Dolcetto | Red wine grape native to Italy. Decreasing plantings in the Langhe area of Piemonte (‘Piedmont’) are due to the rise in plantings of Nebbiolo as well as the viticultural and winemaking difficulties that Dolcetto poses.
The vine | Dolcetto’s grapes are quite sweet and local farmers often ate them as table grapes thus giving rise to its nickname “little sweet one”, however its wines are always dry.
Other names | Dolcetto is called Ormeasco in Liguria. Dolcetto is not to be confused with Dolcetto di Boca from the Boca area in northern Piedmont, which is unrelated.
Biotypes | Many biotypes exist, in particular Nibiò (aka Dolcetto dal Peduncolo Rosso) which distinguishes itself in the vineyard by its bright red (vs. the typical green) stalk when ripe. With very small bunches and berries, Nibiò yields wines with red fruit combined with a hint of spice including marjoram and nutmeg.
Viticulture | Dolcetto is an earlier ripening variety than its vineyard companions, Barbera and Nebbiolo. It can be subject to the vagaries of early frosts or storms and is particularly weather sensitive close to harvest when berries drop in cool weather. As such, only producers who are quite dedicated to the variety are continuing to plant Dolcetto.
Wines | Piedmont: Dogliani DOCG. | Ovada DOCG. | Diano d’Alba DOCG. | Dolcetto d’Alba DOC. | Dolcetto d’Asti DOC. | Dolcetto d’Acqui DOC. | Liguria: Ormeasco di Pornassio DOC.
Wine style | Dazzling purple hues. Relatively low in acid and high in tannins with truly grapey aromas and flavors. Red fruit flavours (raspberries, cherries) are often heightened by a hint of lavender, and rounded out with orange peel and black tea. Wines are dry, still, medium (sometimes plus) bodied. Bigger, fleshier wines are coming from the Dogliani sub-zone.
Italian Wine Unplugged (Positive Press, 2017), p.98-9.