"Wine is water come of age." - Father Capon

Friday, February 11, 2011

Dolcetto d' Alba

S and I had two wonderful wines this week from the Piedmonte region of Italy. They were both based on the grape varietal Dolcetto. The Piedmonte region is known for the big wines of Barolo and Barbaresco, which are as expensive as they are famous. Dolcetto may be less famous, but it is a wonderful grape and more affordable than it's bigger brothers. It's name means "little sweet one" and it ripens faster than nebbiolo or barbera, making a rich wine that is deeply violet colored and low in acidity. Joseph Bastianich and David Lynch describe it this way, "with aromas of violets and black fruits, and usually a tinge of licorice and even coffee on the palate, dolcetto might be best described as part of a vinous color scheme. Barabera and nebbiolo tend to produce more "red" red wines - flavors of fresh dried cherries, red raspberries, and then a variety of earthy, spicy, leathery notes. But the dolcetto grape is more a purple or black wine, as evidenced not only by its deep color (something nebbiolo in particular lacks) but its black-fruit flavors. It is the juiciest and fruitiest of the Piedmont reds; the more full bodied, barrel-aged versions taste like a spread of blackberry jam on toast. Depending on the level of extraction a producer goes in for his dolcetto - a function not only of viticulture but the length of time the wine spends on its skins during fermentation - the wine may be light, soft, and almost Beaujolais-like in character, of plumper, rounder, with silty-sweet tannins and a sappiness reminiscent of California merlot." 
The Bricco del Drago, made by Poderi Colla, is a DOC classified blend of 85% dolcetto and 15% nebbiolo. We discovered the 2003 at the Moscow Wine Co. for an incredible 8.00 (online from 25.00-40.00)! It was a beautiful wine - the rich red fruits of the dolcetto were balanced by the dusty dry tannins of the nebbiolo, giving the wine more structure and power than dolcetto alone. It was perfect with pasta and red sauce with sausage. The 2006 Bricco Bastia Dolcetto D' Alba (again from the Wine Co.) was also a lovely wine. Loaded with dark fruits (blackberries especially) and licorice, it was fresh and rich all at the same time. Perfectly balanced too, with very little tannin. It paired especially well with the figs, olives, bread and cheese we enjoyed for lunch. These are really great wines and superb values. If you are in Moscow, you should stop by the Wine Co. and get a bottle to have with your next antipasti craving, and if not, ask your local wine shop for a dolcetto they recommend. You won't be sorry. 

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