Earlier this week, I made it along to a tasting of a dozen Mencia wines from Spain. I have a lot of time for the Mencia grape and was keen to see wines from Bierzo, Ribeira Sacra and parts nearby in a group. The first thing to say is the wines were tasted without food and the second that quite a few of the wines were talked down by tasters for being 'short' and having 'short fruit'. I was puzzled for a while at hearing this about wines where I thought there was some length. It took me a while to realise I was content to see tannin, acid and non-fruit flavours carrying the wine out, with the fruit bunching up in the front and middle of the wine. But for other tasters, this was not length. Length was fruit, fruit the way along. So only a small number of the Mencia wines appealed to them, those with length of fruit.
So why a note on a Soave starting off in the north of Spain?
This Soave Classico from Pieropan is a good showing of what the Garganega grape can do. It is a single vineyard bottling, from a vineyard on the side of the
Monte Rocchetta hill. Pieropan are old hands and sure; first making a Soave
under this label in 1978.
A combination of sweet, floral and gently nutty smells here that I think of as like good nougat. Tasting the wine, there is an overt pear character, a bit of apple tucked away underneath and some bright lemony acid stitching things together. The fruit is generous, nothing stinting, but leaves room enough for a finish that is all about mineral, acid and some subtle grip. A classic example of a wine with a lot of length that uses more than fruit to get there. Judging this for length of fruit alone would miss the point. Much as with some of those Mencia wines, for my tastes.
Going strong on a second night open, this could be enjoyed by itself or with a fish or chicken dish using some grain and lemon. Fish tagine with pickled lemon and cous cous, maybe. I had it out at Pulp Kitchen with an excellent chicken liver dish, so lighter terrines and pates would be good too. A fine reminder for me of how much interest and versatility there can be in the best of Soave.
Cork, $37, purchase, brought in by Trembath & Taylor, 13% alcohol, website here.