Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Marchesi di Barolo, Dolcetto d’Alba “Madonna di Como,” 2007, $18

Dolcetto means “little sweet one” in Italian, but wines made from this red grape taste dry. Though they can be quite fruity, they definitely are dinner, not dessert, companions. They usually are low in tannin; good examples combine a soft texture with rich flavor, making them very versatile with food.

Vintners in Piedmont, dolcetto’s homeland, extract full color and flavor from this grape variety with just a short period of maceration or skin contact, thus producing soft, easy-drinking wines. Because of this, dolcettos are best enjoyed young because their fresh perfume and bright cherry flavors provide much of their charm.

This particular dolcetto, from a producer famed for more muscular Barolos (made with nebbiolo, an entirely different grape), tastes ripe but refreshing. It’s the rare red that can venture successfully into territory usually reserved for white wines, as it matches well with fairly delicate fish, poultry or vegetarian dishes. On a warm evening, you even can serve it slightly chilled.

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