The name Dolcetto, little sweet one, reflects the intensely fruity character of the grape and its naturally low tannins. Tannic structure and spice add complexity to better examples. Acidity is pronounced in this generally light-bodied wine.
Highly sensitive to soil and climate conditions, Dolcetto is the earliest of Piedmont’s three primary red varieties to ripen, typically reaching harvest two weeks before Barbera and four before Nebbiolo. Its most suitable microclimates are the seven DOC zones of Acqui, Alba, Asti, Diano d’Alba, Dogliani, Ovada and Langhe Monregalesi. In less than optimum conditions, the vine tends to drop fruit before it is fully ripe and is also susceptible to fungus diseases. The fruit’s color is so intense that little skin contact is required during fermentation to produce a highly colored wine.
Dolcetto is believed to have originated in the areas of Acqui and Alessandria and has been cultivated in the Monferrato region since the end of the first millennium. While the vine has migrated beyond Italy, most of the plantings remain in central Piedmont. It is also grown in small quantities in Australia, California and France.