Dogliani: the serious side of Dolcetto…

Land of vineyards, woods, cultivated fields and ancient farmsteads.
Its roads travelled by stubborn and determined, wise and visionary men and women.
This is Dogliani, a frontier, where the respect for time and the love of place have made these valleys unique.

There are a number of wines from Piemonte that whilst popular, have been allocated to the ‘not to serious pile’. Dolcetto is top of the tree in this regard with most of the wine world knowing this grape variety as the ‘perfect lunchtime wine’.

Dolcetto has long been considered a lunchtime wine, but is it? Spare a thought for those folks in Dogliani who have been making serious ageworthy Dolcetto for a long long time.

So what does this mean? That we are happy to drink this wine at lunch and not at dinner? Whilst like most varieties, there is a lot of bad Dolcetto out there, Dolcetto also has a serious side to it. In time I hope Dolcetto is seen in a different, more serious not. It deserves to be.

Recently, Dolcetto has started the process of being recognised as a serious wine style and all of this work has been from the Dolcetto producers of Dogliani.

Our Dolcetto is the result of the values we believe in.

At Dogliani we dream that is possible to follow the ancient art of wine-growing in a land that still speaks of rural countryside. Here, our vineyards exist in harmony with the rest of our farming culture, sharing the land with hazelnut groves, fields of grains and cereals, pastures, and the woods that are home to wild hares, boars, deer, as well as our extraordinary truffles.

At Dogliani we dream that those who make wine are still able to listen to their craft, fruit of the traditions impressed upon their souls and upon the work of their hands. At Dogliani we dream that our wines can express, with elegance, all of those Piedmontese values that we hold dear: sobriety, determination, truth and that freedom that allows us to firmly believe in an identity decidedly out of fashion. At Dogliani we dream that there is a world out there still able to hear and appreciate these simple, age-old values on which agricultural life and society have always been founded; values that are the true bridge to the future.

It’s true, at Dogliani we are dreamers, but – with our feet firmly planted in the clouds.  La Bottega del Dolcetto

The La Bottega del Dolcetto di Dogliani website http://www.ildogliani.it is a fantastic reference point for all things Dogliani and should be your first starting point in learning about how good Dolcetto can be. Two years ago I visited Dogliani and fell in love with the wines that I tried. It made me believe that Dolcetto could be serious. The wines I tried were grown up, sophisticated and complex. The exact opposite to what I thought Dolcetto was.

However, even though I came back with a new found understanding of Dolcetto, I still did not believe that Dolcetto could be taken seriously and that there was a market for it in Australia. Youthful ignorance on my part.

Fast forward two years and our first shipment of DOCG Dolcetto di Dogliani has just landed on our shores and I am glad we took the final step and brought these wines into Australia. Already they have found a market willing to embrace the serious side of Dolcetto.

The road to DOCG (as flawed a domination that it is) was a long, steep and windy road for the producers of Dogliani. This is something that is not granted overnight: it takes a decade of vintages to prove that the wines justify the classification.

OBTAINING DOCG: DOGLIANI’S COURSE

To obtain DOCG status a wine must demonstrate its superior prestige over a period of at least 10 years, during which it is produced and bottled. At the end of this time, a national governing board must decide whether to accept its candidacy or not. To substantiate its request, Dogliani presented ten vintages of Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore together with a group of DOC wines that had a more incisive and particular character as compared to Dolcettos conceived as easy and early-drinking wines. The bottles were tasted by a special commission and, after a waiting period, the DOCG status was conferred on Dolcetto di Dogliani. http://www.ildogliani.it

For me the best examples of Dolcetto from Dogliani take on a almost Barolo like structure with beautiful complex fruit matched with some pretty serious tannins. This structure and tannins sets Dolcetto di Dogliani apart from the rest of the the Langhe.

What makes Dolcetto from Dogliani different from the rest of Piemonte?

This is La Bottega del Dolcetto di Dogliani (the association of producers of the Dolcetto di Dogliani) take on it:

The Climate

CLIMATE

Dolcetto, demanding as it is in everything else, also prefers a certain climate. This grape does not cope well with extreme heat or cold, both of which can halt or slow the ripening process. Nor does it appreciate overly dry weather. A good supply of water is essential and it prospers and grows best in ventilated, open hills in the vicinity of higher mountains.

Sunshine and rain, changes in temperature, wind patterns and air currents, alternating day in and day out, an unexpectedly cold night, all constitute a very subtle language that requires of the winegrower an experienced ear, a language that the grape vine is able to interpret immediately. Climate is one of the three fundamental elements that, together with the geology of the terrain and man’s intervention, define terroir. Unlike other zones, where the character of each vintage is not so distinct, here the combinations of temperature, sunlight, and precipitation are almost infinite, and determine the constant divergences that we find in the wines. Climate, almost impossible to predict, far easier to assess in retropspect.

The Soil

IL TERRENO

Looking out on the tidy rows of vines, rhythmically following one upon the other, we see only the above-ground vine stock, the shoot system which grows upwards, reaching for the sky. But in reality, much of the plant’s vital existence is underground. Far from being just a simple, inanimate support, the earth, in the composition of its soil, the quality of its minerals, its capacity to heat and cool itself, and its wealth of micro-organisms, defines the place where the vine sinks its roots, often metres deep, and determines its character in great part. Dolcetto, sensitive as it is to every element that affects its existence, is even more so where soil is involved. There are very few areas where this grape manages to find its equilibrium, and many, on the other hand, where just a few weeks before ripening fully, the berries fall off the vine due to an excess of humidity, or soil compaction.
In sandy soil, Dolcetto will germinate early, thanks to the warming of its roots, but will also feel more strongly the earth’s cooling, caused by spring or late summer rains, than it would in other soil types. In silty-clayey soil, the thin layer of earth causes the interruption of vine dormancy to occur more gradually, but also slows down the roots’ reaction to adverse climatic conditions. Dogliani is fortunate in having soil types with a special aptitude and affinity for growing Dolcetto.

What does the future lie for Dolcetto di Dogliani?

Considering how far Dolcetto has progressed in the last decade, it would be fair to say that the future looks rosy for Dolcetto di Dogliani. Increased exposure has been crucial for people to see the serious side of Dolcetto. It can be complex. It can be serious, and it can age long term.

When buying your next bottle of wine from a restaurant wine list or wine store, look out for Dolcetto di Dogliani. It may not be easy to track down, but it is definitely worth the effort.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s