Wine Review: 2008 Enzo Boglietti Dolcetto d’Alba (Take 2)

27 05 2011

I’m back!

One and a half vino-free weeks later, I’m over my illness and once again ready to wine it up.  On the eve of my foray into WSET wine camp, my symptoms have subsided enough that popping and pouring is again on the agenda, and tonight’s wine is of particular interest because it was decided by you, the people…well, 14 of you, anyway.  The first ever PnP wine poll was at least a marginal success, and by a landslide, you voted that my first post-sickness wine should be one that I’ve had before, with horrific results:  the 2008 Enzo Boglietti Dolcetto d’Alba.  To be fair, Enzo wasn’t at all to blame for my initial nightmare experience, which was due to a faulty bottle; tonight he gets his rightful chance to salvage his name and reputation.

By popular demand, Enzo's ready for redemption. Second time's the charm.

For those of you who missed my first encounter with this Dolcetto, here’s what happened.  I cracked the bottle, poured a glass, took a sniff, tried to figure out what the smell resembled and could only come up with “garbage”.  The wine was corked and completely ruined, so I took it back and got the replacement bottle that I opened with crossed fingers tonight.

My first sensory impression:  Not corked!  Yes!  The wine was completely different than my first encounter, although it still didn’t end up being what I expected.  It had a deep but clear purple colour and a thoroughly rustic nose:  some red fruit and black cherry, but large hits of dust, earth, pepper, smoke and even tomato.  Right on opening it was also a touch stinky (a slight whiff of barnyard/fertilizer), but nothing like last time, and these less pleasant odours dissipated over time.  On the palate, the big surprise was the shocking amount of structure this Dolcetto was carrying.  Dolcetto’s calling card is usually that it’s a bright, fruity, ripe, almost sweet (its name means “little sweet one”), low-tannin red, one that’s maybe a little more straightforward than its Italian brethren but that’s always easy and fun to drink.  The Enzo had high acidity (expected — most Italian reds do) and fairly prominent tannins (totally unexpected and atypical) to go with a flavour profile that matched its nose:  raspberry, smoke, wood, dust.  The framework of the wine almost overwhelmed the fruit, which I could see happening in a few types of European red wines, but Dolcetto is not on that list.

Cork Rating: 6.75/10: (Trying out some art-style photo settings. Snazzy.)

This wasn’t a bad wine, and it struck me as a solid example of intentionally unpolished Old World red.  But it wasn’t as welcoming and carefree as I had expected from this grape, so my preconceptions probably tarnished my overall view of the bottle.  I generally don’t have a problem with Old World wines displaying earthy features, but for Dolcetto, I say “more fruit, less dirt” might be a good motto to live by.  Props to Enzo for giving a usually loose grape some structure, but in doing so, he may have taken away some of its charm.  Have a good weekend everyone!

85 points

$20 to $25 CDN

[Wine Jargon Notes:
Old World =  As I just read in Mark Oldman’s new book “Oldman’s Brave New World of Wine”, here’s a test as to whether your wine is Old World or New World:  if it comes from a country that had a king or queen in the 1500s, it’s Old World [Europe]; if it comes from a country where they sent prisoners or explorers, it’s New World [US, Australia, South America].]
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