Piedmont (or Piemonte) is famous for its red wines made with the Nebbiolo grape: Barolo and Barberesco. Both small regions, near the town of Alba make sought after and expensive wines that, traditionally made, take a good decade of aging to come into their own. Less well known, are the softer reds of Piedmont, made with grapes like Barberra, Friesa and Dolcetto. Unlike the thick skinned Nebbiolo, these grapes make wines that mature quickly and are ready to drink within a few years of harvest. In the past (and increasingly now) they would have been used to blend with the powerful Nebbiolo, but as winemakers have experienced a revolution in understanding how to make wine in the last 40 or years, these “lesser” varietals of red wine grapes are coming in to their own. That’s good news, and even better news is that wines like the 2011 Marenco Surì Dogliani ($17.95 – LCBO# 384040) offer lovely, food friendly and fruit forward wines that reflect the terroir of Piedmont for a fraction of the price of their more famous cousins.
Dogliani is both a town southwest of Alba and a wine region specific to the Dolcetto grape. It was recognized as a full blown denominazione di origine controllata, or ‘DOCG’ as late as 2005. The 2011 Surì is, I think, a perfect example of the grape and region, with a pronounced black cherry flavour, balanced with just a touch of bitterness and a bit of saltiness, or as they say “minerality”. It goes down easy, which is why it’s a good thing that’s it’s built for the table. It’s versatile enough to accompany the full specturm of foods that go with red wine from red sauce pastas to steak. This is a friendly wine that will take to pretty much whatever you serve it with. Look for a bottle at an LCBO near you by clicking here.