Most Dolcetti from the Langhe are classified DOC wines, and they’re lovely—versatile, fresh, and value-driven. And then there are exceptions from noteworthy crus like Diano d’Alba, a village whose privileged vineyard sites have earned its Dolcetti DOCG status. Such wines are not mere values; they are overachievers. The term sörì, “sunlit plot,” is borrowed from the local dialect and indicates that grapes grown in these sites mature amply and optimally under the bright piemontese sun. Dolcetto flourishes into a plush and velvety vino rosso in these conditions. Paolo Olivero, who owns the small Il Palazzotto estate, bottles two different Sörì from Diano d’Alba. The Sörì Cristina, a limestone-laden site, is the most easy-drinking and charming Dolcetto we import, and it could easily command twice its price and still taste like a bargain to me. The Sörì Santa Lucia, from chalky marl, has a bit more structure, firmness, and depth. Both drink well now. Both were bottled unfined and unfiltered.
I love soft, fruit-driven Dolcetto, especially when it provides real refreshment, and in this case the combination of the highlands of Diano d’Alba and old vines brings us both the pleasure and the seriousness. Drinking this wine will make you yearn to be in Piedmont at a rustic wood table, eating handmade pasta and carne arrosti. Thankfully, you can re-create the experience in your own kitchen, since the wine is the hardest part to find.
In Native Wine Grapes of Italy, Ian d’Agata writes that the country’s second president, Luigi Einaudi, loved Dolcetto so much that he “planted thousands of vines on his Piedmontese estate.” Its buds, however, are fragile, and the grapes grow low to the ground, requiring grueling work from the vigneron. Accordingly, in recent decades, the variety has largely been abandoned. Neither of those issues has stopped fourth-generation grower Paolo Olivero, who makes Dolcetto from one of the grape’s great crus, Diano d’Alba. With its slightly higher elevation, this region is known for producing Dolcetti that are among the most perfumed and fruit-driven. Sörì Cristina displays supple, pretty notes of freshly crushed blackberries and raspberries. It will pair well with pretty much anything, though its perfect match is roast chicken and rosemary potatoes.
DOC Dolcetto d’Alba produces the fullest-bodied Dolcetti of the Langhe, which suits Guido Porro’s house style swimmingly. With robust black fruit and deep violet on the nose, this bottling has a pleasant bitterness and luminous acidity that will lift your spirits and keep you on your toes. Guido and his family love to host long, languorous meals created by his talented wife, Giovanna. Picture homemade tagliarini with ragù, or a risotto al dolcetto with pecorino and crushed hazelnuts. If you’re not up for cooking, a simple platter of paper-thin prosciutto will taste almost sweet when washed down with a glass of this Dolcetto.
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