Soave wine producing area lies on the eastern end of Verona province, on the foothills of the Lessini mountains. It comprehends the valleys of : Mezzane, Illasi, Tramigna (with the meddle-age village of Soave) and Alpone.
The whole region is divided into 3 sub-zones.
The Classica area is the historical wine region and it comprehends the hillside vineyards around the 2 villages of Soave and Monteforte. The soil in the Soave region is very complex and it changes completely in few meters of distance. However in the Classic area, is mainly volcanic soil, “tovo” is the dialect name. In fact the black, basaltic stones are well visible in many vineyards and they give to Soave Classico wine the signature mineral note.
The Colli scaligeri sub-zone surrounds the northern part of area Classica, with a horseshoe-shape. The vineyards are planted in hillside and the terrain is a mix of limestone and volcanic soil. Soave Colli scaligeri is another high quality wine, intense and mineral.
Soave DOC covers the south valley floors and the wines produced here are lighter and less intense than those of the hilly parts.
Soave wine is made with Garganega grape, a white indigenous variety, which constitutes at least the 70% of the blend. However it is not unusual to find Soave wine made with 100% of Garganega. It is an ancient local variety, with a big, pyramidal bunch. It’s a late-ripening grape (end of September) and it gives to Soave wine the signature flavours of white flowers and almonds.
By law, also Trebbiano di Soave (Ugni Blanc) with an high acidity or the international variety of Chardonnay can be part of the Soave blend.
Soave DOC has been for many years the most exported white Italian wine and still today is among the most famous Italians whites. It’s a fresh white wine with straw yellow color, light bodied, delicate aromas of elderflower and the slightly bitter after-taste of almond. The Classic version is more complex and can be aged a couple of years more.
Soave Superore DOCG is the highest quality dry wine of the region. The grapes are cultivated at lower yields, only in the hillside vineyards. Soave Superiore has to have minimum 12% vol. of alcohol and it is matured some months before the release for consumption. The color is more golden and aromas are deeper and more intense.
Recioto di Soave DOCG is the most ancient wine of the region. In fact this wine is mentioned in some Romans written records with the name “White Acinatico”. It is a sweet, dessert wine typically paired with Italian almond cookies (Cantucci) or dry pastries. The name Recioto comes from the dialect word “Recie”, which means “ears”, the most external part of the bunch. Traditionally only this parts were selected to make Recioto because better exposed to the sun and, as a result, richer in sugars content. The harvest still today is manual in order to selecet the best bunches. Then the grapes undergoe the so called “appassimento”. This means that they dries from 4 to 6 months stored in a wide and well aired winery room called “fruttaio” . Recioto is a golden nectar with a complex bouquet with notes of honey, dried apricots, ginger and vanilla.
The village of Soave
Soave is not only the wine but also the name of the main village of the region. It’s a middle-age hamlet, which worths a visit. In Italian the name “Soave” means “delicate”, “gentle” but despite what one thinks, it doesn’t come from the features of its wines. Instead it derives from “Svevi”, a German population who settled down in the valley after the fall of the Roman Empire, in 476 a.D. However the first inhabitants were the Romans and it is not uncommon for the local farmers, to find remains of the Romans presence, working their fields.
Today, Soave has a medieval aspect, completely surrounded by 2 km of well preserve city walls, with 24 towers and the imposing Scaliger castle on the top. A stroll through its peaceful roads where the time seems to have stopped or a visit at the castle can be included in the tour.