Showing posts with label Dolcetto. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Dolcetto. Show all posts

Wednesday, February 8, 2023

A Nice Italian Wine For Right Now

Dolcetto is my kinda grape. The folks at Agricola Brandini like it, too. They say that it is "the wine of the Piedmontese peasant family… an expression of simplicity and freshness. It is a wine that wants to be immediate, in the realization and in the sensations that it transmits." That works for me, because I simply cannot maintain a wine cellar. I want it now, immediately, I can't wait. And Dolcetto doesn't mind being opened early. In fact, it likes it. 

The Brandini estate vineyards are Barolo-classified and run by Piero Bagnasco and his daughters, Giovanna and Serena. Winemaker Beppe Caviola oversees production. The 2020 Filari Lunghi - it translates to "long rows" - is made entirely of the Dolcetto grape farmed organically in the Dolcetto d'Alba DOC in Piemonte. Fermentation and aging happens in stainless steel tanks, and the wine is released about six months after harvest. Alcohol is somewhat restrained, at 13.5% abv, and the wine sells for around $22.

This medium dark wine is plenty aromatic. There is big fruit first - blueberry, blackberry, black cherry - met with cinnamon, nutmeg, forest floor, a whiff of smoke and a splash of tar. The palate is robust, to say the least. That dark fruit is there to lead the way, with spices in tow and a strong tannin profile that is more than ready to attack a hunk of beef. This wine is demanding on its own, but at its best when paired with a meaty dish. 

Friday, March 1, 2019

Wine In Cans, Right Now

Canned wine, I'm told, is the fastest growing trend in the wine industry.  No longer a fad or gimmick - well, maybe it's still a gimmick - wine in cans is a 45 million dollar business.  U.S. sales of canned wines jumped by 43% in the year leading up to June 2018.  Stupendous CellarsDavid Weitzenhoffer told Forbes that the market for wine in cans has been doubling every year, and he expects it to more than double this year.  He calls cans "the greatest democratization of wine in our lifetime."  Who's buying it?  Those millennials, I guess, with all their white-water rafting and Himalaya climbing.  They need a wine that's portable as well as potable.

If one can get past the packaging, cans really are a pretty good idea.  No open bottles because it's a single serving.  Fully recyclable along with all your other aluminum cans.  No fuss no muss getting those darn corkscrews to work right.  This is starting to read like one of those cable commercials where the person gets all flustered trying to do a simple, easy thing, then breathes a gigantic sigh of relief when the product appears that makes everything simpler and easier.

Right Now wines are sold in cans, fairly classy looking ones at that, and contain wine that's actually pretty good.  None of the four I sampled were big thinkers, but they tasted fun, and when you need wine while skiing down a black diamond run you don’t want that darn glass getting in the way.

Winemaker and Master of Wine Olga Crawford did a good job with the Right Now collection of red, white, rosé and shimmer.  They taste good, have a nice level of acidity and pair well the sort of fun food one finds at a barbecue or a tailgate party.  They sell for $24 for a four-pack

Alpine Stream White is made up of 85% Pinot Gris, 10% Viognier, 3% Sauvignon Blanc and 2% Vermentino.  Alcohol lays low at 12.5% abv.  The pale gold wine has mineral driven stone fruit, nice refreshing acidity.  It's a bit earthy on the palate, which I like.

Shimmer Lightly Sweet Rosé is carbonated pink wine at 13% abv.  Zinfandel grapes account for 40% while Petite Sirah, Cabernet Sauvignon and Petit Verdot make up most of the rest.  Nine percent are written off as assorted varieties.  It has quite an interesting look in the glass, dark pink-orange, and offers a nose of slightly candied cherry and strawberry.  It tastes really sweet, Jolly Rancher cherry, with light bubbles for fun and a nice acidity for pairing.

Dry Rosé has California on the can and alcohol hits easy at 12.5%.  The grapes are 35% Zinfandel, 32.8% Syrah, 30.2% Barbera and a 0.4% dollop of Merlot.  This wine shows a nice salmon color, with a muted nose of cherry  It's earthy, tasty, not too complex and has a wonderful acidity.

Red Number 8 is labeled as California, but contains a 63% share of Lodi Zinfandel, along with Petit Verdot, Merlot and Petite Sirah.  Alcohol sits at 13.5%.  It’s very dark, with an earthy nose of brambly black berries.  The tannins are good, the acidity is great and the fruit is dark  A bit of a short finish, but it's the best of the bunch.

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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Palmina Wines of Santa Barbara County

It has always struck me that Palmina wines are made specifically to pair with food - so much so that they might seem a little less than impressive at first sniff or taste.  Their wines are made to pair with food, meaning they are made to complement the food, not show it up.  The full expression of their wines really doesn’t occur until they have been matched with food.  Steve Clifton states on the website, “Palmina is a Californian celebration of the rich, wonderful lifestyle and attitude toward food, wine, friends and family that exists in Italy

Clifton is one of the more focused of the “Cal-Italia” winemakers in the Golden State.  He and his wife, Chrystal, specialize in making wine from Italian grape varieties grown in Santa Barbara County.  They do not, he admits, try to emulate the Italian versions of those grapes.  They do try to allow their sense of place in the Central Coast to shine through.  All the while, they keep in mind the Italian perspective that wine isn’t merely a beverage, but one of the things which helps give life its meaning.  Wine is “an extension of the plate” at Palmina.

The wines of Palmina are notable for their acidity, a must when pairing wine with food.  Their flavors are delicious without overwhelming the palate.  The food is the star in Clifton’s philosophy, wine is the supporting actor.

I had the pleasure of experiencing quite a full tasting of Palmina wines at the Wine Warehouse tasting event on April 24, 2012 at the Hyatt Regency Century Plaza in Los Angeles.  I don’t usually have food at large wine tasting events, but this time I found myself drifting over to an appetizer station between samples.

The Palmina whites are great sippers on their own, but the minerality and acidity found in their Pinot Grigio, Tocai Friulano, Arneis and Malvasia Bianca almost make a food pairing mandatory.  The Malvasia Bianca, from the Santa Ynez Valley’s Larner Vineyard, is the one Palmina white that displays a nose and palate that might compete with food.  The floral element in this one is enormous and beautiful.

The Botasea Rosato di Palmina is a beautiful pink blend of Dolcetto, Barbera and Nebbiolo.  It is not produced in the saignée method, where juice is bled off in the process of making a red wine.  All the fruit for this rosé was picked especially to make this wine.  It’s nice and dry, with a light cherry flavor that could beckon spring on its own.

As for the reds, Palmina’s Dolcetto is light and breezy, the Barbera offers a light touch of smoke and the Nebbiolo is lightweight yet tannic.  Alisos is a blend of 80% Sangiovese and 20% Merlot.  It was the first wine made by Palmina, in 1997.  The wine is produced by allowing some of the Sangiovese grapes to dry and become raisins.  They are then vinified and blended with the previously vinified wine.

If you find you really need a wine that packs its own punch, Palmina’s Undici has a big nose of smoke and chocolate-covered cherries.  The Sangiovese fruit comes from the Honea Vineyard, and there are traces of Malvasia Bianca in the mix.  The Nebbiolo from the Sisquoc Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley offers a huge expression of fresh cherries and an array of spices that would fill a spice rack.  TheStolpman Vineyard Nebbiolo has great grip and a palate based in cherry and layered with a host of other delicacies.

Monday, October 3, 2011


Docetto at Terroni

Here's another lunchtime stop at Terroni, a nice place in Los Angeles that favors Italian food and wine.  The vibe doesn't really sing opera, but the food is good and the wine list is heavy on Italian wines.

A Dolcetto jumped out at me, the '09 Luigi Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani.  Dolcetto di Dogliani is the Dolcetto grape grown in the little hamlet of Dogliani, in Piemonte.  The wine cost $10 by the glass at the restaurant.

The wine is colored medium dark ruby red and features a tarry scent on the nose.  Cassis, black cherry and licorice aromas also come through.  The taste is dark and earthy, and the wine feels young and brash on the palate.  Dolcetto - despite meaning "little sweet one" in Italian - is a fairly tanninc grape, and this one shows it in spades.  It paired reasonably well with the pork loin and potato dish, but with all that tannic structure, it should have been a steak.

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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.