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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.
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.