Denominación de Origen
Recioto di Soave DOCG
Consorzio Tutela Vini Soave e Recioto di Soave
Vicolo Mattielli, 11, 37038 Soave (VR), Italia
Tel.: +39 045/7681578
Fax: +39 045/6190306
Thanks to its geographical position, the amazing historical, artistic and architectural wealth that it contains, and the transport links which, to a great extent, form its southern border (the no. 11 State Road, the Milan-Venice Autostrada and the Milan-Venice railway line), the Soave district may be considered the third major centre of interest for tourism - after the city of Verona itself and Lake Garda - in the Verona area.
Easy access to the Lessini Mountains (including Bolca with its fossils) and the synergies that exist with the Communes in the Veronese plain make Soave an ideal reference point for the whole of the area to the east of Verona.
Notable progress has been made in this regard over the last few years: - by the zone’s 120 restaurants, with their renewed concern for offering typical local foods and a high standard of service; - by the wine producing companies, which have committed themselves to quality, and also made substantial investments in order to render their premises more attractive to visitors.
This also applies to the Cooperative Wineries; - by the Local Authorities, which are proving very attentive to these new ideas, too. No less than five Communes have become members of the “Città del Vino” Association in the last two years; - by cultural groups, which are organizing increasingly sophisticated initiatives with strong ties to the local area.
Given this context, it has proved a relatively easy task to create an ideal route – roughly 50 kilometres (30 miles) long – which passes through vineyards, parish churches and castles, covering the thirteen Communes included in the Soave Denomination and embracing the top-quality crus for the production of Soave.
An important factor in carrying out this project successfully has been to forge a whole series of ongoing links, not only with all of the area’s professional bodies in the historical and cultural spheres, but also with the organizations that represent the other traditional products which come either from the zone itself or from areas very close to it.
Lessini Durello wine, Monte Veronese cheese, Vialone Nano rice, the olive oil and cherries from the Verona hills, Veronese Radicchio and the chestnuts from San Mauro: all of these I.G.P. or D.O.P. products (which have already been recognized as such or are in the process of being recognized) can, if adequately promoted, give an added input and value to the companies that operate along the Wine Road.
Indeed, the Soave Wine Road has been created in order to offer an allembracing package of activities and services: lovers of culture and art, for example, will not only be able to enjoy the unquestionable natural beauty of the zone – Europe’s largest vineyard area with its 6,600 hectares (16,300 acres) – but also its Romanesque churches, villas, castles and museums.
Underpinning the whole project, though, there is a new sensibility on the part of all those involved in the Wine Road, thanks to which the Soave area is destined to take its rightful place among those districts specializing in wine tourism.
It may simply be a mysterious coincidence, but the name of a wine has never been so expressive of its enological personality and deepest identity as that of Soave: elegant, harmonious and supple.
Evidence of wine-growing in the Soave area dates back to ancient times, and this famous wine has accompanied man through the millennia since earliest history.
Historians who have tried over the centuries to explain the origins of the name “Soave” hold various and not always coinciding opinions: the most widely accepted explanation is that the beautiful Soave area took its name from the Suevians, a German people who came down into Italy with Alboin, the Longobard king.
Many historical documents mention Soave and these wines were certainly greatly appreciated many centuries ago. However their fame especially developed in the early 20th century, when the larger Veronese wineries promoted Soave on all the national and foreign markets, and today this wine has earned the coveted description “Classico eminent Italian white wine” and the prestigious status as the most greatly exported Italian white wine.
The Soave production zone is situated in the eastern part of the hills in the province of Verona (north of the “serenissima” highway, between the 18th and 25th kilometres of the VR-VE road).
The zone includes part or all of the lands belonging to the municipalities of Soave, Monteforte, San Martino B.A., Lavagno, Mezzane, Caldiero, Colognola, Illasi, Cazzano, San Bonifacio, Roncà, Montecchia and S. Giovanni Ilarione.
Garganega is the designation’s principal grape variety, and over the centuries it has found an ideal habitat here in the contours of the Alpone, Tramigna, Illasi and Mezzane valleys.
In the vast, high quality scenario of prestigious Veronese wines, this ideal symbiosis of environment and vine variety, necessary for the production of quality white wines, has only been achieved in these hills of tufaceous volcanic land with large limy outcrops. In climatic terms the whole area enjoys a mild, temperate climate: the winters are not severe and the summers are not too hot.
The use of the specification “Classico” with the designation “Soave” is reserved for the product made from grapes harvested and vinified in the municipalities of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone, ie. the oldest, original “classic” zone.
Castles, churches, belltowers and luxurious aristocratic villas emerging from the sea of vineyards demonstrate the rich history and traditions of this area, closely linked to its principal product.
Back in 1931 Soave was already the most important Italian wine and was recognised as a “typical and prestigious” wine, and its identity was definitively protected by recognition of the controlled designation of origin in 1968 (DPR 21st August 1968).
Vineyards & Wines
SOAVE SUPERIORE DOCG
Here is the new profile for Soave Superiore DOCG: The grape mix remain the same as the historical Soave, with at least 70% Garganega and permitted addition of up to 30 % Trebbiano di Soave, Chardonnay, and Pinot Bianco. Trebbiano Toscano has been excluded from the blend. (Before up to a maximum of 15 % of this variety was allowed.)
The production zone is limited to the hillside sites already noted in the regulations for the production of Recioto di Soave DOCG. There are also new regulations for planting: new vineyards must be trained using Espallier systems (Guyot and Cordon Spur) with at least 4000 vine per hectare. For those vines planted before 2002, the Espallier system, Pergola Inclinate and Pergoletta Veronese (mono or bilateral) are allowed.
The yield has also been reduced to 70 hectolitres per hectare, and the bottled wine must have a minimum alcohol level of 12 degrees by vol. (12.5 by vol. for the Riserva style), and it must have a minimum extract of 20 grams per litre.
Soave DOCG may be released on to the market only after 1st September of the year following the harvest and after bottle ageing of at least three months so as to emphasise characteristics of maturity and complexity. Wines aged a minimum of two years may be labelled as “Riserva”.
This is a new challenge for a Soave, which elevates it in a significant way beyond the realms of other DOCs (and particularly those of recent constitution, thereby re-claiming its position as a great Italian terroir-based white wine.
From this style one expects the very best expression imaginable of Soave made in stainless steel: not only freshness and a very easy-drinking style, therefore, but also exellent egeing potential – as much as ten years in good vintages.
A high-quality production zone is indispensable, as are decidedly wellcontrolled yields. This does not necessarily maen a drastic reduction in production, but rather that the wine should give a yield which is in perfect harmony with its hillside site and with its naturally vigorous disposition.
It is hard for a great white wine to be ready for drinking after only a few months, so another essencial factor is that the wine should remain on its lees for several months prior to bottling and release.
During this phase, the wine extracts and assimilates its true character from the lees. It becomes more stable, and may indeed also undergo malolactic fermentation, thus making its taste profile considerably more nuanced and interesting. Its colour will become intense, while at the same time maintaing the brilliance that a young white should display. Its aromas will also become deeper; their richness is not all that important because Garganega does not in fact posses a board spectrum of fragrances such as those of the great aromatic varieties.
This type of Soave is ideal with a very broad range of dishes. Here we are not merely limited to saltwater fish: we can branch out into the wider realms of Mediterranean cuisine, taking advantage of the mineral notes which this wine assumes over time to match it with dishes that combine vegetables and cheese, or indeed with eggs or white meats. This, then, is a fine and highly versatile style Soave.
If the production regulations for the new Soave Superiore D.O.C.G. are also brand new, those for Soave D.O.C. (a denomination now 34 years old) have also undergone a careful restyling. A leading role is played by Soave Classico, which almost becomes a denomination in its own right, while for the hillside areas outside the historic zone, the name” Colli Scaligeri” has been coined.
The permitted grapes are the same as for the Soave Superiore D.O.C.G., placing new emphasis just on the quality varieties and excluding Trebbiano Toscano which, before, had been allowed to constitute up to 15% of the blend.
For the styles of Soave which must come from hillside sites, the minimum level of alcohol has also been raised by half a per cent and the dry extract has been increased to 18 grams/litre.
As from next year, new plantings may only be trained according to the following methods: single or double Espalier; single, unilateral Pergola; or uni- or bi-lateral small Veronese Pergola (pergoletta veronese). In every case, there must be no less than 3,300 vines per hectare.
For all three wines – Soave, Soave Classico and Soave Colli Scaligeri – the new, revised regulations have, therefore, raised two of the parameters that are most important for quality: the level of alcohol and the net dry extract.
This, then, is a new challenge for Soave, which is thus re-positioning itself significantly with regard to other D.O.C.s (particularly those of recent constitution) and reclaiming its role as one of Italy’s great terroir-based whites.
This challenge is based on new rules for the producers and greater clarity for the consumer.
It’s designed to be drunk a year or two after the vintage. It is a user-friendly white, which offers good value for money: a wine from which one expects neither complexity nor ageing potential but rather a clean fragrance and an appealing freshness and delicacy. It is usually vinified in stainless steel, a method which allows the wine’s attractive floral and fruity notes to express themselves fully.
Soave Classico DOC
This is a more ambitious white, whose restricted production zone lies on the hills in the communes of Soave and Monteforte.
The wine’s firm structure gives it an excellent ageing potential: it can continue to evolue for as much as ten years in good vintages from top producers. It often has a slight mineral note on the palate that adds complexity to its floral and fruity character.
When vinified and/or aged in wood, Soave develops a creamy undertone which mingles with the fruity and floral elements.
Soave Spumante DOC
This sparkling wine with a modern and seducive taste, has maneged to preserved a rich noble title containing a long, important and antique tradition. It is typically of the versatility of the Garganega, the grape of the excellency of the Soave wine, able to give character and identity to such a wine. Perfect grapes bunches, selected yeasts, accurated vinifications, a long staying on the lees, are giving us a “Brut” with a fine and persistent “Perlage” as well as elegant and fragrant nose; a palate which shows harmonius style ideally to be served with “hors d’oeuvres” and for many moments of the party.
...which distinguishes it from any other.
In 1998 this was the first Veneto wine to obtain DOCG (Denominazione Controllata e Garantita) classification.
Recioto is a wine with a long history. The existence of a sweet white wine in the Veronese area, similar to the Recioto di Soave we know today, was recorded in the 5th century in the famous epistle of Cassiodoro.
The learned minister of King Teodorico sought the red and white acinatico (the latter being today’s Recioto di Soave) for whose production the grapes had to be selected from the “domestic pergolas”, hanging up in bunches in the fruit cellar until late winter.
This wine was attractively light-coloured and flawless, and seemed to be the fruit of lilies. The existence of a sweet white wine in the Veronese area, similar to the Recioto di Soave we know today, was recorded in the 5th century in the famous epistle of Cassiodoro.
The learned minister of King Teodorico sought the red and white acinatico (the latter being today’s Recioto di Soave) among the Veronese estate owners, for the guests of the royal table; the grapes for this wine were selected from the “domestic pergolas” hanging up in bunches in the fruit cellar until late winter.
According to the minister, this wine was so attractively light-coloured and flawless, that it seemed to be the fruit of lilies.
The acinatico was made from a grape variety known as retica in those days, and the garganica grape was only mentioned for the first time in the 14th century, by the Bolognese Pier De Crescenzi; it then became widespread in the Veronese area and is still predominant there today.
More specific information about the preparation of “Recioto” appears in the 18th century from the Marchese Scipione Maffei, who wrote that “storing grapes until December, pressing gently in the cold weather and replacing the must, without boiling, keeping it for some time before handling, is the same approved system we use now, honouring it with the name “santo”.
A historical document on the preparation techniques of Recioto di Soave was left by Giuseppe Beretta in one of his books in 1841: “By sparkling liquor I mean the wine obtained from naturally dried grapes which are crushed in a press beginning in winter.
Since it is best to decant and thicken the fine must that appears free of any bulk and only in small barrels, and in a cool place, it is left to ferment and without stalks or skins: thus only being boiled slowly, this wine preserves intact some of the sugary material: this is the important feature that distinguishes it from all others.
The Veronese dialect the word Recioto derives from “recia”, the upper part of the bunch of Garganega grapes which is richest in sugars and most greatly exposed to sunlight. Just before the harvest a selection is made of the best bunches which are laid out on racks to dry.
The grapes are constantly supervised and cleaned for four to six months, until pressing. Long, slow fermentation often takes place in small barrels. With the new production specification, Recioto di Soave has a more complex profile and has become a great “vino da meditazione”. The formation of noble rot on the drying grapes completes the aroma range and enriches the nose-palate consistency.
Recioto is traditionally served with tea biscuits but the ageing process also makes it suitable for blue and strong cheeses, fat liver and all foods which enhance its oiliness. The sweetness in this case becomes a clear and very enjoyable point of contrast. The wine is bright yellow in colour with acacia honey on the nose and floral hints, and a velvety, harmonious, full-bodied and pleasantly almondy bouquet.
This is an ideal wine for any happy occasion, whether celebrated alone or in company. Apart from the traditional still version, it is also available in the sparkling style, which makes an ideal foil for all the typical pastries of Veronese cuisine.