I thoroughly hate to give a negative review, I really do. It is not a nice thing, and for all I know it may make me an enemy or two. In fact, even if I personally dislike a beverage, as long as objective criteria show it to be of good quality, and a fair amount of people like it for what it is, then I will put my own taste buds aside and write about what the beverage has to offer in its own right.
In the case of the Soave I had the other evening, I really wanted to like it. I was in the mood for a nice white, Soave Classico is a great region and 2009 was a good year there, and this was set to hit the spot. A nice wine, a nice review, badda-bing, badda-boom. Unfortunately, there was not very much to like about this wine once it hit the palate, and I simply refuse to say otherwise here. Sometimes a positive review is just a flat out lie, and in those cases I will not pull a verbal two-step and make the beverage sound good. I cannot, in good conscience, cross that line, however much I may find it convenient to do so.
When reviewing a drink, I like not only to discuss aromas and flavors, but also to study history and tradition, production and industry, and other things that make the world of beverages, and the world as a whole, exciting. For the 2009 Soave Classico by Suavia, what we have to learn ties in directly with its flaws, which are both blatant and unforgivable.
Which is not to say that they are all-encompassing. The first thing that one notices is quite nice: an aroma of tropical citrus, mainly orange and kumquat, and maybe a touch of lychee. It is crisp like a Sauvignon Blanc, fruity like a Chardonnay, and piquant like a Pinot Grigio. The intensity is moderate, respectable. It was all so promising.
The palate is different. The fruits are the same, but now joined by notes of toffee and nuts, especially almonds. There is also a note of apricot and a hint of a whiff of a mist of vanilla. The texture is even, but not smooth - let's say consistent ridges.
But those ridges are nothing more than the alcohol hitting the tongue. It is not verve, spunk, movement, or any other aspect of personality. It is neither give nor take. In fact, the wine is very conspicuously flat in such respects. It lacks that certain something, an aliveness. Perhaps this Soave Classico is not completely a corpse, but it is quite listless. It is almost as though it were not really into being a wine; it just goes through the motions, and quite unconvincingly at that. I found myself not so much enjoying a glass of wine as drinking an alcoholic beverage flavored like one. Even the color, though tinted nicely straw, lacks any and all distinguishing characteristics. It is not so much limpid as boring.
The finish gets even worse, by the way: the wine loses even its taste. Other than a basic, perfunctory note of white grape, there is barely anything there to report.
I dared not hope that a short while of breathing would jolt this sleeping drink awake, but I stuck around to see what would happen, out of curiosity if nothing else. I probably should not have bothered. After twenty minutes of aeration, the wine is pretty much the same as before except without the ridges. The aroma is still pretty nice: smoother, more mellow, full of tropical notes minus the citrus. It is more mellifluous, easygoing, a fun bouquet - the olfactory equivalent of a varied palette of bright, vivid pastels. But then when sipped, the wine has the same issues as before. It offers a pleasant combination of tropical fruits, and the offering stops dead right there. This wine completely lacks presence. I cannot talk to it, much less hear anything from it. The finish does attempt an improvement, offering notes of grapes and nectarines, with a tad of lychee to round it out. But this is way too little, way too late.
They say that one does not appreciate what one has until it is gone. I like to think that I have been attentive to, and appreciative of, the personalities offered up by the wines and other beverages that I have been fortunate enough to taste over the past year and more. But tasting a wine like this, so completely devoid of personality, definitely does help me to understand just how important personality is, and in what ways it is so. A wine is more than just fermented grapes, in the same way that a person is more than just carbon and water. People are awake, alive, active, conscious, and endowed with unique characters and qualities pertaining precisely to that consciousness. In the same way, the flavors and features in any wine worth the name ought primarily to serve as highlights alongside the qualities associated with being alive and having a personality all its own. This 2009 Soave Classico certainly has all of the ingredients, but nothing to let us know that there is anything behind them. And what a shame that is.