Dolcetto is generally considered a wine to be drunk quickly, and as a rule this is true: unless the winemaker is maniacal about cleanliness, with time it develops funky aromas and flavors that become progressively stronger as time goes on.
This doesn't mean it's impossible to age Dolcetto, however, and those in Dogliani, whose Dolcetto is generally more powerful than the Dolcetti produced in other parts of the Langhe, have a leg up in this respect. To prove the point, Nicoletta Bocca had come to Vin Nature with a number of older vintages of San Fereolo, and we (the wines and I -- she was mobbed by other eager tasters) sat in a corner and had a very interesting conversation. Before the Dolcetto, however, I started with her white:
San Fereolo Coste di Riavolo Vino da Tavolo Bianco
This is a blend of Gewurztraminer and Riesling Renano, and is a deep brassy gold with brilliant reflections. The bouquet is powerful and frankly medicinal with mint and eucalyptus mingled with honey. Quite charged and quite particular. On the palate it's quite dry -- unexpected this is -- with bright almost brambly minerality supported by considerable warmth and some citric accents, and flows into a long warm mentholated finish with savory overtones. It was a great surprise, and is a wine some will love and others abhor.
San Fereolo Dolcetto di Dogliani 2001
Almandine with pale rim. The bouquet is fairly intense with medicinal accents and wet leather supported by some minerality, while swishing brings up pleasant savory leathery accents. One certainly wouldn't guess it is 10 years old. On the palate it's fairly rich with deft minerality and green leather supported by smooth dry tannins and warmth that flow into a clean tannic finish with lasting warmth. Graceful in a rather tannic key, and quite pleasant; it you like older wines you will enjoy it considerably because it has held up very well.
Nicoletta didn't make the 02.
San Fereolo Dolcetto di Dogliani 2003
Deep brick ruby with cherry rim. The bouquet is fairly rich, and mineral with some sweetness and mentholated accents, supported by some sugars and leaf tobacco with alcohol and some spice from the grapes. On the palate it's full, rich, and fairly sweet -- the vintage was very hot and goosed the sugars -- with moderately intense sour berry fruit supported by leathery tannins that are rather dry, and by peppery spice that flow into a long dry tannic finish laced with alcohol. Graceful, and though it clearly came from a hot vintage displays pleasant balance and depth. The 2001 was more elegant and balanced, but this is very nice.
San Fereolo Dolcetto di Dogliani 2004
Deeper ruby than the older two, with cherry in the rim. The bouquet is fairly fresh -- we're approaching the notes of a younger Dolcetto, though there are also tertiary aspects -- red berry fruit supported by green leather and some leaf tobacco, and also some spice, hints of violets, and savory accents. Nice depth and clearly from a good vintage. On the palate it's bright, with rich cherry fruit supported by lively spice and bitterness, and by some leaf tobacco, with savory notes and rather dry tannins that flow into a clean savory finish. It's much younger than the older wines -- a function of the vintage -- and has a lot to say. A wine to think about if you like the style and are willing to listen.
San Fereolo Dolcetto di Dogliani 2005
Cherry ruby with reddish rim. The bouquet is dusky, with Moroccan leather and minerality supported by underbrush and some bramble. Not much fruit and it gives an impression of coolness. On the palate it's fairly bright, with leathery, leafy berry fruit supported by dry tannins that have some leafy accents and flow into a rather mineral finish that's fairly dry. Pleasant in a cool weather key, and given the 2005 vintage frankly impressive. Not many Dolcetti from 2005 will be like this today.
San Fereolo Dolcetto di Dogliani 2006
Lively cherry ruby with violet rim. Bright for an older Dolcetto. The bouquet is fairly rich, with red berry fruit supported by some acidity and brambly spice with an underpinning of underbrush, some wet bark, and a fair amount of alcohol. Powerful. On the palate it's full, with rich ripe sour cherry fruit supported by peppery spice and moderate acidity that flow into a warm decidedly tannic berry fruit finish. We step forward in terms of youth, and the wine is also typical of the vintage in terms of displaying angry greenish aggressive tannins of the sort one finds in a great many 2006 wines.
San Fereolo Dolcetto di Dogliani 2007
This is the latest vintage, bottled but not released when I tasted it. The bouquet is fairly rich, with red berry fruit and savory notes supported by alcohol and some spice; it's clearly mature and doesn't have the floral accents one will find in a younger Dolcetto, but displays nice depth and balance, and is also quite fresh. On the palate it's full, with rich cherry fruit supported by delicate acidity and by tannins that are fairly dry and flow into a savory finish. It's much readier and much less aggressive than the 06, though this is relative -- it does have the Dolcetto personality and isn't a wine to drink far from the table. Rather, with succulent roasts and stews.
San Fereolo Austri Langhe Rosso 2005
This is a Barbera, named after the vineyard. It's brick ruby with almandine in the rim. The bouquet is mature, with red berry fruit supported by leather, leaf tobacco and some spice. On the palate it's quite fresh, with warm sour cherry fruit supported by deft warm berry fruit acidity and by smooth rather light tannins that flow into a warm fairly tart finish. Elegant, displaying considerable grace,a nd will drink quite well with grilled meats fried meats, and light roasts.
San Fereolo Il Provinciale Langhe Rosso 2006
This is a Nebbiolo; it's pale almandine with orange nail, and has a classic Nebbiolo bouquet with rosa canina and berry fruit supported by cedary accents -- not small wood -- sea salt and bitterness. Quite harmonious and pleasant to sniff. On the palate it's ample and rich, with bright sour cherry fruit shot with warmth and moderate berry fruit acidity, while the tannins, which have a dusky dryness to them, aren't as aggressive as those of the Dolcetti, and flow into a delicate sour cherry fruit fading into dryness. Quite pleasant in a decidedly old style and will drink very well with roasts or stews; it will also age nicely for another 5-10 years. Classic Nebbiolo di Langa, which is a different animal from Barolo and Barbaresco.
Want to know more? Nicoletta's Site
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