PICKs of the RACK: Two Alluring Reds from Northern Italy

Claudio Alario DolcettoClaudio Alario | Dolcetto | “Costa Fiore” | Diano d’Alba |  Italy | 2011 | $21 | 89 pts

Diano d’Alba is a rural village in the Piedmont region of northwestern Italy, roughly 30 miles southeast of Turin.  The area’s vineyards sit at an elevation of 1,500 feet, and there flourishes the red variety Dolcetto — which translates as “little sweet one.”  Interestingly, that name belies the typical character of Dolcetto — which is all but sweet.  Claudio Alario’s rendition — produced with fruit from 50 year-old vines — is a case in point, offering aromas of violets, blackberry, and mushroom that transition to flavors of dried dark fruit, dried herbs, and tobacco, with hints of black pepper and leather lingering on the finish.  The wine is dry and medium-bodied, with moderate tannins and fresh, assertive acids.  It was aged only in stainless steel for a year, and is quite bold for not having sat in oak.  This is a finely crafted Dolcetto and fantastic value for the moderate price.  It would serve well with medium to sharp cheeses, charcuterie, and tomato-based pasta dishes.  For more information about Claudio Alario’s wines, visit him virtually at www.alarioclaudio.it or at www.il-pioppo.com.

ColterenzioColterenzio-Schreckbichl | Pinot Nero (Pinot Noir) | Alto Adige | Italy | 2012 | $17 | 87 pts

The Alto Adige region hugs Italy’s northeastern borders with Switzerland and Austria, in the midst of the soaring Dolomites.  Colterenzio is a wine cooperative founded in 1960 by 28 vintners, and today consists of 300 members who cultivate upwards of 750 acres under vine.  Pinot Noir is well-suited for the rolling foothills of this region, and its style can be quite different compared to Pinots produced elsewhere.  Colterenzio’s rendition is a typical example, offering delicate aromas of red cherry, cranberry, and papaya followed by flavors of red cherry, raspberry, and green pepper accented with nuances of smoke and loamy earth.  The wine is dry and lean, with moderate tannins and acids and no oak; it was aged only in stainless steel and concrete tanks for eight months.  This is a distinctive and moderately-priced Pinot Noir from a lesser-known Italian wine region that would serve well for everyday drinking and as something unique (and affordable) for large gatherings.  It would complement medium-sharp cheeses, grilled salmon, roasted poultry, and lamb chops.  For more information on the wines of Colterenzio-Schreckbichl, visit them virtually at www.colterenzio.it.

Availability:  These two alluring reds from northern Italy may be found at select fine wine merchants, so contact your favorite to inquire about availability.  We found them at Bell Wine & Spirits in downtown Washington, D.C.  For more information on Bell’s selections, visit them virtually at www.bellwineshop.com.

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