Week 17 – Garganega

Tasting Notes

We tasted: Vigneti di Foscarino Soave Classico 2014 – £19.99

Emma says: “In case we haven’t made this clear yet, Garganega is Soave and vice-versa. This is another of those wines where a country decides to call the wine by its region rather than the grape. The grape Garganega is held in quite high esteem by local winemakers, who would often prefer to be working with this as their grape of choice, but have found Pinot Grigio is the king of the export market.

The broad region of Veneto has slowly replanted vineyards to Pinot Grigio. Winemakers love it so much they often sneak a little bit into the blend of Pinot Grigio without declaring it on the label, this adds a little oomph to the flavour; which is entirely legal. So get into Garganega, the locals know it’s good and so should we.

We are tasting a Soave Classico which comes from the best hillside sites for this grape. It was a last minute purchase for me because Andy and I have 24 hours together in London before travelling separately for a week. Anyway, I was gazing at the shelves of a good local supermarket and could either have gone for reasonable sub £10 or a famed fine wine producer Foscarino. 52 Grapes is the perfect excuse to go pricey. I was actually hoping to find my favourite producer Pieropan because by a sad coincidence the head of their family Nino who was a pioneer of high quality Soave died last week.  I didn’t find Pieropan but Foscarino and this still seemed a fitting tribute since Pieropan’s ethos has been all about proving the quality Soave can achieve. This producer Foscarino certainly champions that. It can be a wine with incredible complexity when produced with old vines and a little age – move over Burgundy.

So to this wine. It did display what I hoped. Lets think of the typical Northern Italian white which I hated when blind tasting for my Master of Wine exams; like Veneto Pinot Grigio. They are bone dry, only gently aromatic and subtle to taste on the palate – so very difficult to detect between each other. But then if you get a good grape like Garganega and give it a little age it entirely changes. Here I get a lovely honeysuckle syrup aroma, overlaying a sorrel herby note, then gentle lime blossom, to taste there is a mild tarragon flavour giving it that herby appeal and light lemon lozenge sweetness. There is a richness and texture not typical of the simple everyday Soave that adds a dimension. This old vine concentration and possibly a producer also using lees contact to add texture. All in all it shows why I get excited by mature Italian whites as much as French. But a word of warning, this is only true of top Soave, Fruili or Collio producers where whites are typically aged to create these styles.

And if you tasted a slightly less pricey Soave Classico I really hoped you found what I like to say is true of those styles. It is like taking a Pinot Grigio and making it more interesting. Just a touch more limey, zesty and herbal but still crisp and dry and refreshing. Lets start a renaissance of Garganega lovers. I know the grape doesn’t sound pretty but it tastes pretty good.”

Andy says: “It’s going to be quite a struggle to review this, as I tasted it 5 days ago and didn’t make any notes. I’ve since flown 5000 miles, been attacked by squadrons of mosquitos and have a swollen arm from an allergic reaction.

The one thing I clearly remember is the colour of the wine, which was a deep yellow, similar to what I would describe as ‘hangover p*ss’. Apparently it’s age that does it. To the wine that is. Moving swiftly on from that image, I also remember that I definitely liked this wine – bursting with flavour and at the right level of sweetness for me. Emma then informs me it’s actually ‘bone dry’, so I guess I’m tasting the richness and mistaking it for sweetness. Clearly, I’m not learning a thing.”

Buying Guide

Back to the old world and we’re rediscovering another forgotten but great white grape. More commonly known as Soave, the region in the Veneto, Italy. It has been overshadowed by Pinot Grigio but to wine lovers is the superior grape with more flavour. Try to find a Soave Classico which means the grapes will come from the better hillside slopes. We will be doing the same.

6 thoughts to “Week 17 – Garganega”

  1. I managed to get my hands on a bottle of the Pieropan Soave Classico 2016 in Oddbins so it’s a shame to read that the head of the family died the same week. It had an interesting plastic screwcap (the first I’ve seen, I think) and a label announcing it was Pieropan’s 50th vintage.

    It was delicate yet aromatic with a scent of blossoms, lemon, peaches, pears and honeysuckle. It also had a hint of marzipan. To taste if was very dry with delicate flavours that were difficult of pinpoint. Lemony with a bit of tropical fruit. It had a slightly viscous oily feel to the body. There was also a vaguely weird herbyness going on in the background, almost plastic like.

    Overall it was somehow easy drinking and serious at the same time. It was nice, but I wouldn’t say it was spectacular. If I had choose between them, I’d definitely go for week 7’s Pinot Gris.

  2. Soave Classico. Thanks to @52 grapes my appreciation of wine drinking has grown, whilst my wallet is shrinking. Thanks for the recommendation to try Soave Classico which I managed to buying from M&S with 20% off. I’m going back to buy more! I have drank Soave before probably been end stuff, anyway this one had a fabulous richness and depth that I had not previously experienced before. On the nose stone fruits and spice. The palate shows tropical fruits, herbal touches and a citrus finish.
    Winner, winner, winner.

  3. Wine -Soave Classico, Lenotti Estate, 2016 (Le Bon Vin £10)
    Bottle says – learn Italian

    I’m not normally a big fan of Italian whites, but I really enjoyed this one. Slightly floral on the nose, with a touch of peach. The stone fruits continue on tasting, along with elderflower, and accompanied by a rather nice mineral quality. Quite acidic, but not off-puttingly so. We both found it really refreshing, without being too ‘zingy’ and try-hard. Lovely.

  4. I didn’t think I was going to enjoy this wine, as I thought it would be like a Pinot Grigio, uninteresting , and with little flavour or after taste
    However I really enjoyed this wine and found it fruity, slightly herby and full of flavour with a crisp light after taste. A good summer drink before a meal

  5. I pulled out the best Soave I have, Contrada Salvarenza V V Soave Classico from Gini, 2014. About 22 pounds from Justerinis.
    Smells more of flowers than fruit on the nose, but quite refined and delicate. On the day after first opening, the mid palate was quite rich, and suggestive of apples or maybe quinces. Lovely underlying acidic structure. To be picky, the finish was slightly oily and coarse, a little like gewürztraminer. But a lovely wine that I suspects needs a couple of years more in bottle to show it’s best.

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