One of the more pervasive, and less explicable, wine myths, widely spread even by some experts who ought to know better (and who could find out by the simple expedient of tasting) is that the Italian Dolcetto is a light, fruity wine akin to Beaujolais. Perhaps they're misled by its name, which literally means "little sweet one," but the facts are simple: This is not a lightweight wine but a sturdy, gutsy Northern Italian red. Today we sample an Italian original and a delicious and well-made American version, made from the same grape grown in the Santa Barbara region up the California coast from Los Angeles.

Mosby 1999 Santa Barbara County Dolcetto Vigna della Casa Vecchia ($14)
MosbyDark ruby with an orange glint. Deep black fruit and a whiff of exotic spice in the aroma. Full, tart and tannic, deep and brooding fruit. A California wine by a first-rate winery that pays due respect to the Italian style. (Oct. 11, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Excellent with bucatini all'Amatriciana, Roman-style pasta with pancetta, tomatoes and onions.


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Francesco Boschis 1997 Pianezzo Dolcetto di Dogliani ($13.99)
PianettaDark garnet, with blueberry and distinctly smoky aromas, a pleasant hint of bacon fat. Mouth-filling and ripe, juicy fruit and smoky bacon aromas follow the nose, with soft tannins in the finish. Interesting wine, a bit idiosyncratic. U.S. importer: Vintner Select, Cincinnati; a Marc de Grazia Selection. (Oct. 11, 2000)

FOOD MATCH: Bucatini all'Amatriciana.

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