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Rethinking Soave

Soave is a wine with an image problem. In the bad old days for Italian wines, mass-produced Soave lurked on the bottom shelf of supermarket Italian wine fixtures at very low prices, and correspondingly low quality levels. For such wines, neutrality was an asset.

But just as regions such as Chianti and Valpolicella have enjoyed a resurgence in interest in (and the quality of) their wines, so has Soave. Increasingly, the best wines are highly sought-after, and justifiably so.

The Soave region is located to the east of Verona, on the gentle slopes of the Lessini Hills (also home to Valpolicella). As with other famous Italian DOCs is centered on a ‘Classico’ zone that is Soave’s heartland and where the majority of the finest wines come from. Soave is the spiritual home of the Garganega variety, and although it is commonly blended with Trebbiano it is Garganega that provides Soave with its most distinctive wines.

The best wines have a texture that is soft and creamy but with a pleasant freshness, with aromas of flowers, minerals and apples. Some producers use a limited amount of oak ageing, as well as extended lees contact, to enhance the complexity of their wines, which may come from late-picked grapes to increase richness.

We do receive a small allocation from Pieropan, probably Soave’s most respected producer, which disappears very quickly (and rightly so – it’s fantastic), but the wine you should be seeking out at your local store at the moment is the Soave Classico from Inama. Made from 100% Garganega, there’s a lovely balance of freshness and complexity. I enjoy it as a treat with summery salads; it would go down a storm at an al fresco dinner party. There’s 20% off when you buy any 2 bottles of Italian wine this summer, bringing this down from £12.49 to £9.99 – it’s more than a match for, say, an equivalent priced white Burgundy.