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Luigi Einaudi Dolcetto di Dogliani 2012
The hills of Dogliani, just to the south of the Barolo zone, produce the very best Dolcetto wines in the world. Its rolling hills reach higher elevations than those of Barolo and the area maintains strong Dolcetto vineyards as well as groves of hazelnut trees, farmland, pastures, and forests. Dogliani became its own DOCG in 2005; in order for a Dolcetto to be classified as Dogliani DOCG, it must come from one of the following communes: Bastia Mondovì, Belvedere Langhe, Clavesana, Cigliè, Dogliani, Farigliano, Monchiero, Rocca Cigliè, Roddino and Somano. Dogliani DOCG must have a deep red color, elegance, intense fruit, and aromas of currants, raspberry, and blackberry.
An easy-drinker with modest acidity, soft fruity flavors—but catchy tannins, Dolcetto is often enjoyed in its native Piedmont while more serious Barolos and Barbarescos take their time to age. Here, this is the wine you are most likely to find at the table on a casual Tuesday night, accompanying local charcuterie or "apertivo" hour (the canonical Piemontese way to tease your palate before dinner). In recent years Dolcetto has found some footing in California, but plantings are fairly limited outside of Italy.
In the Glass
Dolcetto translates to “little sweet one,” and though the wines produced are typically not sweet in terms of residual sugar, they do possess delightfully fruity flavors of red cherry and blueberry, with an almond-like bitterness at the end and occasional hints of chocolate and baking spice.
Dolcetto is a lively, exuberant variety without a ton of complexity in most cases, and as such is best paired with simple, flavorsome foods such as pasta, pizza and simple meats—anything an Italian farmer might consume after a long day in the field.
In most of Piedmont, easy-ripening Dolcetto is relegated to the secondary sites—the best of which are reserved for the king variety: Nebbiolo. However, in the Dogliani zone it is the star of the show, and here it makes a bigger, riper and a more serious style of Dolcetto, many of which can improve with cellar time.