These 10 wines range from pale as moonlight to a deep honey gold. Each differs in aroma and flavor, yet all are the same--in one respect. They are all white wines from the region of Soave in the Veneto in northeastern Italy.
Soave has nothing to do with the word suave, meaning smooth and polished. But in a broader sense the word applies, because these are polished wines that you would enjoy having on your table.
You could even go all Soave and not get bored, because the wines range from big and fruity to lean and elegant to dessert wines with honeyed sweetness. There's sparkling wine too.
You'd have to give up Chardonnay though, because the lead grape for Soave is Garganega, which accounts for 94 % of the grapes planted in the region. There's a small amount of Chardonnay, but some of those vines are being pulled out.
The other grape you'll encounter is Trebbiano di Soave, which is blended with Garganega in some wines. However, there's new interest in Trebbiano and in wines that use only that grape. An example is above.
To promote the wine, the Soave Consorzio Tutela presented a Sensational Soave Master Class with two experts assigned to impart as much information as possible. They were master sommelier Evan Goldstein and (above) Giovanni Ponchia of the Consorzio. The class took place at Terroni in downtown Los Angeles.
A few facts: In 1931 Soave and Chianti became the first two geographically delimited wine production zones in Italy. Soave now has close to 100 wineries and 3,000 grape growers. Traditionally, the wine blended equal parts Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave. Now a Soave must contain at least 70% Garganega. The best wines use only this grape.
Then there are classifications within the region such as Soave DOC, which is the broadest category, Soave Classico DOC, a more limited area, and Soave Colli Scaligeri DOC (hillside wines).
A food friendly wine, Soave can pair with anything except bold, hearty dishes. "It's my al fresco go to wine," Goldstein said.
Taking a break, attendees went to a reception with appetizers accompanied by the non vintage Riondo Soave DOC Spumante "Castelforte Excelsa Brut" (above). This wine costs about $9, a terrific price when you need sparklers for a party.
Soave goes with "anything that swims, anything that clings to a rock," Goldstein said. As an example, lunch started with these skewers of calamari and shrimp. The wines were the 2014 Dal Cero Soave DOC "Corte Giacobbe" and the 2014 Fattori Soave DOC "Danieli".
To go with veal scaloppini with prosciutto, sage and roasted vegetables (above), there were two more 2013 wines, Marcato Soave Classico DOC "Monte Tenda" and Cantina di Monteforte Soave Superiore DOCG Classico "Vigneti di Castellaro."
Those names are real mouthfuls. One that I liked especially well was the 2014 Latium Morini, much easier to say. Full of bright tropical fruit flavors despite its pale color, it's a blend of 80% Garganega, 15% Trebbiano di Soave and the rest Sauvignon Blanc.
The last wine in the pre-lunch tasting was the deep golden Franchetto Recioto di Soave DOCG "Santin Dulco," so sweet it would make a lovely dessert on its own. The sweetness comes from Garganega grapes left to dry for four months, thus concentrating their juices.
Half of the 17 wines tasted that day were priced at under $20, making Soave as affordable as it is versatile.