The ideal Italian red wine for summer is a glass of the 2007 Vigne Regali L’Ardi Dolcetto.
In 1979, the Long Island-based Mariani family, owners of Banfi Vintners, purchased Bruzzone, a winery founded in the 18th century in Strevi, a village in the Acqui appellation of the Piedmont region. The Marianis converted it into Vigne Regali, where they produce L’Ardi (a word from Piedmontese dialect meaning “fun and brave,” in reference to an adventurous young man) Dolcetto and two sparkling wines.
Dolcetto is the little brother of Piedmont’s world-famous Nebbiolo grape, the source of Barolo and Barbaresco wines. Dolcetto, which is both the name of the grape and wine, offers drinkers a unique wine at a very affordable price. Dolcetto, which means “little sweet one,” is Nebbiolo’s counterpoint: It is easy to drink, needs no aging and is the everyday wine of the Piedmont.
The 2007 Vigne Regali L’Ardi Dolcetto is a little darker than the bright cherry hue of traditional Dolcetto. Its black cherry, spice and hint of olive aromas make it immediately appealing. The ripe blackberry flavor continues L’Ardi’s modern version of Dolcetto, and the soft, integrated tannins bring the wine to a very pleasing finish.
Some wine consumers and members of the wine trade think of Dolcetto as the Italian version of Beaujolais. That is a flawed analogy. Beaujolais, made from the Gamay grape, is light-bodied, with aromas and flavors ranging from strawberry to cherry to cranberry, and it bears noticeable acidity. Dolcetto has more body and has richer black cherry to blackberry aromas and flavors, with less acidity on the palate. What they do share is a need to be consumed young and slightly chilled on a summer day.
I enjoyed my glass of the 2007 Vigne Regali L’Ardi Dolcetto with a roasted chicken, roasted potatoes seasoned with rosemary and broccoli drizzled with extra-virgin olive oil and a snow-like covering of grated Parmesan cheese. It will also be delightful with barbequed chicken and fish, pizza or an antipasto plate of salami, mozzarella and sliced New Jersey summer tomatoes. You don’t have to be a L’Ardi to know this combination will be fun.
The 2007 Vigne Regali L’Ardi Dolcetto retails for approximately $13.50.