Sartori Soave Classico 1996
To Juliet’s question “What’s in a name?” the Sartori family would answer “Everything!” For over a century, Sartori, a leading name in fine wines from northeast Italy’s Veneto region, has stood for traditional values elevated by innovation, a dedication to quality and — above all — a boundless passion for quality winemaking.
The family took its first step in 1898, when Pietro Sartori bought Villa Maria, a vineyard with a small cellar attached, in the heart of the Veneto region’s Valpolicella district, to assure a source of high quality wine for his hotel. This marked the advent of Sartori di Verona. A few years later, Pietro’s son, Regolo, built the winery into the family’s core business, and by the 1950s Regolo’s two sons expanded the winery and brought these wines to international recognition, exporting them around the world.
Today, Andrea Sartori, Pietro’s great-grandson, is at the helm. Like his forefathers, he has taken steps to broaden the reputation of Sartori di Verona and to guarantee the quality behind it.
In 2002, the company joined with Cantina Colognola, giving the family rare guaranteed access to more than 6,200 acres of high-quality grapes in the Soave and Valpolicella zones, where few wine houses control their own vineyards.
In 2003, Sartori hired the renowned Franco Bernabei as consulting winemaker. His work with the winery marks a return to Bernabei’s roots: although he has lived in Tuscany for over 25 years, he is, in fact, a native son of the Veneto.
Most recently, in 2006, Sartori introduced a new premium collection of Veneto wines crafted by Bernabei at its new winery, I Saltari, in the Mezzane Valley, east of Verona. The winery is named after the mercenary vineyard guardians, known in native dialect as Saltari, hired by vineyard owners from the 16th through the 18th centuries to protect their grapes from thieves and bandits. With legal authority to shoot grape thieves on sight, the Saltari were ready defenders of the vineyards. The choice of the name reflects the winery’s own dedication to defending tradition and expressing these vineyards’ unique terroir.
A constant theme over the last century has been the Sartori family’s bond with their land: it is a heritage that has evolved and is reflected in their new interpretations of the great classical Veronese wines, as well as in their innovative expressions of traditional varietals.
Among Italy’s classic whites capable of great potential, Soave is named after the medieval village and surrounding hillsides from whence it comes. The original, historical Soave zone, delimited back in 1927, covers the eastern, volcanic hillsides of today's general Soave zone and is called Soave Classico.
Garganega, the indigenous grape responsible for great Soave, produces medium bodied white wines with fine acidity. Typical in the best Soaves are lively flowery and fresh herbal aromas and flavors such as orange zest, peach, melon and marjoram. The best can take some age and in so doing, develop notes of chamomile, marmalade and honey.
By the 1960s and 70s, Soave was enjoying such a glorious global reputation, that its demand forced growers to push beyond the zone's original borders. Expansion led west out of the hills and onto the alluvial plain of the Adige River. This, coupled with an increase in yields and allowance of additional varieties such as Trebbiano, Chardonnay and Pinot blanc, met demand but created a softer, fruit-forward, everyday Soave. Today the broader region can be the source of charming and value driven whites. But those labeled as Soave Classico or in rare cases, as Soave Colli Scaligeri (nearby hillside vineyards abutting the Classico zone), will be the best quality and age-worthy Soaves. These are often 100% Garganega.
One of Italy’s classic white varieties, Garganega flourishes in the rolling vineyards surrounding the medieval village of Soave and is the dominant variety in the wine from the region, aptly known as, Soave. By law it makes up 70-100% of the blend with the remainder traditionally finished off by Trebbiano di Soave for its crispness. Somm Secret—The best Soave wines, measurably elegant and vibrant, come from the Soave Classico zone, in the center of Soave, where the hills are made of decomposed volcanic and granitic soils.