I woke up one day in early May to find two, presumably unrelated, emails waiting for me. The first alerted me to a UK trade campaign intended to highlight one of the Veneto's most misunderstood wines under the rather fun banner of Summer of Soave. The second was an invitation to the very place from a Vicenza based PR company that has hosted me once before in the region.
Unfortunaltey my arrival at Verona was greeted with a heavy rainstorm, which as luck would have it followed me for an hour, all the way to the castle gates of Soave. The following day wasn't much better. Producers in the region were lamenting freak weather. Heavy rains were now well into their third week and there serious concerns that the vines may not flower.
Nevertheless we cracked on with a masterclass hosted by Kerin O'Keefe, the theme of which was to position how a rennaisance in terroir-driven winemaking was showcasing just how much potential Soave has to age with dignity.
The days of insipid Trebbiano based whites are over. Producers have learned to tame some of the vigour of Garganega and most are using it to express both structure and flavour.
There were a number of wines that demonstrated this.
The key visit of the afternoon was to Azienda Dal Cero, who produce quality but appraochable Soave wines under their Tenuta Corte dei Giacobbe. The entry level wines were decent but the wine that stole the show, and contributed to a growing understanding of Soave's ability to age, was the La Runcata.
A single vineyard plot, Runcata is up at 400-450m - one of the highest places in the Soave DOC. Althnough not biodynamic certified, it’s claimed that intervention is not really required. Vines are naturally fertilised. An infusion of camomile. The wines itself is 100% Garganega, which prolific in youth, requires lots of green harvesting on younger vines. Less so with the older vines. Garganega produced in Runcata is unique, certainly very different to that produced in the Classico area.
A vertical tasting of four vintages, starting with the 2017 revealed a fine wine easily at home with the great white wines of Italy. The evolution of colour is most striking with the wines ranging from pale straw to vibrant gold. 2017 boasted abundant exotic fruit, concentration and depth but was hurried along in a frenzied way by racy acidity. Powerful, rich with plenty of life ahead of it. 2016 was slightly lighter but maintained the characteristic notes of ripe stone fruit. Carried the elegance and polish of the 2017 but has softened somewhat.
The very warm 2015 revealed yet ripe fruit and as such required less oak to achived balance and harmony. r and riper fruit. Less oak used given the conditions of the vintage. The 2014 demonstrated signs of age and tertiary complexity, as a mellow fruit swam with notes of almond on the finish.
You can read more of my thoughts on Azienda dal Cero on Vinorandum. https://www.vinorandum.com/producer/tenuta-corte-giacobbe
Given the nod towards biodynamic farming there is still in an impressive purity in the glass. They are bight, vibrant, shimmering with life. The acidity, as seems to be the case with all of these wines, confirms that there's plenty of life ahead of them all still.
As the rain continued to pour we made our way through the old streets to perhaps the best dining spot in town - Locanda ai Capitelli. Home cooked food partnered with a selection of Soave. I particulalry enjoyed Suavia's monovarietal Trebbiano di Soave.