When I heard that we were doing a tasting of a Soave Classico at Eli’s List, I must admit to being quite skeptical. After all, Soave evokes a rather negative response in people who remember the cheap and pitiful product that flooded the US in the 70s and 80s. But I went along with an open mind. I’m glad I did.
Thirty-five years later, it is time to start a new affair with Soave Classico, which, over the past several years has been slowly making its way back to becoming one of Italy’s most interesting white wines.
Forget about the large cooperatives that control such a vast majority of Soave’s production and take a look at the smaller, high-quality winemakers in the Soave Classico zone…in this case, the Tessari Family, four sisters who today run the Suavia Winery that was founded in 1982 and is now the benchmark of the Soave Classico appellation. While they may share the name of the wine with the big boys, they don’t share the same philosophy.
And the real difference, it must be said is the terroir. While the appellation is spread across over 16,000 acres in northeastern Italy near Verona, the best wines come from a hilly, 4,200 area between Lake Garda and the Adriatic with volcanic soil that is where the native garganega grape was originally planted and cultivated.
That is where the Tessari Family’s vineyards are located. And it shows. Suavia’s Soave Classico is nothing short of spectacular. It is vibrant, but also much more complex and flavorful. 100% Garganega, it is pale gold in color, with citrus and pear notes on the nose that follow through on the palate, finishing crisp and clean. The minerality is subtly integrated adding complexity and backbone to the wine. The volcanic soil of the terroir adds a touch of flintiness, which lends character and depth, all of which make it ideal on its own or a perfect complement to grilled fish, pork, cheese, fresh vegetables and risotto dishes with seafood or mushrooms.
Massifiti is another wine from Suavia. This one is 100% Trebbiano di Soave, an ancient grape variety that had all but disappeared from the Italian viticulture, until it was revived by the Tessaris, who uncovered its original character and created a wine that is pure and authentic, speaking eloquently of the area it comes from. It is a bright wine that initially reveals floral notes. The more it opens, it becomes creamier and more savory on the palate, and much more expressive, leaving green apples, some pear and mint with crisp acidity in its wake.
The Tessaris take great care with their vineyards farming naturally. The volcanic soil together with sunny days and cold nights create rich texture, layered aromas and nuances that are captivating and charming…just like Italy.
At Eli’s List:
Suavia, Soave Classico