Love him or hate him, there is no doubting Robert Parker’s influence and experience. His Wine of the Day today is Cavallotto Fratelli’s Dolcetto d’Alba Vigna Scot 2005.
Dolcetto can be forgotten as its more heavyweight Piedmontese cousins, Nebbiolo and Barbera, often hog the limelight. This is a serious error as these are often delicious reds – full of crunchy berry fruit, soft tannins and refreshing acidity. Perfect summer drinking and a lot less painful on the pocket than their allegedly more illustrious neighbours.
We are completely devoted to Cavallotto – the brothers themselves, their estate and their incomparable wines. Their 23 hectares of organically grown vines are perched on the slopes overlooking Castiglione Falletto in the heart of the Barolo region. Their methods are low-intervention and all about letting the grapes speak for themselves and their terroir. The result? Wines that are classic, complex and elegant. Our tasting with Alfio and Giuseppe is always a high point of our Italian trip.
We don’t have any of the 2005 in stock, but Mr Parker inspired us to retaste the 2006 to see how it was progressing. A few months ago it was having a distinctly difficult adolescent phase. Today it is starting to come round and show its full potential. And it is only going to get better and better.
Stephen Tanzer agrees with us in his International Wine Cellar. “Bright ruby-red. Primary aromas of berries and bitter chocolate. Juicy, sweet and fruit-driven, in a lively but essentially easygoing style. Nothing exaggerated about the berry and licorice flavors. A subtle, graceful dolcetto, finishing with firm but pliant tannins and good length. The label lists a very moderate 13% alcohol.”
This is a serious Dolcetto indeed. Dense and inky in the glass, it is very pure on the nose. On the palate you get ripe, crunchy brambles and peppery spice. Its smooth minerality is balanced by surprisingly firm tannins for a Dolcetto and a mouth-filling roundness. Expansive and fine, this is proper Dolcetto. And all for a modest £90 per 12 bottles ex-VAT. A very big bang for your buck.