Soave is one of the most exported Italian white wines, yet it's one that doesn’t benefit from a particularly positive image, a consequence of decades of a focus on quantity over quality.
Today, Soave is widely understood as a simple, cheap, inoffensive supermarket wine. As of last week however, people’s perception of Soave might be about to change.
After a process that started nearly 20 years ago, the Soave DOC has officially adopted a hierarchical, Burgundian-style classification system, where 'cru' sites sit at the top of the quality spectrum.
As of next vintage, these are the crus (officially called Unità Geografiche Aggiuntive) you will find on Soave labels
Castelcerino, Colombara Froscà, Fittà, Foscarino, Volpare, Tremenalto, Carbonare, Tenda, Corte Durlo, Rugate, Croce, Costalunga, Coste, Zoppega, Menini, Monte Grande, Ca’ del Vento, Castellaro, Pressoni, Broia, Brognoligo, Costalta, Paradiso, Costeggiola, Casarsa, Monte di Colognola, Campagnola, Pigno, Duello, Sengialta, Ponsarà, Roncà – Monte Calvarina.
The new DOC regulations feature 33 distinct cru areas (see box, right) that have been selected for their potential to yield grapes of superior nature.
Most of the crus, whose vineyard area covers around 40% of the entire appellation, are found on Soave’s hillsides, with 29 out of 33 located within the prized Soave Classico area.
The selection process, which started back in 2000, involved the study of a number of factors that affect fruit quality, including altitude and gradient of the hills as well as training system.
‘The approval of the crus is another great step forward for our appellation,’ commented Aldo Lorenzoni, director of the Consorzio di Tutela del Soave. ‘The place of origin of the grapes has always been a crucial part of our communication strategy.’
Soave is not the first appellation to adopt the Burgundian model outside of France. Barolo in 2010 and more recently Rioja are just two of the many wine regions that followed, or are in the process of undertaking a similar path.
But will this be enough to transform Soave's image? Soave winegrowers are certainly determined to win the sceptics over. Some 20 Soave estates will be in London on 21 June to showcase the different terroirs of the region and the wines they produce. Members of the trade can register here.
Keep an eye on your letterbox – the next issue of Imbibe is out soon. (Or, if you're not already subscribed, register here to receive it for free.) In its pages we'll be discussing how more regions and winemakers are creating a ‘cru’ model for their vineyards.