Did you make any wine goals this New Year? I usually do and top of the list is to try something new. I've already tried this week's Wine of the Week but for most of my readers, and many others also, Dolcetto and especially Dolcetto from New Zealand will definitely be new.
Dolcetto is an Italian and its home is Piedmont. The name means 'little sweet little one' in reference to the grape size - tiny sweet grapes clustered together in big heavy bunches. Pronounce the 'c' in Dolcetto as if it were a 'ch' and stress the second syllable. Altogether now - dol-CHET-to. Say it slowly and let it roll off your tongue.
The wine I've picked as this week's Wine of the Week is a little like the name. Savour it slowly and let it roll around your tongue.
It is Heron's Flight Unplugged Dolcetto 2011 from Matakana. It's a young red alright, but it's already deliciously drinkable. It's got the most amazing impenetrable deep purple red colour. It looks like a blockbuster and the rich, sweet-fruited aroma makes you think it's going to be a bit of a blockbuster too, but the juicy sumptuous taste is surprisingly medium-bodied. It's so fruity that some people would say it's sweet, but it's a dry wine in that respect. There are blackberries and raspberries and musk with an underlying spiciness and a lingering almost liquoricy herbaceousness. And the tannins are so well balanced to the fruit. That's another surprise because Dolcetto is known as a notoriously high tannin variety, but there's so much fruit in the wine that the tannins seem velvety and smooth and do not intrude. This makes it perfect to accompany antipasto type nibbles or the BBQ. After all, when the barbeque's cooking the meat the wine is already being consumed. For me it's a fantastic outdoorsy BBQ wine – so perfect for this time of year and the taste lasts for ages as I discovered after taking it into the Radio Live Studio on January 18th and tasting with James Coleman on air – the delicious flavours lingered for most of my drive home. What's even more remarkable is that this is an oak-free wine. Perhaps that's where the moniker 'Unplugged' comes from?
It's 13.5% alcohol and the bottle is sealed with a screwcap. It costs $25 a bottle online from www.heronsflight.co.nz or from the cellar door at Plume Restaurant in Sharp Road, Matakana. It's also being distributed throughout New Zealand by Red+White Cellar.
Heron's Flight was the first commercial producer of Dolcetto in NZ but Cottle Hill in Northland, Hitchen Road in Pokeno and Waimea Estate in Nelson also produce Dolcetto now. For my palate, Heron's Flight is still the best.
© Sue Courtney
24 January 2012