There are certain wines that you taste and you say to yourself, wow, this is great and I’m glad I’m tasting it but it’s not as if I couldn’t live without this wine.
And then there are others that inspire you to think, wow, this wine is great and it’s making me totally rethink what I know about this grape variety and this appellation.
Anselmi is one of those wineries and wines for me. Ever since I first started tasting Anselmi in the late 1990s while working as a writer for La Cucina Italiana, I realized that the wines were benchmarks for Soave. And yet, as classic as they were in some respects, they were also ground-breaking in others. And even though they very much tasted like Soave (as they should), they also had a vibrancy and “energy” to them that seemed to transcend the place where they are farmed.
And then came owner and winemaker Roberto Anselmi’s very public and at the time controversial break from the Soave Consortium.
Not only did I find the wine to be one of the most compelling expressions of Soave I had ever tasted but now I also learned that Anselmi was an iconoclast who determined to change the rules of the game and make people see Soave and Garganega, it’s primary grape, in a new way. That made me even more eager to “follow” Anselmi (and that was before social media!).
As a student of historic ampelography in Italy, I had always wondered why the Soave of my younger years didn’t align with the descriptions of Soave being one of Italy’s most prized wines — in the Renaissance and Middle Ages but even in the Roman era as well. But when I tasted Anselmi for the first time, and in my many tastings of the wines including a visit to the winery, I was able to recognize the greatness that Anselmi had begun to recapture.
That was more than 20 years ago when no one in the hipster wine world would even touch Soave with a ten foot pole. Today, hipsters rush to taste the “volcanic” wines produced by people like Roberto. There are now so many Soave wineries that belong to the hipster wine canon. Anselmi played an oversized role in creating the new interest in and attention for Soave and its wines. And for that, we owe Roberto eternal thanks.