But enough about me. This past February I was contacted about some samples of Soave and a new campaign designed to increase awareness of the wine here in the United States. For those of you who don't know Soave, fear not, because it's easily explained and easy to remember. Soave, like Chianti or Barolo, refers to a place versus a grape type. High up in the northeast of Italy, close to the cities of Verona and Venice, lies the province of Soave.
For a long time, if you bought a Soave in a supermarket or even a wine shop, you'd get a fairly neutral, slightly acidic white wine. I have tasted some examples over my career yet none have ever stood out and perhaps more importantly, the wines of Soave are not at the top of my wine consciousness. Given that my experience and feelings towards Soave wines are typical of most wine drinkers, it's no surprise the Soave Consortium seeks to educate and arouse interest in the American market.
As we've established, there is no grape called Soave, rather, the grape is garganega. Should you happen to be intent on joining the Wine Century Club, tasting a Soave will definitely get you one varietal closer to the magic number. Not all Soave must be 100% garganega though, and winemakers are increasingly using chardonnay and trebbiano in their wines to add body, texture and additional flavors.
Now that I have covered the basics, and believe me the stuff I just wrote was a very topical view on Soave, let's get to tasting the two wines the Soave Consortium were kind enough to send my way. One last quick note, I tasted both wines at about 55 degrees, warmer than your refrigerator. When you have wines like Soave, I'd recommend chilling them more than this when just enjoying them instead of evaluating them. The near-room-temperature tasting allows me to get a truer sense of acidity and flavor composition than if the wines were straight from my fridge.
2009 Re Midas Soave
100% garganega and coming in at 12% alcohol, the Re Midas Soave pours as a pale yellow color with nice clarity. I was reminded of some New Zealand sauvignon blancs, color-wise. With that observation complete, I gave the wine a bit of a swirl and put my nose to the glass to see what Re Midas was saying. Immediately, sweet flowers and lemongrass notes along with a nice vegetal component told me a lot about the wine. The Re Midas is one of those food-friendly white wines that will pair well with light pasta salads, seafood and citrus-themed chicken dishes. The mouthfeel was soft and lush on the front palate, smoothly transitioning through lemon zest, fuji apples, and toasted almond. Just when I thought the wine was going to stop too quickly, the acidity eased the finish into a gradual, drawn out embrace with my palate. I was impressed considering the Re Midas is available for about $10 and even less in some places. Click here to check out wine-searcher.com to see if it's available in your area. Gary Vaynerchuck said this about the Re Midas. Me, I give it a B and a STRONG BUY recommendation. This is a superb way to explore white varietals a bit more as well as pick up a great springtime sipper.
2009 Fattori Motto Piane Soave
This is the next bottle of Soave that I tasted, a more expensive, by a few dollars, example. Pouring it into my glass revealed a much more intense straw color, reminiscent of some Oregon chardonnays I've tasted. The 2009 Fattori Motto Piane also brings the heat, clocking in at 14% alcohol. This was disappointing because as frequent readers know, I am firmly in favor of lower alcohol levels in wine. Heck, you rarely see even California chardonnays come in at 14% abv! Sweet flavors dominated the nose, I was reminded of pineapple and peach juice mixed together, with a bit of citrus from a ruby grapefruit. In fact, the Motto Piave felt heavier even as I smelled it. There were hints of herbs dancing around the edges too, the kind you would expect to find in an Italian kitchen. When I tasted the Fattori, the balance between the typical oily character of Soave and this example's fine acidity was great. Each half of the flavor spectrum contributed, with the oily part giving lots of ripe summer fruit and unfortunately some alcohol burn too. The acidity did keep the mouthfeel fresh and lively, tempering the flavors and allowing for a gradually tapering finish like in the Re Midas. There was a neat yeasty flavor along with the toasted almond butter right at the end, something not often found in domestic wines. My only knock is the alcohol, there was a noticeable burn at the back of my throat. I gave this a B- and still do recommend it, just be sure to pair it with food. I'd recommend a marinated, seared piece of tuna or swordfish.
So, to wrap up my first foray into Soave, I was sent two good wines at great prices. If this is an indicator of the quality coming out of Soave these days, I think we as consumers would be wise to start asking out local wine merchants for them. Both wines ended up pairing very well with the fish tacos, but the Re Midas had a bit more acidity, cutting through the richness of the fish and sauce. With more acidic dishes I can see the Motto Piane pairing beautifully. I was told both wines are available in the United States, which is a good start. Ideally of course, we'd see nationwide distribution, but wine-searcher.com is a good place to start. Also, check out the Soave Consortium's facebook page and their blog. Both are great ways to get in touch and see if there are any upcoming events in your area, as well as where to buy these wines.
These wines were sent as media samples by the Soave Consortium