2014 Palmina Dolcetto
Region: Santa Ynez Valley < California
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming; fermented/aged in stainless; minimal SO2 at bottling
Winemaker: Steve Clifton
We’ve known Steve Clifton, and have worked with his wines, for many years, and man, they’re better and better – and cleaner – every year. Steve trained with some cool winemakers in Italy’s Fruili region, and focuses on Italian varietals out of his winery in Lompoc, California. While he doesn’t own any vineyards, he has long-term contracts and his own farming crew, and they do the work themselves – this is unusual, but allows him to control the inputs and ensure that everything is organic and treated with care. The same non-interventionist philosophy applies in the cellar, where everything is fermented naturally and SO2 is added in small amounts, only at bottling. Dolcetto (“the little sweet one” in Italian) is a Northern Italian grape that, in Piemonte at least, is easy, juicy and gulpable – the daily drinker of the local vignerons. But very few people get it right here in the US. Thankfully Steve is the master of Cal-Italian varietals, and his unoaked Dolcetto is delightfully simple and juicy, with candied cherry, black pepper, licorice and fresh crushed strawberries.