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.
The Olivero family has produced wine on their property for four generations, but it wasn’t until after Paolo finished oenology school and worked for another domaine in Diano d’Alba that he returned home to lead the family domaine and bottle their wines. Paolo’s Sorì Cristina vineyard produces a soft Dolcetto, with good structure and an elegant balance. The Sorì Santa Lucia vineyard produces a more structured Dolcetto than the Cristina and can be cellared for three to five years. Paolo’s Dolcetto is delicious, straightforward, and an honest ambassador of this workhouse grape that the Piemontese drink daily with their robust cuisine.
Kermit’s love affair with the great reds of Piemonte dates back to the early days of his career: the very first container he imported from Italy, in fact, featured legendary 1971 and 1974 Barolos from Vietti and Aldo Conterno. Regular visits since then have seen our portfolio grow to now twelve Piemontesi estates, with a strong focus on the rolling hills of the Langhe.
Nebbiolo rules these majestic, vine-covered marl slopes, giving Italy’s most mystifyingly complex, nuanced, and age-worthy reds. When crafted via traditional production methods—long macerations and extensive aging in enormous oak botti—the powerful, yet incredibly refined Barolos and Barbarescos provide haunting aromatics of tar, raspberry, incense, tea, roses, and more. At times austere in their youth but well worth the wait, they pair beautifully with the hearty local cuisine starring veal in many forms, braised beef, pastas like tajarin and agnolotti, and of course, Alba’s famous white truffles.
Surrounded by mountains on three sides, Piemonte’s climate is continental, with baking hot summers and cold winters. Nebbiolo is only part of the story here: juicy, fruity Barberas and Dolcettos represent the bread and butter throughout the region, and other native grapes like Freisa, Croatina, and the white Arneis are also noteworthy. Value abounds in the Monferrato, while Alto Piemonte also has its share of thrills to provide.
Every corner of Piemonte is rich with tradition, especially when wine is concerned. It’s no wonder we have been singing the region’s praises for over forty years.
Every three or four months I would send my clients a cheaply made list of my inventory, but it began to dawn on me that business did not pick up afterwards. It occurred to me that my clientele might not know what Château Grillet is, either. One month in 1974 I had an especially esoteric collection of wines arriving, so I decided to put a short explanation about each wine into my price list, to try and let my clients know what to expect when they uncorked a bottle. The day after I mailed that brochure, people showed up at the shop, and that is how these little propaganda pieces for fine wine were born.—Kermit Lynch
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