Wednesday, November 10, 2010


Duchman Dolcetto

Texas has gotten some interesting notice lately for having some pretty good areas for the cultivation of grapes, in particular Italian varieties.  Duchman Family Winery, in Texas' High Plains AVA, has made quite a splash with several Italian varietals.  I wrote recently about their Aglianico (bottled under the previous Mandola label).  The Duchman's also provided me with a sample of their '09 Dolcetto.  This wine displays the new branding on the "painted-on" label.

The grapes for the Dolcetto come from the Bingham Family Vineyard, which also produces Trebbiano and Vermentino, in addition to Tempranillo, Viognier and Merlot.  From the sample I tasted, it appears the Bingham Family is doing a great job raising grapes and the Duchman's are doing a great job turning those grapes into wine.  If Texas isn't already on your wine radar, it should be.

The Duchman Dolcetto looks medium ruby in color when poured into the glass.  I had no trouble seeing through it.  The nose shows a strawberry-meets-raspberry characteristic - rather like a rosé at first blush.  The aromas start getting a bit darker only about half an hour after opening the bottle.  The darkening continued over a three night tasting span.

The tannins - lively at first pour - are still quite active after 45 minutes in the glass.  The wine is actually dry, despite the name of the grape, meaning "little sweet one" in Italian.  This Dolcetto has a rough-hewn nature, fitting for a wine made in Texas, even if it is from an Italian variety.

A raspberry flavor dominates the palate and those tannins never say die.  The finish is just as rustic.  It leaves you with a bitterness that is not the least bit unpleasant.  The second night the bottle is open, the wine is smoother.  The tannins, however, still let you know they are there.  On the third night, it is as smooth as silk.  The fruit flavors are still intact, but have become much darker and more brambly.

I like wines that evolve over the span of time the bottle is open, and the Duchman Dolcetto fits that description perfectly.  Decanting is recommended - the darker qualities and smoother mouthfeel are a delight - but it's a better than average wine even upon opening.

There is a fairly good streak of spice that runs through this wine, suggesting that it’s a good choice for the holidays.  It pairs with chocolate as well as it does with a steak.  With beef, the more marbled the better.  These tannins can handle anything a piece of meat can throw at it.

The Duchman Dolcetto has yet to be released, but it shows the new branding on the bottle, sells for $26 retail and carries a very moderate alcohol level of 13% abv.  The '08 vintage was a double gold medal winner at the San Francisco International Wine Competition, according to the Houston Chronicle's Dale Robertson.  I expect no less from the 2009 edition.

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