Soave is one of the most famous Italian white wines and its producing area is one of the best destination for wine tourism. It offers not only good wine and charming cellars, but also interesting and historical sights such as Soave Middle Age castle.
Best starting points to visit Soave are either Verona or Vicenza. Both cities are only 30 minutes drive from the vineyards. Only few minutes drive from Soave is Sanbonifacio train station, on the Milan-Venice railway, although only slower, local trains stop there.
Book a wine tour in Soave
- With an half day tour you can visit two higly representative wineries or one winery and Soave castle.
- With a full day tour you can visit 3-4 cellars, stop for lunch in a local restaurant and visit the castle.
Terroir and Wine Styles
Soave is a denomination wine. It means that only the wineries that have vineyards and cellar within the boundaries of the certified wine region can write Soave on the label of the bottles they release. Soave wine region is quite large. Differences in altitude, incline and soil composition reflects in quite clear differences in wine characteristics, style and classification.
Soave DOC is the entry level in the Soave wines quality classification. It is made with grapes coming from the vineyards on the valley floors of the Illasi, Tramigna and Alpone streams.
The wine is generally light and inexpensive. The color is a pale straw yellow with green hues. The nose is gentle and soft. The palate is easy and well balanced withour excessive acidity and minerality. Very versatile to pair with apetizers, starters, charcurterie, sushi and sashimi. Perfect as an apertif.
Soave Superiore (Superior)
Only grapes coming from the hillside slopes of the denomination area are allowed to become Soave Superiore. It is a DOCG (Denomitation of Origin Controlled and Guarantee) certified wine, the top quality classification in the Italian appellation system.
It has a bright yellow color, and intense nose with floral and fruity hints that can range from elderflower, hawthorn to almond, pineapple, peach. Depending on the type of soil the grapes come from, the palate can express a sharp minerality or a mellow fruitness.
Wider range of pairing possibility, especially with seafood, oily fish, or not excessively elaborated meet dishes.
There are two sub-denomination in the hillside area. Soave Classico (Soave Classic) is the historical producing area around Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone villages. Soave Colli Scaligeri (Scala family hills) is the hillside area of the extended denomination.
The territory of Soave is a geological mess. There is a thick layer of calcium carbonate that accumulated over millions of years, when the area was the bottom of a tropical sea, and later transformed into limestone. On top of that, volcanic activity poured large quantities of basalt and other types of lava rock. Then tectonic movements created the Alps and the Pre-Alps mountain ranges, and erosion exposed the different layers. On the valley floors the debris from erosion accumulated as fine gravel, mixing with clay, sand and organic soil. Even neighboring vineyards can have two completely different soil compositions.
Differences in soil produce big differences in the taste of various Soave wines. Grapes from volcanic soils produce wines with higher levels of acidity and minerals. Their characteristic is sharpness, with very interesting hints of flint and graphite. They generally have longer ageing potential. For some good vintages and makers you can keep the wine in the cellar for up to ten years.
In order to promote quality wines made in the best growing areas the producer association (Consorzio) released a map with different vineyards and their characteristics. Each producer has the possibility to write it on the label. If you would like to try some of the best Soaves it could be worth making some research.
Garganega Grape Varietal
What is Soave grape?
Soave wines are mainly made with Garganega grape varietal. It is a vigorous local vine that grows mainly in Verona and Vicenza wine regions. According to production rules for Soave denomination Garganega must be at least 70% of the blend. Producers focused on quality tend to make 100% Garganega wines. Other varietal allowed in the blend up to 30% of the total are Trebbiano di Soave and Chardonnay.
What are Garganega grape characteristics?
Garganega is not an aromatic grape. It is quite delicate and neutral, allowing full expression of the terroir. Grown on limestone soil it gives pleasantly fruity and floral wines. On volcanic soils it produces sharper wines with hints of flint and almonds.
Garganega vine is very vigorous and gives good results with pergola growing system where the trunk grows tall and branches expand horizontally creating a sort of canopy.
Besides Garganega, production rules for Soave wine allow up to 30% of Trebbiano di Soave and/or Chardonnay in the blend. Nevertheless, in recent years, the trend has been towards 100% Garganega Soave, especially amond smaller producers focused on quality productions.
At the time of harvesting, the most mature bunches of Garganega grapes are carefully harvested by hand. They are placed on wooden crates or river reed mats in special rooms under the roof of the cellars in the Soave area where they will stay for the next 3 or 4 months, losing almost half their weight in water, becoming almost raisins. The fermentation is not complete so that it leaves part of the natural sugar of the grapes in the wine. This is the production method of Recioto di Soave, an extremely elegant and pleasant dessert wine.
It is the perfect companion for shortcrust desserts or typical Italian Christmas cakes such as Pandoro and Panettone or, for contrast, with savory or blue cheeses such as Gorgonzola.
You can also found Soave in sparkling versions (Soave spumante), either charmat or classic method.
A wine tour in Soave cellars can also include a visit to the famous middle age castle and village.
Soave castle was built by the Scala, the ruling family of Verona, in the 1300s, on the remains of a previous fortress that had been build on the remains of a Roman watch tower from first century b.C.
The castle is a very typical middle age military building with high towers, battlements, walls, draw bridges, old armors and everything you would expect to find in such a building.
From its keep you will enjoy a breathtaking panorama over the valleys and the endless vineyards of Soave.
Soave wine and castle tours
Contact us for further information on wine tasting tours in Soave and visits of the castle and middle age village.