Importance of labels – Soave Classico

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At this time of the year wine labels become very important commercially. Hence we see Chablis, Chateauneuf du Pape, Sancerre, Rioja and champagne at ‘discounted’ prices – many of which are but poor representations of their styles. Labels can also work the other way, i.e. we link poor wines, probably last tasted years ago, to the label name – and Soave is one of those. This west central Italian area has, over the years, produced some very characterless and flabby wines – but this wine was their antithesis. It was a Soave Classico, La Rocca 2010 from Pieropan (WS £20). The dominant grape is the very prolific (therein lies the ‘flabby’ problem) Gargenaga, an old Greek grape which is the ancestor of many other Mediterranean varieties.

This wine had a deep yellow colour but was beautifully clear with some evidence of viscosity (13% ABV). the nose was not particularly obvious and certainly not distinctive apart from having some acidity.

However, the palate was notable for its long dry finish and balance of acidity and richness with white stone fruits and some nuttiness, probably coming from the ageing. There was a slight sweetness which made it a lovely wine to drink unaccompanied. This was an excellent white wine, and one to belie the poor associations of its label.

I notice that Waitrose are doing a Soave Classico for about £14; that would be worth a try and certainly more interesting than the glut of Christmas/New Year Sauvignons.

[Richard: years ago Soave was the Pinot Grigio of it’s day. For some reason I always hear ‘a bottle of your finest Soave, signore’ whenever I see the word. Some old sitcom – Tony Hancock perhaps? Anyway the grape is not renown for producing great wine – unless you drink that produced by Pieropan, reckoned to be the finest in Italy, with ageing potential as well. I was reminded of an Alsace reisling, albeit with a different taste. Similar mouthfeel, sweet hint, length. Classy wine which I’d like to try at, say, 10 years old.]

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