Wednesday, July 09, 2008

WBW47: The Letter S

Wed 9 July 2008

This month's WBW, hosted by Grape Juice, is brought to us by the letter S. Simple - choose a wine which has a connection (as tenuous as you please) with the letter 'S'. All the things that I love that I could choose from ... but I like to use WBW as an opportunity to stretch my wine drinking experience, so I chose a Soave.

It's no secret I'm not a fan of Italian whites ... I try really, really hard and I just don't get them. At the beginning of the year I bought a Pieropan Soave which I gave away as a house warming present. I was pretty disappointed when InterWined tried the same wine and found it an excellent accompaniment to a children's birthday party. So when the opportunity came up to buy a bottle (at 30% off what's more!) I seized the day!

Let's start with the facts ... Soave is one of Italy's DOCGs*, produced in the north east, in the area known as the Veneto. The principal grape is Garganega, and the wine can be fleshed out with up to 30% Trebbiano (also known as Ugni Blanc - one of the main grapes from which Cognac is made). A rule of thumb is that the greater the ratio of Garganega to Trebbiano, the better. And, of course, the more expensive the wine will be: Trebbiano is easy to grow and high yield, but can be a little uninspiring.

And that's how we arrive at the Pieropan Soave Classico 2006**, which is 90% Garganega and costs around the £9-£10 mark. My retailer was selling it for £10, and I paid £7. I couldn't rustle up a children's birthday party, so we drank it with linguine al granchio - about which, more tomorrow.
The wine was a pretty sunshine yellow colour but the nose was incredibly closed. I'm prepared to accept some responsibility here as I might not have retrieved the wine from the fridge early enough, but even as we made our way through the bottle and the wine had an opportunity to warm up things didn't become more pronounced. Being a generous type, I thought there was a hint of pear. Andy thought it smelt of nothing.

On the palate things were much improved. The pear was still there with a slightly confected note. You started here and the flavours developed into a nutty, richer, fattier middle, before finishing with some good clean acid - so good length and structure. The fruit flavours weren't especially complex and the fatty middle made this a wine with considerably more weight than you might expect from a Soave.

I have to say that this is a good wine ... it ticks most of the boxes, and sat well with our dinner. However, I can't really say I enjoyed it - and I can't really put my finger on why not. I certainly wouldn't be spending £10 on a bottle and, faced with it in a restaurant, where it would be hitting the £30 mark, I'd be choosing something else altogether.

Soave drinkers - I recommend it.
Italian white wine aficionados - I recommend it.
Alex - I recommend you drink more Italian white wine.

tagged with: , , , ,

*DOCG - Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita - the top rung of Italy's wine hierarchy. Only around 30 regions are at this level.
**Classico on Italian wine indicates that the grapes were grown and vinified in the centre of the region. In the case of Soave, this means around in and around Soave itself, and Monteforte d'Alpone.
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Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've not tried the Soave you mentioned, but do have some good-to-great Italian wine recommendations. Here we go: 1. Ribolla Giala; this is a Friuli wine with a great acidity. Goes great with radicchio crepes! 2. Tocai Fruiliano, drink it warmish. It's not the best when served from the fridge. 3. Gewürztraminer from Alto Adige. This is simply some of the best Gewürz that there is. All of these wines are from the north of Italy and might be a good way into Italian wines for a non-Italian wine lover. At least, I like them.

8:07 am  
Blogger Alex said...

Thanks for the suggestions! The Gewurz in particular takes my fancy!!! I'll have to see if I can track any of them down. I think otherwise I'll just start working my way through the Italian whites available in Leeds and see what happens.

I suspect that my problem is just a lack of exposure!

11:38 am  
Blogger Andrew said...

I have to agree with you - many Italian whites just leave me unimpressed. You have to pay a bit I find to get something interesting and tasty - I'm sure there are a few on Spittoon somewhere - I look for the lesser known grapes or interesting blends and as Sean suggests most are best with food and not small children!

7:59 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

I've observed before that Italian whites seem to be comparatively expensive.

I quite deliberately paired the Soave with a dish, as I know Italian wine in general is food friendly and I think I'll definitely make that effort for future WBW.

And I'll make sure that I keep small children away from future forays into Italian whites! :)

7:17 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've only tried Soave once or twice and felt underwhelmed. Maybe I should give it another shot.

7:12 pm  
Blogger Alex said...

Well, Dale, I do think it's worth persisting with things you don't like ... even I managed to find a Viognier I liked and I'm determined to do the same with Italian whites!

11:42 am  

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