2016 Anselmi San Vincenzo
This wine stopped me in my tracks: a bouquet of Honeycrisp apples, fresh squeezed clementines, Meyer lemon blossoms and white lilies unfurling so exceptionally from the glass that it stuns me – the way a golden sunset casting beams of light through an autumn tree shivers the heartstrings with its beauty.
I’ve tasted as much wine as I’ve seen sunsets but very few wines bring a pause of joy to a serene autumnal evening. What, you may ask, is the coup de coeur in my cup? Of course, it’s complicated, but soooo worth it.
The winemaker is Roberto Anselmi, widely regarded as one of the best white wine producers in the Veneto, if not all of Italy (and I’m not making that up, this wine for the last two vintages has made it onto Wine Spectator’s Top 100 wines in the world – a feat when you think of the average price on that list).
Made in Soave (pronounced just like Rico), the wine is dominated by that region’s native grape of Garganega (impossible to pronounce, which is why they stick with Soave). For decades, Soave was known for light, crisp, vapid, plonk. But back in the 1970s, Roberto Anselmi set out to change all of that.
He stopped using the traditional blending grape Trebbiano to increase volume, switching instead to a touch of high quality Chardonnay for texture and depth, as well as a dash of Sauvignon Blanc for aromatics and refreshment. That recipe continues to this day.
The Italian government, being the Italian government, kicked him out of the Soave wine classification for these qualitative imporvements. In response, Roberto dropped Soave off his labels and named his wine after its vineyard, San Vincenzo. From there, he never looked back. The wine has since earned the admiration of critics worldwide. As Roberto explains, “I don’t like bureacratic logic in my life. No one [there] is focused on the real quality. These are two different philosophies of life.”
Hence the complications – this wine is probably one of the best Garganega-based wines grown on one of the best slopes in Soave, but is not called Soave. Call it Super-Suave, call it what you will, it’s just pure romance:
You already know the bouquet is stunning. The palate follows suit. Garganega is a grape that gives dramatic textural expression – like Chardonnay in its richness but lighter in its flavor tones, heading more towards a melon / citrus quality, rather than vanilla or butter. The addition of Sauvignon takes the full-bodied character of San Vincenzo and makes it refreshing, uplifting, dancy and prancy across the palate. It’s the perfect sipper in our transitional weather – if it’s warm and sunny grab a glass, head to the hammock and sunbathe. If it’s cool and crisp, saute a chicken breast with sage and chanterelles – the wine is a perfect match, no matter the mood.
While this wine is not the cheapest we sell, it’s pretty inexpensive. Maybe scary inexpensive to some of you. But here’s the thing. When I tasted this beauty, I was prepared for the pitch to end, “…and it retails for $45.” Given what is in the glass, I find the price shockingly low. But that’s not gonna stop me. I’m buying a case, calling all my friends, and having a backyard Italian feast in our glorious early fall weather! Cheers.