Debonair and (Rico) Soave

This white wine may be your new holiday favorite

By Mike Rosenberg

Photo: Bolla “Tufaie” 2012 Soave Superiore Classico: $13

If you came of age in the era when MTV actually played videos, when you hear the pronunciation of “Soave,” an Italian white wine, you immediately get a mental image of Rico Suave.

As with most Italian wines, Soave (pronounced “So-AH-vey”) is named after the region in which it’s made. Soave is the subregion of Veneto near the city of Verona in northeastern Italy. The primary grape varietal in the wine is the native Italian grape Garganega. By law, Garganega must comprise at least 70 percent of the blend. If a Soave is less than 100 percent Garganega, the bulk of the rest of the blend comes from a grape called Trebbiano di Soave, which is otherwise known as Verdicchio.

[Side note: If you’ve seen Italian wines made from “Trebbiano” – those wines are usually made from a different Trebbiano grape: the more common Trebbiano di Toscana. Trebbiano di Toscano is also known as Ugni Blanc. Confused yet?]

In any case, Soave is generally a dry, relatively light white. You might stumble across a sparkling Soave or a sweet, late harvest Soave from time to time – but for the most part, the fruity still white is what you’re going to see.

Like most Italian wines, there are a couple of classifications to know. There’s a “standard” Soave. Next is “Soave Classico,” which is wine that comes from the originally designated vineyards of the Soave region. There’s also a “Superiore” classification, which indicates the wines follow particular rules for composition, harvest tonnage and a few others. To further complicate matters, most, but not all, of the Superiore vineyards are in the Classico area.

Thankfully, you’re not going to need to worry much about those ins and outs. The price range on Soave isn’t a huge one. You can find a straight Soave for $10-12, and even the high end of the Soave Classico Superiore isn’t going to set you back much more than $25 or so. For most purposes, you shouldn’t need to spend more than $15, and there’s really no reason to, as you’ll see.

I received a pair of Soave from Nicole at R/West. One was a standard Soave, the other was Soave Superiore. The verdicts?

Corte Adami 2013 Soave – This one started me out with a light nose of orange blossoms and lemon. I expected it to be along the lines of a pinot grigio, but it turned out to be more weighty on the tongue than I thought. I thought it certainly had a little bit of a “glycerine” texture, which I didn’t mind, but some might consider the flavor a little “flabby.” The main flavors are round and peachy with a little tartness toward the back. The finish hangs on and has a little bitter nip at the end. All in all, pretty decent for $12. While it’s not the most memorable wine in the world, it’s certainly a quality quaffer.

Bolla “Tufaie” 2012 Soave Superiore Classico – By way of comparison, here’s one of the “higher end” Soave. This one also has a blossomy nose, but it seems more fragrant; more substantial. I found some slightly richer flavors like pear. With the fuller aroma, the weight of this wine seemed to fit the nose a little more effectively. There’s a little more acidity, which rounds out the glycerine considerably. There’s a bit of honeyed sweetness underneath the peachy, lemony flavors and the finish is fairly long and a mite acidic, like a good pinot grigio. There’s also a little bit of spiciness at the end, which I liked quite a bit. It’s quite a nice little white. I preferred the Tufaie (named for the particular volcanic stone of the region) over the Corte Adami. The price difference between the bottles is what surprised me. The Tufaie is only a dollar more at $13, which is a killer value, if you ask me. (And since you’re reading this, you kind of did.)

Soave is currently promoting its wines as a holiday alternative to common table whites like Pinot Grigio and Sauvignon Blanc. If you’re looking for a white that’s a little different than the standard, you might want to consider trying out some Soave. Seeing how close the “high end models” are in price to the standard ones, I’d suggest you splurge on the inexpensive end of the Superiore. I think it’ll serve you well, whatever you’re plating up.

Reach DCP freelance writer Page Mike Rosenberg at Page MikeRosenberg@DaytonCityPaper.com or visit his blog at TheNakedVine.net.

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Mike Rosenberg
Reach DCP freelance writer Mike Rosenberg at MikeRosenberg@DaytonCityPaper.com or visit his blog at TheNakedVine.net.

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