Piedmont’s other great grapes: Dolcetto with Steak and Fish?

A low-acid wine with round fruit flavors and not-too-forward tannins. When I spotted Elio Grasso’s Dolcetto d’Alba dei Grassi, I knew I had found the wine I was looking for.

It’s not easy to decide on a bottle of red to go with roasted sea bass (my mom, a non drinker, only want a sip with her sea bass!) while we were all having grill steak.  We were at the Steak House and Grill at Intercontinental, HK for my dear sister’s birthday dinner and I decided to picked this bottle (t’s not too pricey (HKD600) to take a risk!)

Talking about red for fish, Light red wines can be great matches for fish dishes, especially this sea bass preparation, a pan-roasted fish with simple ingredients: garlic, butter and olive oil; some lemon on the side also with grilled cherry tomato and garlic.  The resulting dish is lush and buttery with a little acid from the lemon.  Pinot Noir is an obvious choice for it, however on the Pietmonte region, Dolcetto  grapes in this bottle  harmonize with the butteriness of the fish preparation, while the dryness offsets the richness of the dish.  The dash of lemon juice add a rich citrus note, helping to keep the wine’s fruit intact.

“Dolcetto” means “little sweet one,” but there’s nothing sweet about the wine made with this varietal. Instead, Dolcetto refers here to the tiny, early-ripening grapes that grow on the slopes of the vineyards of Piedmont.

The pairing of it with our Steak worked well, nothing crazy-special, but a decent-sold match.  There is no doubt that a fuller bodied Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah’s tannin may match nicer with ribeye; Chianti’s acidity may match well too.  However, Pinot Noir or less heavy one to me match nicely with anything grilled most of the time (personally speaking) Wines which are rounded but not overpowering work best with grilled stuff. Even oaked Chardonnays can be perfect here as the white wine will not overwhelm with too many tannins.  I picked the bottle for some selfish reason too, I love Italian wine and hardly try much of Dolcetto, so there!

Within Piedmont, Alba is considered to produce some of the finest Dolcettos. Elio Grasso’s Dolcetto d’Alba dei Grassi 2009 is no exception. Planted on a south-facing slope (usually reserved for the more prized Nebbiolo), his 30-year-old vines deliver a wonderfully pure Dolcetto.  Aged in steel tanks, this Dolcetto has a vibrant, deep ruby color with hint of lavender aroma, lots of red fruit-filled nose, even more with vigorous swirl (big glass no risk!)  As expected, a dry one; the acidity is low and soft and the tannins are ripe yet not too pronounced.  Red fruit flavor with cassis and pomegranate with a spice notes. slightly bitter almond finish, good minerality.

Peeew… not too bad of a pick and not too much compromise between the 2 different dishes. However, despite it’s a 5 star hotel, I still think the wine is bit overpriced when I can actually get it at around HKD160 in store.  We were trapped but a good little trapped with great moments and good learning on this overshadowed Dolcetto.

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