Piedmont Wines: The Dolcetto grape variety

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The Dolcetto is an autochthonous grape variety that has been cultivated in Piedmont for centuries. The country wines made from the grapes are very important to the locals and the dolcetto is a must at every meal. It is usually drunk young, is characterized by its fresh and fruity aromas, is relatively low in acidity, tannin-heavy and often has a pleasant, slightly bitter almond note in the aftertaste.

Higher-quality Dolcetto wines have also been produced for the last decade. They very often show complex notes, good structure and full-bodiedness with fine tannins and also have a good shelf life. These wines all come from the municipalities of Dogliani and Diano D'Alba. The soil conditions there are ideal for the grape variety, the hills are very high and often planted with old vines. Under these conditions, the grapes reach an optimal degree of ripeness and when aged in wooden barrels, a high-quality Dolcetto wine is produced.

 There are several theories as to where the name Dolcetto comes from. Because when you hear Dolcetto, you actually expect a smooth or sweet wine. The explanation that has generally prevailed is that this name was chosen because the flesh of the grape tastes extremely sweet when fully ripe.

 Historically, the Dolcetto was originally used as a barter with Ligurian products. From Liguria one could get oil, salt and anchovies, which were needed as a basis for the popular Piedmontese dish "Bagna Cauda". It is also known that Luigi Einaudi, President of the Italian Republic from 1948-55, was a great lover of Dolcetto wine from Dogliani.

The Dolcetto is widespread in Piedmont and there are seven different growing areas, with the most important wines coming from Dogliani, Diano D'Alba, Alba and Ovada. The vine thrives particularly well on calcareous marl soils. It can tolerate a lot of sun and heat and therefore needs hilly locations of at least 250m altitude, but can ripen very well up to 800m altitude. It is not an easy vine to manage, with low yield, prone to disease and can suffer from water shortages in hot summers. This means that the winemaker has to pay a lot of attention to the vine and needs a lot of experience to be able to produce a good quality wine.

The Dolcetto has always maintained its status as a daily table wine and has even been able to expand it in recent years. Nowadays, however, the Dolcetto also joins the ranks of high-quality wines from Piedmont.


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