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The Dolcetto Grape


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About Dolcetto

(Synonyms: Dolcetto Nero, Nibièu, Nibiò, Ormeasco, Ormea)

Background

Map showing the Piedmont region of Italy

Dolcetto is a red-wine grape originating in the Piedmont region of northern Italy, where its cultivation seems at least half a millennium old. Despite the multiplicity of local synonyms shown above (and there are many more less-used ones), it rarely arrives in the U.S. as anything but simply “Dolcetto”.

Throughout most of its native region, Dolcetto is treated as a “second fiddle” wine to the pre-eminent Nebbiolo and Barbera, being used as an early cash source owing to its quicker ripening; such bottlings produce decent but unremarkable wines. Some vintners, however, treat the variety with more respect, and these often produce very good wines. The wines are rarely if ever blended: virtually all Dolcetto bottlings are monovarietal.

The characteristics of Dolcetto are a black-cherry flavor with an almost licorice quality, with some also noting overtones of prune or black pepper, and with a characteristic bitter finish reminiscent of almonds. The wines are quite dry and typically medium-bodied, with middling tannins and a rich texture. It is widely regarded as a “food wine”, being thought to be insufficiently fruit-laden to drink on its own; it is especially popular as an accompaniment to the traditional Italian antipasto platter. Dolcetto wines are not usually considered candidates for bottle aging, and drink best within their first two or three years (there are, however, always a few exceptional botlings that breach the rule).

Most monovarietal Dolcetto wines come in two grades: standard and Superiore, the latter requiring a minimum alcohol level of 12.5% (standard can be as low as 11.5%) and a year of bottle age.

There are eight legally defined Dolcetto-producing regions, but three of them are reputed to produce the highest-quality Dolcetto wines; those are:

Factoid: In 1700, Barnabà Centurione sent some Dolcetto as a gift to King George II of Great Britain.

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Some Descriptions of Dolcetto Wines

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Some Dolcettos to Try

(About this list.)

There is an embarrassment of riches here from which to try to select a few representative specimens. After poring over numerous experts’ opinions, we have opted for the specimens shown below, but there seems to be quite a wealth of worthy Dolcetto bottlings out there.

Pecchenino “Siri d’Jermu” Dolcetto
(Pecchenino also bottles a “San Luigi” Dolcetto, listed below; don’t confuse them.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages (2010 & on).
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages (through 2009).
  (CellarTracker has two sets of listings for this wine.)
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Marziano Abbona “Papà Celso” Dolcetto di Dogliani
(Marziano Abbona also bottles a “San Luigi” Dolcetto; don’t confuse the two.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Pecchenino “San Luigi” Dolcetto di Dogliani
(Pecchenino also bottles a Siri d’Jermu” Dolcetto, listed above; don’t confuse them.)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Massolino Dolcetto d’Alba

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks



Palmina Dolcetto
(From Santa Barbera County, California, U.S.A..)

• This wine’s Wine Searcher “Tasting Notes” page.
• This wine’s CellarTracker review pages.
• Retail offers of this wine listed by Wine Searcher
• Retail offers of this wine listed by 1000 Corks

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For a Splurge

There seem no Dolcetto wines better enough than those listed above to justify a “splurge” price.

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This page was last modified on Monday, 23 March 2020, at 3:52 pm Pacific Time.