It’s understandable that Barolo and Barbaresco get most of the attention among red wines from northern Italy’s Piedmont region, or Piemonte, as it is known there. Made from the Nebbiolo grape, they are endlessly fascinating studies in terroir, layered complexity, and how great wines can evolve over time.
But there are other red grapes grown in Piedmont that make deeply satisfying, relatively inexpensive wines that can be enjoyed when young, with less concern about whether they have reached their potential in the bottle.
One of them is Dolcetto d’Alba, the name of the grape and the wine, which refers to the Dolcetto variety grown in the famed Alba district of Piedmont.
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While the great Nebbiolo wines invite serious contemplation of what they are and might become, Dolcettos can provide almost instant gratification. Fresh, fruity, and direct, they can be enjoyed upon release, though can develop nicely with some age.
With that in mind, one of my favorite red wines this summer has been De Forville’s 2016 Dolcetto d’Alba, which I have been drinking slightly chilled on these hot summer evenings with pasta and grilled meats.
Medium purple in color, the wine is absolutely delicious with its aromas and tastes that suggest freshly picked red and black cherries and plum, punctuated by toasted almond, graphite, and earth notes. Relatively brief aging takes place in large old barrels, leaving almost no oak imprint on the wine.
I had always wondered about the origins of De Forville — the name suggests French roots — and learned the answer on the website of the U.S. importer, Neal Rosenthal, which notes that the De Forville family emigrated from Belgium to Piedmont in the mid-19th century.
In a conversation about the Dolcetto d’Alba, Rosenthal, who has imported De Forville wines for almost four decades, looked beyond its youthful pleasures. “It also has a beautiful structure behind it,” he told me. “If you get a bottle or two in your cellar and come back in a couple of years, the wine would be even more interesting.”
Famous as a Barbaresco producer, De Forville also makes other Nebbiolo wines, Barberas, a sparkling Moscato d’Asti, and a Chardonnay. But in terms of value in a notable wine to drink now and in the next few years, the 2016 Dolcetto d’Alba can’t be beat.