Pieropan, one of the leading quality producers in Soave, opened the doors to their new winery in Soave on April 14. The modern winery is built into a hill just outside Soave, the medieval village that gives its name to the whole region northeast of Verona in Veneto.
It took the Pieropan family five years to build the 10,000 square meters big facility. The main focus is on functionality and wine production, but it also contains beautiful wine cellars with elegant modern designs.
Pieropan has a long history starting in 1880. “It was my great-grandfather and Leonilde Pieropan that started the winery. He was a doctor with a passion for wine. He bought a vineyard with 4 hectares called Calvarino”, says Dario Pieropan, the young grandson who today manages the winery together with his brother Andrea.
Dario’s father, also called Leonilde, took over in 1960. This was at a time when most producers focused on quantity and not quality. “He made drastic changes in the way they worked in the vineyard. He introduced organic fertilizers and started with green harvest to lower the yields. Everyone thought he was crazy”, Dario says.
Leonilde Pieropan (the second) was a visionary in many ways. In Italy, he was the first to make a single-vineyard wine with autochthonous grapes writing the vineyard’s name, Calvarino, on the label. Leonilde Pieropan passed away in 2018. Several times during the tasting, Dario, when speaking about his father, is so touched he has to take a break to pull himself together. Dario and his father worked side by side since 2003 in the historical wine cellar in the centre of Soave. His brother Andrea takes care of the commercial part together with their mother.
The new winery is ten times the size of the old cellar, which was only 1000 square metres.
“It was very complex to make our 600,000 bottles there, and I often felt I was playing Tetris”, Dario jokes.
“My father gave me a lot of space to do my own thing, and in the difficult vintage 2014, he let me take over the leading role. He knew he would never see the new winery finished but spent his last six months designing all the small and final details. It is a great emotion to be here today”, Dario says with a broken voice.
“1961 was our first vintage of Calvarino. It was the Italian wine journalist Luigi Veronelli who pushed my father to do a wine from a single vineyard”, Dario continues.
Pieropan only uses the region’s indigenous varieties garganega and trebbiano di Soave (also called verdicchio) for their whites. According to the rules, it is permitted also to use international white varieties, but garganega must always be at least 70 per cent of the blend.
One of the first things Dario did when taking over was to keep the wines for a longer time in the cellar and to release them to the market one year later. “Soave needs time; in their youth they might seem simple but they gain complexity over time. These are wines to wait for”, he says.
In recent years, Pieropan has grown by some five per cent each year. “This is due to buying vineyards in the classic Soave area, on the hillside. We only buy grapes if we lose crop due to hail”, Dario explains.
They make a wide range of white wines, all of excellent quality. Some years back, they also produced red wines in nearby Valpolicella.
During the inauguration, a group of journalists attended a vertical tasting of Calvarino, which comes from a vineyard with volcanic soil and is vinified and aged in cement. This is how it went.
2020 Soave Classico Calvarino, Pieropan
Intense aromas of green apples, citrus, wet stones, white peach, light hints of smoke, intense flavours, weighty mid-palate balanced by sharp zesty acidity.
2014 Soave Classico Calvarino, Pieropan
Aromas of yellow apples, flowers, hints of honey, intense notes of matches, and smoke, vertical, hints of petrol, light body but very intense flavours.
2011 Soave Classico Calvarino, Pieropan
Intriguing nose, ripe apples and pears, slightly nutty and hints of honey, wild herbs and camomile, rich, somewhat tannic almost, ripe fruit and notes of petrol. Long, intense, and balanced finish.
1992 Soave Classico Calvarino, Pieropan
Developed lovely nose, honey, hay, honeysuckle, wet stones and smoke. High acidity, balanced by intense and still youthful flavours of fruit, together with bread crumb, and light hints of honey, vertical and elegant with a salivating finish.