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Pieropan
Soave

To dismiss the whole of Soave as innocuous easy drinking would be a mistake. Whilst it's true the region was over-exploited in the '70s with a huge increase in quantity, at the expense of quality, there are some very serious Soaves and perhaps none more so than those of historic producer Pieropan.

90% of Soave comes from the local co-operative, with vineyards on the fertile plains of the regular Soave zone. Pieropan is unusual in that most of their wine is single vineyard and is all from the more favourable hillside Soave Classico zone. Their 7ha Calvarino vineyard has been bottled separately since 1971, which they believe makes it one of Italy's earliest single-vineyard wines. Their 6ha La Rocca vineyard was added in 1978 as it's limestone and clay soils contrasted with the (more typical for the region) volcanic soils of Calvarino.

A vertical tasting, in 2016, attended by Jancis Robinson MW demonstrated just how serious and indeed age-worthy they can be. Tasting back to the 1986 vintage, she awarded many of the wines drinking windows that would see them age for 10-20 years. Despite world-wide acclaim, these wines remain incredible value and I can't recommend them highly enough. The three Soaves offered here are all available for immediate delivery so why not give them a go?
2018 Soave La Rocca 
Certified Organic
100% Garganega
120 bot @ £110 per 6, in bond (£148.07 inc duty & VAT)

'La Rocca' is golden yellow in the glass, with intense, concentrated perfumes that follow through to the palate. Classic La Rocca aromas of nuts and exotic fruits lead to an elegant and beautifully balanced palate, with notes of spice and a long finish. The long finish has a light mineral edge.


 

The grapes were grown in the vineyard of 'La Rocca', which takes its name from the adjacent medieval castle and fortress ("La Rocca") that dominate the town of Soave, just east of Verona. The soil in La Rocca is unique in Soave in that it is a limestone outcrop (the same soil as in Valpolicella Classico) in a sea of basalt. Because of this soil, the family feels they get sufficient ripeness in the Garganega to make a wine solely from this variety.

After gentle, whole-bunch pressing, there was a short period of maceration on the skins followed by fermentation at 20ºC in stainless steel tanks and 500 litre oak casks. 60% of the wine remained in 500-litre oak casks while the remaining 40% was aged in 2,000 litre 'botti' or large barrels for one year. The wine was then aged for four months in bottle before release.

 

2018 Soave Calvarino 
Certified Organic
70% Garganega , 30% Trebbiano di Soave
120 bot @ £83 per 6, in bond (£115.67 inc duty & VAT)

The ‘Calvarino’ is pale straw yellow in colour, with youthful hues turning golden with age. Fresh, floral aromas with elderflower, lemon and cherry. The palate is dry, well balanced and elegant, with tremendous length and finesse.



 

 

The Calvarino vineyard is located in the north-west zone of the Soave Classico area and has been owned by the Pieropan family since 1901. It takes its name, 'little Calvary', from the steepness of the slope and the difficulty this presents in working the vineyard. It has basalt soil that is typical in this part of Soave and is planted with Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave. The vines are between 30 and 60 years old and are planted 200 to 300 metres above sea level, at a density of 3,000 vines per hectare. The vineyards are farmed organically.

The Garganega gives structure and acidity to the wines; the Trebbiano di Soave gives perfume and richness of flavour. There are usually at least two passes through the vineyard to ensure the grapes are picked at the best possible stage of ripeness. The Trebbiano di Soave grapes were picked in mid-September and the Garganega in October. The grapes were destemmed and crushed, the free-run juice was fermented at controlled temperatures of 16 -18°C. Calvarino was not aged in oak but remained on its fine lees in glass-lined cement tanks for a year, adding complexity and depth to the final wine. It remained in bottle for a few months before release.

2018 Soave Classico 
Certified Organic
85% Garganega , 15% Trebbiano di Soave
240 bot @ £104 per 12, in bond (£156.94 inc duty & VAT)

This is a fresh and expressive Soave, with classic aromas of white flowers, almond blossoms, marzipan and a touch of citrus. Rounded, ripe fruit is perfectly balanced by a fresh, clean acidity. Long and fragrant, it has a note of fine, almond pastry on the finish.


 

The soil is clay-basalt and volcanic in origin. Yields are low and the vines are south facing. The fruit comes from hillside vineyards (100 - 300 metres above sea level) in the heart of the Soave Classico area. The grapes are grown organically without the use of pesticides or chemicals.

The Trebbiano di Soave grapes were hand picked from mid-September, while the Garganega grapes were picked later in October. The grapes were destemmed and crushed, with the free run juice fermented separately between 14-18°C in glass-lined cement tanks. The wine remained on its fine lees for a period of time, which varies according to the vintage. In the spring following the harvest, the wine was bottled and then released after at least a further month in bottle.

Winter in the Veneto was colder than normal, and April and May were also relatively cool. This delayed bud burst by 10-12 days compared to the 2018 vintage. June saw heat waves which presented some challenges in the vineyard. Fortunately, timely rainfall prevented hydric stress and the fruit ripened consistently.

Pieropan's estate covers 58 hectares of vineyard which are situated on the stony hills of Soave Classico. The Pieropan family has been producing wines in Soave since the 1890s. Indeed, they were the first producer to bottle a wine with the name Soave on the label in the early 1930s. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970 and was the first producer in Soave to make a single-vineyard wine, 'Calvarino', in 1971. Nino's two sons, Andrea and Dario, took over the running of the estate in 2017 when Nino fell ill and before he passed away in April 2018. From the 2015 vintage onwards, all Pieropan wines are organically certified.

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