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Marchesi di Barolo Dolcetto d'Alba 2010
Setting precedents is a characteristic of Piedmontese winemaking and Marchesi di Barolo, one of the region's premier producers of Barolo, is no exception. In the mid-1800s, Marchesi di Barolo became the first estate in Italy to vinify its red wines in a dry style, a revolutionary concept at the time, but one with enduring and immensely beneficial consequences for the entire Italian wine industry.
In contrast to its noble French counterparts, Cabernet Sauvignon and Pinot Noir, which flourish in various corners of the world, Nebbiolo rarely thrives outside its native Piedmontese habitat. While relatively resistant to frost, damp and mist, it is highly sensitive to terrain, faring best in the Langhe district's chalky, marly soil of maritime origin.
Producing majestic red wines of phenomenal depth, complexity and longevity, Nebbiolo is the earliest red grape variety in Piedmont to bud and the last to ripen. Its name derives from the early morning mists, or "nebbia," that shroud the lower slopes of the Langhe hillsides during the fall harvest period.
The Marchesi di Barolo estate takes pride in the international reputation it has established for its fine Barolo DOCG and two superb single-vineyard crus, Barolo Cannubi DOCG and Barolo Sarmassa DOCG, all made from 100% estate-grown Nebbiolo grapes.
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.