The Piedmont region of northern Italy produces many great wines, but none of them are based on the Dolcetto grape. Dolcetto means little sweet things in Italian and is the most popular red grape in Piedmont. There are seven Dolcetto wine designations based on small zones all tucked into the southeast of this beautiful region. Only an expert can tell them apart. I can think of many Piedmont wine tastings much more exciting than trying to distinguish among seven Dolcettos.
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Wine Reviewed Bricco Rosso Dolcetto di Dogliani 2006 13.0% alcohol about $16.50
Let's start by quoting the marketing materials. Description: Dolcetto is Piedmont's popular easy-drinking red variety. Deep in color and packed with flavor, this dry, soft-textured wine is meant to be enjoyed young while your Barolos and Barbarescos sleep in the cellar. This delightfully fragrant and full-bodied version features notes of raspberry, black cherry and dried fruit. It makes a great summertime barbecue red with gourmet sausages. Our Quality Assurance Laboratory has determined that this wine contains 6 mg/L of free sulphur. And now for my review.
The first sips gave me tobacco and almost no tannins. The initial food pairing involved slow-cooked beef ribs and potatoes. The wine had a touch of sweetness and a taste of cherry. It displayed good acidity and had no problem dealing with the meat's fat. When I sprinkled some spicy green jalapeno pepper sauce, the Dolcetto notched its power up to meet the challenge.
The second pairing involved commercially barbecued chicken thighs in a light herb sauce. The Dolcetto was fairly silent. It did have a note of black cherries and some tobacco with virtually no tannins. Its length was moderate. The wine darkened when paired with the accompanying deli-style potato salad.
The final meal centered around merguez, a spicy North African lamb sausage. The wine weakened and tasted of light cherries. With the jalapeno sauce the fruit remained. There were no tannins at any point during this meal.
I finished the tastings with two cheese pairings. When tasted with a marbled cheddar, the Dolcetto had harsh acidity. Then I tried a sheep's milk feta cheese. This time things went better. This wine was round and fairly long. Its fruit wasn't bad.
Final verdict. I would not buy this wine again. I know that economic reality means organic wines cost more. But this wine could not surpass most of the $10 wines that I review in another column.
Levi Reiss has authored or co-authored ten computer and Internet books, but really prefers fine Italian or other wine, with good food and company. He loves teaching computer classes at an Ontario French-language community college. His global wine website www.theworldwidewine.com features a weekly review of $10 wines and new sections writing about and tasting organic and kosher wines. His Italian travel website is www.travelitalytravel.com.