2004 Estate Dolcetto
Dolcetto •Madonna Vineyard
California: Carneros (Sonoma & Napa)
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes greater than great, as is the case with today’s wine from Madonna Estate.
Mission Codename: Little Sweet One
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Covertly compare Madonna Estate’s Napa Valley Dolcetto against its Italian Dolcetto counterparts.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Madonna Estate
Wine Subject: 2004 Estate Dolcetto
Winemaker: Buck Bartolucci
Dolcetto is one of the primary grapes of the Piedmont in north-west Italy. It is usually quite underrated and can make exceptional wines if the vines are carefully cultivated. Dolcetto is known for producing soft and easy drinking wines with exceptional fruit. For fans of this wine, there are several specific designations (DOC) in Italy for Dolcetto wines that are worth discovering. We’ll be dispatching an operative to find some for you in the near future.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – This wine is beautiful clear purple and red with lighter hues along the edges.
Smell – The bouquet of this Dolcetto is intensely fruity with sweet and ripe raspberries, blackberries, cassis and a hint of oak.
Feel – Initially juicy and bright, but then the solid, but not overpowering, tannins fill the mouth showing a slight dryness and spice.
Taste – Delicious dark ripe fruit, with slightly tart raspberries, a hint of oak and white pepper.
Finish – This wine has an amazing finish, exposing its balanced flavors that cleanly lingers and leaves you yearning for another sip.
Conclusion – Often Dolcetto is ‘better in Italy’, but this gem from Madonna Estate is clearly the exception. Dolcettos are also usually lower in alcohol than its Sangiovese and Nebbiolo siblings, not so with this wine. The 2004 Estate Dolcetto is a real pleasure to drink. Its got great fruit, great balance, solid structure and its flavors are well integrated. This wine can pair well with all types of Italian food or can be enjoyed alone.
Fresh back from an extended mission in Italy, and dropping off all of the our ‘subject wines’ at HQ for analysis (the mistake, but later opportunity was not keeping a bottle as backup), I was craving just one more Italian wine.
If you’ve had great Italian wine, you know the ‘hook’ I’m talking about. There’s a certain quality, that’s hard to describe, that great Italian wines all have – maybe its the celebration of life that accompanies the wine. Its there in the Montefalco Sagrantino, its in the Barbaresco Vigna Montersino, its in the Super Tuscans we’ve featured. I had a craving and needed to satisfy that fix.
I had heard Agents Red, Sparkle and Zin raving about a Carneros Napa winery that made fantastic Italian style varietal wines, and when HQ said they mad a mission, I immediately jumped on the opportunity to spy out this winery.
As it turns out that Madonna Estate was founded by Italian immigrant Andrea “Andy” Bartolucci in the early 1920s, making them one of the oldest wineries in the region. Their attention to natural farming, excellent production qualities and expert winemaking has passed from generation to generation.
Tasting the wine, and in particular their 2004 Estate Dolcetto, it is evident that Bartolucci family is doing something right. One sip and I was back in the Piedmont, if only for a second, as I enjoyed sip after sip. There is no substitute for quality fruit, expert winemaking, and perhaps most important, tradition. Its the tradition that we find in Italian wines that make them so much fun to enjoy. Salute!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Madonna Estate tasting room can be seen in this satellite photo. Their vineyards are in the Carneros region of Napa.
What the winery says
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Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal – 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition
About This Wine:
Our 2007 San Francisco International Wine Competition Gold Medal Dolcetto has hints of raspberry, blackberry and cranberry fruit flavors which lead to light tannins and a clean fresh finish. Pair with Italian sausage with grilled Bell Peppers.
About Madonna Estate:
Madonna Estate wines have been handcrafted by the Bartolucci family, Napa Valley winegrowers and winemakers for more than eighty years. They are created from 100 percent organically grown grapes, which are dry farmed on the Estate Vineyard. Located in the world renowned Carneros Region, the Bartolucci’s take great pride in the wines they craft. Through great skill, elegance and care, Madonna Estate wines are styled to capture the best of the vintage, the vineyard, and the variety.
Like the cave drawings of Lascaux, Madonna Estate’s label represents a history of generations – four geneerations – that have grown grapes and produced varietal wines with rich concentrated flavors. The continuity of our spiral symbolizes an ongoing commitment to create fine wines.
Our Madonna Vineyard is situated approximately 40 miles northeast of San Francisco in Carneros, the first viticulture area north of the Golden Gate Bridge. The name “Carneros” is Spanish for sheep, and was chosen for the region (which encompasses both Napa and Sonoma counties) because it referred to the many sheep ranches that were once scattered throughout the area. The borders of the Carneros appellation were drawn according to microclimate and soil characteristics, and many often say it looks like a bow tie when seen on a map.
Located on the southern end of Carneros on the Napa Valley side, Madonna Vineyard is in direct alignment with the San Pablo Bay. From atop the 160 acres of gently rolling hills you can feel the influences of cool breezes and see views of San Francisco.
Alcohol By Volume: 14.7%
Appellation: Carneros, Napa Valley
Aging: 12 months in small French & American oak barrels
Ageability: 8 to 10 years