Clavesana- Siamo Dolcetto – We are Dolcetto
I had lunch with Tony di Dio, the Brand Ambassador of the Clavesana winery, my favorite producer of Dolcetto, for an update on the wines and the winery. Tony said that they have a new wine maker, Damian Sicca, and a new agronomist, Marco Bealessio, but Anna Bracco is still Clavesana’s director and Giovanni Bracco (no relation to Anna) is still the Clavesana Coop’s president and has been so since 1987. The consulting enologist since 2011 is Gianfranco Cordero. Tony said that the winery now sets standards for the production of their wine that are stricter than those imposed by the EU. With over 350 family vintners, it would be very difficult for them to be certified organic but all the growers pay attention to the impact they have on the environment and on the ecosystem. They feel that by maintaining the authenticity of the territory they are able to guarantee the authenticity of the wines.
When they say Siamo Dolcetto – We Are Dolcetto — they really mean it. Last year the coop sold over 300,000 cases of Dolcetto, over 90% in Italy. The Coop was founded in 1959 by 32 growers and today there are about 350 members. They are committed to grow Dolcetto.
Tony put me in contact with the winery and Anna Bracco and she told me that their logo features the ten landmark “campanili’ (bell towers) of the towns where the growers (shareholders) live. These are the towns of Dolcetto’s homeland. The keys on the logo are the symbol of the town of Clavesana, which has been named the gateway to the Langhe. Some of the growers have other jobs and can only look after the vineyards part time and their agronomist Marco Bealessio gives extra help to these growers so they will not feel alone and abandon the land. She went on to say that they are trying to keep young people from leaving the area and the land and are doing everything possible to help them to stay.
Anna made a point of saying that they pay the growers according to the quality of the grapes and will pay them as much as 20% higher than the market price. This she says is another incentive for the growers to produce superior grapes.
Giovanni Bracco explained some of the Italian terms that they use including the idea of “singular-plurality”. Clavesana’s microvinification is called Vinification alla Giornata, and Allagiornata are the single vineyard Doglianis—Dolcetto DOCG.
Allagiornata – A day’s work from the single vineyards of Clavesana’s stakeholders. The term refers to the amount of work accomplished by two Piemontese bulls in one day. When they have finished for the day, they have worked one “giornata”, nearly one acre (3,310 meters). This is the root of Clavesana’s singular plurality. He went on to say that even though they are a co-op, some growers bottle wine from a single vineyard. Day in and day out they live“Allagiornata”. They are identified on the label of each bottle by the stakeholder’s number and name. On Google Earth, it is possible to zoom in on the exact location of the vineyard by entering its single vineyards’ coordinates from the label. For example: Giovanni explained that his vineyards are at 571 meters above sea level and his single vineyard wine is 110 Dogliani DOCG delle 3 Giornate di Socio 110 a Calvesana 44º 27’ 59.76” N 7 56’ 54.26’’ E. . We also had the 474 Dogliani DOCG 2008 from the 5.5 Giornate of Socio 474 in Clavesana-Marco Beccarai 44º 27’ 42.55’’N 7 55’07.34’’E.
Sig. Bracco further explained the difference between the Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC and the Dogliani DOCG. The old winery, the heart of Clavesana, was originally built only with cement tanks. Later, stainless steel tanks were added but mostly on the outside of the winery. Dolcetto di Dogliani 2009 and Piemonte D’OH 2010 were vinified in stainless steel tanks and are left here or transferred to cement tanks for a few months. For these last two wines, there is no minimum aging.
Dogliani DOCG/ Dolcetto di Dogliani Superiore– The DOCG has the lowest yields in liters (wine)/ hectares 4.760 of all the different zones of Dolcetto production in Piemonte. The minimum aging is 12 months from Oct 15 of the year of the grape harvest. The minimum alcohol is 12.5%. It is interesting to note that if vineyard and geographical names are on the label, the yield is reduced to 4284 liters/hectare (wine) and the minimum alcohol content is increased by 0.5%. Il Clou Dogliani DOCG is vinified in stainless steel but is aged in botte grande (large oak barrels of oak 50hl).
Allagiornata Dogliani DOCG (Socio 110 for example) are the only ones vinified in cement. The length of time depends on the vintage, 4/6months. 2010 is $21
Dolcetto di Dogliani DOC – With geographical and vineyard names on the label the yields are reduced to 5040 liters/hectare (wine) and natural alcohol content is increased by 0.5%. All of the wine is made from 100% Dolcetto grapes. 2011 is $ 15
The name Dolcetto means sweet little one but the wine is dry. It has medium alcohol, tannin and a deep ruby red color. They can be light wines fresh and fruity like the “D’HO” Piemonte Dolcetto DOC 2011 that is meant to be drunk young and has written on the label “You D’OH Something TO ME.” Tony said that because the D’ OH is made to be drunk young it now has a twist off cap. They can be full bodied and well structured like the “Il Clou” Dogliani DOCG 2010 aged for a short time in botte and the Allagiornata vinified in cement and aged in botte grande that can age for several years. All of this depends on the area of cultivation and how the grapes are vinified in the winery. The Il Clou 2010 is $18
Dolcetto is 90% of their total production, though Clavesana also makes other wines.
I have heard it said that the best Dolcetto comes from the Dogliani zone and after tasting and drinking the Dolcetto from Clavesana I agree. Even their “D’HO”which is a Piemonte DOC (meaning the grapes can come from any Dolcetto area) is a bargain at $12 as is the Dolcetto di Dogliani. The Dogliani DOCG, both the regular and single vineyard, are a great buy at $15 as are the other two Dolcetto’s.