One of the things that make Italian wine so endlessly fascinating is how, given the right terroir and producer, grape varieties can totally transcend our expectations of them. Case in point: Dogliani, in Langhe's southern hills. Whereas throughout the rest of the Langhe, the best sites are planted to Nebbiolo and the lesser to Dolcetto, in Dogliani, it's the opposite. Dolcetto gets the prime real estate and makes the most profound wines. And no one in Dogliani makes better or more age-worthy Dolcetto than Nicoletta Bocca of San Fereolo.
Today, we're pleased to offer San Fereolo's two top Dolcetto bottlings.
Dogliani Dolcetto is totally unlike its Alba counterpart. In the Barolo production zone, Dolcetto is a light, fruit-driven red that you drink while you wait for your Barolo to reach maturity. But in Dogliani, Dolcetto turns into something more akin to Barolo itself: deeply structured, bold, and long-lived. Nicoletta Bocca's Dolcettos are the best and most-prized examples in the region. She is the grape's fiercest proponent. She waits a full eight years to release each vintage of her flagship wine, "San Fereolo," half in cask and half in bottle. Only her best and oldest vines, up to 84 years old, go into "San Fereolo." This is Dolcetto like you've never had: deep, luscious, dark fruit, with bitter chocolate, coffee, and black olive notes. The palate is fully-loaded and rich, but with a tense vein of minerality running through it. This is ready to drink now but will go for ages yet.
We also have a small amount of Nicoletta's rarest bottling, "1593." Nicoletta only makes this in special years, selecting only the best bunches from the best plots. She rests the wine in cask for six whole years and releases the wine more than ten years after the vintage. This is Dolcetto pushed to its greatest extreme: liqueur-like black fruits comingle with dried herbs, eucalyptus, and vanilla. If there's any analog, it might be some of Paolo Bea's top wines, but in truth, this is totally unique.
Nicoletta Bocca took over the San Fereolo estate in 1992. Since then, she has converted it fully to biodynamic viticulture. She has made it her life's mission to prove Dolcetto's greatness. The oldest vines on Nicoletta farms date back to 1936, while the youngest are still an incredible 45 years old. Nicoletta purchases her vineyards from farmers too old to work them any longer and preserves them, keeping them from being planted to international varieties or other crops entirely. These wines completely changed our notions of what Dolcetto is capable of, and they'll do the same for you. Don't miss them.
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