I recently was singing the praises of the Barolos of Batasiolo from Piedmont in north-west Italy. As New York Times wine critic, Eric Asimov says, “They appeal both to the head and to the heart. Their complexity and depth reward contemplation, while their sensual aromas and flavours seduce and enthrall.” And I agree.
Barolos begin to mature after 10 years of cellaring and some can further age up to 20 years. You will pay a price for such quality. But if you want something that is more affordable, here are two other choices. First is the Batasiolo 2017 Dogliani ($24.99). It should be available at B.C. government stores in the fall.
Unlike the Barolos which are made from the Nebbiolo grape, Dolcettos come from the Dolcetto grape which means “little sweet one” in Italian, a reference to the fact that it doesn’t have as much acid as many Italian reds.
Globe and Mail’s Beppi Crosariol makes a great analogy, “If wines were emojis, dolcetto would be that one with the grinning teeth and open eyes. It's a cheerful red par excellence. A smile in a bottle.”
While Barolos are complex wines for special occasions and need time to age before enjoying, Dolcetto’s are simpler wines for everyday enjoyment. They can be enjoyed 10 minutes after purchasing. A Monday night pizza wine.
The Batasiolo Dogliani is the premium type of Dolcetto, hence the best designation of DOCG instead of the regular DOC. Ironically, it doesn’t have the name of the grape on it. And coincidentally, it is the family name of the owners of Batasiolo who wanted to name their winery using their surname but were told they couldn’t. After three decades, their name can now appear on one of their labels!
It was the first wine at a Barolo dinner I attended at Downtown Autostrada. I enjoyed the Dogliani’s cherry, violets and forest floor bouquet and flavours, with fine tannins. Compared with Barolos, the Dogliani has a much lighter body. It is more like another Piedmont red, a Barbera, but not as acidic.
The Dogliagni accompanied the primi or first course, Vitello tonnato (shaved veal, tuna sauce and capers). Because it is low in tannins, this red doesn’t clash with the tuna and in fact is a perfect fit. It’s also great with pork dishes and Andouille sausage.
To end our meal we enjoyed Gelato Mint Stracciatella with the 2017 Batasiolo Moscato d’Asti D.O.C.G. Bosc d’la Rei ($20.99) available at Everything Wine. Made from Moscato bianco grapes in the village of Asti Piedmont, it is chilled and slowly fermented until the alcohol content is 5.5 per cent, a very low amount for a wine. When it returns to cool cellar temperatures, the natural sparkle develops.
The Moscato displays intense aromas of rose, peach, white fruit, apricot, figs and orange flowers. On the palate it is crisp, refreshing, elegant, but not overly sweet.
The acidity and the frizzante bubbles refreshed the palate after tasting the creaminess of the dessert. Furthermore, the Moscato’s sweetness was a close match to the gelato mint stracciatella, and the floral and fruity character added another level of delight to the dolce.
The Batasiolo is a wonderful accompaniment for fruit salads, cakes, and cream pastries. Next Christmas enjoy with Panettone!
Eric Hanson is a retired Richmond science teacher and wine educator.