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Andrea Fiorini Carbognin and his Garganuda: the New Wave in Soave

by Claudio Celio

Two official harvests may not suffice to proclaim a novel style, all the more so within an ancient, highly recognizable appellation like Soave.

Yet ever since it was first released, Andrea Fiorini Carbognin’s Garganuda has brought a breath of fresh air into the white wine scenario of this area of Veneto: the garage owner turned winemaker who made 3,500 bottles of the wine last year has managed to introduce into the Soave appellation that rising trend towards graceful, lissome if not light wines that increasingly steers away from softness and characterizes much of the contemporary wine aficionados’ general tastes.

His 2015 Garganuda, for instance, is barely 11% alcohol by volume yet on the palate, this in no way diminishes the wine: on tasting, Garganuda shows nimble elegance and decided richness in flavors and fragrance throughout. The bouquet is an explosion of aromatic herbs, with subtle briny sea nuances in the background. The palate is inundated with mineral sensations and intense but well balanced acidity.

“Thanks – says Andrea – to the terrain and vines the wine comes from: a tiny plot granted to me by my uncle Adelino, which I cultivate by hand, without the use of weed killers or fertilizers, much less chemical substances.”

To this minuscule plot (0.5 hectares) of basaltic, volcanic soil in the appellation’s easternmost district, Andrea added another approximate 3 hectares of an old vineyard he is in the process of reclaiming, which will allow him, as of next year, to boost production to 12-15,000 bottles. Andrea is also currently converting the small vineyard now in use to biodynamic farming; the half-hectare plot houses young and old vines (some of them up to 40 years old) in natural harmony. Another wine is to be released shortly from this vineyard, Capitel San Marco, which has a few days’ maceration in used up barriques.

In conclusion, Garganuda is a decidedly ‘vertical’ wine with a mineral backbone, characterized by finesse and fragrance, that manages to revisit the volcanic-soil traits characterizing the Soave appellation and acquire distinctive elegance.

After this first, highly satisfying vintage, what can we expect of 2016? “Weatherwise, it was a difficult year – Andrea tells us – but though quantity of crops is lower, quality will be anything but.” It looks like 2016 Garganuda will show substantial structure and quite a bit of power, leaving no room for regret or for missing the already delightful 2015.