Tony Eklof, originally from New England, has settled in Clonakilty after a career as a librarian at University College Dublin. His knowledge and passion for wine has been inspired by frequent visits to the wine growing regions of the continent, particularly Italy and France.
Dolcetto is one of my very favourite red wines. It is known as ‘the little sweet one’ because the grapes are sweet enough to be eaten as table grapes, but don’t be put off, the wines they yield are dry and fruity and delicious and generally low in alcohol.
As I write, I have just returned from the Piedmont, which is a fascinating historical province of Italy and one of the two best wine growing regions, the other being Tuscany.
The Piedmont is where you will find Barolo, ‘the King of Wines, and the equally powerful Barbaresco. These are wines that are bitter if corked too early and always benefit from ageing, as the tannins soften with time. The other popular wine of the Piedmont is Barbera, with the best examples coming from the towns of Asti and Alba. While Barolo and Barbaresco fetch big prices, both Barbera and Dolcetto are much more affordable and hence are the most popular table wines in the area.
Dolcetto is both the name of the grape and the wine. There are seven defined regions including Dolcetto d’Alba and Dolcetto d’Asti. The wines have many attractive features. They are best drunk young and fresh boasting cherry, violet and coffee flavours and make a fine accompaniment to both light meals such as pasta or seafood while also going well with heartier fare.
Dolcetto is grown almost exclusively in the Piedmont region. Incidentally, the area around the towns of Asti and Alba where the best examples are found, known as the Langhe, also has the reputation of having the finest cuisine in all of Italy. The Slow Food Movement was born in the town of Bra a short hop from Alba.
After a journey which involved driving to Dublin, flying to Milan, and taking a train to Torino, we stayed in a converted ancient friary in the ‘hidden gem’ hilltop town of Saluzzo, which boasts a fascinating history of which perhaps more in a subsequent article. Our favourite meal during our visit was in the Taverna dei Porti Scur where the charming owner Michael recommended the Cordero Montezemolo
Dolcetto d’Alba 2015 and for €17, perhaps the best value drop I’ve ever tasted.
Unfortunately it is hard to source Dolcetto in these parts but the Dolcetto D’Asti from Marks and Spencers in Cork retails at around €10, comes in a screwtop bottle, and matches well with both creamy or tomato based pasta and also with chicken. It can be drunk slightly chilled as well.