I finished the bottle of 2005 Gagliardo Dolcetto d'Alba last night, and it was as good or better than it was when I opened it the night before. This wine had a shelf talker recommendation from the Central Market wine buyer, and I will admit that that was what determined me on my purchase. The packaging seemed a bit too cutesy and marketing-driven for comfort; but when confronted with 7 or 10 wines of the same variety, all of similar price and none of them familiar, why not pay attention to a staff recommendation for one?
Dolcetto is frequently referred to as the Italian version of Beaujolais in introductory wine books, and it's a comparison that causes umbrage for both proud Dolcetto producers and proud Beaujolais producers. The wine writers typically mean that both Dolcetto and Beaujolais are (relatively) cheap, soft, easy drinking wines best consumed young. In other words, they mean the comparison to be mildly pejorative or at least patronizing. Well, anyone who has ever tried Domaine Diochon Moulin-a-Vent or most of the other Beaujolais wine that Kermit Lynch imports knows that there is Beaujolais out there that is not just soft and easy-drinking and is age-worthy and "serious." I suspect that the same can be said for a lot of dolcetto. This Gagliardo Dolcetto d'Alba, I think, is not just some pleasant quaffer. It has plenty of acidity and tannin, mixed with plenty of fruit. I have no idea of whether it's age-worthy, but I do know that I have had plenty of purportedly "serious" wines that don't bring as much flavor, complexity, and interest to the table as this wine does. It really tastes nothing at all like Beaujolais, even excellent Beaujolais, but I think that the comparison of dolcetto and Beaujolais is justified for reasons not intended by the critics: both wines are under-appreciated and under-priced relative to their potential quality.