Fratelli Antonio & Raimondo Piedmont, Italy Piemonte Dolcetto 2018 If Barbera has historically played second fiddle to Nebbiolo historically, it’s certainly true that Dolcetto has always rounded out the pack in terms of notoriety. Because of its proclivity for early ripening, it is often planted in higher-elevation vineyard sites that are considerably colder where Nebbiolo and Barbera would struggle to ripen. The name Dolcetto translates– roughly–to ‘little sweet one’, which shows that it may not have always been an easy sell, but it has always been widely loved by locals for its light, fruity nature. After all, if your Barolo needs a decade in the cellar before it’s ready to drink, it’s refreshing to have a delicious table wine you can open right away and enjoy. This is what that’s for.
Though characteristically dark in color, classic Dolcettos often exhibit rustic yet silky tannins and supple, fresh fruit characteristics. In the case of this lovely iteration from Antonio & Raimondo, it is similarly deep as the Barbera, with a spicy herbal edge rounding out the tasting experience. It is a bit lighter, with just a bit of rusticity. It is just perfect with our recipe for Roasted and Marinated Wild Mushrooms.
Unlike Barbera, which is prone to being made into light, quaffable reds, Dolcetto is known for having high tannins and low acidity. With a traditional long, Nebbiolo-like maceration on a ripe Dolcetto crop, the resulting wine would be too tannic to drink young, yet would also lack the acidity to age long enough for the tannins to integrate. Most growers, cognizant of this, opt for a gentle and short extraction during maceration so as to extract fewer tannins, thereby crafting a wine that is beautiful and ready to drink upon release. This particular example is a wonderful example, though you will find more rustic tannins here than in the Barbera.