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Urban Legend Cellars Dolcetto 2010
Dolcetto pairs well with pastas—try some wild mushroom ravioli some time with it; the earthiness is perfect for it. We really like it with duck; Dolcetto can stand up to some of the fruit sauces that go well with duck but also is clean enough to be refreshing after all that rich duck fat. It's light enough for herbed chicken and a natural—it is Italian—for cured meats. Finally, save some for dessert to serve with blue cheese and pears.
We've never been shy about disruption. Throughout our careers, we've introduced technologies that no one ever thought would work—and changed the world. When we wanted to drink wines that were perfect complements to our local food—diverse flavors, honest ingredients, a sophisticated yet approachable style—we said: "We'll have to make them ourselves, We'll make them where the food is created—in the city, and let’s do it together!" It's not a traditional strategy—just a very American one.
Today, we hand craft more than a dozen Urban Legend wines that each, uniquely, salutes the varied flavors of California and our home: Oakland, America's most diverse city. Critics and consumers alike are impressed with our fidelity to variety, our expression of place, our food-friendly style, and our absolute consistency of quality—from our very first release and forward.
As home to California’s highest altitude vineyards, El Dorado is also one of its oldest wine growing regions. When gold miners settled here in the late 1800s, many also planted vineyards and made wine to quench its local demand.
By 1870, El Dorado County, as part of the greater Sierra Foothills growing area, was among the largest wine producers in the state, behind only Los Angeles and Sonoma counties. The local wine industry enjoyed great success until just after the turn of the century when fortune-seekers moved elsewhere and its population diminished. With Prohibition, winemaking and grape growing was totally abandoned. But some of these vines still exist today and are the treasure chest of the Sierra Foothills as we know them.
El Dorado has a diverse terrain with elevations ranging from 1,200 to 3,500 feet, creating countless mesoclimates for its vineyards. This diversity allows success with a wide range of grapes including whites like Gewurztraminer and Sauvignon Blanc, as well as for reds, Grenache, Syrah, Tempranillo, Barbera and especially, Zinfandel.
Soils tend to be fine-grained volcanic rock, shale and decomposed granite. Summer days are hot but nights are cool and the area typically gets ample precipitation in the form or rain or snow in the winter.
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.