Dolcetto is a type of grape that is used to make a dark very black wine. It is native to northwestern Italy and is primarily grown in the Piedmont region of northwest Italy. Ironically the name means "sweet little grape" but in the end the grape produces a very elegant and sophisticated dry wine. The wine is also often described as being moderately acidic.
It is meant to be aged at least one year before it is suitable for drinking. It cannot be aged too long or it starts growing too thick. It is very regional and the proper growing of it is considered to be a bit of an art form.
The wine itself is considered to be a tasty combination of licorice, black cherry and prune flavors. The finish on the wine is unusual and is reminiscent of bitter almonds. The wine is tannic and very dry, similar to a Malbec. This is one of those black wines that is good for your health because it contains a lot of free radical and heart disease fighting anthocyanins. It goes best with pizzas, pastas and Italian foods.
The origins of this black grape are bit nebulous but historical records suggest that it originated in France and migrated as a crop down to Monferrato sometime in the eleventh century. There is also a record of this grape vine being exported from Italy to Great Britain in the 1700s where it was given as a present to royalty.
Today the grape is mainly found in the Piedmont region and is grown as an early harvested wine. These are also called "early to market" wines as they are sold first to make sure that the vineyard has income to survive on during the production of its other wines. The grape is specifically associated as brands with grapes grown in Dogliani and Diano d’Alba. In Liguria it is sold as Ormeasco.
Outside of Italy Dolcetto wine has other names. It is known as Charbono in California and Douce Noire in Svoie. It is also an exported wine from Australia. In fact Australia is home to some of the oldest Dolcetto grape vines in the world – ones dating back to the 1860s.
The grape was first brought to the United States by Italian immigrants around the turn of the century and currently it is grown in the Napa Valley, the Santa Cruz Mountains, the Russian River Valley and Santa Barbara County. These grapes are also found in wineries in Oregon and also in Pennsylvania and New Mexico.
There are many names for Dolcetto wine across the world including Acqui, Barbirono, Noir, Cote Rouge Merille, Crete de Coq Bathiolin, Dolciut, Dolsin, Savoyard, Turin, Uva d'Acquia, Uva del Monferrato, Uva di Ovada, Turino, Uva d'Acqui Dolsin Raro, Dolzin, Dolzino, Dosset, Gros Noir de Montelimar, and Gros Plant Batialin. This is by no means a comprehensive list. There are probably about forty more names that this wine is sold by worldwide.
There are so many varieties in fact that only a handful of wines are actually classified in France as being true Doceltto wines. These are known as Docettodi Dogliani. These premium wines taste like sour cherry and black cherry and have after tastes of chocolate and espresso. These wines are organic, grown entirely by hand and are of a very high quality. These are considered to be specialty wines and are much more expensive than the other types of Doceltto wines sold across the world.
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