Filippo Bartolotta 9.12.2011 Original article in Italian http://www.gazzettagastronomica.it/2011/soave-un-bianco-che-merita-piu-rispetto/ [caption id="attachment_3305" align="aligncenter" width="584" caption="Soave and Amarone Wine Producer"]
[/caption] Outside it's already dark, and here in the station there is silence. My 18:45 train to Monforte d'Alpone arrives in twenty minutes. In my carriage, two stories high, there are a lot of students and sleepy commuters.I have to wait four stops. No time to work. I organize my bag, turn off the computer and take a couple of notes before disembarking.Graziano Pra reaches the station in less than five minutes. We stop off for a moment and he runs down to the cellar for a bottle of Soave Superiore Monte Grande 2001.We jump into the car and onto a state highway. It is dark. Pitch black. In the distance there is a light. A sign written in yellow/amber text, just like an aged Soave, The R, the I and the A on the sign are not illuminated.euroMaybe it's closed?euro I ask. "No, no, Onorio is open," reassures Graziano.Al Pozzo is one of those food stops out of another time. No menueuros here, and they speak in dialect.Two options:Bigoli with white duck sauce or tagliatelle in chicken liver broth. Two dishes that open my heart. Simple, tasty and hot.Onorio Bertuzzi is an old style of host. He is proud of his local tavern (as he calls it). Graziano Pra in the meantime observes us, both attentive and quiet while he tastes the 2001. He shares a few words with Onorio, of which I understand about 20%. I feel inside that whatever he is saying, it is something good.
Our Italian dialects are something extraordinary, a mirror of cultural identity that reaches the cuisine and regional dishes. " Give him the white sauce with duck instead of the red meat sauce option," suggests Graziano. "Suggestion accepted," I reply. euroHaving read his mind.euro Meanwhile, the 2001 is poured into the glass. It is a luminous dark golden color, and moves slowly as I sway the glass side to side. It is rich and rounded by the Garganega grape which Graziano leaves on the broken vine for twenty days longer than normal:"I look to find a higher grade of concentration and, therefore, the most natural aromas possible. Until a few years ago, half of the grapes were falling to the ground during this process. I discovered that if I initiate the process when the moon is at the waning crescent the grapes remain attached to the vine without any problems."Without bringing the class close to my nose, I can already scent the bouquet of citrus and grapefruit seed in the wine. This is a wine focused on the redolence of white and yellow ripe fruits such as apricots, peaches, and pears. After thirty minutes notes of Burgundy minerals emerge. The palate is sweet and soft like the caress of a fluffy feather pillow. You wont fall asleep though, because the Trebbiano di Soave if harvested a bit earlier is sharp with a racy citrus edge and fresh and vibrant tones. This is a Wine that has spare batteries to help it age!Arriving at night, I didneurot get a chance to see either vineyards or the surrounding hills. This morning, after a few cups of coffee I look out the window. There is still only fog.I take a tour of the cellars and taste a few options.Then we jump in the jeep and head to the vineyards of the Soave. The sun comes out as if on queue. "This is the original Classico region. Here on volcanic hills, working with the vines is tougheuro. Graziano tells me, "...in a second you will see where we now produce 80% of Soave, produced in ever higher quantities with lower prices and of course, lower quality."At the top of the hill , almost as if pre-organized by Graziano, Stefano Inama is set in the middle of the vines working. He turns and asks us a rhetorical question in his heavy veneto dialect euroAre you heading down to see where the best Soave is made?euroLater that day Silvia Allegrini tells me pretty much the same thing about Amarone: "Since 2000 we have grown from ten thousand to sixteen thousand bottles, but the wine making area has remained the same size! Everyones trying to produce Amarone and Ripasso at the expense of Valpolicella Classoco". The Venetian producers are furious at this excessive productivity, and the fact expired bottles have been sold recently at rock bottom prices.As a compensation, the Venetians (never a people to sit by and watch) actively look for solutions to this problem. Graziano Pra, adhering to the example of a group of Independent Winegrowers of the Soave has teamed up with a dozen other local producers to protect the Soave Doceuros authenticity from this mass production and commercialization. Allegrini is also forming a company with a group of producers that under the name of Families of the Amarone will protect quality Amarone della Valpolicella and Valpolicella Classico varieties against the overproduction and de-pricing of these extraordinary wines.I finish up my 24 hours in the Soave with a relaxing moment overlooking the beautiful vineyards with Otto, Praeuros faithful Border Collie.It's funny how one of Italyeuros finest white wines is created from black earth, volcanic topsoil, and the odd basalto stone mixed in for good measure.Meanwhile in contrast, only ten kilometers away in the white limestone soil of the valley of Illasi, Amarone takes shape. This being one of the most powerful red wines in all of Italy. Graziano Pra, who produces both, with his calm ethereal manner, is aware of his good fortune to be able to cross these two beautiful valleys in a few minutes and there is no doubt of his genuine happiness which is transmitted into his clear, fresh wines.