2018 Murgo Tenuta San Michele Etna Bianco DOP

70% Carricante and 30% Catarratto. It seems these two are truly indigenous to the sulphurous slopes of Etna, the former particularly so and known for its ability to hang onto high levels of acidity. It must include a lot of malic acid as it’s known for frequent malolactic fermentation to soften things up. Murgo certainly seem to have a pretty good idea of how to make a very tasty bottle from their piece of the volcano. First day, toffee, exotic citrus and pear liqueur richness are pulled into shape by saline, ash and yoghurt sour acidity. Lots of power with much pith and acidity to balance. Second day and there’s an uncanny touch of Chardonnay from the Côte de Beaune about it. Unusually well applied oak, sweet citrus again and honeyed quince all delicious on a bed of drying mineral ash and that tangy yoghurt. A haunting mouth perfume stays around to emphasise the gentle power. Offered a glass without knowing, I would have offered a guess at Meursault or Chassange. Not many volcanoes in Burgundy but some influences in Sicily. Love to know if anyone’s tried this in an options game, had me fooled and I’d seen the label.

13.5% alcohol. Diam, yes. About $55 to 60 RRP?

94 and an argument for 95 possible.

2018 Crissante Alessandria Barbera d’Alba

A new producer for me, based in La Morra, home of Altare the modernist and this looks appropriately clean and fresh, albeit without being clobbered by oak flavour. Bearing in mind the Italian formality of putting the family name before the given name, this could the estate of Alessandria Crissante or not? Lovely to say with a musical Italian voice nonetheless despite the possibility of being unforgivably rude and bad at accents. The contents of the bottle are much easier to understand. Bright with dark sour cherry, digestive biscuits, nuts and that Piemontese austere stony earth. Sort of washy in a good way as the flavours float on the journey down the red lane. Ripe but crisply mouthwatering, yum. Wonder what that is in Italian? They must use the words a lot being so good at putting food on the table.

14.5%. Diam, bravo. $41 at auction.

93 points, better the second day, good sign.

2018 Rizieri Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba Sori del Ricchino

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.

93 points.

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.

2017 Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba

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.

2018 Fontanafredda Diano d’Alba

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.

2015 Renato Corino Nebbiolo d’Alba

Inviting straightaway, lots of ferrous stony stuff, sweet dried roses, cherry stones, all brightly lit and chiseled with tense acidity. Touch of toffee warmth to end shows the warmer vintage maybe? Second day, it’s just as sweet and ripe, for Nebbiolo relatively speaking. More rich dried cherry skins, those sweet rose perfumes and a sort of roast pistachio in muscovada sugar thing. All running up against a wall of rocky acidity to help the pasta go down. Not quite the drive or austerity of the long lasting years as it started to fade on the third day but delicious and so well made. A La Morra Barolo from this address would be something to try.

14% alcohol. Diam, good. 495 gms glass. $36 at auction.

Started 92 points, calmed down to 91 but lovely to drink.

2018 G D Vajra Langhe Rosso

Anyone who’s had more than a dabble in the joys of Barolo will have a particularly soft spot for this producer. From a vintage that seems to have led to crisp, high acid wines, this is probably the usual mix of mainly Nebbiolo with bits of all sorts like Barbera, Dolcetto, Freisa and others. The back label is coy this year. Open over three days. First, sweetly pretty with a fizzy cherry drink flavour, in a good way, cut tart and Langhe tense and earthy. Almost a natural wine feel, pure and alive. Second, deeper colour, more obviously Nebbiolo, spiced cherries, floral built on a puckering balance of almost glassy acidity and finest tannin. Third, better again, more fragrant red cherry and roses, such a tasty crunch of succulent acid controls the shape. So much in something light to medium weight at best. As good as anything with good pasta. In a fascinating interview with Aldo Vajra on Levi Dalton’s excellent podcast, I’ll Drink To That, it seems the new generation are learning from their papa and vice versa. The wine just gets better. Now, to find a bottle of their 2016 Bricco delle Viole.

13.5% alcohol. Screw cap. $30.

92 then 93 then 92, daft as a linear scale is for such subjective pleasure.

2013 Cantina Terre del Barolo Undici Comuni Arnaldo Rivera Barolo

A treat for a winter weekend from Castiglione Falleto’s cooperative, named after its instigator. A blend of all the eleven Barolo communes. It’s interesting that in a time of revered single vineyard bottling, some of the great old timers thought their blends to be more than the sum of their parts. Opens clean and dark fruited with a poker face. Time lightens the fruit to bright red and brings a smile. Aniseed gob stoppers, old pot pourri, muddy rocks. Creeps up on you sotto voce and then plonks a great big blob of tart cherries in the middle of the tongue. Leaves with a wave of pure Piemontese perfume. Great Barolo mash up.

14% alcohol. Cork. $60 from auction.

94 points but probably biased.

2019 Oddero Dolcetto d’Alba

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.

2017 Giovanni Rosso Langhe Nebbiolo

The 2017 vintage reports suggest it was hot and sticky work for a bunch of Nebbiolo grapes in Piemonte. First impressions were of brisk warm fruit and a chunk of firm tannin and acid without some of the perfume and for want of a better words, intricacy of flavour possible around Barolo. Nebbiolo can be contrary and slow to articulate though. So sure enough, by the third and particularly the fourth day of airing some rich cherry fruit and warm rose fragrance unravelled. Perhaps there’s not the sweet earthy complexity but it finally turned out round, satisfyingly ripe, with the tannin meets acidity fun of good Nebbiolo falling into place. Only medium bodied and gently extracted, perhaps showing a light touch in a hot vintage? Just landed from a long sea journey, some imports can look surly and take up to twelve months to open up, maybe the case here? It would be good to revisit in a couple of years.

14% alcohol. Diam, I think, guilty of an incomplete note. $45.

92 points.