Thursday, February 19, 2009

Wine Blogging Wednesday: A very Dolcetto evening, with an Arneis guest appearance

Long time, no WBW participation here. In fact, if memory serves I have only done this once. Well, none other than David McDuff hosts this edition of Wine Blogging Wednesday, so I'm in. Thanks to our gracious host for selcting such an endlessly fascinating wine region: the Piedmont. Who knows, maybe I'll get back on the wagon with this fun, educational excuse to crack some new bottles and blog about 'em.

First the Arneis. Accompanied by a delicious pasta dinner I enjoyed with friends a few weeks ago, the 2004 Giovanni Almondo Arneis Vigne Sparse was easily, to my taste, the star of the evening. Though it is already three vintages matured, the wine tastes nearly as young as an '06 Vigne Sparse I enjoyed nine months ago. If anything the '04 has intensified, revealing more yellow fruit flavors, including the tarter fruit skins. It's still mineral, and at this rate of evolution could still be drinking well for another several years. Such a clean, precise, tense, chiseled arneis, easily the best of this style I've yet to try.

Now let's fast forward to last night. I had decided at work to ramp up the geek quotient of this post and compare two Dolcetti, one a 2006 Anna Maria Abbona Dolcetto di Dogliani Sori dij But, the other a 2006 Luigi Baudana Dolcetto d'Alba. If you were to go by the various writings on the region, the Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC is of the best quality and highest aging potential. Not that I was hoping to either confirm or disprove this assertion, but nonetheless I thought it might be interesting to compare Dogliani dolcetto to its Alba counterpart.

Well, Anna Maria Abbona is a stellar producer, one of the true masters of Dolcetto. The vineyards are at some of the highest elevation in the DOC, with ideal exposure, and the winemaking seems to never be at all heavy handed. I really enjoyed their '06Sori dij But (the name of one of their vineyards). On the nose, a satisfying bit of meaty, brett savor combined with full, fleshy darker cherry and berry fruits. Similar palate, with some nice violet floral notes and balanced acidity, especially for this notoriously low acid grape (Dolcetto = 'little sweet one).

As for the Baudana '06 Dolcetto d'Alba...different story. It was blocky, clumsy, grapey, lacking in balanced acidity and just not particularly good. Unfortunately it echoes many other Dolcetti I have tasted.

Photo's of wines and accompanying food to come....


Anonymous said...

I will have to try some more Arneis. The bargain bottle i picked up from you was on life support, and closed enough that writing about it would have been slightly disingenous. Point me to the Anna-Maria dolcetto next time i am in (which will be Saturday), as it has gone three for three on people i trust.

David McDuff said...

Almondo's Arneis is (are) definitely at the top of the heap, Joe. I'm also a fan of both Abbona and Baudana (I poured the '07 Sori dij But at my Italian wine on a budget class last night), so you picked quite the trio. What about the Baudana, though? Did you not care for it or just not get around to opening it?

Joe Manekin said...

David -

Just updated this post. I had written a bit more on my original post but I must have accidentally hit the backspace key and chopped it. Anyway, as you can see I didn't much care for the Baudana.

David McDuff said...

That's a shame, Joe. It has been quite some time since I've drunk Luigi's Dolcetto and, now that you mention it, I can remember some vintages that were on the grapey side. That's not always a turn-off to me, though, not as long as the wine's balanced, which I found it to be in the past. He does absolutely great work in the vineyards and produces really fine, ageworthy Barolo, albeit in a relatively modern style.

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