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Parusso Dolcetto d'Alba Piani Noce 2015
Try pairing with cured meats, simple pasta dishes, and white meats. This wine is suitable for everyday consumption.
Winemaker Marco Parusso was overwhelmed with emotion when he discovered an old document at his family’s estate in Barolo. Dated 1901, the crumbling contract, signed by his grandfather, Gaspare Parusso, was evidence of his purchase of a parcel of land called “Mariondino” – the small vineyard where he first planted Nebbiolo, and where the Parusso story begins. As a humble agrarian, Gaspare began selling his grapes to friends and local cooperatives and added a farmhouse to the estate in 1925 (which still stands today) overlooking the rolling Rocche vineyard. It wasn’t until 1971 that Armando, Gaspare’s son, saw even greater potential in this small piece of land, and began the adventure of crafting his own wines under his own family label.
Without fully realizing it, Armando had slowly begun to transform the family from farmers to vintners. He bought property in Bussia and Mosconi in order to expand production, working closely with young Marco, who became fascinated with winemaking at an early age. Marco Parusso began working full-time in the cellar in 1986 after attending enology school in Alba. Since then, he has successfully grown the estate from a small local winery to one of the most respected names in Barolo.
Besides traditional techniques, Parusso has pioneered the concept of micro-zoning soils based on the individual characteristics of each plot. Individual attention is given to each and every section of the vineyard, adjusting for any particular needs of the vines’ fertilization, pruning and harvest methods. “The purpose of our work is to ensure the longest natural life cycle of the plant in order to obtain the highest quality and most balanced grapes,” says Marco.
Today, Parusso operates on 22 hectares of land, producing just over 100,000 bottles annually. The winemaking is solely focused on indigenous Piedmontese varieties: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto and Barbera. All wines are carefully crafted, combining structure with finesse and elegance, resulting in beautiful, fresh, fruity wines that can be enjoyed in their youth but are also able to evolve and develop incredible complexity over the years.
A prestigious and distinctive region for red wines in northwestern Italy, Piedmont is responsible for some of the country’s longest-lived and most sought-after wines. Set with a backdrop of the visually stunning Alps, its most prized vines are planted at higher altitudes on the warmer, south-facing slopes where sunlight exposure is maximized. The climate is continental, with cold winters and hot, humid summers. Despite the rain shadow effect of the Alps, precipitation takes place year-round, and the reliable autumnal fog provides a cooling effect, which prolongs hang time and aids in the development of phenolic ripeness in its grapes.
Easy-going Barbera is the most planted grape in Piedmont, beloved for its trademark high acidity, low tannin, and juicy red fruit. However, the most prized variety is Nebbiolo, named for the region’s omnipresent fog (“nebbia” in Italian). This grape is responsible for the exalted wines of Barbaresco and Barolo, known for their ageability, firm tannins and hallmark aromas of tar and roses. Nebbiolo wines, despite their pale hue, pack a pleasing punch of flavor and structure, and the best examples can require about a decade’s wait before they become approachable. Barbaresco tends to be more elegant in style while Barolo is more powerful. Across the Tanaro River, the Roero region, and the farther north, the regions of Gattinara and Ghemme, also provide excellent quality Nebbiolo.
Dolcetto is Piedmont’s other important red grape, ready to drink within a couple of years of release. White wines are less important here but range from fruity and fresh to serious and able to take a few years in the cellar. Key varieties include Arneis, Cortese, Timorasso, Erbaluce and the sweet, charming Muscat, responsible for the brilliantly recognizable, Moscato d'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.