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Winery #64: Rocca Sveva (Soave, Italy)

Our second visit in Soave was at Rocca Sveva just outside the tall stone walls of Soave’s medieval center. Our host for the wine experience, Milena, explained to us the winery's history. It all started with the creation of the grape grower cooperative called Cantina di Soave in 1898. Since then, the cooperative grew to 2,300 members growing grapes on 6,000 hectares, resulting in the production 45 million bottles! That’s a lot of wine! In 2003, the cooperative made the decision to select the 60 best wine growers with the most outstanding vineyard plots to produce the highest quality wine under the Rocca Sveva brand.

Milena led us on a complete tour of the Rocca Sveva production facilities, beginning in the stainless steel tank room where the wines are initially fermented and a few lines of white wine remains here for further ageing. One of the interesting parts of Rocca Sveva is that the winery has seven different production facilities throughout northern Italy in order to comply with Italian wine laws, producing the wine in the region where the grapes are grown. This allows the company to label the wine with the region's DOC or Denominazione di Origine Controllata, translated to Controlled Designation of Origin. When it comes to winemaking rules, old-world countries like Italy and France have the strictest policies in the world.

We moved on to the barrel room, where a see-thru oak barrel illuminated when we entered the room, a very cool touch! The wine in the barrel was the current vintage of Ripasso from nearby Valpolicella. Peering into the barrel, we were able to see the lees or dead yeast resting at the bottom of the barrel. The winery’s cellar personnel will stir the lees on a regular schedule to add greater body to the wine. The lees offer anti-oxidative properties during the winemaking process, protecting the wine from oxygen exposure due to the chemical properties of the yeast cells. Unfortunately, our picture doesn’t fully capture what’s happening in there. Milena then guided us through the sparkling wine production area where we saw many pupitres (poo-pee-tr) or A-frame racks of sparkling wine bottles that are undergoing an extremely manual and time-consuming process called riddling to clear the bottle from any winemaking sediment.

Before completing the production tour, we entered a room where the entire Rocca Sveva line of wines were showcased next to their corresponding soil type. It was a treat to be able to visually match up the soil type to the bottles of wine rather than just relying upon soil descriptions.

We then proceeded back into the winery’s reception area to begin our tasting experience at a gorgeous circular tasting bar centrally located in the space. While I had the pleasure of tasting 12 Rocca Sveva wines, Brodi sampled the Soave water compliments of the wonderful winery folks. With sixty grape growers spanning a significant geographic area, Rocca Sveva has the ability to offer a wide range of wines – sparkling, still, sweet, dry, red, and white. Milena made the tasting fun with her energy and deep knowledge of each wine.

While tasting wine in Soave, a region famous for the complex wines from the Garganega grape, I never thought that my favorite wine from a lineup would be a sparkling wine made from 80% Chardonnay and 20% Pinot Noir. I saw a quote on Instagram, “Finish your day sparkling,” and it seemed appropriate for this occasion. Grapes for the 2017 Equipe5 are specially selected from the vineyards in the Lessini Mountains, a 90-minute drive north of Verona. The altitude of this area gives the grapes a cooler growing season, allowing the them to ripen slowly and maintain their high acidity levels. Acidity gives the wine freshness and allows it to age gracefully, which is extremely important for Equipe5 as the wine undergoes 36 months of ageing before release. So why the “5” in the name? Five oenologists, scientists dedicated to the study of wine and winemaking, developed the wine in 1964 by using the traditional method of making sparkling wine, the same method used in Champagne. We found the wine to have a complex bouquet of brioche and toast from the ageing process combined with fruit aromas of green apple and grapefruit. The wine demonstrated a creamy mouthfeel with a long, pleasant finish on the palate.

500 Wineries sends a big THANK YOU to our host Milena for making our visit extremely educational and fun. The wine experience at Rocca Sveva is worth the visit if you are in the Soave wine region.

Experience Rating: 4 Stars

Brodi's Rating: 3 Paws Up

Pet-Friendly: Yes

Experience Vibe: Private Experience, Production Facilities Tour, Standing Wine Tasting

Reservations Needed: Yes

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