If I were to say – “Name an Italian White Wine?” The most common answer will be either Pinot Grigio or Soave, or indeed both.
Much like the Chardonnays of Australia and the medium-bodied wines of Germany, Italian white wines have suffered the negative effects over the years of higher and higher demand versus the need for lower yields and higher quality.
Had you asked me in my early wine drinking days what white wine I would choose, I would almost certainly name a bottle of pale, light and effortless Pinot Grigio, or even perhaps the box of Soave kept in my Mother’s fridge at home.
On a very basic level, we measure the quality of a wine based on two things:
- Complexity of the nose i.e. how much can you smell….specific fruits, floral notes etc.
- Length of the finish i.e. After taking a sip of a wine, for how long can you still taste (and enjoy!) it afterwards
These two things unfortunately summed up the quality, or rather lack of, of a rising amount of white wine coming out of Italy and flooding the British market for a long time.
You might think that this was all very negative for the wine world; however, in my opinion this is not so – Without these more subtle, mass-produced wines, where would we begin? No young drinker picks up a glass of full-bodied, oak-aged Burgundian Chardonnay and falls in love with wine on the first taste. It is in the fact the better-known wines of Pinot Grigio and Soave, the paler, lighter, more subtle versions of their true selves, which are the wines that form our building blocks for a lifetime of white wine appreciation.
Italy has more indigenous grape varieties than any other country in the world; Hundreds of different vitis vinifera grown in countless regions and sub regions from the very North to the very south of the country. The Italians, much like the Spanish, produce their wines to accompany their foods, packed full of acidity and bursting with fruit flavours. Getting a wine to match, olive oil, tomatoes, balsamic vinegar etc. requires a wine with a bit of backbone, with enough acidity to really make your mouth water.
Here at The Bench, both our Soave & our Pinot Grigio probably draw more comments than any other white wines for two main reasons: Firstly, when I tell customers that we have a lovely Soave available by the glass, I am accused of the use of an oxymoron and invariably scoffed at (until they try it, of course!). Secondly, it is because these wines are both on our list at over £20 per bottle. This is not greed, nor stupidity, but a pure indication of the quality of these wines. They are the epitome of what wonderful glasses these two grapes can produce when made with care and passion and when the true character of the grape is allowed it’s ‘chance to shine’. These are the Pinot Grigio and the Soave that Italy loves to drink and to produce and for us to enjoy as they were designed to be.
This week I have decided to do an ‘Ode to Soave’ and have selected it as my Wine of the Week. Produced by Cantina di Monteforte, this is a Soave Superiore, it sings of aromatics with blossom and almond notes, with a rounded, honeyed palate and refreshing, citrus-peel bursts.
Come in and see us in Ramsgate, or our New Store in The Courtyard @ Mersham Le Hatch, nr Ashford and have a glass or indeed a bottle of this true Italian Classic White Wine at 25% off for this week only, down to £16.46!
See you soon!