Red, Ready, but will keep

2016 Dolcetto d'Alba, Fontanazza, Marcarini, Piedmont

2016 Dolcetto d'Alba, Fontanazza, Marcarini, Piedmont

Red | Ready, but will keep | Marcarini, Piedmont | Code:  47416 | 2016 | Italy > Piedmont > Barolo | Dolcetto | Medium-Full Bodied, Dry | 12.5 % alcohol

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The Producer

Marcarini, Piedmont

Marcarini, Piedmont

Poderi Marcarini can trace its roots back to in the mid-1800s, when Giuseppe Tarditi established his winery in La Morra, in the heart of the village. Today, since 1990, it is owned and managed by Manuel Marchetti, widower to Giuseppe's great, great, granddaughter, the late Luisa Bava.

Along with their children Francesca, Lisa and Andrea, Manuel oversees the 15ha estate that includes significant holdings in the La Morra vineyards of Berri, La Serra and Brunate. They have some vines in Neviglie, notably Moscato. More recently Luisa oversaw the purchase of 2ha of Arneis vineyards from 7 proprietors in the village of Montaldo in the Roero.

The Grape

Dolcetto

Dolcetto

A native black grape variety of Northern Italy grown almost exclusively in the provinces of Cuneo and Alessandria in Piedmont. It is relatively easy to cultivate, although it is susceptible to fungal diseases. It ripens before Barbera and Nebbiolo and is often grown in high north-facing sites which would be unsuitable for Nebbiolo.

The finest Dolcetto wines come from grapes grown on soils rich with white marls, especially those found on the right bank of the River Tauro. The wines generally are low in tannins and acidity and are usually fruity and fragrant, often with hints of almonds. Most Dolcettos should be drunk within a year or two of the vintage, but the wines from the best producers can last for 5 years and sometimes longer.

The Region

Barolo

Located due south of Alba and the River Tanaro, Barolo is Piedmont's most famous wine DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita), renowned for producing Italy's  finest red wines from 100 percent Nebbiolo

Its red wines were originally sweet, but in 1840 the then extant Italian monarchy, the House of Savoy, ordered them to be altered to a dry style. This project was realised by French oenologist Louis Oudart, whose experience with Pinot Noir had convinced him of Nebbiolo's potential. The Barolo appellation was formalised in 1966 at around 1,700 hectares – only a tenth of the size of Burgundy, but almost three times as big as neighbouring Barbaresco.

Upgraded to DOCG status in 1980, Barolo comprises two distinct soil types: the first is a Tortonian sandy marl that produces a more feminine style of wine and can be found in the villages of Barolo, La Morra, Cherasco, Verduno, Novello, Roddi and parts of Castiglione Falletto. The second is the older Helvetian sandstone clay that bestows the wines with a more muscular style. This can be found in Monforte d'Alba, Serralunga d'Alba, Diano d'Alba, Grinzane Cavour and the other parts of Castiglione Falletto. Made today from the Nebbiolo clones Lampia, Michet and Rosé, Barolo has an exceptional terroir with almost every village perched on its own hill. The climate is continental, with an extended summer and autumn enabling the fickle Nebbiolo to achieve perfect ripeness.

Inspired by the success of modernists such as Elio Altare, there has been pressure in recent years to reduce the ageing requirements for Barolo; this has mostly been driven by new producers to the region, often with no Piedmontese viticultural heritage and armed with their roto-fermenters and barriques, intent on making a fruitier, more modern style of wine.

This modern style arguably appeals more to the important American market and its scribes, but the traditionalists continue to argue in favour of making Barolo in the classic way. They make the wine in a mix of epoxy-lined cement or stainless-steel cuves, followed by extended ageing in 25-hectoliter Slavonian botte (barrels) to gently soften and integrate the tannins. However, even amongst the traditionalists there has been a move, since the mid-1990s, towards using physiologically (rather than polyphenolically) riper fruit, aided by global warming. Both modernist and traditional schools can produce exceptional or disappointing wines.

Recommended traditionalist producers:
Giacomo Borgogno, Giacomo Conterno, Bruno Giacosa, Elio Grasso, Marcarini, Bartolo Mascarello and Giuseppe Mascarello.

Recommended nmdernist producers:
Azelia, Aldo Conterno, Luciano Sandrone, Paolo Scavino and Roberto Voerzio

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