When you think of Dolcetto, some may first think of Dogliani, where the likes of Abbona, Chionetti, Einaudi, and CaViola makes cellarable, complex, and minerally wines from the dolcetto (the little sweet one) grape. That are good to drink right now, and absolutely stunning at age 10 or more. Others might think of the what I’ll call experiemental dolcettos. Either single-grape samples like Brovia’s Dolcetto Solatio or Macarini’s Dolcetto d’Alba Boschi di Berri, or blended ones like Angelo Gaja’s Cremes (50% Merlot added). Most of you will think of Dolcetto as the table wine, if you like, of Piemonte. Accessible immediately, wonderful all year around – but especially in the summer, and priced to fit most people’s wallet. I personally like to think of it as the wine to check if to check to quality of a winemaker (at least the artisan winemakers). As these will take extreme pride in what they produce, a good dolcetto very likely means good Barolos (and Barberas, ++). Typically, it’s hard to wrong with Dolcettos from the likes of Vietti, Cavallotto, Altare, Voerzio, Marengo, Sandrone, and many more.
When thinking of Monforte, Dolcetto is not the first thing to spring to mind. One reason for this is of course the magnificent Barolos from vineyards in Monforte, like Giacomo Conterno’s Monfortino, or Aldo Conterno’s GranBussia. Another is that not all of the famous Barolo producers in Monforte bottles a dolcetto.
Hard then to fathom that Elio Grasso from Monforte, and his Dolcetto d’Alba Dei Grassi, ran of wine of the week honors. Known mostly for his three Barolo vineyard selections: Gavarini Vigna Chiniera, Ginestra Vigna Casa Maté, and Rüncot, almost every year fighting for top honors in the wine world, the Grasso family takes pride in high quality all through their lineup.
In addition to the traditional lineup of Barolo, Barbera, and Dolcetto, they also produce (since 1986) a Chardonnay. All in all the Grassos (Elio, his wife Marina, their son Gianluca) and their consultant Piero Ballario, cultivates 14 hectares (output a bit less than 70 000 bottles), with strict focus on creating wines that reflect the respective vineyards.
They have 1.5 hectares of Dolcetto, on southeast facing vineyard, in typical Monforte sandy, calcareous soil. The average age of the wines is 30 years, and they have produced around 7000 bottles of this wine a year since 1980.
The 07 Dolcetto d’Alba Dei Grassi is a gorgeous and refined dolcetto, with plenty of dark fruit and licorice aromas. I guess the words precision and drinkability comes to mind when trying to best describe this wine. Juicy (dark berry type), structured, and leaving you wanting another sip.
I guess we’ll add Elio Grasso to the list above of winemakers who makes great Dolcettos and Barolos. For sure.