The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday

Posted on | November 10, 2010 | Written by Evan LaNouette | No Comments

When I talk to friends and clients about the wine market, I always put the search for a great house wine in a hunter-gatherer context. There is a predatory reward that comes from savoring the finding of a pleasing wine that doesn’t make you go broke. Although nothing can fully replace a Valpolicella Superiore, Gaja Darmagi, or Giacosa Barolo Faletto, when you capture a peak experience on the cheap, you feel a sense of accomplishment—as well as one of pleasure.

This past week I picked up a bottle from our store—Domenico Clerico Dolcetto Visadi. The producer is one of the best Barolo makers alive, and the wine derives from the deliciously food friendly Dolcetto grape.  I decided that this would be the centerpiece to meal I was putting together that evening, and for under $20 how could I refuse?

Surprisingly, the Domenico Clerico 2008 Dolcetto Vsadii was far more than a structure of sweet fruit and supple acidity. I found there was a particularly noticeable tannic structure that complemented my meal of tomato basil over Fusilli pasta and seasoned beef. The blending of high notes from red fresh cherries, rose, pomegranate, and plum blended incredibly with my sautéed mushrooms, olive oil, and garlic. Although my Montreal seasoning wasn’t traditionally Italian, I found Clerico’s Dolcetto production held with this slight twist. The tannic structure provided greater complexity and range to what is typical with a less full-bodied Dolcetto. Without a doubt, the acidity of this wine ultimately made the meal. I would recommend putting this bottling in your arsenal of solid beats for nights in. The meal reinforced that the Dolcetto, or “little sweet one,” is a rewardingly approachable food friendly wine.

When you want build a meal around Italian flavors but need a wine that can handle a few alternative deviations, understand that Domenico Clerico’s slightly modernist Dolcetto wine will allow you to take more international flavor risks without forcing your meal off of the Italian boot. And the pride of announcing that it’s under $20 a bottle only adds to the sweetness.

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