tonnato.
The 2010 Fattori Runcaris Soave Classico retails for approximately $14.