Anna Maria Abbona
The quality of Dolcetto from the village of Dogliani has been skyrocketing in the last few years, and Anna Maria's work is a good example of this. Her oldest vines were planted by her grandfather in the thirties, and the vineyards are steep and perfectly exposed. More recently she has become a convert to the doctrine of low yields, and she has joined the elite of Dogliani. First, understand that producers in Dogliani take Dolcetto as seriously as producers in Barolo take Nebbiolo. Dolcetto is planted in all the best sites and vinified with great care, which is not always the case with Dolcetto d'Alba.
- Specialises in Dolcetto, also makes small amounts of Nebbiolo and Barbera
- Highest vineyards in the Dogliani area (altitude gives fresher acidity)
- Very clean, expressive red wines
Second, understand that Dolcetto is not the Beaujolais of Italy. The best modern Dolcettos have inky color, lashings of blueberry fruit, and tannins to match. In fact, the concentration of top Dogliani wines has reached a point where the tannins need to be carefully managed to be pleasant. There are three techniques that help with this - picking for phenolic ripeness, micro-oxygenation, and oak; Anna Maria is using all three.
I import two single-vineyard Dolcettos, the Sori dij But and the Maioli, as well as a more recent addition to her line-up, the Langhe Nebbiolo. In the fall you will also see a small amount of the exceptional Barbera she calls 'Cadò' meaning 'gift'.
Piedmontese food is some of the best in Italy, and Dolcetto is most often what the producers drink to accompany the food. Dolcetto is said to run in their veins; now it runs in mine, too.
Eric Asimov wrote an excellent article on Dolcetto for the New York Times, you can read it here.
Dolcetto di Dogliani 'Sori dij But'
'Sori' is Piedmontese dialect for the sunny south face of a hill. 'But' or Butti is the name of the hamlet where Anna Maria and her husband Franco's house and cellar are, a stunning spot in a very beautiful area.
This is classic Dogliani Dolcetto, fermented and aged in stainless steel. It shows great color, reddish purple and violet-tinged, aromas of blueberries and tealeaf, and some tea tannins to go with the abundant fruit on the palate. Dolcetto is one of the best table wines I know; so grill some lambchops, pour everyone a glass, and all will be right with the world.
Dolcetto di Dogliani 'Maioli'
If you want proof that Dolcetto is not 'the Beaujolais of Italy,' pour yourself a glass of Anna Maria's Maioli, which is 100% Dolcetto. The wine is violet-tinged deep purple, a very inviting color; it smells of violets, Assam tealeaves, and blueberries; and it is a mouth-filling, deep, substantial wine to drink. 'Una bomba,' as they say in Italy, and an excellent food wine; it goes with many red meat dishes, grilled sausages, cheese... The fruit comes from very old vines planted in the '30s by Anna Maria's uncle. The wine is fermented and aged in stainless steel.