2019 Pieropan, Soave Classico DOC “La Rocca” Veneto, Italy.
What an absolutely delicious and serious white wine, this single cru Soave “La Rocca” by Pieropan is a stunning example of pure Garganega with deep complexity and textural grace. This is an outrageously good edition, showing citrus and orchard fruit and loads of mineral intensity and a dry presence in the glass. There is a sense of depth and power in this La Rocca with palate impact that sometimes reminds me on a Hermitage Blanc or Condrieu with crushed stones, white flowers, orchard fruits, clove spice, a touch of bacon fat, a flinty mineral tone and leesy pleasure, all in an almost full bodied palate and with an underlying energy from the natural acidity. The oldest family-owned estate in Soave, Pieropan, which was founded back in 1880, oversees some of the most acclaimed and coveted vineyards in the region that sits between Lake Garda and the Veneto’s main hillside area. Among the most vaunted are Calvarino and this La Rocca, which is the richest Soave in the Pieropan portfolio, and crafted exclusively from 100% Garganega grapes. La Rocca sits below a medieval castle on the Monte Rocchetta hill and is notably characterized by its calcareous like hardened clay soils, it’s at between 200-300 meters above sea level and, as Pieropan explains, encompassing several long, narrow terraces facing southwest, picking up the sun, but also getting a balancing cooling influence. The soil and climate at La Rocca, together with its other singular or distinct qualities, gives the wines a unique jasmine and or orange blossom perfume and the mentioned mineral tones. The aromatic and lengthy La Rocca Soave Classico DOC comes from 10 to 50 year old vines, set on those chalky clay soils that allows that richer dimension to show through, and it was indigenous yeast fermented and then aged 12 months on lees in a combination of larger format 500-2000L Slavonian oak barrels. Historically, Soave has been a flexible food friendly wine, it goes fabulously well with many pasta dishes, soft cheeses, lighter poultry fare, with linguini and clams being an excellent pairing, while this more exotic and denser version being able to handle more robust cuisine.

In the last 10 years I’ve noticed a huge rise in quality in this region and wineries like Pieropan have shown the world the true potential of the Garganega grape, crafting outstanding versions throughout there range, along with the likes of Prà and Inama pushing Soave to new heights. The Pieropan family has been a force here, helping to revolutionize the winemaking in Soave, on the way to becoming one of the most critically acclaimed Italian wine families. The Pieropan legacy began, as the winery itself notes, in the late 1800s when their visionary winemaker Leonildo Pieropan purchased the historic Palazzo Pallucci in the medieval village of Soave and searching out top hillside vineyards. Today, the traditions carry on with Leonildo’s great-grandsons, Andrea and Dario, the winemaker, carry on the family’s patriarch’s vision making top quality Soave wines from all organically grown grapes. The Pieropan’s are committed to native varietals and minimalist winemaking, as is the trend in all of Italy, resulting in expressive, terroir-driven wines, such as this gorgeous La Rocca cru example. The Pieropan family cultivates the land with an environmentally-conscious, low-impact approach, which Dario believes, brings the wines to life here in their historic and modern cellars that perfectly blend tradition with the latest technology. Pieropan was the first winery to label and offer a single-vineyard (Cru) Soave Classico with the release of their Calvarino in 1971, and Pieropan is widely credited with initiating a renaissance in quality winegrowing in Soave, which has seen a new burst in excellence in modern times. The family’s persistence in releasing single-vineyard Soave Classicos from select hillsides makes them leaders here, but honestly their base regional blend Soave Classico bottling is pretty darn good and tasty stuff too, it is a superb value and something I look forward to during the warm Spring and Summer months, so if you’ve not explored Soave, it is a great place to start. This 2019 La Rocca, my favorite in the lineup, is just hitting the market and it is really worth hunting down, I tasted it along with the mentioned basic Soave and their signature Calvarino bottling at this years Slow Wine event and was incredibly impressed by the beauty and texture in these exceptional whites.
($39 Est.) 94 Points, grapelive

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