When it comes to the red grape varieties of Piedmont in Italy’s northwest, the familiar big three — Nebbiolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto — get most of the attention. But there’s another that’s well worth considering: Grignolino.
It’s easy to think of Grignolino (pronounced gree-no-LEE-no) as a kind of a footnote among Piedmont reds. But the wines can have considerable depth and complexity, as I was reminded of in Gianni Doglia’s superb 2020 Grignolino d’Asti.
As its name indicates, the wine is from the province of Asti — best known for its Barbera d’Asti and sparkling Moscato d’Asti, and where the Grignolino variety also thrives. Gianni Doglia grows them all on his 25-acre property, which was purchased by his grandfather in 1947 and which he farms organically.
His Grignolino d’Asti is a phenomenal under-$20 value that’s dominated by cherry and raspberry notes, along with a touch of blueberry, baking spices, and a good deal of minerality. Lively acidity makes it a refreshing food partner.
While its light color might suggest that it could be overpowered by heavier dishes, there’s no cause for concern: The wine more than carries its weight next to rich meals like slow-cooked ragu with pork sausage — much like Barolos and Barbarescos, which are often similarly light in color.
The big difference is that those Nebbiolo-based wines require more aging before their aggressive tannins start to subside, and they are far pricier. By contrast, Doglia’s 2020 Grignolino is moderately tannic, is drinking beautifully right now, and carries a price tag that makes it a go-to Italian red for a wide array of Italian-inspired dishes.
It will also take a slight chill in the warmer months, almost like a Beaujolais, making it a great year-round red wine option.