Last week, I took an afternoon off and happily went to Vintage Wine Merchants at Santana Row in San Jose, CA. I was delighted to taste Garganega for the first time and loved it. Since I might be introducing this grape to a number of you, I thought I would share with you what I experienced and learned.
Learning About Gargenga
If you haven’t heard of Garganega, you’re not alone. This grape makes up over 70% of white wines in the Veneto (or Venice) area of Northern Italy. Soave DOC is the most famous Garganega-producing region. Not surprisingly, Garganega is the main grape of Soave, an Italian wine you are likely more familiar with. So, if you’ve tried Soave, you’ve tried Garganega. Interestingly, the grape is also thriving in Sicily under the name Grecanico Donato. But 95% of the grape is grown in Veneto.
What to Expect from this Grape
Wine Folly says you can expect “a dry, light-bodied wine, much like Sauvignon Blanc or Pinot Gris, but…with a smooth oily like richness that adds a little extra punch.” Madeline Puckett of Wine Folly goes on to say that “Cheaper Soave wine will often have a green bitter almond finish. If you ever get a chance to taste an older quality bottle…(maybe around five years of age), you will be surprised and delighted by the intense flavors of marmalade, honey, fennel seed, beeswax, and preserved lemon.”
Italian Wine Central describes the grape as steely, minerally and age-worthy. I definitely got the steeliness and minerality from it. I also got tasted peach and melon with herbal notes. I read that as the wine ages, it develops a richer texture with nutty notes. I am definitely going to want to buy a bottle or two and lie them down.
This grape pairs beautifully with shellfish, normal fish, grilled poultry and tofu. Using an herbal base like chives in butter can highlight the green notes in the wine. If the wine is older, consider a pairing with trout almondine to pick up the nutty notes.
I’d love to hear about your experiences with Garganega or Soave. Salute!