If you've been following the blog at all over the past few months, you'd know that without our crutch - Wikipedia - we wouldn't know anything about wine. There we turn again to explore the wonder of Dolcetto.
A black wine grape variety grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy, Dolcetto is a dry wine that is typically tannic and fruit driven with moderate acidity. Ironically, the name means "little sweet one." Known as Douce Noire in Savoue and Charono in California, the oldest known plantings of the fruit is in Australia - dating back to the 1860's.
Known for black cherry and licorice flavors, a bitter finish leaves the drinker pining for almonds. Typically an easy-drinking wine, Dolcetto pairs well with pasta and pizza dishes.
Three wineries provided samples of Dolcetto for our review:
- Erath 2006 Dolcetto (Willamette Valley)
- Ponzi Vineyards 2006 Estate Dolcetto (Willamette Valley)
- Woodward Canyon 2008 Estate Dolcetto (Walla Walla Valley)
We received at least four perspectives on each of the three wines, and unequivocally I can say that there was absolutely no consensus on a "best" of the three. Ultimately, all three were considered best by some, and it really just comes down to the taste of the drinker as all three are technically sound wines and are delicious in their own way. And no, I'm not just saying that! Here we go...
Erath: The first of the three that I tasted, I immediately noticed a light mouthfeel and flavor. Fruity notes of red plum, cassis, and vanilla were present, and other reviews also made note of the smoothness of the wine. One reviewer noted that, "This is my favorite full bodied red." This was the first Dolcetto I had ever tried (although a different vintage) about 4 years ago and it left me curious for more. Certainly Erath didn't disappoint with this one and keep your eyes out for this one at a price point of $22.00.
Ponzi: After the pour I directly noticed tobacco on the nose, with a mellow and earthy taste. The wine finished a bit sharper. Guests observed smooth, slightly peppery characteristics and one made a point of writing, "Helps with the sober." You're guess is as good as mine as to what that means. This is the second varietal in Ponzi's Italian series and is sure to please. With strong fruity notices and broad tannins, grab a bottle at $25 before the 580 cases are gone.
Woodward Canyon: The third of my tasting flight, this wine presented a bigger, bolder flavor - perhaps a result of the high heat of the Walla Walla Valley appellation. Guests noticed a fruity profile with a nose of raspberries, blackberries, and a bit of spice. With a long, generous finish, I found this to be a well-balanced wine (as the tasting notes indicate as well) and very much enjoyed it. In fact, while I enjoyed all three, the Woodward Canyon was my favorite Dolcetto and I found myself wanting another bottle. At $21.00 per bottle, I'll probably be picking one up to go on the rack.
Perhaps the most interesting phenomena of this tasting was the unanticipated comparison of region in the tasting. Universally the two wines from the Willamette Valley were found to be a bit more subtle and smooth, characteristic of the wetter cooler climate of which the fruit was born. The Walla Walla Valley wine was bigger and bolder, reminiscent of the high-heat climate. From there, you could draw a direct correlation as to who would enjoy which wine based on preference for bigger, bolder reds or lighter varietals. Perhaps that is why we saw such mixed ratings between the three...but it's neat to observe such a prominent dichotomy between appellations.
Well, I'd better sign off for now and get some rest before another week of work, wine, and fun. Does anybody have exciting wine plans for the upcoming week? Cheers.