Monday, October 30, 2006

"D" is for Dolcetto

Let me begin by saying everything I know about Italian wines could be written on the head of a pin. In triplicate. Easily.

I know the major players and some of the supporting cast, but there are just too many regions and varietals to contend with. Not to mention that the vast majority of what’s available around here are very common wines.

Case in point—I had to do some looking to find a bottle of dolcetto, which really means I had to stray from my usual wine shop. The trip was well worth it.

Dolcetto is frequently described as “light.” Apparently, dolcetto is one of those Italian "lunch-wines" (love those Italians). So, in keeping with tradition, we sampled it over Sunday lunch, which was far from Italian fare—leftover black bean chicken chili.

The wine was Icardi “Rousori” Dolcetto D’Alba 2003. What a wonderful surprise.

Dolcetto is the type of grape. It is grown mainly in the Piedmont area of Northern Italy. From reading about what dolcetto is “supposed” to taste like, you would think it would be light and fruity—along the lines of Beaujolais Nouveau. Not this one.

There certainly was plenty of fruit—lovely aromas and flavors of blackberries, cherries and fresh grapes, but it was backed up with some nice spicy notes and lovely minerality. Dolcetto is supposed to be lower in acidity than barbera, but I thought it had good acidity—enough to keep it lively.

I also worried that my spicy chili would overwhelm it, but the fruit countered the heat nicely and there was enough body to stand up to the powerful flavors. Simply put, it was delightful.

I wouldn’t say it was light; I would say it was elegant and subtle. Maybe one of the reasons this wine was a bit more substantial than dolcetto is frequently billed as is that it’s a single-vineyard wine. "Rousori" is the vineyard.

I paid about $15 for it, which is a bit more than I like to spend. But I frequently find myself looking for more subtle wines (that aren’t wimpy) for lighter foods, and compared to a nice bottle of pinot noir or a good Rioja that price isn't bad.

If you haven’t read my previous posts, I’m making an alphabetical journey through the world of wine to highlight the amount of diversity out there and to expose myself to wines I’m not familiar with or haven’t visited in a long time.

And what a delicious journey it is.

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