The fourth generation to make wine from the family’s vines, Paolo Olivero of Il Palazzotto has a process that is rooted in tradition. What’s more, his hometown of Diano d’Alba is one of the top crus for Dolcetto in Piedmont due to its high elevation and white limestone soil. Green-harvesting, natural fermentation, and Paolo’s most sophisticated technique—opening the windows of his cellar during winter to stabilize the wine before bottling it unfiltered—all lead to freshness, elegance, and a dusty black cherry note in this charming Dolcetto.
I love talking with people about this wine because I get to tell them that it spends ten months in botti grandi—my favorite Italian wine-related phrase, which is almost impossible to pronounce without a cheesy Italian accent. Try it and you’ll see. Those few months in “big barrels” allow the wine to soften and breathe a bit without imparting a ton of tannin or oak. That is good, because this Barbera has plenty of grip on its own, and covering up this gorgeous fruit would be a crime. With big, ripe flavors, this bottling is perfect with a rich, meaty ragù or a deep-dish pizza.
Guido Porro must have one of the shortest commutes in the business. All he has to do is step out the cellar door and he’s standing in one of the most famous crus in Barolo: Lazzarito. The Nebbiolo vines for the Vigna Lazzairasco, Porro’s oldest, are ideally situated with a southeastern exposure; they soak up the morning sun but are spared the worst of the afternoon heat. The 2014 is a Barolo for near-term drinking. Wait two to four years, or drink it now, absolutely guilt-free. I love the coolness on the nose—think mint or eucalyptus—as well as the blood orange and floral notes. Open and charming are two adjectives not normally associated with the fearsome Barolo, but sometimes you just luck out.
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