The traditional growing zone, near Verona, in northern Italy, gets the designation "Soave Classico." "Soave Superiore" wines are theoretically better still. Areas around the Classico zone (not necessarily of the highest quality) were allowed to use the name "Soave" starting in 1968. Then, in the late 1980s, the rules for Soave were modified to allow the grape mix to be up to 30% Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc, or Trebbiano di Soave (the traditional Soave grape is Garganega). The expansion of the Soave zone and the changes in the rules seem to have caused Soave to polarize into the more common, simple, mass-produced wines usually made from overcropped Garganega delivered to local cooperatives on the one hand, and wines made in the Classico zone (or outside it) from carefully tended, low-yield Garganega vineyards, often with additions of other grapes. Anselmi, Gini, and Inama are among my favorite producers in the latter category. There are surely many more that I've not yet had the opportunity to taste. This maker, Albino Armani, was new to me. Although this is not Soave Classico or Superiore, it has presence and it's significantly more interesting than the (ridiculously) low Grocery Outlet price would suggest. This wine in fresher vintages seems to retail at around $18. Tasting notes follow.
A very pretty, medium straw color with a hint of green in it. Hawthorne flowers, wood, and apples, on the nose--or is it pears?. Good concentration on the palate--not at all in the light, throw-away style of poorly made Soave. Delicate at first but with a wave of mid-palate fruity sweetness and a mild bite after the sweetness, followed by a hint of sweetness again. The wine then lingers long on the tongue with slightly bitter, woody hints that I liked very much. A bit low in acidity (most likely a trifle tired because of storage issues--the Grocery Outlet effect) but still in decent condition. As I say, I'd like this better if it were a bit crisper, but it's still quite enjoyable and a true bargain at only $2.99 a bottle at Grocery Outlet in Santa Rosa. If you buy this, however, don't sit on it; drink it up over the holidays. A good aperitif wine. Paired well with Miyagi oysters and, after dinner, a soft goat cheese.