Soave: Standing the test of time

Castello di Soave with Garganega Grapes
Rich and profound in its history, it is the new generation that is making its mark on the Soave region. It is similar to a rebirth where the old guard is trending out and the new is moving forward yet still keeping the family tradition of winemaking but with innovations. This captures the essence of Soave, which is located in the Veneto Region of northern Italy near Verona, today.

Its iconic beacon, known as the Castello di Soave signifies both the DOC and DOCG wines that this region represents. Soaring over the town of Soave it also symbolizes the wine varietals recognized in this area. Garganega is the principal grape but Trebbiano di Soave and Chardonnay are also permitted in small percentages. It acknowledges the dry still wine as well as the sparkling Spumante and the passito.

Soave was designated a DOC region in 1986. A separate Soave Superiore DOCG was created in 2001. Soave is made up of 13 municipalities and over 16,000 acres and is divided into the following 3 sub-regions. In addition to Soave DOC there is the Soave Classico Doc and the Soave Colli Scaligen DOC.

The areas soil composition is either volcanic, which is found in the eastern and central part of the region and calcareous limestone soils found in the southern and western portions. These soils drive the flavors, acidity, minerality and profiles of the Soave. The volcanic soils produce a riper more viscous and richer wine while those of the calcareous soils are floral, citric and refreshing with some chalkiness.

Soave Preview

Soave Preview Location

Discovering Soave one must realize that this is a wine that can withstand some time. When Soave is first bottled it does not represent what might be called the soul of Soave. To really appreciate the qualities of Soave it is best to let the wine sit in the bottle developing over the year after it is first released.

Filippi Vineyards View
An excellent example of a winery that has an outstanding reputation for aging Soave is Fillippi Winery. Located in the Colli Scaglieri region of Soave, the winery is housed in a 14 Century building. Colli Scaglieri is a sub area with a separate DOC. The Winery was purchased in 1920 and today is run by Filippo Filippi. Utilizing Biodynamic and organic principles are the backbone behind Filippi wine.   The soils are volcanic with black basalt and show what extremely volcanic soils impart on the grapes and wine.

Two wineries stood out on a recent visit to Soave for the 2015 preview. The first is Coffele, a Coffele drying grapesthird generation family owned winery that started to become more known when Giovanna and Giuseppe Coffele Visco met in approximately 1971 and decided to revive the family’s legacy and history of cultivating grapes and making wine by establishing the Coffele Winery. Giuseppe was a cherry producer and a teacher of Italian Literature. Giovanna’s family planted the original vineyards in 1854. They were made wine and grew grapes. Today a brother and sister team, Alberto and Chiara Coffele, runs the winery. Alberto is the winemaker and Chiara is the sales manager. The winery is situated on 25 hectares in the hills of Castelcerino di Soave. The winery is the highest and most northern vineyard in the Classico region. It was the first in the region to produce grapes from organic vines and also the first certified organic wine producer in the Soave Classico area. Alberto has a passion for horses and utilizes them in the cultivation of the vineyards.

Alberto Coffele in the Vineyards
Although young the Castel Cerino is a very fresh wine with high acidity and aromas of wet stone and bananas. The Alzari is a more innovative wine is made up of 60% pressed grapes and 40% dried making a more balanced wine with aromas of pineapple and banana. The wine is aged 10 – 12 months in oak. Showing us the quality of the wines produced from Coffele, we sampled a 2002 Ca’Vinco. With it golden color the wine was still very together. As an experiment Coffele made a 100% Garganega with no sulfites. This to held well with high acidity and good color.

Cantina Franchetto is a family winery started in 1982 and located in my most eastern Giulia Franchettoportion of Soave known as Terrossa. Terrossa also refers to the red soil of this area. It is very rich in minerals. Many of the vines are 50-60 years old. The Franchetto family roots have always been in farming but around 1936 they went from growing table grapes to wine grapes.

Today Giulia Franchetto works with her father, Antonio bringing in the feminine touch to the winery. After graduating with a degree in oenology Giulia started working at the family winery in 2012. It is not only wine that ties this family together. They are a very musical family, each playing an instrument. Perhaps this melodious aspect of the family also is imparted into the wine as if it were playing its own song.

Giulia is an example of the trend towards more woman winemakers. Giulia’s influence could be seen in the 2015 La Capelina is well balance with fresh white florals and mild citrus that brings forth a nice acidity and minerality. The wine was softer and more feminine in its delivery and texture on the palette compared to many wines samples at the 2015 Preview.

Franchetto Family with musical instruments

There were many other excellent wines presented at the 2015 Preview but these two wineries are examples of the direction Soave wine is currently moving towards in bringing a new concept to public awareness of the region. Today not only are we seeing a new generation combine traditions with innovation, a new regime that seems to be creating a rebirth of the region, women winemakers adding the feminine touch to the Garganega grape and the implementation of organic and more sustainable practices. These factors have brought a new adaptation to Soave and their wines. Soave’s growth as a wine region has moved forward by leaps and bounds since the 70s and 80s and its past connotations of selling bulk wine.