Monday, April 3, 2023

Dolcetto. The little dark one that’s not so sweet after all! But this Piedmont example is very enjoyable nonetheless.

Dolcetto. The little dark one that’s not so sweet after all!

But this Piedmont example is very enjoyable nonetheless

Valli Unite Diogene da uve Dolcetto Costa Vescovato Colli Tortonesi (DOC) 2013, 14%

€19.95 Le Caveau, 64 Wine, Greenman Wines, Bradleys Cork

The co-operative, Società Coop Agricola Valli Unite to give it its full title, was established over thirty years ago, at a time when most young people left the land to seek work in the large cities of northern Italy. Farmers in general in Italy were regarded quite lowly as winemaker Elena Pantaleoni of La Stoppa (in Piedmont as it happens) told me a few years ago over a lovely lunch in Skibbereen’s Good Things Cafe; she was speaking of a family member who had to depart to make his living in France. 

The coop was started by three young men from local farming families who were deeply attached to their land and traditional practices, who had a belief in organic farming and biodiversity as the way of the future and were committed to a way of life and farming that would be sustainable over the long term. This all happened in the locality of Costa Vescovato in Piedmont.

The coop that they started now numbers four families and 25 people, each bringing their own strengths and talents: from vine-growing and wine-making; to cheesemaking; to animal husbandry and butchery; to a hospitality and a restaurant and a shop selling their own produce.

Pic via Le Caveau

Dark ruby is the colour of this Dolcetto (a very dark grape indeed). Cherry, blueberry and floral notes mix it up in the aromatics. And it is pretty punchy on the palate, fresh, fruity, spicy and above all balanced. And this pleasant and vibrant wine, with an insistent grip, finishes well with a pleasurable bittersweet twist.

An uninhibited juicy wine that will have your lips smacking and Very Highly Recommended.

Versatile at the table especially with the commune’s products (they have their own animals, make their own cheese here), excellent with various mixed appetisers and with Primi Piatti based on homemade pasta. Wine Folly lauds it as one of Italy’s classic food wines “that’s best with richer darker meats”. Serve at 16 to 18 degrees.

The Italian word dolcetto means "little sweet one", but it is not certain that the name originally carried any reference to the grape’s sugar levels which are not notably high. In any case, the wines produced are nearly always dry. Even Oz Clark in Grapes and Wines admits he hasn’t found a Dolcetto wine that deserves the “little sweet one” tag.

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