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You may remember a TV ad campaign featuring a handsome Franco Bolla telling Americans to drink more Soave. Thanks to successful marketing campaigns, mostly by larger wineries like Bolla, Soave surpassed Chianti in the 1970s as the largest-selling Italian DOC wine. By the mid-1990s Soave was producing six million cases a year, about 80% of which was being produced by the region’s local cooperative and sold in bulk to importers who then sold it under their own private labels.
With the integrity of the wines suffering from mass production, the Soave DOC finally took steps to control the quality. They created four official Soave denominations and 47 different subzones. They ruled that Soave Classico had to include at least 70% Garganega, could be blended with Trebbiano di Soave (Verdicchio) and Chardonnay, but could no longer include Trebbiano Toscano and Pinot Bianco. They also addressed the problem of excessive yields, and required a minimum alcohol level of 12%. So even though it is still confusing, the long and short of it is that the wines are better than ever before, and will hopefully once again gain favor with consumers.
One we’re particularly excited about is made by Marinella Camerani of Corte Sant’Alda. In the early 1980s, Marinella quit her job as an accountant in the family’s battery factory and moved to their five hectare farm located 13 kilometers northeast of Verona. She’s the first in her family to make wine and learned primarily by doing -- reading books, tasting lots of wine and experimenting. She traveled to Piemonte and Bordeaux, found the wines she liked, and studied how they were made.
Now she and her partner Hector farm 40 hectares, 20 of which are vineyards. She also has 600 olive trees, some cherry and walnut trees, as well as pigs, cows and other farm animals. Marinella has always farmed organically and has long worked biodynamically. Corte Sant’Alda is Demeter certified.
Back in 2008, Marinella bought an additional five hectares of land to start the Adalia label with her eldest daughter. They wanted to create a wine that would be different and less expensive than Corte Sant’Alda, one that her daughter’s friends could afford and enjoy, more fresh and easy.
The Adalia vineyards are on rolling hills, rich in soil and clay, but one meter down you’ll find limestone. Marinella planted barley in the vineyards to enrich the soil and lets the grass grow high; she doesn’t like to use manure or irrigate. They don’t control the temperature except to cool the Garganega before crushing the grapes to reduce oxidation. She lets the skins macerate for 4-6 hours and everything is done in stainless steel.
The result is a wonderful expression of Soave, pale yellow in color, with beautiful aromas of white flowers and pears and a hint of garden herbs. Fresh and lively, it’s a perfect companion for pesto pasta, asparagus with a poached egg, or a white fish like flounder. Or just enjoy it on its own while you’re sitting in the summer sun.
This is a fantastic straw hued Soave (Garganega) from the mother-daughter team at Adalia in the Veneto. Crisp and dry with a hint of grassy texture and a long mineral finish. Eben Lillie