With terroir at the forefront of wine communication, Soave is the latest Italian appellation of note to officially launch its Cru system, adopting a Burgundian like hierarchy which places the 'single vineyard' at the summit. The selection process began in 2000 and after much study and analysis, this twenty year journey has finally yielded thirty-three distinguished sites, twenty-nine of which are to be found within the 'Classico' area of the production zone. We've put together an introduction to the Cru vineyards of Soave, first applied to the 2019s, released in the summer of 2020.
The Foscarino cru has been made famous by the Inama family, whose top white wines have long highlighted the area on their label. At 149 hectares (120 planted), it sits to the east of the Alpone Valley, located between the town of Soave and the town of Monteforte d'Alpone. It is characterised by three volcanic cones - Foscarinetto at 282m, Boccara which reaches 292m and Monte Foscarino, which is the highest at 295m. As such, steep slopes of primarily volcanic material, including crushed basaltic rock are prevalent. Interestingly, temperatures and precipitation levels tend to follow the average across the whole classico area which tends to make Foscarino a good benchmark cru for quality Soave. If it's a good vintage in Foscarino, it's probably a good vintage elsewhere. It remains difficult to demonstrate this however as the key wine from this cru, Inama's 'Vigneti di Foscarino', is matured in wood, which makes spotting markers of terroir challenging.
Historically, Tremenalto was often considered the northern most point of the Brognoligo cru, but under the new cru system it has been classified independently. At 107.23 hectares, of which there are around 87 planted, altitudes range from 57m up to 230m. Nevertheless these predominantly north facing slopes are very steep and vineyard work is almost entirely carried out by hand. Here the volcanic soils are deep and fertile and show a distinctive deep red and dark brown colours, but calcareous and barely alkaline. It will come as no surprise that wines from the Tremenalto Cru represent some of the freshest in the appellation. It is also an excellent place to look in particularly warm years as vineyards here benefit from cooler summer temperatures due to the northern air currents that pass through the Alpone Valley.