Posted by: tomciocco | December 9, 2010

IT’S THAT KIND OF DOLCETTO

Piedmont’s Dolcetto, like Montepulciano d’Abruzzo and Grenache to name a couple of others, are varieties that I’ve always thought of as “chameleon” grapes.  And by “chameleon” I don’t mean to over-imply radically place-driven, slave-to-terroir tendencies often attributed to varieties like Pinot Noir, (though there’s definitely some of  that there) but also those grapes whose wines can be found in every shape, size, and ambition level. These varieties can and do yield wines that range from obviously cheap, industrial plonk to the nearly sublime with the shadings of every color in the spectrum hung in between.

And sure, you could say that varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon trump them all on these counts, to which I’d say that Cabernet’s radical variation is far more a function of growers trying to cash in on Cabernet’s perceived quality at every price point, than real value…With Cabernet, you more or less get what you pay for.

With Dolcetto however, like the other varieties, you can from time to time be positively knocked out by the expressiveness, personality and overall quality you receive vis-a`-vis the number printed on the receipt. Cavallotto’s “Vigna Scot” has always been one of those wines for me: an extraordinarily complex, place-driven wine that is still typically “Dolcetto”, offered at a VERY fair price.

To match this lovely bottle, I opted for egg pappardelle with an uncooked walnut/pinoli/ricotta/marjoram sauce, and then Negretto (beef chunks stewed slowly with just onions with a bit of tomato puree` and a fistful of butter stirred in at the very end) with rapini (broccoli rabe) boiled and then sauteed with garlic, breadcrumbs, and anchovies (too many for Jenny, unfortunately).

Cavallotto Dolcetto “Vigna Scot” 2oo8

Deep blackish crimson/garnet color. The nose is an elegant, complex, and evolving pastiche of brown spice, dried red flowers, black cherry, licorice, toasted grains, and roasted game meat juices. The palate is big, broad, deep, and chewy, with complex flavors of plum and black raspberry set in a perfectly austere and prickly but super-fine tannic frame. Great overall balance with a level of complexity worth noting. A superb example of “single vineyard” winemaking for the price.

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