Soave has been a tragic story. A region by the world famous city of Venice, with its own high quality grape variety (Garganega), and, thanks to previous success, well known. Everything was in place for continued greatness. And then along came the bandwagon jumpers, the shortcutters, the ‘if plonk sells, I’ll make it’ crowd. The reputation was soon ruined, and buyers turned their backs on the region.
But there’s a quiet renaissance going on. The rules have been tightened. The focus on quality has returned. For the smart buyer, this should mean there’s value for money to be found, at least until the word gets around.
Garganega is noted for good citrus or orchard fruit flavours, a floral element, and a distinct almond note. When well made, the product is a quintessential, high quality, Italian white. Because this variety doesn’t produce much sugar, Soave producers are required only to use 50% Gargenega, and may make up the rest from a choice of other grapes. Chardonnay is a popular choice, as is Pinot Grigio, the former probably being preferred by the quality-conscious, and the latter by the more cost-conscious.
Morrisons’ Soave Classico is sadly a disappointment. The nose is surprisingly almondy, but it’s not ‘clean’. It seems to have oxidised slightly – might have just been my bottle, but I suspect not. On the palate, nothing to rave about there either. A fleeting hit of green fruit, and then we’re done.
But here comes the real irony. Morrisons’ Soave is cheaper and better. The ‘Classico’ comes from the original Soave region, which has expanded over time, and it’s from the area into which it expanded that the cheaper offering hails. It’s a different style, focussing on a zesty lemon flavour, but also with the delicate floral note. Pretty simple, but at just £4 a bottle, a great value quaff.
So it seems that quality in Soave still varies. Then again, of which wine region could that not be said?