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Fratelli Brovia Dolcetto d'Alba Vigna Villej 2009
Recommended with all dishes, particularly hot Piemontese hors d'ouvres, strong tasting pasta, rice dishes and white meat dishes.
Grandfather Giacinto was a wise man and chose some of the best sites in the region for his vineyards. Brovia owns land in the best "cru" of Piedmont such as Rocche, Villero and Garblét Sue. These different vineyard plots represent a range of soil types, from heavier clay to direr limestone. The Brovias are extremely conscientious winegrowers and the accumulated experience of generations means that they know the characteristics of each of their vineyards, if not of each of the individual vines, and the wines that come from them. Nevertheless, they perform soil analyses every two years to ensure that the elements are in equilibrium for the vines to produce high quality grapes. Pruning is done with care and clusters are thinned again in the summer. Harvest is done entirely by hand and usually begins in late September with the Dolcetto, Arneis and Barbera, the Nebbiolo ripens later, near mid October.
Giancinto Brovia vinifies his wines in the classic style. Grapes are lightly crushed before going into the fermentation tanks. Fermentation generally lasts between 15 and 20 days at a temperature near 28 degrees Celsius for the Barolo, somewhat less for the other reds. the Barolo are aged for two years in "botti" made of Slavonian and French oak. The Dolcetto, Barbarseco and Barbera are aged mainly in stainless steel tanks, with a portion going into French oak barrels for 9 - 10 months. the Roero Arneis is vinified and aged in stainless steel. Brovia bottles his wines without filtration.
Beloved for flavorful red wines, Alba is an epicurean’s dream. The historic walled town at its heart is where growers from throughout the Piedmont region would once go to sell their produce to winemakers and négociants following the harvest, but today it is better recognized as one of Italy’s premiere culinary destinations. Sandwiched between Barolo and Barbaresco, the best vineyards, located atop sunny, south-facing hills, are planted with Nebbiolo. A popular entry-level alternative to its pricier neighbors, Nebbiolo d’Alba is softer and less tannic, ready to drink within just a couple years of bottling.
Dolcetto, one of Piedmont’s more easygoing varieties, is commonly grown here, known as Dolecetto d'Alba, and can often be found casually served in carafes on the tables of Alba’s oseterias and trattorias. These light and smooth wines are meant to be drunk young and with gusto while the region’s more serious wines age. Barbera is planted here as well, and takes on a more powerful, structured personality than that of its counterparts in Asti.
An easy-drinker with modest acidity and soft fruity flavors, 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 dinner table on a casual Tuesday night. 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 licorice. While Dolcetto can be tannic, it is relatively low in acidity.
Dolcetto is a lively, exuberant variety without much complexity, and as such is best paired with simple, flavorsome foods such as pasta, pizza, and grilled meats—anything an Italian farmer might consume after a long day in the fields.
In most of Piedmont, easy-ripening Dolcetto is relegated to the less ideal vineyard locations, which are reserved for more finicky Nebbiolo and Barbera. However, in the Dogliani zone it is the star of the show, and here it makes a bigger, riper, and often more serious style of wine.