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Soave: A Market Failure Means Great Values

Soave: A Market Failure Means Great Values

The wine world is full of market failures. Look at Beaujolais. Its reputation was destroyed after decades of George Dubeouf and Beaujolais Nouvelles acting as the face of the region. Now even great wines from the likes of Foillard sell for under $50, a fraction of the equivalent quality from Burgundy or Barolo. Buy whatever Foillard you can.

But today’s article is about a different region that has suffered exactly the same fate: Soave.
Soave is an historic wine region of Veneto. You can think of it as the white wine version of Valpolicella or Amarone: same part of Italy, but white wine instead of red.

There was a moment in time – 1980s maybe? – when Soave was a bit like the Pinot Grigio of today, or the Pouilly Fuissé of yesterday. It was the generic white wine of the moment that ended up taking over grocery store shelves and it became your glass pour at the local dive bar. Oceans of industrially produced Soave followed the demand – made from the region’s flatlands and not the precious limestone-rich slopes – and inevitably a bad reputation quickly followed. Today, most people continue to think of Soave as a simple, uninteresting white wine.

But Soave also has its share of Foillards – a handful of producers who make great wines from top terroirs using traditional or enlightened methods, usually both. Pieropan may be the best of them. Among their lineup are two singe-vineyard bottlings from the heart of the Soave Classico zone, where old vines grow in volcanic soils at fairly high altitudes.

2021 was an especially good vintage for white wine, just about everywhere in Europe, and certainly in the Veneto. We have both releases for you today, and as the Vinous reviews below confirm, they are beautiful white wines.

Pieropan Soave Classico Calvarino 2021 - $38.99
Eric Guido (Vinous): "There's something especially spicy and enticing about the 2021 Soave Classico Calvarino. White smoke and honeyed floral aromas give way to ground ginger and crushed green apples. It's deeply textural, nearly oily, and young peach nuances swirl throughout. Residual acids keep you returning to the glass as zesty yellow citrus offsets liquid stone through the youthfully tense finale. This is an absolutely stunning performance for Calvarino, and as primary as it is today, I can't help but pour another glass. The 2021 was matured entirely in glass-lined cement tanks for one year. The 2021 Calvarino is a powerful terroir representation.94pts."

Pieropan Soave Superiore La Rocca 2021 - $48.99
Eric Guido (Vinous): "The 2021 Soave Superiore La Rocca seduces, flaunting its rich bouquet of confectionary spice and sweet oak before coming further into focus with baked apple and chamomile notes. This is elegance personified, opulent at first and then decidedly savory and precise, with crisp orchard fruits flowing across a saline-tinged, acidic core. The 2021 finishes with dramatic length, staining the palate in youthful concentration as zesty citrus combines with dried apricot and peach. This is an especially decedent vintage for La Rocca, yet the balance is something to behold. It was refined for one year in a mix of 2000- and 500-liter Slavonian oak barrels. 93pts."


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