Boroli Dolcetto d’Alba (Piedmont, Italy) Madonna di Como, 2006 (Dalla Terra Winery Direct, $17): Tasting wine is never-ending learning. A case in point is this wondrously rich Dolcetto. I know what Dolcetto tastes like: it’s a dry, generally lean-structured, dryish-textured, spicy-style red with flavors of dark fruit whose degree of concentration renders the wine either moderately serious or everyday quaffable. And then I encounter a Dolcetto like this one, and I must reconsider all my assumptions.
In truth, I know a few Dolcettos that are exceptions to the standard styling, such as Chionetti’s compact, concentrated wines from the very special Dogliani DOC zone south of the city of Alba; Einaudi’s vibrant Dolcetto from the same area; Marcarini’s ample but sleek Dolcetto d’Alba from the Boschi di Berri site; and the unusually ripe Dolcetto d’Alba that Vietti used to make from the Sant’Anna vineyard. This wine is akin to those in some ways, but that itself is puzzling considering the modest price tag here.
The Boroli family is a Piedmontese family whose business interests have segued from textiles to publishing and now to wine. Silvano and Elena Boroli established their wine operations as recently as 1997, and now have two estates in the Langhe area. One estate is Cascina La Brunella in the commune of Castiglione Falletto and the other, called Cascina Bompé, is in the village of Madonna del Como, in the territory of Alba itself, almost 1400 feet in altitude. This Dolcetto comes from Cascina Bompé, and takes its name from the village and the Madonna di Como vineyard. Como was a god of feasts worshipped by Celts who inhabited the area since the 4th century.
The richness and freshness of this wine together are a compelling combination. The wine’s fruit character is very ripe, and the high alcohol of 14.5% attests to the ripeness of the grapes. But the wine is not at all jammy. The fruit flavors, ripe as they are, remain fresh -- not baked, not cooked, not even over-ripe. Achille Boroli explains that they give this vineyard as much care as they do their best Nebbiolo vineyard for Barolo, the Villero vineyard in Castiglione Falletto. But mainly it is the site itself, a windy hillside with low soil humidity, that accounts for the ripeness of the fruit. He calls Madonna del Como “the place where the best Dolcetto d’Alba is grown,” and attributes the wine’s fullness, richness and intensity to the site. The juice ferments in stainless steel and the wine has no oak aging.
Apart from its aromas and flavors of dark berry and grapey fruit, the wine gives a strong mineral suggestion (ink, lead pencil) and notes of dusty earthiness and black pepper spice. The flavors are more intense than the aroma, but not over-the-top in intensity. The wine is totally dry and is full-bodied, with only a medium amount of tannin and a soft, well-knit texture. Rather than lean of structure, the wine is round. Since when is Dolcetto round?!
I would love this wine with Italian salami and slices of pecorino cheese, and I can imagine that it will pair beautifully with simple roasts and with pasta in a spicy, tomato-bacon arrabiata sauce. It is drinking beautifully now. Achille Boroli says that he finds this Dolcetto can last ten years. (Another assumption bites the dust.)