2016 Marco Brangero, Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba DOCG, Sori Cascina Rabino Soprano, Piedmonte, Italy.
The Brangero 2016 vintage Dolcetto di Diano D’Alba is an absolutely stunning and serious bottle and while it starts slowly, austere and rustic, it comes alive with flavor with food, opening up into a fantastic wine, taking Dolcetto to a level of quality and complexity that is quite rare. Dolcetto, sometimes maligned or called a peasant wine, has a few spots where it does amazing things, Diano d’Alba DOCG is one of those places, along with the prestigious Dogliani DOCG, with Marziano Abbona’s San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani DOCG being one of the best and a favorite. I have a soft spot for this grape, in fact the very first case of wine I ever bought was a simple, cheap and cheerful Dolcetto d’Alba, but I would have never imagined a Dolcetto could be this impressive! This wine is intensely dark with an inviting purple/garnet color in the glass and it has a medium/full palate of blackberry, plum, cranberry, black cherry and earthy currant fruits, accented by an array of dried herbs, purple flowers, snappy spices, anise and a faint truffle note. There’s some raw tannin here, just enough acidity and a severe saline dry impression on first sip, as mentioned this wine needs air and food to really express itself, as many old school wines do, but once flowing it is exceptional stuff. The wine is barely showing signs of maturity as of yet, but you can see signs of secondary elements that will play larger roles with another few years of age with background balsamic and leafy notes just poking through, drink it up over the next three years.

The family-run Brangero farm, which is a new winery for me, is located in Diano d’Alba, on the highest part of the hill in front of the town, an area that enjoys picturesque views of the Langhe hills, the beautiful town of Alba, and the beautiful vines that surround this property. The Brangero’s make a full range of classic wines here, including Barbera d’Alba, Nebbiolo d’Alba, Langhe Rosso, Langhe Chardonnay and Langhe Arneis, as well as two flagship Barolo bottlings, but somewhat surprisingly their single vineyard Sori Cascina Rabina Soprano Dolcetto just might be their biggest star, as this vintage clearly demonstrates. Thanks to my friend Giuseppi Cossu, again, who has dug into his own cellar to find me a special wine for me to marvel over, he has in recent months introduced me to some fabulous things, with this one being especially noteworthy. The 2016 vintage in Piedmonte continues to provide immense pleasure and structured wines that are ever evolving, it is a year offering a lot in terms of quality and age worthy rewards, with Nebbiolo being a no brainer, though even from the lower level priced reds and varietals like Barbera and Dolcetto are proving themselves to be very desirable as well. This wine is from grapes grown on chalky marl with clay and limestone soils, at higher elevation, with mainly southern exposures allowing for riper and more powerful fruit. The winemaking was clean and temperature controlled with stainless steel fermentation and a cool 15 day maceration on the skins for good extraction with about a year of vat aging to promote transparency, with the results speaking for themselves, I cannot wait to try the latest releases.
($24 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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