In Piemonte, the native grape variety Dolcetto can often be perceived as just being your average table wine. However, a few Dolcetto winemakers from the D.O.C.G. wine appellation and town called Dogliani are taking it more seriously and producing some phenomenal stuff! The first “WOW” Dolcetto that I ever tried was at Chionetti and since then my thoughts have changed about this varietal.

As I had heard through the “grapevine”, there was another top-notch Dolcetto di Dogliani winemaker, famous for its superb wines and ethical philosophy. The winery is Anna Maria Abbona (not to be confused with the bigger winery Marziano Abbona). Everyone always raves about this wine both for the friendly winemakers and their attention to producing the highest quality wine which is achieved by factors like their high altitude, low yields, and resistance to increasing production. For that reason, I was very excited to attend a 5 glass tasting at our local bar in Saluzzo called Turnover.

This tasting event made me realize that the ambience can be a key factor in maximizing the “wine experience”. The neon lights and the loud clubby atmosphere took a little bit away from concentrating on the sensorial elements of the wine. But it was fantastic to meet Anna Maria there with her son (who also does just about everything at the family winery) who generously brought along 5 Dolcettos from different vintages: ’09, ’07, ’04, ’01, ’99, all from their oldest vines which they call Maioli. My favorites were the extremes, the youngest ’09 and the oldest ’99! They were completely different but both had a distinct character.

The 2009 Dolcetto Maioli was pleasant to drink as an aperitive, lighter, with a scrumptious red berry aroma and taste! As I got to the ’01 Dolcetto, I actually smelled what they describe as barnyard which I thought was rare for the usually fruity and sometimes spicy varietal. The ’99 was slightly barnyardy too but was fuller and better balanced. It was actually quite shocking how well it aged if you consider that they say Dolcetto should be drunk young. After having tasted this along with recently trying Forti Del Vento‘s ’90 and ’91 Dolcetto my mind is starting to change. Maybe if vinified especially well, even Dolcetto can get better with time!

Well, I now know that this will be my next visit when I go to Dogliani because their long family history, friendly attitude, and beautifully crafted Dolcettos have cast a spell on me! They distribute through Oliver McCrum Wines in California too!