Battle of the Dolcettos

Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alba 2006 Vs Voerzio Dolcetto Priavino 2005

Anyone who knows Italian wine will know that these two superstars of the Italian wine world are about as different as Parmigiano and Buffalo Mozzarella. One is a huge producer of world famous Barolos and Barbarescos with a massive output of 500,000 bottles a year whilst the other has a tiny portion of Piedmontese heaven and a tinsy winsy production of 35,000 bottles a year. Both are considered among the very best winemakers in Italy and both produce some of the very best, if not THE best Barolos in the world. This is undeniable, indisputable and its a good job we are not here disputing it. What I find amazing is the difference in their Dolcettos.

This week I was lucky enough to spend time in the company of some of the most knowledgeable connoisseurs in Italy at the St Regis Hotel, Rome. The discussion, as it invariably does, turned to Barolo and then, as it never does, to Dolcetto. It’s generally agreed that Dolcetto is for the proles. A poor wine for the grape pickers of the Piedmont, not the reserve of the wine quaffers in the capital. This sent me red. Not the usual bright red I go when any alcohol passes my lips (damn these ruddy English cheeks), but red because Dolcetto …. is my guilty little pleasure.

So this weekend I decided to crack open two Dolcettos by the very finest producers in the Piedmont. In the red corner, Bruno Giacosa’s Dolcetto D’Alba 2006 and, in the blue corner, Roberto Voerzio’s Dolcetto Priavino 2005. I fully expected nothing but pleasure and delight for myself as well as my invited houses guests, instead I may have turned a member of our group off Italian wine for life.

How? Let’s just say, having championed Roberto Voerzio all evening the Dolcetto Priavino was a complete… turkey! I’ve never tasted a more expensive Dolcetto, and at €15 I have to give this wine a huge pass. It pains me to do so as Roberto Voerzio is my favourite wine producer in all of Italy. Simply put, there is no VFM here. Have you ever opened a bottle with high hopes and found yourself going back to it every 15 minutes to see if it just needed time? Last night was comical. I waited for the Voerzio wine to throw me a bone, it never did, this wine has NO finish. The wine has a fine dark purple colour and a nice nose of cherries, dark fruits, licorice and a little smoky tobacco but was so light and dead on the palate, the finish lasted just 3 seconds which, as it was so terrible, came as a relief! “It needs a few more years in the bottle”? I’m glad I didn’t buy a case.

Bruno Giacosa’s Dolcetto d’Alba saved the night. Last month, I sampled and reviewed the 2005 which scored a massive 91 points. Dolcetto is a very simple wine so to score a Dolcetto 91 is huge. The 2006 needed more time in the decanter and is not quite as fruity as the ’05 and for this I’m marking it down to 89 (still a huge score for a Dolcetto). Both these vintages are roughly €10 and available from and even in general winestores.

Full tasting notes to follow…

Bruno Giacosa Dolcetto d’Alva 2006 – €10 – BUY
A dull dark purple/violet with interesting ruby reflection, full bodied to the eye. Knockout nose, so strong that the glass had to be left for 30 mins. Characteristic nose of cherries and vanilla, very clean and with just a hint of spices and pepper. Full out attack on the palate, medium body, good acidity and balance with a mid length finish of berries and a touch of plum. Smooth with balanced tannins. Decant for a minimum of 1 hour. 89 Points

Roberto Voerzio Dolcetto d’Alva Priavino 2005 – €15 – PASS
Intense dark purple colour in the glass verging on black. Superb and strong notes of cherry, dark fruits, licorice and hints of tobacco on the nose. Very pungent nose that mellowed over time. Surprising light bodied on the palate, tannic and drying with a short, sharp finish that lasted only 3 seconds. The wine improved after several hours of decanting, but only a little. 83 Points

Question of the Day

I know many wine experts who like to believe they are completely uninfluenced by their expectations of a wine when tasting non-blind. I clearly returned to the Voerzio because of my expectations, had the wine been from an unknown supplier at €3 it would have taken its trip down the sink much sooner. Have I been unjustly harsh because of my high expectations? So todays questions is: To what degree does your expectation of a wine effect your tasting notes and scores?

12 Comments Add yours

  1. Michael Addis says:

    Hey SarahThis blog is excellent, where do you find the time? I actually enjoyed the Voerzio dolcetto but think you’re on the money with the Giacosa dolcetto. I’ll never understand why nobody rates this wine. Catch you back on the Erob boards.Whre are you buiyng the Voerzio?As for the question, it doesnt matter what anybody says you are influenced if tasting none blind. But you could easily “throw down the sinK” a bottle that needed decanting. Im a strong supporter in a TN marking off every hours.°Michael°

  2. Anonymous says:

    Where are the tasting notes! *grumpy*>:(

  3. Josh says:

    YES!I love the Giacosa dolcettos always have an always will why does noone talk about them! HOGWASH! People shouldn’t talk shit about dolcetto like its the last growths of barolo. I couldn’t see the wine on

  4. Josh says:

    SarahForget to ask, have you tasted Voerzios Barbera d’Alba Riserva Vigneto? Massive step up.J

  5. Anonymous says:

    My first and last tasting of this Voerzio Dolcetto. It was very disappointing as I´d tasted a really terrific Dolcetto previously.

  6. Cathy says:

    Hi Sarah,great site, really enjoying reading.I wonder if you will be reviewing the Syrah Planeta 05 soon? I live in Michigan and haven’t seen it over here yet.Cathy

  7. Hi CathyWe havent got around to the Planetas yet but I have already reviewed the 05 on Erob.I’ll dig it out for you.A review of the Planeta range might be an idea for a forthcoming Vlog. Let’s see if everyone is up for Planeta 05 night.The 05 has been out here for a while so no idea why its not over in the US yet? Anyone know?

  8. Robin Westwood says:

    Have to concur, the Voerzio Dolcetto isn’t a patch on the Giacosa. Its because Giacosa can produce 500,000 wonderful wines that he is the best producer in Italy, no questions.

  9. Jim Gainfort says:

    Personally I taste wine blind wherever possible to avoid any influences or preconceptions I have. The only problem is, like the writer noted, that you can end up wasting a perfectly good wine that is tight after initially uncorked.Who really has time to taste wines over several hours (consider some Gaja wines need 2 days).

  10. Susan Bow says:

    No are winebow bringing Planeta over???? :o/

  11. Chiara Antonelli says:

    nobody can leave their conceptions at the gate professional wine tasting must be done blnd

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