This versatile wine is lovely for the summer when you are looking for a refreshing, tangy but substantial white that will work well with a special meal. It is relatively full bodied, with a mix of flavours beyond the citrus, making it a nice change to the white wines that we often reach for in the winter – say rich chardonnays that have seen a little oak or full, fragrant Viogniers, for example.
Soave is in the north east of Italy, in the Veneto region. You may be aware of its rather dismal reputation thanks to propensity to churn out enormous quantities of rather boring wine! The Soave region is pretty big and includes a lot of land that is disposed to grapes of rather mediocre quality, typically grown at very high yields for quantity. In contrast, the grapes for this wine are from the sub-zone ‘Soave Classico’ which is known for better quality, with rules that enforce a more discerning approach to producing wine.
By way of background, akin to a number of Italian wine regions, a good quality area – in this case, Soave Classico – would prompt the creation of an official zone, known as a DOC. As the wines from these regions started to resonate with consumers around the world, some DOCs were expanded to cope with export demand. Unfortunately, the enlarged area – or areas, as the same happened with Valpolicella, Chianti and Prosecco – includes flat river plains: easy to work with but tend to produce bulk wines often lacking in flavour and character. The Soave Classico region does not guarantee superior wine but can be a useful indicator of quality versus generic Soave: it’s hillier for a start which makes for better water drainage and improved sun exposure leading to grapes with more concentrated flavours. The rules around maximum yields of grapes are more stringent which helps with quality.
So what does ‘good’ Soave taste like? Well, there’s lots of lemon going on – and in this one, rich lemon curd in particular rather than the super acidic tingle of something like a Pinot Grigio (which is also grown in the Veneto). It is much fuller bodied than a typical mass-produced Pinot Grigio as well, with many more flavours. Beyond the lemon, there’s a hint of peach and slightly musky white flowers, I got a bit of jasmine and meadowsweet. The acidity levels are high – a hallmark of northern Italian white wines – but tempered by creamier flavours like marzipan and shortbread which give it a lovely depth. Interestingly, there’s a slightly smoky flavour which makes sense given that the Garganega grapes are grown on ancient volcanic soils. We had it with Butternut Squash with Puy Lentils & Sundried Tomato Dressing – the citrus in the wine was lovely with the salty feta whilst the sweetness of the butternut squash was a nice foil to the wine’s acidity.
In such a vast region like Veneto, it really helps to know of a consistently good, quality-focused producer, so look out for Inama’s other wines in both Soave and Colli Berici, another sub-region which is south of Vincenza and west of Padua.
At a glance
- Style? Medium to full bodied unoaked white wine
- Where is it from? Soave, north east Italy
- What’s the grape? Garganega
- Tastes of? Lemon curd, lemon zest, marzipan
- What food would complement it? Creamy pasta and chunky grain dishes; the citrus would be good with a mild curry but an aromatic Riesling, Gewurtztraminer or Pinot Gris would remain my top pick for spice!