One of the many joys of living in Melbourne is the enduring influence of the last century’s Italian immigration. In inner north suburban Brunswick there remains the large supermarket, Mediterranean Wholesalers, who direct import our daily staples at great prices and where the last surviving members of the 1950s’ diaspora chat in impenetrable dialects. The wine selection can be a little patchy but for a while it’s included the Piemontese cooperative Terre da Vino at astonishing prices. This humble Dolcetto proved to be the perfect companion to a bowl of their quality Gragnano pasta. Clean, fresh and a good bite of food friendly acidity and tannin, just what you want. Barely medium in weight with gentle scents and tastes of red cherries and a touch of that Piemonte soil. A mouthwatering build of soft sparkle fruit makes it interesting as it then fades out to that simply satisfying end. Dread to think what our Anglo Saxon table would have been like without some Italian influence.
12.5% alcohol. Nomacorc Select Green 500 to be precise. $12. Not sure how they do it.
89 points of simple pleasure.
There’s possibly still a misconception about Dolcetto, the little sweet one; this certainly isn’t sweet or little, more like tackle from one of those Italian centre backs from the eighties. Knees, elbows or whatever it takes. This is savoury, jammed with dark Piemontese earth and astringent to the degree of pizza being a necessity. Dark cherries and soil both in smell and taste. Seems like a hot, dry vintage character with assertive dry skin tannin, almost leathery and very firm but thankfully not sour acidity. If you just tasted between meals, you wouldn’t be blamed for thinking it too dry and unbalanced but that’s not the way to do it. To the table for sweet tomato and pale mozzarella on a long prove chewy base and so delicioso.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $30 or thereabouts.
92 points but not much else can match a pizza so well.
Opens with sparklingly clean aromas of bright red sour cherry, wet concrete, sweet earth and just made raspberry compote. Glossy flavours track the same strada with road tar savour providing background to the pure sweet fruit. Very polished wine making kept from cloying by just a tickle of lift. Old tee shirt under an Armani suit. Good density but light on its feet with mouth watering acidity. Quotidian wine for those lucky Piemontese. A bit more special and exotic for us at the end of the long import journey clobbered by the less than equal WET.
13.50% alcohol. Cork. $35.
Really fresh, pure and crunchy red fruits with the flowers and bass of Nebbiolo stretching the spectrum of flavour. A blend it seems of Nebbiolo, Barbera, Dolcetto with tiny bits of Freisa, Albarossa and surprise, Pinot Noir. First day of cracking the screwcap and the Nebb shows most, bit of a dull red colour and rusty flavour. Three days later, no hint of oxygen causing any damage. The colour actually deepened to bright red and the other components filled out the middle with beautifully poised, clean, red fruits like cherry, strawberry and raspberry. Some almond, spice and tar too. Mouthwatering acidity and a drag of Nebb tannin. Blimey, the Vajras are making such succinctly delicious stuff now. 2016 a star of a year.
13.50% alcohol. Screwcap, yes! $30 bargain!
When in Rome one road leads to Matricianella and it’s mammoth wine list. A plate of tagliatelle with porcini and cicoria, incidentally another traditional dish to satisfy vegans, and something from Vietti for 20 euros on the list. Could have gone for a Barolo Cru or Brunello but blinding bargains do beckon. Just love Dolcetto with good pasta. This was foot forward, sweetly ripe, full of succulent berries and that wonderful Langhe rocky soil scent and flavour. Clean, no hint of the dreaded Dolcetto reduction and mouthwatering acidity jammed tight to fine tannins. Simple drinker, simple pleasure on a grand scale. La piccola bellezza.
14% alcohol. Cork. 20 euros on a list it takes a while to read.
92 punti but what a drink with s’ghetti.
Well, it doesn’t say Dolcetto on the label anymore since the DOC got an upgrade to DOCG to reflect the quality and a special place. Probably has done little to generate brand recognition and has only encouraged the wine swots, guilty. The Piemontese themselves just get on and drink it with lunch and dinner. It’s said 2015 was perfect for the little sweet one and this bears it out, though there’s nothing faintly sweet here. Over three days it stood firm with dark, almost tart, cherry and bitter chocolate fruit and not a hint of oxidation. The texture dries and puckers enough to suit those of us who like Nebbiolo. Delicious if you get a ragu on.
14% alcohol. Cork. $30 after taking advantage of Rathdowne Cellars generous 20% off 3 bottles end of year.