2016 Altare Dolcetto di Dogliani
Region: Dogliani < Piedmont < Italy
Vineyard/Cellar Stats: Organic farming on calcareous-clay soil; fermented and aged in stainless steel; bottled unfined/unfiltered with minimal so2; 13% ABV; 450 cases
Winemaker: Nicholas Altare
Dogliani is a DOCG region where Dolcetto, which generally plays third fiddle to Nebbiolo and Barbera in Piemonte, reigns king. Here it is the only grape allowed to be planted, and where it gets the best vineyard sites and attention it needs to become structured and ageworthy, not just quaffable, wine. The young Nicholas Altare (cousin of Elio Altare, famous in the region), took over the estate at age 16, only after his father agreed to convert to organics. Nicholas hated the chemical stink that surrounded their home and land right after a systemic treatment was done, and that takes over the entire Langhe region during the spraying season. His father, who got very sick and was given a year to live (they believe from the chemicals), finally agreed to give up the sprays and go full bio. Fast forward 10 years and a day job working with Fernando Principiano (one of Piemonte’s leading natural winemakers), and Nicholas is doing his papa proud. Not as serious as some Dogliani, this is glou-glou Dolcetto, with the crunchiness of currants and wild berries on the back of rich, velvety tannins. With a long finish from intense, dark fruit and brighter acidity than expected, Nicholas’ focus on farming and minimal intervention lends a freshness that’s perfect for summer drinking. Amazing with pizza, or any hard cheese and rich meat.