Malcolm Jolley finds a seriously made fun wine from Piedmont.

I have been in Italy when Monica Larner has walked in the room and the eyes of every winemaker have switched immediately to track her movement, half hoping and half dreading she visits their table. Larner is the Italian wine critic for Robert Parker’s The Wine Advocate and website, and is as such a powerful force in, and a holder of deep knowledge of, the world of wine. I bring her up because apparently she gave Marco Parusso’s 2016 vintage of ‘Piani Noce’ Dolcetto 90 points and some high praise: “The 2016 Dolcetto d’Alba Pian Noce is a beautiful, if unusual expression of this unique and difficult grape variety.”

Who am I to argue? I agree that the 2016 Parusso ‘Piani Noce’ Dolcetto d’Alba DOC ($20.95 – LCBO# 232504) is a delicious wine, that it is unusual for a Dolcetto, and that it’s a tremendous value. On the first count, the Piani Noce has a serious dark cherry character, which I would put closer to a Piedmonetese wine made with Barbera, or even Nebbiolo. It also shows tannic structure, not from wood but maceration on skins grown over the course of a hot year. It defies the typical light and bright Dolcetto profile, and comes across as a much more serious wine, and therefore, as Larner says, “unusual” but in a very pleasing way. And in a very budget friendly way. Yes, it’s just over $20, but I would happily put it up next to wines at twice or more the cost. I plan to use the ‘savings’ to buy a really big steak to pair it with  – it definitely wants food, and with a little bit of fat to calm the tannins.

I suspect Marco Parusso had great fun making this wine, a serious Barolo winemaker’s take on table wine. I’m glad he’s let us in on it and suggest you might like to give it a try.