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Soave wines are so much better than their reputation of old

John Wilson: As it became fashionable here in the 1970s and 1980s, quality plummeted. That’s no longer the case

We can blame our parents, or grandparents, for any antipathy we may feel towards Soave wine. The original wine was made from grapes painstakingly gathered from the steep volcanic slopes above the town of the same name. Then, in the 1970s and 1980s, Soave became very fashionable here, in the UK and US. At one stage it was the best-selling wine in America.

As demand grew, the production area expanded to include much of the flat fertile soils below. Here, yields were far greater, at the expense of quality, and large amounts of cheap insipid Soave flooded the market. As happened with Muscadet in France, the region suffered reputational damage and many wine consumers moved on elsewhere.

Yet throughout this turbulent period, a small group of estates with vineyards on the slopes remained faithful to the original Soave and continued to produce very high-quality wine. Most of these are labelled Soave Classico, superior to basic Soave. It is worth noting that inexpensive Soave is far better these days, as some of the large co-operatives based there improved their output.

Soave, made from a minimum of 70 per cent Garganega, usually with 30 per cent Trebbiano di Soave, is never a rich, full-bodied wine. Instead, it is subtle and elegant with lively, zesty, citrus acidity, fresh pear or peach fruits and a distinctive bitter almond note on the finish. It goes really well with most seafood and shellfish. Try it with seafood risotto, risotto primavera, spaghetti alle vongole, pasta with squid ink, or fresh tomatoes and herbs with linguine.


As well as the producers featured here, look out for Inama, Monte del Fra, Adami, Gini, Tenuta Sant’Antonio, Ca’ Rugate, Corte Sant’Alda, Zeni, and Prà.

Tesco Finest Soave Classico Superiore 2021

13.5%, €12 (€10 with Clubcard)

Medium-bodied with ripe peach fruits, toasted nuts and a crisp, dry finish. Try it with creamy pasta dishes with prawns or mushrooms.

From Tesco

Monte Tondo Soave Classico 2021

12.5%, €19

Enticing white flower aromas, fresh linear peach fruits with bitter almonds on the lengthy finish.

From Pete’s Provisions, D5; Pinto Wines, D9

Suavia Soave Classico 2022

12.5%, €23

Floral with lightly textured pear and green apple fruits. Try it with antipasti or crab salad.

From Thomas’s, Foxrock; D-Six, D6; Carpenter’s, Castleknock; Cashel Wine Cellar; Martins’s, D3; DrinkStore, D7

Pieropan Calvarino Soave Classico 2020

12.5%, €33.95

A single vineyard Soave from a legendary producer. Notes of finely etched green apples, minerals and a touch of basil.

From Red Island, Skerries; 64 Wine, Glasthule; The Corkscrew, D2; Pinto Wines, D9: Neighbourhood Wine