A few weeks ago, I received a couple of samples of Italian wines: A bottle of Prosecco and one of Soave. I have said on this blog before that I am not all that familiar with Italian wines (particularly on the white end of the spectrum) so I was excited to give them a try.
The first was a Mionetto Brut Prosecco. Despite being a bit of a Champagne snob, I have been coming around to Prosecco more and more lately. In part, this is due to the seemingly never ending rise of the price of Champagne—there was a time not too long ago that now could find a very good bottle of Non-Vintage Brut for under $25. Those days are gone, it seems. There has also, at least in my opinion, been a noticeable uptick in the quality of Prosecco. What used to be a rather pedestrian bubbly alternative has become a legitimate (and far less expensive option) for those looking to inject a little sparkle in their life.
This wine comes from one of the larger producers of Prosecco, who curiously still uses “prosecco” as the grape variety used in production. (Back in 2000, the region officially recognized “Glera” as the grape variety used to make Prosecco. Up until that point, the grape was commonly called “Prosecco” but the change occurred in order to protect the integrity of the DOC–they did not want someone being able to call their wine “Prosecco” simply by using the grape). Prosecco is made using a different process, called the Charmat Method, where the second fermentation takes place in stainless steel vats rather than in the bottle (as is the case with the Champagne or Traditional Method).
Mionetto Brut Prosecco: Retail $13. I do not drink a bunch of Prosecco, and I am not exactly sure why–it might have something to do with my love for Champagne and the fact that Prosecco goes through a different process (OK, that sounds a bit prejudicial—so pretty much a stupid reason). This wine had a nice nutty nose with traces of citrus. On the palate, the nuttiness persists and there is some very nice acidity with a touch of orange peel, which was surprising. All in all, a nice Prosecco, certainly for the price. Very Good. 86-88 Points.
For a long time, I never really “got” Italian white wines. I guess I adopted this position from a good friend of mine (that is even more of a French wine snob than am I–if you can imagine that). For me, most of the Italian whites I have tried have either been rather fat and flabby–lacking the acidity necessary to allow them to be rather serious food wines. Or, they have been utterly devoid of flavor and personality (see my rant on Pinot Grigio). Now I know this is a vast (and perhaps unfair) generalization of the white wines of Italy. I have had some notable exceptions (the wines of Jermann in the Friuli come to mind right away), but since I buy the overwhelming majority of the wines that I drink, I have just avoided Italian whites altogether (of the 1600 wines currently in my cellar, exactly two bottles are white wines from Italy–they are both from the aforementioned Jermann).
Thus, it was with a fair amount of trepidation that I approached the second wine, a bottle of Soave, a white wine from the Veneto region in Northern Italy, near Verona. Garganega is the main variety used in the production of Soave, and although there is a bit of blending allowed with other varieties (mostly Trebbiano di Soave, better known as Verdicchio), the Rocca Sveva is 100% Garganega.
2012 Rocca Sveva Soave Classico: Retail $16. Like the Prosecco, I do not have had a ton of experience with Soave either. The nose initially was quite tropical–with even a bit of banana and guava. On the palate, the acidity was impressive, balancing out the tropics. On the finish, there was a bit of chalkiness, but that aside, I liked the wine–I should go out and grab a bit more…. Very Good. 87-89 Points.
All in all, I was quite impressed with my (very) little foray into Italian white wines. This has certainly helped chip away at some of the prejudices I have held since my years leading bike trips around Europe. If these two are any indication, I certainly will be not so quick to judge (at least when it comes to Italian bubbles and white wines–I reserve the right to be overly judgmental in all other aspects of my life).