A Piemontese Treasure

In 2018, Antonio Galloni published an enlightening piece on "Piedmont's Affordable Gems" on vinous.com. While lamenting the soaring prices of the finest producers' Barolos, he enthused over the rising quality of Barbera, Langhe Nebbiolo and Dolcetto. The only negative he mentioned was that too many of the best Dolcetto sites in the Barolo area have been replanted to Nebbiolo.

Balancing that, he wrote, Dolcetto continues to claim the best sites in Dogliani. And growers who "were once obsessed with making powerful, intense wines ... (now) show a greater emphasis on finesse, which is great to see."   

Andthe Dogliani superstar in the great vintages of 2015 and 2016 was Chionetti, who for more than a half century have helped make Dogliani the go-to address for great Dolcetto.  Yet, it’s doubtful that Chionetti has enjoyed many back to back vintages quite like this. 

In 2015 they made Dolcettos of unique depth, richness and complexity, yet with the structure for long aging.  And in 2016 was "a year that yielded perfumed, delicate, varietally expressive wines with less overtness than the 2015s, but tons of character." (Antonio Galloni)

We're pleased to offer these overachieving bottles that we set aside on release and have been resting in our cold cellars.  While all four are just starting to come into their own, one thing is more clear today than ever:  there aren't that many wines from Piemonte of this quality you could hope to buy at a price this low.

Prized Sites, Minimalist Methods
Just eight miles away from Barolo, Dogliani offers something that it’s far-more-famous neighbor can’t: terroirs born to grow Dolcetto. In fact, Dolcetto is so suited to Dogliani's soils and exposures that it enjoys pride of place here. In complete contrast to Barolo, Dolcetto commands all the best vineyard sites, relegating Nebbiolo to secondary status.

La Costa and San Luigi are two of the greatest Dolcetto vineyards of all, perched high atop the town of Dogliani itself. Owned by the Chionetti family since 1912, these are not only superb terroirs, steeply sloped of Lequio formation soil of ancient seabed limestone-clay marl layered with sand. They are also quite different from each other: San Luigi, elegantly dry and earthy and La Costa, deep and incredibly long-lived.

Chionetti’s methods are intended to reveal the traits of terroir as clearly as possible. Meticulous vineyard work, including severe pruning for low yields, ensures the highest quality of fruit.

In the cellar, he works simply, vinifying and aging his crus exclusively in stainless steel for the purest possible rendering of site. Only La Costa goes on to age for two years in oak botti, to give it Barolo-like qualities. The results are Dolcettos of imposing structure that can often demand a few years before opening, and that will develop easily for decades, gaining stunning depth and nuance as they age.

Through Chionetti’s classic methods, the unparalleled grandeur, complexity and aging potential of San Luigi and La Costa are expressed with startling purity in both 2015 and 2016. These wines are nothing less than revelatory, challenging our perceptions of what Dolcetto is and can be.

And for anyone who loves great Piemontese wine, please don't pass these wines up.

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