Dolcetto from Piemonte deserves to be as widely appreciated as it is close to home and amongst us few who love it from afar. Those growers still persevering with it do so as a labour of love as they could make a much better return from Nebbiolo, particularly as some have it planted, like Musso, on land where Neb would be eligible for a Barbaresco label. This one is particularly clean and bright. Red cherry, bakery spices, a little of that Langhe soil and clip of something savoury to finish. Firm but fair tannin and acidity make it so typically adept at coping with a good bowl of pasta. Bright and bouncy from a warm season. Would love to see what their 2016 was like from such a good vintage for Barbaresco.
13% alcohol. Diam, hooray. $23.30, a lucky bid at auction, $35 RRP indicates how undervalued, shhh.
Based on only a bottle or three and some encouraging reviews, it looks like the big cooperative, Cantina Terre del Barolo, is just getting more and more convincingly quality conscious. It’s fascinating to visit the cellar door, sprawled at the foot of Castiglione Falletto’s big hill. The name Arnaldo Rivera is celebrated by a range of wine produced from the Cantina’s members’ best grapes. Seeing as this extraordinary man was many things, school teacher, mayor of Castiglione and founder of the Cantina, it seems more than an appropriate memorial. Imagine trying to persuade over five hundred very individual growers to trust each other enough and band together in the late 1950s. Particularly at a time when the grape market was loaded firmly in favour of the big negotiants. The model apparently was a school project raising hens and selling eggs. If the kids can work together? Sixty years later and there’s a lovely Dolcetto on the table. Just over medium weight, fat juicy cherries, an undercurrent of liquorice and earthy spice and those soft but furry Dolcetto tannins, all freshened up with food friendly acidity; this is Piemonte after all.
14% alcohol. Cork. An extremely lucky win at auction for $9, helps knowing your obscure Piemonte denominazioni.
From one of the original modernista Barolo boys, this is a seriously ripe, deep and chunky Dolcetto. I think I remember reading Altare’s family have some connections with the best Dolcetto denominazione of Dogliani and this certainly has some of the thickness and depth of the best of that less famous bit of the Langhe. Dense and reticent on opening, the fruit finally emerging after a couple of days, showing a toffee and espresso edge to really ripe blueberry and the darkest tart black cherry. Mouth filling skin tannin extract and some cheek sucking on a firm finish. The heat of the vintage shows maybe but this is always a favourite Dolcetto, clean, even and beautifully made. Time to change the variety’s name perhaps, as this certainly isn’t little or sweet.
14% alcohol. Cork. $32 at auction.
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.