The Dolcetto grape is widely grown in northern Italy’s Piedmont region. The first definitive documentation regarding the cultivation of this variety dates back to the late 16th century, and identifies its origin as the zone around Monferrato. From here, Dolcetto spread primarily to the areas around Alessandria and Cuneo, and until 30 years ago it was also found in the Bormida Valley, in the Alta Langa, whose altitude is at the upper limit for the vine. Now, thanks to the hard work of some young producers, the terraced hills of the valley are once again being used to grow grapes for wine. This part of Piedmont is characterized by rugged land, with altitudes over 600 meters above sea level and slopes as steep as 50%, carved into wide terraces supported by drystone walls (made using the typical Langa stone, without mortar or cement) to allow cultivation. The microclimate is suited to grape growing thanks to the stones, which at night release the heat stored during the day. Dolcetto, a demanding grape when it comes to the environment, has found an ideal habitat in the Bormida Valley, thanks also to the chalky-marly soil and southern exposure. The winegrowers work in extreme conditions. There is little or no mechanization, weeds are managed entirely by physical or mechanical means and the grapes are picked by hand, with the bunches carefully selected and handled gently until their arrival in the winery.
The Dolcetto wine made from grapes grown in the Bormida Valley terraces has a ruby-red color with pale violet hints, and on the nose offers persistent notes of berries and spices along with herbaceous scents. On the palate, it has a medium body and a dry taste, tannic and not very acidic. The retronasal sensations recall the fruits from the initial nose and bitter almonds.
The harvest takes place around the middle/end of September. The wine is available all year round.
At the end of the 1990s, a few young winegrowers revived the traditional cultivation of Dolcetto on the terraces. The Slow Food Presidium has been started to promote their work, to safeguard the cultivation of grapes on the terraces and to support the economy of a depressed and challenging area.
Terraces in the Bormida Valley, Alta Langa, Cuneo province, Piedmont region
Presidium supported by
Municipal authorities of Cortemilia, Perletto and Torre Bormida
di Stefano e Cristina Barberis
Strada San Lorenzo, 10
tel. +39 0173 81371 - +39 333 4372374
Via Maddalena, 9
Torre Bormida (Cn)
tel. +39 0173 88026 – +39 340 2837209
Strada Viarascio, 15
tel. +39 340 7763740 - +39 388 6078255
Roccasanta di Pietro Monti
Via Cortemilia Alessandria, 4
tel. +39 0173 81795 - +39 340 8078889
tel. +39 388 6078255
Slow Food Presidium Coordinator
tel. +39 335 6374659