What I love about summer meals is the ease in which they can be prepared. Chicken with shaved vegetables and almond pesto is that easy summer salad: raw shaved vegetables and leftover chicken accented with almond pesto for a burst of added flavor. I created this salad to pair with Soave, an Italian white wine traditionally made from the Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave grapes, grown in northeast Italy, on steep hillsides above the towns of Soave and Monteforte d’ Alpone, just east of Verona.
Soave was my go-to white wine back in my college days (yes, in the 1980’s), I paired it with another trendy culinary hit back then, pasta primavera. What I liked about Soave was its light, crisp, and refreshing taste. Soave back then was the Pinot Grigio of today. Unfortunately with the popularity of Soave back then came the overproduction and commercialization, resulting in a wine that was cheap and bland tasting. Fast forward to today, the Soave in my glass now has evolved with an emphasis on revealing the true character of the Garganega grape and the historic hillside vineyards of Soave. Join the Italian Food, Wine, & Travel group this month as we take a closer look at Soave. Check out my fellow #ItalianFWT bloggers and their Soave posts at the end of this post.
What you need to know when selecting a bottle of Soave
There are four official Soave Denominations;
Soave Classico DOC – the original historic Soave zone located mostly on hillsides above the towns of Soave and Monteforte d’ Alpone producing superior Soave. The eastern part near the town of Monteforte d’ Alpone has soils of decomposed volcanic rock, producing steelier wines. The western part near the town of Soave has soils primarily of limestone that retain the warmth of the afternoon sun producing fuller and more fruit forward wines.
Soave Colli Scaligeri DOC – vineyards on hillsides but outside of the Classico zone.
Soave DOC – the greater Soave zone that can include the alluvial plains of the Adige River, not just the smaller original Classico hillside zone.
Soave Superior DOCG – vineyards within the Classico zone and also hillside vineyards outside the Classico zone including Soave Colli Scaligeri DOC.
Additional Soave DOC regulations
- limits maximum yields of 14 tonnes/hectare
- minimum 10.5% alcohol level
- wines must compose a minimum of 70% Garganega and can blend up to 30% of Trebbiano di Soave.
Additional Soave DOCG regulations
- limits maximum yields of 10 tonnes/hectare
- vineyards must be planted using the Espalier system with at least 4000 vines per hectare
- minimum 11.5% alcohol level
- wines must compose 70% Garganega and can blend in up to 30% of Pinot Bianco, Chardonnay, Trebbiano di Soave collectively and up to 5% Trebbiano Toscano, and other local grapes varieties such as; Friulano, Cortese, Riesling Italico, Vespaiolo, and Serprina collectively
- the wine cannot be released before September 1st of the year following harvest and bottle aged for at least 3 months
Two additional Soave wines under the DOCG designation
Recioto di Soave DOCG – a sweet Soave made using the appassimento method; using very ripe grapes and drying them to concentrate their sugars. Minimum of 14% alcohol level.
Soave Superiore DOCG Riserva – minimum 12.5% alcohol level and aged a minimum of 24 months with at least 3 of those months in the bottle before being released to the market.
My Tasting Notes
2017 Albino Armani Soave Incontro
12.5% abv | $12.99 Total Wines | Garganega and Trebbiano di Soave blend
Pale straw in color with a green tint. Medium acidity and light body. Floral nose with citrus and melon notes.
2016 Pieropan Soave Classico
12% abv | $20.99 Total Wines | 85% Garganega 15% Trebbiano di Soave
Pale straw in color with a greenish tint. On the palate low/medium acidity and body, soft round mouthfeel with notes of melon, stone fruit, citrus, and minerality.
2016 Ca’Rugate Soave Classico Monte Fiorentine
12.5% abv | $19.99 Total Wines | 100% Garganega
Pale lemon in color with a hint of green. Medium acidity and light/medium body, notes of citrus, melon, tropical fruits and minerality.
Soave pairs well with light vegetable dishes, tomatoes, melons, fish, poultry, goat cheese quiche, vegetable frittatas, risotto, and PESTO. I made a shaved vegetable salad with roasted chicken and almond pesto. The light to medium body and acidity in the wines paired well with the shaved vegetables and chicken, but it was the basil in the pesto that made the wine flavors stand out and created the perfect affinity especially with the Pieropan.
Chicken with Shaved Vegetables and Almond Pesto
- 2 medium zucchini
- 6 medium carrots
- 1 bulb fennel, cored
- 1 cup + roasted chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces
- extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 lemon, juiced
- flaked sea salt
Almond Basil Pesto
- 1-2 cloves garlic
- kosher sea salt
- 3 tablespoons blanched almond slivers
- 3 cups fresh basil,loosely packed
- 1/2 cup Parmigiano-Reggiano, grated
- 3 tablespoons Pecorino Romano, grated
- 1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
For the Shaved Vegetables
- With a vegetable peeler, make long ribbons of the zucchini and carrots. Thinly slice the fennel. Mix the three vegetables in a medium bowl and drizzle with 1-2 tablespoons olive oil and lemon juice. Lightly season with flaked sea salt.
For the Pesto
- In a food processor, add garlic, salt, and almonds. Process until finely chopped. Add the basil and olive oil and process until smooth and well mixed. Add the cheeses and pulse on and off to mix.
- Divide the vegetables onto 4 plates. Add the chicken pieces and top with pesto to taste.
Check out my fellow Italian Food, Wine & Travel Bloggers and their posts on Soave. And follow our chat on Twitter the first Saturday of every month using hashtag #ItalianFWT for adventures in Italian Food, Wine & Travel.
- Jennifer at Vino Travels will share “Swept Away to Soave with Gini“
- Li at The Wining Hourwill share “Soavemente, Bacciame! Getting Intimate with Soave“
- Jeff at FoodWineClick will share “The Name Says It All: Soave Classico“
- Camilla at Culinary Adventures with Cam will share “Salmone al Forno + Pieropan Soave Classico”
- Susannah at Avvinare will share “Soave Looks Ahead to New Frontiers“
- Nicole at Sommstable will share “Inama Soave Classico with Brown Butter and Herb Crayfish Rolls“
- Lynn at Savor the Harvestwill share “Strolling to Soave and Cantina del Castello