Exploring Italy: Soave

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Arianna's Wine Tasting Notes | Leave a comment

This summer, I’m all about the Italians.

I recently wrote a post about Gavi, that you may or may not have seen on Palate Press. In it, I asked readers to think about moving away from their more familiar Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, to explore that other Old World wine-producing country (the one that isn’t known for Riesling and beer).

Now is a particularly good time to do it, too, especially if you’re ready to experiment with a wine called Soave. The 2009s are here, and it was one of the best vintages they’ve had in a long time.

Pra-bably one of the best Soaves on the market

Pra-bably one of the best Soaves on the market

Soave is a town in the Veneto region of Italy, in the province of Verona. The wine is named for the region, but it’s made of 70% – 100% Garganega grapes. When the wine is a blend, the remainder is often Trebbiano di Soave for the good ones, and Chardonnay and/or Trebbiano Toscano for the not-as-good ones. Traditionally, the wine is fermented in steel tanks, although it isn’t unheard of to use a bit of oak. Usually the wines are then aged for about two years before release (“Riserva”), although wines with less aging are also available.

The wine is known for its soft, fresh, waxy/floral/honey flavors, but due to overproduction and industrialization in the past decade or so, Soave developed a new reputation as jug wine plonk. The pendulum has since swung back the other way, however, and there are now a host of dedicated producers who are focused on bringing high quality, quaffable Soaves back to the market (helped, in part, by the Soave Consortium). In fact, volume andvalue of Soave were up by 20% in 2010 over 2009, and Mario Batali’s New York eatery, Eataly, hosted “Soave Month” the entire month of May 2011. So clearly the situation is well on its way to being righted.

Soave, without the Ricco

Soave, without the Ricco

The Soave Consortium recently sent me a few bottles of Soave: 2009 Re Midas Cantina di Soave and 2009 Fattori Runcaris Soave Classico (both about $12). Knowing these were value-priced bottles, I decided to taste them against two pricier wines to see how they’d stand-up. For those wines, I chose 2009 Gini Soave Classico ($15) and 2007 Pra Staforte Soave Classico ($20).

2009 Re Midas Cantina di Soave: The Re Midas was very promising at first, with its nose of green apple, pear, honey and grass. On the palate, there was beautiful acid, with flavors of peach, apple and pear. I even wrote in my notes that it, “Tastes like a summer afternoon.” But despite the great attack, it sort of fell apart on the finish. Not bad by any means, but it was my least favorite in the line-up. (100% Garganega)

2009 Fattori Runcaris Soave Classico: Even before my nose came near the glass, I could smell big fruit carried on a hot tradewind from the land of Alcoholia. Apple, apple and more apple with a bit of dried honey. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hot on the palate as I expected; there was great acid and some tropical notes – especially pineapple – skimming around the edges. My second favorite of the group. (100% Garganega)

2007 Pra Staforte Soave Classico: This wine was absolutely delicious. Honey and honeyed fruits on the nose and in the mouth. Notes of crisp Fiji apple and Asian pear. Bright acidity (very bright), that kept going and going and going on the finish. This was my favorite of the day. (100% Garganega)

2009 Gini Soave Classico: The Gini tied for second place with the Fattori. Out of the gate, it was all oak. The oakiness is apparent on the nose and contributes to a caramel apple finish; in-between, there is honey, delivered in a soft-bodied wine with a creamy, smooth texture. (100% Garganega)

Whether you hunt down one of these or try another of the other delicious choices on the market (look for the 2009s – for serious), Soave is a super choice for summer sipping.

Soave, in the Veneto region of Italy

This summer, I’m all about the Italians.
I recently wrote a post about Gavi, that you may or may not have seen on Palate Press. In it, I asked readers to think about moving away from their more familiar Chardonnays and Sauvignon Blancs, to explore that other Old World wine-producing country (the one that isn’t known for Riesling and beer).
Now is a particularly good time to do it, too, especially if you’re ready to experiment with a wine called Soave. The 2009s are here, and it was one of the best vintages they’ve had in a long time.

Pra-bably one of the best Soaves on the marketSoave is a town in the Veneto region of Italy, in the province of Verona. The wine is named for the region, but it’s made of 70% – 100% Garganega grapes. When the wine is a blend, the remainder is often Trebbiano di Soave for the good ones, and Chardonnay and/or Trebbiano Toscano for the not-as-good ones. Traditionally, the wine is fermented in steel tanks, although it isn’t unheard of to use a bit of oak. Usually the wines are then aged for about two years before release (“Riserva”), although wines with less aging are also available.
The wine is known for its soft, fresh, waxy/floral/honey flavors, but due to overproduction and industrialization in the past decade or so, Soave developed a new reputation as jug wine plonk. The pendulum has since swung back the other way, however, and there are now a host of dedicated producers who are focused on bringing high quality, quaffable Soaves back to the market (helped, in part, by the Soave Consortium). In fact, volume andvalue of Soave were up by 20% in 2010 over 2009, and Mario Batali’s New York eatery, Eataly, hosted “Soave Month” the entire month of May 2011. So clearly the situation is well on its way to being righted.

Soave, without the RiccoThe Soave Consortium recently sent me a few bottles of Soave: 2009 Re Midas Cantina di Soave and 2009 Fattori Runcaris Soave Classico (both about $12). Knowing these were value-priced bottles, I decided to taste them against two pricier wines to see how they’d stand-up. For those wines, I chose 2009 Gini Soave Classico ($15) and 2007 Pra Staforte Soave Classico ($20).
2009 Re Midas Cantina di Soave: The Re Midas was very promising at first, with its nose of green apple, pear, honey and grass. On the palate, there was beautiful acid, with flavors of peach, apple and pear. I even wrote in my notes that it, “Tastes like a summer afternoon.” But despite the great attack, it sort of fell apart on the finish. Not bad by any means, but it was my least favorite in the line-up. (100% Garganega)
2009 Fattori Runcaris Soave Classico: Even before my nose came near the glass, I could smell big fruit carried on a hot tradewind from the land of Alcoholia. Apple, apple and more apple with a bit of dried honey. Surprisingly, it wasn’t as hot on the palate as I expected; there was great acid and some tropical notes – especially pineapple – skimming around the edges. My second favorite of the group. (100% Garganega)
2007 Pra Staforte Soave Classico: This wine was absolutely delicious. Honey and honeyed fruits on the nose and in the mouth. Notes of crisp Fiji apple and Asian pear. Bright acidity (very bright), that kept going and going and going on the finish. This was my favorite of the day. (100% Garganega)
2009 Gini Soave Classico: The Gini tied for second place with the Fattori. Out of the gate, it was all oak. The oakiness is apparent on the nose and contributes to a caramel apple finish; in-between, there is honey, delivered in a soft-bodied wine with a creamy, smooth texture. (100% Garganega)
Whether you hunt down one of these or try another of the other delicious choices on the market (look for the 2009s – for serious), Soave is a super choice for summer sipping.

A Little [cash] Goes A Long Way With Big House Wines

Posted on by Arianna Armstrong in Wines from the Grocery Store | Leave a comment

Soledad, California was founded as a Spanish mission in 1791. It’s the backdrop of John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men. It’s also the home of Soledad State Correctional Facility – a large prison filled with scary criminals.

Big House Wines – also in Soledad – is named for that jail.

Not that there is anything criminal about the wines except, perhaps, for how good they are at such a low price point. At a recent lunch with winemaker Georgetta Dane, she was coy about how she can keep the cost of her bottles beneath $10; but having a mixture of estate fruit and great relationships with other growers certainly helps.

When I was invited to meet Ms. Dane and sample her wines, I admit I was skeptical. Monterey has come a long way in terms of wine production, but it can still be very hit or miss. The Big House wines are downright cheap, and the entire line-up shares a gimmicky convict-inspired theme. But meeting Georgetta was the first step in changing my mind. The Suceava, Romania native is smart – she majored in food science in school, but clearly packs a satchel of street smarts.

Georgetta approaches winemaking with a sense of adventure not unlike the original Big House warden, Randall Grahm (he sold the winery in 2006). She utilizes a blending philosophy taken from perfumers (layering aromatics), and a willingness to blend more obscure varieties (11 grapes, including Malvasia Blanca, Gruner Veltliner, Muscat Canelli and Verdelho in the Big House White; and up to 20 varieties in the Big House Red, including Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola, Aglianico, Souzao, Charbono and Tannat). Even the packaging of the wines is creative in a way that totally works: Big House has been making their own boxed wine for two years, and at $20 for 3-liter “Octavin,” it really is the best deal in town.

But how do they taste? As I mentioned before, they’re good. As it turns out, the fruit is not solely from Monterey. Some of the grapes for the “Unchained”/”Naked” (unoaked Chardonnay), for example, come from Paso Robles. The grapes for the “Cardinal Zin” are from old vines, tended by a third generation Italian wine-making family. Personally, my favorites from the line-up are the Big House White, the Big House Red and the Cardinal Zin.

So, if you’re looking for a solid table wine you can drink on the regular without robbing a bank to support your habit, turn yourself over to the Big House.

The Line UpSoledad, California was founded as a Spanish mission in 1791. It’s the backdrop of John Steinbeck’s 1937 novel, Of Mice and Men. It’s also the home of Soledad State Correctional Facility – a large prison filled with scary criminals.
Big House Wines – also in Soledad – is named for that jail.
Not that there is anything criminal about the wines except, perhaps, for how good they are at such a low price point. At a recent lunch with winemaker Georgetta Dane, she was coy about how she can keep the cost of her bottles beneath $10; but having a mixture of estate fruit and great relationships with other growers certainly helps.
When I was invited to meet Ms. Dane and sample her wines, I admit I was skeptical. Monterey has come a long way in terms of wine production, but it can still be very hit or miss. The Big House wines are downright cheap, and the entire line-up shares a gimmicky convict-inspired theme. But meeting Georgetta was the first step in changing my mind. The Suceava, Romania native is smart – she majored in food science in school, but clearly packs a satchel of street smarts.
Georgetta approaches winemaking with a sense of adventure not unlike the original Big House warden, Randall Grahm (he sold the winery in 2006). She utilizes a blending philosophy taken from perfumers (layering aromatics), and a willingness to blend more obscure varieties (11 grapes, including Malvasia Blanca, Gruner Veltliner, Muscat Canelli and Verdelho in the Big House White; and up to 20 varieties in the Big House Red, including Montepulciano, Nero d’Avola, Aglianico, Souzao, Charbono and Tannat). Even the packaging of the wines is creative in a way that totally works: Big House has been making their own boxed wine for two years, and at $20 for 3-liter “Octavin,” it really is the best deal in town.
But how do they taste? As I mentioned before, they’re good. As it turns out, the fruit is not solely from Monterey. Some of the grapes for the “Unchained”/”Naked” (unoaked Chardonnay), for example, come from Paso Robles. The grapes for the “Cardinal Zin” are from old vines, tended by a third generation Italian wine-making family. Personally, my favorites from the line-up are the Big House White, the Big House Red and the Cardinal Zin.
So, if you’re looking for a solid table wine you can drink on the regular without robbing a bank to support your habit, turn yourself over to the Big House.

This City Never Sleeps

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Sed accumsan, erat non iaculis ultricies, urna libero hendrerit dolor, at molestie leo massa eu tortor, donec pellentesque tincidunt accumsan. Aliquam posuere, tortor ac pretium suscipit, lectus velit ultricies erat, at feugiat dui libero vel dolor. Fusce sit amet orci urna, quis tincidunt arcu. Praesent ultrices bibendum. Dictum nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Aliquam et venenatis quis metus. Aliquam erat volutpat, curabitur.

Exciting story

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with beautiful pictures

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Welcome to the Big City

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We are proud to present our new BigCity WordPress theme. BigCity is a Personal and Blog WordPress Theme. Packed with powerful features to suit almost every needs and yet so simple to use. Works with WordPress 3.0 – 3.3 and just released 3.3.1 and is cross-browser compatible. See the list of features… Fusce sit amet orci urna, quis tincidunt arcu. Praesent ultrices bibendum. Dictum nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Aliquam et venenatis quis metus. Aliquam erat volutpat, curabitur.
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Architecture is Frozen Music

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at feugiat dui libero vel dolor. Fusce sit amet orci ut viverra magna urna, quis tincidunt. Arcu praesent
ultrices bibendum dictum. Nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis
quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Suspendisse potenti. Nunc vitae interdum magna. Fusce ut magna sed nibh luctus fringilla. Vivamus non sem nec ipsum semper pulvinar. Donec vestibulum, tellus mattis volutpat iaculis.
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Urban Jungle

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Sed accumsan, erat non iaculis ultricies, urna libero hendrerit dolor, at molestie leo massa eu tortor, donec pellentesque tincidunt accumsan. Aliquam posuere, tortor ac pretium suscipit, lectus velit ultricies erat, at feugiat dui libero vel dolor. Fusce sit amet orci urna, quis tincidunt arcu. Praesent ultrices bibendum. Dictum nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Aliquam et venenatis quis metus. Aliquam erat volutpat, curabitur.
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Post Title Five

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Sed accumsan, erat non iaculis ultricies, urna libero hendrerit dolor, at molestie leo massa eu tortor, donec pellentesque tincidunt accumsan. Aliquam posuere, tortor ac pretium suscipit, lectus velit ultricies erat, at feugiat dui libero vel dolor. Fusce sit amet orci urna, quis tincidunt arcu. Praesent ultrices bibendum. Dictum nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Aliquam et venenatis quis metus. Aliquam erat volutpat, curabitur.
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Post Title Six

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Sed accumsan, erat non iaculis ultricies, urna libero hendrerit dolor, at molestie leo massa eu tortor, donec pellentesque tincidunt accumsan. Aliquam posuere, tortor ac pretium suscipit, lectus velit ultricies erat, at feugiat dui libero vel dolor. Fusce sit amet orci urna, quis tincidunt arcu. Praesent ultrices bibendum. Dictum nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Aliquam et venenatis quis metus. Aliquam erat volutpat, curabitur.

Sed et turpis non justo rutrum consequat eu sed quam. Sed nunc risus, congue in iaculis et, convallis ut orci. Praesent viverra gravida ultricies. Suspendisse pellentesque sapien at arcu gravida congue sed quis leo. Fusce at nibh eu nisi accumsan varius ac in nisi. Praesent rhoncus laoreet ante. Nunc ut ligula nulla. Duis porttitor, enim nec viverra vestibulum, metus libero posuere felis, vitae pharetra nulla orci in est. Phasellus sit amet mi et dolor aliquam iaculis euismod sit amet urna. Aliquam lacinia venenatis nisl eu pharetra. Aenean a varius est. Aliquam id libero sed purus pellentesque faucibus vitae porttitor dui. Phasellus ut leo ut nibh fringilla eleifend.
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Sed accumsan, erat non iaculis ultricies, urna libero hendrerit dolor, at molestie leo massa eu tortor, donec pellentesque tincidunt accumsan. Aliquam posuere, tortor ac pretium suscipit, lectus velit ultricies erat, at feugiat dui libero vel dolor. Fusce sit amet orci urna, quis tincidunt arcu. Praesent ultrices bibendum. Dictum nulla vel lectus non felis vulputate fringilla vitae ac dolor. Aenean porta turpis quam euismod quis iaculis. Quisque non libero nunc, at dignissim libero. Aliquam et venenatis quis metus. Aliquam erat volutpat, curabitur.
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The Power of Newspapers

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