Thursday, April 12, 2012

Meeting the Winemakers of the Soavecru Association in the Palazzo Vescovile in Monteforte d’Alpone, Soave, Italy

Pictures: The Members of the Soavecru Association in the Palazzo Vescovile in Monteforte d’Alpone

Following the EWBC 2011 in Brescia, I went with a number of fellow-bloggers on a day trip to Soave, guided by Elisabetta Tosi. We visited 3 wineries – Balestri Valda, Coffele and Cantina Sociale di Soave and met a group of winemaker –Soavecru in the Palazzo Vescovile in Monteforte d’Alpone, where we had lunch with them and tasted their wines. This posting is about the lunch and the wine tasting with the Soavecru group.

Picture: Christian G.E. Schiller with Elisabetta Tosi in Brescia

This is the fourth in a series of postings on Soave:

Blogging, Wining and Dining at the European Wine Bloggers Conference (#EWBC) October 2011 in Brescia, Italy – A Tour D’ Horizont

Wining and Blogging in the Soave Region, Italy

Visiting Balestri Valda in Soave, Italy

Forthcoming postings include:

A Visit of Cantina di Soave, Soave, Italy

How Ricioto di Soave is Made

The Soave Zone

Soave is a white wine produced in the surrounding area of the fascinating middle age villages of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone, between the picturesque cities of Venice and Verona in the eastern part of the province of Verona in Italy’s Veneto region.

The majority of the vineyards are in the hills. Beautiful centuries-old castles, churches, bell towers, and aristocratic villas are all part of the rich history and traditions of this area, and indicative of the region’s principal product, Soave wines. There are about 3000 growers and 120 wineries, ranging from boutique producers making wine from tiny plots to a few large cooperatives, which make credible wine at attractive prices.

Many of the vineyards are comprised of basalt rock or volcanic stone, which explains the minerality in the wines, while other sites are more dominated by calcaire (limestone). Given the excellent drainage of hillside vineyards, yields are naturally low, which provides more deeply concentrated wines which can age for many years.

Soave has developed a reputation of producing simple, crisp wines which pair very well with Italian but also other food. Soave wines tend to have low acid. It is one of the top selling wines in Italy, exported all over the world.

The prevailing grape is the Garganega, the fifth most planted white grape in Italy. Soave must contain at least 70 percent of Garganega, and the rest can be Trebbiano, but Chardonnay and Pinot Bianco are also allowed.

Classification of Soave Wines

All Soave wines – as all Italian wines – belong to one of the following 4 quality levels.

(1) Vino da Tavola (VDT): A very basic wine, made for local consumption; the bottle label does not indicate the region or grape variety. This is the wine you typically get served in a Pizzeria or Trattoria in Italy, when you ask for the “house wine”. Simple, cheap and decent. I can tell, sitting late in the evening at a Piazza in Soave and eating Pizza with a Vino da Tavola, served in a 1 liter jug, is just great.

(2) Indicazione Geografica Tipica (IGT): Wines that are considered to be of higher quality than simple table wines, but which do not conform to DOC and DOCG regulations. In the case of Soave, the label would only indicate the region, Veneto. So, you would not recognize it as a Soave. Sometimes, these are premium wines of winemakers who dropped the DOC/DOCG designation and instead carry the broader Veneto IGT designation, allowing them to try to improve quality by using nontraditional grapes, blends, viticultural practices or vinification techniques that are not allowed under the DOC and DOCG standards.

 (3) Denominazione di Origine Controllata (DOC). Soave is currently the largest DOC appellation in Italy, with 15,500 acres of vines. There is Soave DOC and Soave Classico DOC. Soave Classico DOC can only come from the Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone communes. The Soave zone produces approximately 40 million bottles of Soave DOC wine every year and 15 million Soave Classico DOC wine.

(4) Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita (DOCG). DOCG wines are a tick higher in terms of quality requirements than DOC wines (maximum yield for example), which is the highest category in Italy's wine-classification system. About 13,000 acres of vine of the 15,500 acres of the DOC appellation also qualify for DOCG.

There are 2 Soave DOCG appellations: The Soave Superiore DOCG and the Recioto di Soave DOCG.
The Soave Superiore DOCG production zone is in the hillside sites, outside of the communes of Soave and Monteforte d’Alpone. If aged for a minimum of 2 years, the wine can be labeled as Riserva.

Second, there is Recioto di Soave DOCG, which can come as Bianco (normale), Classico (from the classical zone) and Spumante. These are sweet-style straw wines, where the grapes are dried indoors in open plastic containers for from four to six months, during which they lose over 50% of their moisture, followed by a long, slow fermentation, often in small barrels.

Straw wines are typically sweet wines, capable of long life, but do not have to be sweet. For example, the straw wines from the blend of red wine grapes typical of Valpolicella can come as dry or sweet: If fermentation is complete, the result is a (dry) Amarone della Valpolicella; if fermentation is incomplete, the result is a (sweet) Recioto della Valpolicella. Fermentation may stop for several reasons including high alcohol.

Wine Tasting and Lunch with the Wine Makers of the Soavecru Association in the Palazzo Vescovile in Monteforte d’Alpone

We stopped in Monteforte d’Alpone for lunch with the Soavecru members and a tasting of their wines. Soavecru is an association of 16 small producers. The time we spent with the Soavecru producers was exceptionally memorable, because of the music, the wines and the food.

Pictures: Monteforte d’Alpone


What is Soavecru? From the material which was distributed: “Soavecru stands for terroir. Each producer participates in the project only with his or her finest vineyards, those situated in the hillier areas of the Soave Classico and Colli Scaligeri subzones, with the aim of establishing a new image for the denomination. The association’s primary objective is to highlight these vineyards’ special characteristics, so as to push for a more favorable perception of Soave wine and also promote greater segmentation of the Soave wines. 

Ours is a new approach because we have chosen to create a strong synergy between small producers who are united by a love for their area. We wish to transmit the passion and quality that we put into our work which, over the course of time, has given added value and significance to the Denomination. Moreover, our desire is to pass on a healthy, well-conserved environment to our children. We want to demonstrate, through everyday operations which are open to all, that one can adopt practices in both the vineyard and winery which are ever more environment-conscious. ”

What are the ingredients of Soavecru’s formula? They are: only estate-owned vineyards in top-quality areas; only methods with little or no impact on the environment; lots of research in the winery, in order to reduce the use of additives as much as possible; and lots of education and training in order to perfect the new model of Soave. The real secret of the members’ recipe, though, is in sharing their experiences, so as to create a team spirit that has never really existed before in the zone.”

Piano Music 

When we entered the amazing Palazzo Vescovile in Monteforte d’Alpone, we were greeted by fantastic piano music.

Pictures: Palazzo Vescovile in Monteforte d’Alpone

Lunch with Soavecru Members

We then had lunch with the Soavecru members. It was delicious. I had several plates of risotto, which was of a taste that at least I do not get often.

Pictures: Lunch with the Soavecru Members

Walk Around Wine Tasting

We had a chance to meet the Soavecru members and taste their wines. I talked a bit with Allessandro Danese from Corte Moschina. Corte Moshina produces about 80.000 bottles of wine annually, of which about 50% is exported to the US.

Pictures: Christian G.E. Schiller with Allessandro Danese from Corte Moschina.

Soavecru Members

Here is a complete list of the members of the Saovecru Association.

Balestri Valda
Via Monti, 44
37038 - Soave - Verona
045 7675393

Corte Adami
Via Circonvallazione Aldo Moro, 32
37038 - Soave - Verona - Italia
Tel. e Fax +39 045 7680423

Corte Mainente
Viale della Vittoria, 45
37038 - Soave - Verona – Italia
Tel/Fax: 045 7680303

Corte Moschina
Via Moschina, 1
37030 - Roncà - Verona
Tel: 045 7460788

El Vegro
Via Santa Croce, 105
37032 - Monteforte d'Alpone - Verona
Tel: 0456100807

Gini Sandro e Claudio
Via Giacomo Matteotti, 42
37032 - Monteforte d'Alpone - Verona
Tel: 045 7611908

Le Mandolare
Via Sambuco, 180
37030 - Brognoligo di Monteforte - Verona
Tel. +39 045 6175083

via San Lorenzo, 89
37038 - Soave - VR - ITALIA
Tel. +39 045 7680347

Portinari Umberto e Maria
Via Santo Stefano, 2
37030 - Brognoligo di Monteforte - VR
Tel: 0456175087

Soc. Agr. Fattori Giovanni
Via Olmo, 6
Terrossa di Roncà - Verona
Tel. +39 045 7460041

Tenuta di Corte Giacobbe "Dal Cero"
Via Moschina, 11
37030 - Roncà – VR
Tel. +39 045 7460110

Tenuta Solar di Bolla Egidio
Via Dante, 125/a
Monteforte D Alpone - Verona
Tel. 045 6100050

Terre dei Monti
Via Micheletti, 28
37032 - Monteforte d'Alpone - Verona
Tel. 045 6175469

Vicentini Emanuele e Agostino
Via Cesare Battisti, 62
37030 - Colognola ai Colli - Verona
Tel. 0457650539

Villa Canestrari
Via Dante Broglio, 2
37030 - Colognola ai Colli – Verona
Tel. +39 045.7650074

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