2016 Dolcetto D'Alba Campot Castello Di Verduno

This week I tried a Dolcetto D'Alba that I picked up at my favorite local wine shop, Wine Authorities. I was really excited to try this wine because Dolcetto is my favorite grape varietal, but it's not super common. Wine Authorities generally has a couple different bottles of it, so when I'm really craving it I always go there to find it.

Dolcetto is an Italian grape that is most commonly found in the Piedmont region of Northwest Italy. The grape has made it's way to the U.S. and Australia, but the majority of Dolcetto wines still come from Italy. The Piedmont region is also known for Barbera and Nebbiolo. Nebbiolo and Barbera are more finicky grapes than Dolcetto, so they tend to be planted in the sunnier party of vineyards, whereas Dolcetto can grow almost anywhere. This is especially true for Dolcetto from the Alba appellation, like the one I tried. There are seven appellations of the Piedmont region where Dolcetto is grown, and most Dolcetto comes from the Alba, Dogliani, and Diano Alba. Dolcetto d'Alba has been the easiest of the three for me to find, but if I ever see one from the Dogliani appellation I would snatch it up immediately, because there the grape doesn't play third fiddle to Barbera and Nebbiolo, and instead gets planted in the sunnier party of the vineyard, which leads to a riper grape and a more flavorful and higher quality wine. Dolcetto is often perceived as being a good and reliable wine, but not a particularly interesting wine. In Italy it's often drunk as an everyday wine because it's very versatile, it pairs well with a lot of different types and styles of food, and it's easy to drink. Recently though, many winemakers in Piedmont have been experimenting and innovating with Dolcetto and have produced more complex versions of this wine. I personally think that Dolcetto is a very interesting wine, and I often describe it as similar to a Pinot Noir but with a little more complexity. That's not to say that Pinor Noir can't be complex or interesting, it's just that the Dolcettos that I have come across tend to draw me in more than the average Pinot Noir that I've tried.

Now, let's get to why I like this wine so much, what does it taste like? When I smelled my wine as I swirled it in my glass after pouring, I picked up on rich berry scents first; blackberry, raspberry, and dark cherry. I also picked up a hint of unexpected spiciness that counter-balanced the strong fruit scents. I also noticed the gorgeous color of the wine as I was swirling it. It's a true rich red, not purpley-red, but just red. You can see hints of the color in the pictures, on the left of the glass where the light reflects and along the top edge of where the wine is filled to. It's a really beautiful color. When I drank the wine I picked up the fruit forward nature of the berry flavors, along with flavors of fresh plum and fig. The back end of the taste was more surprising though, along with the spiciness I got a mild oak flavor, hints of vanilla, and a subtle tobacco flavor. These were notes that I didn't pick up when smelling the wine, and they added a deeper complexity to the wine. They brought a more bitter flavor to balance out the strong berry notes well, and the wine had a lovely lightly-tannic texture. Just enough tannins that it didn't feel like I was drinking juice instead of wine.

I paired this wine with a simple pasta dish with spinach, Italian sausage, butternut squash, and parmesan cheese. The wine and the food went wonderfully together. This wine would also go great with pesto gnocchi or a mushroom risotto. This wine definitely tastes like an Italian wine, so while it does pair well with almost any food, it really begs to be paired with pasta. I really enjoyed this wine and would definitely buy it again.