In Native Wine Grapes of Italy, Ian d’Agata writes that the country’s second president, Luigi Einaudi, loved Dolcetto so much that he “planted thousands of vines on his Piedmontese estate.” Its buds, however, are fragile, and the grapes grow low to the ground, requiring grueling work from the vigneron. Accordingly, in recent decades, the variety has largely been abandoned. Neither of those issues has stopped fourth-generation grower Paolo Olivero, who makes Dolcetto from one of the grape’s great crus, Diano d’Alba. With its slightly higher elevation, this region is known for producing Dolcetti that are among the most perfumed and fruit-driven. The 2018 Sörì Cristina displays supple, pretty notes of freshly crushed blackberries and raspberries. It will pair well with pretty much anything, though its perfect match is roast chicken and rosemary potatoes.
If the 2017 vintage of Clos La Coutale’s Cahors underscored how Malbec in this part of the world trends to the more rustic, dark, and spicy, the 2018 vintage is here to remind us of Cahors’ proximity to Bordeaux. There is refinement here as well as the notes of plums, leather, and tobacco we commonly associate with that exalted region to the west. This bottling is the haut bourgeois’ country cousin.
As much as I love Dolcetto and Beaujolais, I get a thrill when I dip my nose into a glass of wine and the first sensation I get is not one of fruit. Like many great southern French rouges, one whiff of this Corbières takes you to a spice cabinet or a Mediterranean field full of aromatic herbs. Combine these with notes of black cherries and black olives, and you have a sense of what this dark, succulent red is all about.
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