Like many properties in Italy’s northwestern Piedmont region, Paolo Scavino produces a range of wines — from Barolo to Barbera to Dolcetto d’Alba. I have often referred to Dolcetto as Piedmont’s “other” red grape. It doesn’t have the stature of Nebbiolo-based Barolos or Barbarescos, and it isn’t as familiar as Barbera. But when it comes to value wines for everyday drinking, Dolcetto is hard to beat.
A great example is Paolo Scavino’s 2019 Dolcetto d’Alba, a delightful, $16 estate-bottled wine that will be at home with all kinds of dishes, including vegetarian pastas, pizza, grilled chops, chicken, and burgers. In her excellent reference “The Wine Bible,” Karen MacNeil describes Dolcetto as “a model of versatility” with “appealing simplicity.”
It does not have the wonderful, brooding intensity of Barolo, which can invite contemplation with every sip (and be highly annoying to some of your friends). Nor does it have the high-acid demeanor of Barbera, with its ability to cut through just about any food.
Dolcetto occupies a kind of middle ground: useful, relatively inexpensive, and easy to drink. Scavino’s 2019 Dolcetto d’Alba — from the Alba area of Piedmont not far from Barolo — has a youthful energy marked by fresh blueberry and raspberry notes with touches of dark chocolate, licorice, and black pepper.
All that, combined with a good tannic structure and a wet-stone minerality, makes it more than just a “simple wine.” It’s fermented with indigenous (or wild) yeasts and is aged for six months in stainless steel tanks with no exposure to oak.
Paolo Scavino owns about 75 acres in the Barolo area and was founded exactly 100 years ago. While Barolo is far more expensive and can require quite a few years of aging to realize its full potential, Dolcetto d’Alba gives us a taste of one of the world’s most storied wine regions without the wait, and at a price that’s right for drinking anytime.
Published: March 18, 2021