The Inside Story from Italian Wine Merchants

Go-To-Wine Tuesday: Quinto Chionetti San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010

Posted on | March 24, 2015 | Written by Camacho Vidal | No Comments

RD8577-2I knew that Dolcetto had many DOCG regions—it has seven, to be exact, and I knew that always enjoy Dolcetto as an everyday drinker, so I was excited to try the Quinto Chionetti San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010. Dolcettos are among my favorite go-to wines at home because of their versatility. I always say that if you are invited to a dinner and do not know what is being served, bring a Dolcetto, and you should be fine as they pair well with so many varieties of foods.

The name Dolcetto means “little sweet one” in Italian, and along with Nebbiolo and Barbera it is one of Piemonte’s signature grapes. Evidence suggests that this grape has been growing in Piemonte for centuries and it’s traditionally produced as a light (both in color and weight) table wine that you’re meant to drink one to two years after release. The wines made from Dolcetto are known for a light purple color, and its low tannins that make them easy to drink. Depending on which DOC they come from you can find black cherry and licorice with some prune flavors, light cherry, raspberry—sometimes jammy—with hints of spice. And while the name implies a sweet wine there is nothing sweet about them. They are normally dry wines.

I found that the Quinto Chionetti fits with the recent the trend is for bold Dolcetto versions made from grapes that have been given a longer hang time to amplify their power and age-worthiness. This trend now gives us two distinct Dolcetto styles: a traditional light style as well as a big, concentrated style. While traditional styles are light purple in color with low tannins, the modern styles are much darker in color with heavier body, blackberry, dark cherry, black currant, prunes, licorice, coffee and dark chocolate. The Quinto Chionetti San Luigi Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010 was an intense ruby color with purple reflections. The nose had warm pleasant aroma of berries, currants, spice and mineral with a slight herbal tone mixed with perfume and flowers. The palate was full with great freshness and balance, as well as good weight, offering fruit, followed by some dusty earth, herbs, a nice minirality and somewhat chewy tannins. This wine is joy that will make you rediscover the grape all over again.

Quinto Chionetti, whose name has become synonymous of the Dolcetto di Dogliani, is 83 years old; he’s essentially the soul of the estate and is known as a laborious winemaker who is loyal to tradition and is respectful of his land. He followed in the footsteps of his grandfather and father, who made wine since the beginning of the 20th century (1912), gaining reputation for their quality wine resulting from low yields and rigorous selections. Like his forefathers, Quinto makes his wines are from high altitude, organic vines and only natural yeast.

Widely considered the highest, purest Dolcetto expression, Dolcetto from the Dogliani was elevated to DOCG status and grown to the virtual exclusion of other varieties. Dolcetto di Dogliani (also labeled simply “Dogliani”) is dark and low-yielding; it’s picked later and super-selected. It’s concentrated, with weight and structure that is foreign to other Dolcettos. It’s a wine that can be mouth puckering and tight, but with a bit of time in the cellar, you get a satisfying, rich, chunky, vigorous wine that offers a new, surprising side that you would not imagine from Dolcetto. This certainly was my experience when I tasted the San Luigi Dolcetto Dogliani 2010–and for under $28, it can be yours too!

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