Amongst a spate of stew-accompanying heavy, winter reds lately, there have been some lighter wines to provide a counterpoint, especially when duck has been on offer. While its hard to go wrong with a good red Burgundy (eg from last week), there are plenty of other alternatives.
Pecchenino Dolcetto di Dogliani San Luigi 2009
Even if you never try the wine, do yourself a favour and clink on the link to the winery here.
If this doesn't make you want to go to Piedmont, there's something wrong
with one of us. The Dogliani-based Pecchenino wine estate is over 200
years old and is currently run by brothers Attilio and Orlando.
Historically, they have been Dolcetto specialists, but they have
recently expanded into Nebbiolo, and are already having considerable
success in Barolo, where they own three hectares in Monforte d'Alba. This wine is a lovely lighter-styled Dolcetto, with soft red fruit, good structure and a smooth finish.
Etude Pinot Noir Estate Carneros 1999
Etude's Pinot Noir comes from its Estate Vineyard in the northwest of Carneros.The winery prides itself on its focus on sustainable agriculture, and the vineyard includes "safe passageways through the vineyards" for wildlife. So long as they keep moving - the winery has a falconer, and his trained falcons are charged with keeping peckish starlings at bay. Although this wine came from an impeccably stored magnum, it still surprised with its youthful freshness. I might have been able to correctly guess it was Californian, but I only pegged its age about halfway. The wine is spritely rather than syrupy thanks to well-balanced acidity, with bright red fruit, spice and cola and a soft, round finish.
Jacopo Biondi-Santi Sassoalloro 2004
In recent years many of Italy's oldest wine regions have had their share of debates and controversies as the forces of modernisation and history clash. In the case of the Biondi-Santi
family, a name near synonomous with Brunello di Montalcino, the divide
split the family back in the 90's when Jacopo Biondi-Santi left the
family estate after falling out with his father, Franco, over the future
for the winery. Eventually Jacopo set up his own wine estate in the
Maremma, and is making three well received red wines, one of which is
the 100% Sangiovese, Sassoalloro. The wine, named after nearby volcanic
rock, is drinking beautifully right now, showing cherry and spice characters, and a super-smooth, long finish.