Food & Drink

September 2, 2015

Pieropan Soave

Let’s talk Soave.
Soave is a town in Italy’s Veneto region near Verona. Soave is also the name of a DOC and Superiore DOCG, Italy’s top wine demarcation. (Certification falls into three categories of strictness, DOCG, being the most strict, DOC, common wines, and IGT, table wine. Seeing these letters on the label of your wine bottle means that the wine producers follow certain regulations to make that wine).

Soave is a style of wine and also the region from which it comes. Soave is a dry white Italian wine from the Veneto region in northeast Itay. Garganega is the principal grape variety with Trebbiano di Soave/Verdicchio, Pinot Bianco, and Chardonnay permitted in certain percentages.

Ghosts from the past.
The American mainstream 1970s Soave, some of which was sold in heavy duty glass jugs popularized the wine but bastardized the name and the true style of Soave wine. Due to the heavy-duty marketing and advertising efforts of the 70s, those of a certain age certainly remember the late night Soave Bolla wine commercials, before, during, and after the Saturday night 9 -11pm Love Boat/Fantasy Island run, ”There are almost as many people in love with Soave Bolla as there are people in love”.  Maybe. Maybe not. But it sure was a romantic notion.

Common Italian white imports, Pinot Grigio vs. Soave.
Pinot Grigio is a mild mannered, non-descript wine. Soave has layers of depth and flavor along with mouth-puckering, lip-smacking acidity.

The resurgence of Soave.
Everything in life is cyclical. Good and bad. Soave wine (in the USA)  is an underdog, one of the sleeper hits of white wines. If you know and understand your Soave, it is crisp, acidic, exciting, and inviting. Getting away from the mass produced jug wines, Soave wine has much to offer, if you just give it a chance. Case in point, Pieropan wines.

Soave today.
I had lunch recently with Dario Pieropan of Pieropan winery in Italy and tasted through a flight of Soave.The Pieropan business was founded in 1880 in the heart of the medieval village of Soave, in the historic Palazzo Pullici. Five generations marked the history of the company, each with their own contributions which varied according to the times, knowledge and entrepreneurial attitude. This is Soave with history. The intertwining of vines continues to be the lifeblood that fuels the Pieropan style and mission. The fifth-generation leaflets have blossomed, fueled by deep roots and solid, well established branches. Nino Pieropan took over from his father in 1970, and was the first to make a single vineyard wine, Calvarino, in 1971. In 1999, the Pieropan family bought a property in Cellore d’Illasi, in the Valpolicella production area and planted it with vines. Nino’s two sons, Andrea and Dario, now work with him and his wife, Teresita continuing the legacy of Pieropan.

Behind the brand.
When you meet the person behind the brand, behind the product it becomes all the more intriguing. While I am partial to crisp, acidic white wines, the opportunity to meet the winemaker, and taste through a flight of his wines was an invitation I certainly was not going to turn down. Pieropan lived up to its centuries long reputation of fine quality and delivering Soave wines at affordable prices.


Pieropan Calvarino is a single-vineyard Soave from the eponymous hillside vineyard in the heart of the Soave Classico zone. A blend with 70% Garganega, and 30% Trebbiano di Soave. Calvarino is a traditionally characteristic wine from the Soave area with its straw yellow-gold hue, the wine has an abundant bouquet and is suggestively fragrant of white peach, elderflower, roasted nuts and honey. On the palate, the wine has tremendous depth and refreshing acidity, with understated minerality giving the wine a pleasingly long and balanced finish.
Pieropan La Rocca is the Pieropan family’s celebrated single-vineyard Soave from the nominative La Rocca vineyard on the Monte Rocchetta hill in the Soave Classico zone. La Rocca is the  richest Soave in the Pieropan portfolio, the wine is made from 100% Garganega grapes. La Rocca is shines with a brilliant, intense yellow, hinting of gold. The wine’s elegant aromas are exotic fruits, white flowers, peach, melon, and honey. Rich on the palate, with well balanced oak, La Rocca shows off hints of toast, peach and rich, creamy nutty flavors. With a lengthy finish La Rocca ends on a mineral note.
Soave Classico is the youngest wine in the Pieropan collection, the DOC Soave Classico is made from fruit grown in the Pieropan family’s vineyards in the Soave and Soave Classico zones, the blend is 85% Garganega and 15% Trebbiano di Soave. Soave Classico opens with aromas almond, marzipan, white peach and honeysuckle. On the palate, the wine’s crisp acidity highlights the flavors of toasted nuts, lemon zest, and apricot. Well balanced, the persistent finish of the wine ends harmoniously with a spry minerality.

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One Comment

  1. Great article on Soave. Pieropan is one of my favorites. The wine is now being made by the son who is trying to combine innovation with tradition and I think he is doing so very well!

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