Dolcetto: Another Great Italian Wine from Piedmont

The Piemonte is one of the finest wine regions in the world.  Wine is made there utilizing so many different grapes.  This column has discussed Barolos (made from Nebbiolo), Barberas and the light sparkling wine Moscato d’Asti.  This article will examine another great Piemonte wine:  Dolcetto. 

The people of the Piemonte enjoy all of these different wines, but traditionally, their everyday wine of choice has been Dolcetto.  Dolcetto was a light, soft and easy to drink wine which could be drunk very young in part, due to its lower acidity and soft tannins.  In recent years Barbera has overtaken the role as the everyday wine of choice chiefly because the pricing for Barbera has undercut that of Dolcetto.  Barbera is a more prolific producer of fruit allowing for more production.  At the same time, the supply of Dolcetto grapes is routinely reduced by locals who make their own wine from purchased fruit.  Hence, the price of Dolcetto has risen above that of Barbera. 

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Dolcetto is the name of the grape which literally means “little sweet one”.  Although traditionally lighter, less expensive wines, this is no longer the rule.  Many Dolcetto’s are being made in a bigger, bolder style.  The fruit is left to hang on the vine longer resulting in higher alcohols and more age worthy wines.  Some producers are using new and old oak to age the wines.  As a result, there are now various styles of Dolcetto in the market place.  The better ones by far are the more modern interpretations.  The “new” Dolcetto’s are deep purple in color.  The aromas have black raspberries, violets, coffee and chocolate covered cherries.  On the palate, they can be jammy with dark cherries and black raspberries.  They also can show notes of oak.  At the same time, these are still wines that drink well young.  The acidity is lower and balanced compared to other Piemonte reds.  Certainly, their tannins are much softer.  Surprisingly enough, these wines are capable of ageing for five to ten years, the best ones even longer. 

The wines produced from Dolcetto are labeled with the name of the locale the grape was grown and the wine produced in.  There are seven Docletto DOC’s and one DOCG!  They are Dolcetto d’Acqui, Dolcetto d’Alba, Dolcetto d’Asti, Dolcetto delle Langhe Monregalesi, Dolcetto di Diano d’Alba, Dolcetto di Dogliani, and Dolcetto d’Ovada. 

For more than 25 years, The California Wine Club founders Bruce and Pam Boring have explored all corners of California’s wine country to find award-winning, handcrafted wine to share with the world. Each month, the club features a different small family winery and hand selects two of their best wines for members.