Casa E. di Mirafiore Dolcetto d'Alba 2009
Mirafiore wines give expression to a vision, to a precise point of view promoting for some time by Fontanafredda's Bio-nature Reserve: eco-compatibility, the green philosophy. Meaning respect for the environment and the health of the end consumer. Ecological awareness is imprinted first and foremost on the work in the vineyards, where chemical fertilizers and weed-killers are banned, and pest treatments are substantially reduced in order to produce clean grapes with chemical residues approaching zero. The next step takes place in the winery, through a drastic reduction in the use of sulphites compared to legally-permitted limits, and preference given to native yeasts rather than industrial strains. Finally, rounding off the two previous phases, the packaging is composed of 85% recycled glass and labels produced using natural inks. And this is where the seeming contrast between old and new returns, where the new (the container) encloses the old (the contents), which is in turn old itself (traditional) precisely because it is new (clean and fair). Mirafiore wines: Pure expression of seeming contrasts.
In a sense, “Alba” is a catch-all phrase, and includes the declassified Nebbiolo wines made in Barolo and Barbaresco, as well as the Nebbiolo grown just outside of these regions’ borders. In fact, Nebbiolo d’Alba is a softer, less tannic and more fruit-forward wine ready to drink within just a couple years of bottling. It is a great place to start if you want to begin to understand the grape. Likewise, the even broader category of Langhe Nebbiolo offers approachable and value-driven options as well.
Barbera, planted alongside Nebbiolo in the surrounding hills, and referred to as Barbera d’Alba, takes on a more powerful and concentrated personality compared to its counterparts in Asti.
Dolcetto is ubiquitous here and, known as Dolcetto d'Alba, can be found casually served alongside antipasti on the tables of Alba’s cafes and wine bars.
Not surprisingly, given its location, Alba is recognized as one of Italy’s premiere culinary destinations and is the home of the fall truffle fair, which attracts visitors from worldwide every year.
An easy-drinker with modest acidity, soft fruity flavors—but catchy tannins, Dolcetto is often enjoyed in its native Piedmont while more serious Barolos and Barbarescos take their time to age. Here, this is the wine you are most likely to find at the table on a casual Tuesday night, accompanying local charcuterie or "apertivo" hour (the canonical Piemontese way to tease your palate before dinner). In recent years Dolcetto has found some footing in California, but plantings are fairly limited outside of Italy.
In the Glass
Dolcetto translates to “little sweet one,” and though the wines produced are typically not sweet in terms of residual sugar, they do possess delightfully fruity flavors of red cherry and blueberry, with an almond-like bitterness at the end and occasional hints of chocolate and baking spice.
Dolcetto is a lively, exuberant variety without a ton of complexity in most cases, and as such is best paired with simple, flavorsome foods such as pasta, pizza and simple meats—anything an Italian farmer might consume after a long day in the field.
In most of Piedmont, easy-ripening Dolcetto is relegated to the secondary sites—the best of which are reserved for the king variety: Nebbiolo. However, in the Dogliani zone it is the star of the show, and here it makes a bigger, riper and a more serious style of Dolcetto, many of which can improve with cellar time.