Dolcetto: it’s a grape whose name translates to the seductive and delightful “little sweet one.” Therefore, it’s hard to understand why Dolcetto has long played the wallflower, doomed to cling to the corners rather than to dance in the glass of the US drinker.
It is, after all, the third child in Piemonte’s holy grape trinity. Dolcetto seems to stand in the shadow of the region’s champion grape Nebbiolo, the grape responsible for the noble Barolo, and Barbaresco, the populist queen to Barolo’s king. In a global market pockmarked with trends, there seems to be not enough room for Dolcetto to share in Piedmont’s glory. And yet, Dolcetto–a grape more acidic and thus more food-friendly than its name suggests–packs a dark purple punch of black cherries, black plums, black raspberries licorice and spice. It makes a special wine.
I’d like to help give Dolcetto a shot at its own fifteen minutes—and hopefully longer. I’m not alone. The recent Huffington Post piece “A Grape That Could Use Some Love: Dolcetto” suggests that people are beginning to dig this little gem from Piedmont. Even though non-Italians have overlooked Dolcetto’s potential, the best producers of Piedmont have not. Ruggeri Corsini makes an approachable and lovely rendition that can be enjoyed daily; Sandrone and Aldo Conterno both make world-class contemporary interpretations; and the classics style is upheld by greats like Bartolo Mascarello, who makes Dolcetto like it has always been made. And these Dolcettos are all great-tasting, food-happy, entry-level value wines, as well as coming from iconic producers.
Each style offers something new according to the typicity of its estate and the style of the producer, but this variety helps to underscore the range of options available to drinkers curious enough to explore. Open your minds, hearts, and glasses to this underappreciated sweetheart. Its subtle fruits will entertain your palate with new flavors that you never knew you loved.