To call Dolcetto the “Beaujolais of Italy” would not be a perfect comparison, but arguably no Italian red wine matches the hedonism of rouges from that French region as rossi made from this Piemontese grape. Like Beaujolais, Dolcetto has a way of making your lips curve into a smile. Massimo Benevelli, who produces some of the region’s most sublime Barolo, fashions this everyday quaffer from old vines planted along Monforte d’Alba’s storied slopes. This means that, in addition to being luscious, the wine has heft and complexity that you won’t find in most Dolcetti from other parts of Piedmont. Characterized by notes of brambly fruit, melting tannins, and mouthwatering acidity, Benevelli’s Dolcetto is versatile enough to open for pizza night or with a meal that demands a red with some spine. Plump and juicy with soft tannins, it provides just the right structure needed to go with the region’s hearty traditional cuisine. In fact, Massimo’s sister runs a great trattoria adjacent to the winery where bottles of Dolcetto are passed around each table to wash down local specialties like carne cruda, vitello tonnato, and agnolotti del plin.
It was in 1978 that Piero Benevelli started out with five hectares of vines in Monforte d’Alba and focused on the traditional grapes of Piedmont: Nebbiolo, Dolcetto, and Barbera. His son, Massimo, started his training in the vineyard at age 14 and quickly learned the core principle that still guides him today—to make great wine, you must first have great grapes. The young Massimo Benevelli has developed into an extremely talented Piemontese grower. He exhibits a total command of the production process, from vine to bottle. When tasting his production during various stages of aging there is a consistency, a touch, an intangible quality that is the mark of something great. His wines show character, soul, and originality.
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.
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