Soave Classico: Italian Wine Basics

Italy is a country formed by 20 administrative regions, among which a plethora of DOC and DOCG areas can be distinguished, often overlapping one another across regional boundaries.

Despite this, three administrative regions produce so many quality wines that they have become kinds of wine regions, too. Manual pdf They are Tuscany, Piedmont, and Veneto (though Sicily and Friuli-Venezia Giulia are rising). Manual pdf

Soave Classico


In Veneto, there are two main poles of wine production: Conegliano and Valdobbiadene area, where they produce Prosecco sparkling wine, on the one hand, and, on the other hand, the province of Verona, where they… well’ it’s a little more complex, that’s why some WSET students tend to make confusion about the wines produced in this area.

Suppose we use the word “region” to state both an administrative area and a wine region. In that case, we should invent the expression “wine province” because, in the administrative province of Verona, a variety of typical wines are produced, among which four DOCGs: two red wines (Amarone Della Valpolicella and Bardolino Superiore), one white wine and a sweet wine “derived” from it, and namely they are Soave Superiore and Recioto di Soave.

Soave is a small town with a fascinating medieval castle 20 kilometers as the crow flies to the east of Verona. Still, this word, to Italian speakers, also means “pleasing,” “delicate,” and “gratifying.” And so wines from Soave Classico are.

Soave Superiore DOCG

Soave is a local white wine mainly made of Garganega grape variety, which is typical of Italy, being spread more or less all over the country, where it takes different names (for instance, Grecanico in Sicily), and has shown to have a close genetic relationship with many other Italian autochthonous varieties.

The mandatory minimum quantity of Garganega in the production of Soave Classico wine is 70%, and only other local typical varieties can be added: they include international, non-autochthonous varieties traditionally grown in the area, like Chardonnay and Pinot Blanc, and local Trebbiano di Soave.

Soave is a DOC Wine

Soave Superiore is a DOGC wine that is a “more typical”, “better” version of Soave. Ampelographic basis remains the same, while the area of production is limited to certain municipalities, and namely: Soave, Cazzano di Tramigna, Colognola ai Colli, Illasi, Lavagno, Mezzane di Sotto, Montecchia di Crosara, Monteforte d’Alpone, Roncà, San Giovanni Ilarione, and San Martino Buon Albergo. Only local typical growing systems are allowed and the yield is reduced.

Soave Superiore DOCG can only be marketed after September the 1st of the year after its harvest.

Recioto di Soave Classico DOCG

Recioto di Soave is a sweet straw wine made from the grape varieties used in Soave Superiore and produced in the same area.

Its name comes from the word “recia,” meaning “ear” in the local dialect. The “ears” of the bunch are its “wings,” in other words, the upper, sparser part of the cluster, in which grapes better mature in the sun. Manual pdf

Bunches are left dry on special lattices for about 20 weeks after being chosen carefully, with stalks removed. Manual pdf Then, they are pressed and left slowly fermenting to let part of the sugars contained in must remain in the wine instead of being turned into alcohol by yeasts.

As it happens with Soave Superiore DOCG, Recioto di Soave DOCG can also be marketed only after September the 1st of the year after its harvest.

Is Soave Classico a Sommelier Wine?

This wine has been derided as lower quality and high-volume wine in the past. While that reputation still mars its acceptance in the finer restaurants, the wine itself can be phenomenal. Manual pdf Manual pdf Some producers offer amphora-aged bottles, and other winemaking purists make biodynamic single-vineyard offerings. Despite its former lousy reputation, Soave Classico is making a comeback with Master Sommeliers and others. Come back and read more of our Italian Wine Basics series.

Italian Wine Basics: Sommelier Perspective on Soave Classico
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