Dolcetto is the earliest-ripening grape of southern Piedmont’s three major red varieties. It’s often planted in the coolest pockets of the hills, where Nebbiolo and Barbera cannot ripen. Its name, translating to “little sweet one,” refers not to the wine Dolcetto produces but to the grapes themselves. Though Dolcetto wines do tend to be fruit-forward, they are also fairly tannic and low in acidity, in direct contrast to Barbera’s high acidity and low tannins. These characteristics give Dolcetto wines the impression of being fairly round and soft, with a bitter, spicy finish. While some producers now pay more attention to this historically workhorse grape, it is generally unoaked and designed for youthful consumption.
Find a new Piedmont favorite with our illustrated guide to Dolcetto.