Sometimes it’s a thin line between an interesting drink despite a dislike of one or two things in the making and enough pleasure to want another glass. Not knowing the maker but loving Langhe Dolcetto, I risked a small bid on a few bottles of this at auction. The first was just a bit too ripe, lacking a little fruit sweetness through the middle to buffer the tough dry skin tannins. Bit butch, extractive and trying too hard for ripeness, like they’d left things hanging on the vine too long in a hot vintage. Another bottle some time later as lubricant to a tasty Sunday night pizza treat and a happy surprise. Sure, it’s still dense and rich but there’s a swell of sweet cherry chocolate fruit to mitigate the dry cocoa tannin. Notice the producer is based in Serralunga and this certainly does nothing to diminish the village’s reputation for thunder and weight. Perhaps it’s another case of recent imports benefiting from a bit of a rest? There’s a few more tempting a bid. Decent Piemonte for $18.
14% alcohol and it shows a bit. Diam, nice. $18 at auction.
Of the few Barolo vineyards I’ve been lucky enough to walk around, the Cavalotto bit of Castiglione looks like it’s cared for like a perfect organic garden. Grudgingly sharing this bottle with mates over a good pizza, no notes but a lingering need to say just how good. Gentle but firm, all the flavours of good Langhe Dolcetto, bright cherry, touch of aniseed, sweet earth. It’s more the soft balance, everything in its place, no bombast, quiet assurance of grapes grown with great care, picked when the flavours are just ripe at lower alcohol, organic growing showing perhaps? Feels like it’s doing you good as it goes down. The shape reminiscent of digestible claret, the flavours all from a precious plot in Castiglione Falletto. How much longer I can keep my paws off my few Cavalotto Baroli?
12.5% alcohol. Cork. $38.
93 points but grace beyond numbers.
To be honest, it’s not that often there’s a new direct import inclusion on the shelves of the one in every suburb now Dan Murphy’s that inspires an immediate purchase. Perhaps Piemonte is now so important in the wide world of wine that even an Australian supermarket behemoth is paying attention? I should pay more attention to my pouring skills so as to keep the label uppermost to avoid those deeply wine coloured streaks. Does look like we had fun despite my clumsiness. Not that hard, bottle to glass and happy to repeat in this case. Good excuse for more practice. Beautifully made, this just got better over a couple of days airing and sipping. Spotlessly clean. Bright red lip smacking cherries, slightly tart, with almond paste and a perfect Piemonte earthy sense of place. An extra depth of fruit and some sweet herbs. All carried long on crisp ripe acidity and a brush of cat’s lick tannin. It seems as if the Langhe 2018s I’ve tried so far look like they’re from the cooler vintages of the last century before the warming harvests of recent times. Some careful growing getting things just ripe rather than worrying over heat, sun and high alcohol arriving before flavour. Better get another bottle and try not to make such a mess.
13.5% alcohol. Diam, good. $23.10, bargain.
Following up with a bit of research, it seems that the Sori del Ricchino single vineyard has long been prized for the quality of its grapes, in a village already known for the quality of its Dolcetto. My vote for best value in an increasingly expensive Langhe.
Despite some good words about the quality of the vintage, a 2019 bottle of this was disappointing. Just too savoury and a little green around the tannin department. Started off well, quite firm and structured but never really showed enough fruit ripeness to match the grunt. Oh well, never assume.
Some producers are good at the whole process from plants to packaging. Massolino would be an exemplar judging by this sadly empty bottle. Dense, clean and pure fruit galore. Authentic ripe sour cherries, tar, earth and a bit of warm year woody spice. Grip and tang in harmony. Second day and the core of picked just at the right time fruit is headed into deep and meaningful territory. If you had to choose a Dolcetto to interest those learning how good Piemonte can be, this would be the place to start. Bonus marks for a Stelvin Luxe screwcap and a lighter weight bottle. The label’s a bit fancy too.
13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. 420 gms of glass. $37.
93 emphatic points.
Dogliani and Diano, two appellations recognised for the quality of their Dolcetto. This version lives up to its lofty DOCG. Terrific perfumed impact, pristine crunch of black cherry, like those in the East European preserves, Piemontese tart and polished with stones and sweet soil. No more than medium bodied but fills the retro nasals with a lingering fruit fragrance. Suave tannin and acid, a perfectly tailored suit. No bombast, just subtle charm. Mouthwatering and pizza cravings a consequence.
13.5%. Nomacorc Select Green 300. 530 gms of glass. $43 rrp but thanks to the clever people at Fourth Wave imports a mystery special for $118 a six pack. Glad I cracked the enigma thanks to Winefront.
92 maybe 93 points but a plus for being my cup of Dolcetto.
From one of the pioneers of Barolo, a Dolcetto as it would be drunk at the table on a daily basis. Much as Nebbiolo and Barbera command the prices, if you order a carafe of rosso with your meal in the Langhe, more than likely it would be this under appreciated, early ripening alternative. This one has all the tart, red cherry fruit cut with the sort of challenging acidity and an austere stoniness that really suits a forkful of rich pasta. Not a drink for if you’re after the sweet allure of berries and vanilla plumped by alcohol but a real taste of perfumed ripeness teetering on a high wire of tense acidity. After 24 hours of air, the colour darkened, fragrant flowers and more dark cherries emerged. The acidity, still glassy, crackled with life and that fierce dryness. Time will settle things and this will be compulsory on the table in 2022. Hopefully with some friends allowed to share.
13% alcohol. Diam, brilliant. $30 on the shelf at Boccaccio cellars.
92 points of pure typicity, if that’s a word.
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.