Say it with us: gahr-GAH-neh-gah. It’s not just a cool word, it’s the sixth most planted white grape in all of Italy. You can find it in the Veneto region which is in the northeastern part of the country in the provinces of Vicenza and Verona.
In Sicily, the Garganega grape is locally known as Grecanico Dorato where it ripens late and is delightfully acidic and sweet. The acid is one of the most well-known attributes of Garganega regardless of where it’s grown, although it does tend to alter depending on its environmental circumstances. The warmer regions produce a crisper version with more of a citrus and stone fruit taste, while cooler areas produce a more acidic, tart wine.
Garganega’s claim to fame is its contribution to the creation of Soave wine, a dry white that is about 70% Garganega but with some Trebbiano and Chardonnay occasionally thrown into the mix. Soaves come in multiple denominations based on the area within the region they are produced: Spumante, Colli Scaligeri, Classico, and Recioto di Soave. Spumante means it’s sparkling, the second and third forms generate from the growing region, and the last is more of a sweet, dessert style wine. The variety of soils in the Soave region attribute to the unique range of flavors that come out in each bottle- from dry and mineral to honey and stone fruit.
Your preferred Soave may depend on the type of aging that occurs: oak-aged (traditional), fruit forward and non-wood aged (modern), and steel or cement aged (current prototype.) Each features the Gargenega grape in a different but no less delicious way.
It rose in popularity in the United States in the 70s and 80s but because it was so easy to grow, it became associated with its cheap cost which led people to believe it was cheap quality too. If you ask someone of an older generation, they’ll probably react to it the way a millennial would react to Barefoot Moscato (no offense, Barefoot) and tell you it’s not actually good wine.
However, that’s just not the case. Soave wines are a beautiful expression of the gorgeous Garganega grape and have a rich, fresh nature that is always refreshing.
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