Albarossa is more versatile than your typical full-bodied red. Sure, like many fine red wines, it pairs well with meats, roasts, and cheeses; but that acidity also means that it can stand up to rich sauces, too.
Today, we’d like to talk about Incrocio Dalmasso XV-31.
No, it’s not a newly-discovered supermassive black hole or quasar (though as far as black hole names go, we can all admit that Dalmasso XV-31 one would be pretty cool).
Incrocio Dalmasso XV-31 is technical name of Monferrato-area fine red wine grape that is more widely known by an even cooler name: Albarossa. Yes, fans of awesomely campy 1980s action films, that translates to Red Dawn!
In a lot of ways, Albarossa is the kind of happy accident that could only work out auspiciously in the magical uniqueness of Monferrato. Albarossa is a crossing that was created to try to blend the best qualities of Piedmonte’s shining red wine grape stars, Barbera and Nebbiolo. But as you’ll read in a minute or two, things didn’t go exactly as planned. But the outcome, instead of being a Frankenstein monster of vinous proportions, in true Piedmontese fashion ended up being uniquely beautiful and fully tapped into the soul of the region. Because yeah, Piedmonte is just kind of blessed that way.
About eighty years ago, in 1938, University of Turin professor Giovanni Dalmasso, a respected ampelographer, set about making genetic crossings of several grape varieties, one of which ended up becoming the protagonist of our tale today, Incrocio Dalmasso XV-31. Presumably, he was attempting to produce a cousin to both Barbera and Nebbiolo, in the hopes that what came out would somehow take on the best qualities of both. The results of his work were stored in a collection in the Piedmont region.
Fast forward about fifty years, when a Professor Mannini of the National Research Centre of Turin decided to conduct genetic research on Dalmasso’s work. In 1977, Albarossa was officially included in the National Inventory of Vine Varieties. In 2001, it was added to the list of vineyards suitable for cultivation for Piedmont. Since then, while still on the rarer side of things, Albarossa has slowly started its invasion, expanding to the Province of Asti, Alexandria and Cuneo. On the vine, there’s little question that Albarossa takes after its “mother,” Barbera. Like that star Piedmontese grape, Albarossa takes well to chalky soils, and prefers good sun exposure as it likes to ripen on the late side. It also has its mom’s tendency to hang on to its vibrant acidity no matter what. Albarossa also shares Barbera’s penchant for high fertility and medium-to-high vigor.
As for Nebbiolo’s contribution… The berries are thick-skinned and small, with ample quantities of anthocyanins that contribute to the color of the final fine. It also has a penchant for accumulating a high sugar content, which translates to a wine with a full body and higher potential alcohol content. In the cellar, Albarossa plays well with wood, aging nicely in barrels of just about any size.
So what can Incrocio Dalmasso XV-31 do for you? In the glass, the result is a fine ruby-red colored wine with intriguing purple shades. The Albarossa bouquet is both complex and intense, with floral tones and dark berry fruit notes dominating, with an elegant spicy component reminiscent of tobacco. Albarossa wines enter your mouth in fine velvety form, courtesy of its rich, full body. But that Barbera-like acidity never gets lost, giving the wine vivacity and structure.
In terms of food pairing, that acidity makes Albarossa more versatile than your typical full-bodied red. Sure, like many fine red wines, it pairs well with meats, roasts, and cheeses; but that acidity also means that it can stand up to rich sauces, too.
Our story started out with someone trying to combine the elegance and power of Nebbiolo, and the freshness, versatility, and drinkability of Barbera. But things went awry, and mistakes were made… but then the the hero of this particular Red Dawn story ended up fulfilling its destiny anyway. And it didn’t even need rifles, grenades, or camouflage to do it…