Pra, Graziano. Stafforte, 2006. Soave Classico. (magnum)

Graziano trained as an oenologist graduating in 1977 from the Institute of Oenology at Congeliano. There have been at least three generations of the Pra family making wines.He uses the two main varieties exclusively — Garganega and Trebbiano. He claims his wines are vinosi and therefore keep better. However, they are very elegant. Pra looks for elegance and finesse, which shows. His wines are very linear and clean. He says that he always starts the fermentation of his wines with the maximum of cleanliness. He produces 250,000 bottles per annum.

Suavia. Rive 2005. Soave Classico.

On the summit of Soave Classico. Suavia produces several wines including a Recioto. They only use autocthonous varieties. Their terrain has mainly volcanic sub-soil. Takes care to avoid oxidative processes in the cellar -- maintains the wine 4/5 months on the yeasts. In 1982 their father started to bottle his own wines rather than sell them to the local cooperative. They now produce 100,000 bottles from their 12 hectares. Suavia is the old name for Soave. Daughters Valentina (Oenologo) and Meri joined in 2000. They work in a ‘biological’ sense without being certified. They claim their wines age well even after 10 or even 20 years. They make three wines and a recioto. They will soon release a Trebbiano (single varietal). At 300 metres above sea level it is one of the highest and most northerly points in the Classico zone. The property has belonged to the family since the late 1800s. The Le Rive vineyard, is situated to the left of the house and faces due south. It is partly terraced and encompasses an area of 1.5ha. It benefits from constant ventilation. The Garganega vines, some 45-50 years old, are grown on balsatic soil with a substantial clay component. The harvest is often quite late, after the middle of October, the fermentation and maturation on lie takes place in barriques. An elegant and powerful wine.

The area of Soave produces some 60 million bottle per annum. 80% of which is bottled by the cooperatives. This in part, is why the region has remained unchanged for a hundred years or more — the growers relationship with this type of production has maintained a stability in the region in terms of their income and thus the modus vivendi. There are some 6,900 hectares of DOC Soave and Soave Classico containing about 3000 wine producers. On the positive side the Cooperatives have provided the economic stability upon which many small producers have depended. A few much larger producers have succeeded in making the name of Soave known throughout the world whilst a few family producers have concentrated on bringing value to the brand by means of establishing Cru (some 50 or so). Another problem is that Cooperatives account for so much (80%), that working with so many small producers, the production is not always homogeneous in terms of quality.

One of the main characteristics of the area and the Classico area in particular is the volcanic activity which gave the dark soils in the hills made of lava and basalt. Another main characteristic is the method of training the vines — the Pergola Veronese (also used in nearby Valpolicella) which make the vineyards so distinctive. Many of the vines are 30 years or more.

The zone of Soave divides between the DOC of the plains and the hills of Soave Classico. Winemaking distinctions can be found in the trellissing, Pergola Veronese or Guyot; steel vats with or without batônnage and/or vinification under nitrogen, large or small oak barrels, new or used; the minerality and peppery profile; freshness and complexity; the black of basalt, the red in clay and the white in chalk; classic and modern style, the terroir and interpretation; late harvest and appassimento; the dry Soave or sweet Recioto, cooperative or small cellars; masculine and feminine producers and styles, tradition and technology, all play in the way it is made.

Garganega gives elegance and finesse, whilst Trebbiano gives high acidity with, sometimes grapefruit tones. The Trebbiano are quite small grapes which are quite compact and aromatic. They have better ageing possibilities than Garganega. But it also suffers more from mildew and botrytism and was a reason why it was not used for a couple of decades. The problem is that Trebbiano was substituted by Chardonnay which is a mistake because Chardonnay has very little acidity and minerality when grown here. The consistency from year to year varies. Garganega is much more productive than Trebbiano and

harvested later.

Production from the hills is only 10% of the overall production. Garganega in the hills is not the same in the plains. It is quite late ripening, thicker skinned so not so susceptible to rot.

Another important element is the development of the Cru in Soave where an increasing number of conscientious wineries are looking to maximise the qualities of specific vineyards. Soave could be aged for longer than current thinking or consumer inclination permits.