Northern Italian Reds


Dolcetto_NizzaWines of the Week

wines chosen for the 2nd Italian Wine Professional class: The red wines of Northern Italy

starting in the North East the best known grapes are:


• Barbera

premiere regions: Barbera d’Asti DOCG, Barbera d’Alba DOC, Nizza DOCG.

• Nebbiolo

premiere regions: Barolo DOCG, Barbaresco DOCG, Roero DOCG, Ghemme DOCG, Gattinara DOCG (Piedmont), Valtellina Superiore DOCG (Lombardy).

To discover less expensive regions click here…

• Dolcetto

premiere regions: Dogliani DOCG, Ovada DOCG, Diano d’Alba DOCG, Dolcetto D’Alba DOC, Dolcetto d’Asti DOC, Dolcetto d’Acqui DOC.

The wines:

PioCesare_DolcettoDolcetto means little sweet one but the wines are not sweet. Dolcetto is the least “serious” of the Piedmont wines and is the everyday wine in this region. You drink Dolcetto while your Barolos and Barbaresco’s are aging. This wine from traditional producer Pio Cesare- 2012 Dolcetto d’Alba is stainless steel fermented and aged. It is an elegant wine and like all of the other Dolcetto denominations it is 100% Dolcetto (not a blend).

Prunotto_NizzaBarbera is the most widely grown grape in Piedmont. It can be used to produce various styles of wine depending on the wine maker. The 2009 Prunotto Costamiole Nizza is pretty spectacular on it’s own but is even better with food. The Nizza denomination was a sub zone of Barbera d’Asti until 2014 now Nizza is the only denomination that requires 100% Barbera (also not a blend).


100% Italian!

While studying for my Italian Wine Professional Certification I put together a list of the known Italian Denominations that are required by law to use 100% of a grape in the wine.

Most wines, around the world, are blended wines so if you want a true expression of any of these Italian grapes look for these Denominations (in bold) on the label:

Piemonte (Piedmont)


Barbaresco DOCG (100% Nebbiolo)

Barolo DOCG (100% Nebbiolo)

Diano d’Alba DOCG (100% Dolcetto)

Dogliani DOCG (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto di Ovada Superiore/Ovada DOCG (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto d’Alba DOC (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto d’Asti DOC (100% Dolcetto)

Dolcetto d’Aqcui DOC (100% Dolcetto)

Nizza DOCG (100% Barbera)


Asti DOCG (100% Moscato)

Erbaluce di Caluso / Caluso DOCG (100% Erbaluce)

Gavi (di Gavi) DOCG (100% Cortese)


Toscana (Tuscany)


Brunello di Montalcino DOCG (100% Sangiovese)

Rosso di Montalcino DOC (100% Sangiovese)




Aglianico del Vulture Superiore DOCG (100% Aglianico)

Aglianico del Vulture DOC (100% Aglianico)




Primitivo di Manduria Dolce Naturale DOCG (100% Primitivo)




Sagrantino Montefalco DOCG (100% Sagrantino)



White (dessert/sparkling)

Recioto di Gambellara DOCG (100% Garganega)





Introducing…WTF wines

Dogliani1Assuming you know what WTF stands for…

I consider WTF wines to be wines that:

• contain an obscure (less common) wine grape… and/or

• are produced in an unusual region…and/or

• are created with an unorthodox method

Most importantly, when you look at the bottle containing a WTF wine it is extremely difficult to determine what is actually in the bottle OR if you will like it.

Because I am not afraid to try new things I will highlight these wines but only my recommend ones. I will give you some solid information about them and hopefully you will find something NEW and delicious.

Dogliani2My first WTF wine has a simple label that tells the average consumer very little. This wine is made from 100% Dolcetto grapes from Piedmont Italy. It doesn’t say either anywhere, on the front or back label, so you will have to trust me. Dogliani is the region and it is has achieved the top quality level (DOCG). The laws from this region insist that the wine is made from 100% Dolcetto. Oddly enough, Dolcetto means “little sweet” in Italian but Dolcetto is usually used for dry (not sweet) wines. Although Nebbiolo (Barolo/Barberesco) and Barbera (d’Asti/d’Alba) are probably better known, outside of Italy, Dolcetto is a very popular, “goes with anything” wine for Italians. And it is enjoyable young so you can drink Dolcetto while your Barolo’s and Barbaresco’s are aging for the next 10-20 years.

If you can’t find this wine try another 100% Dolcetto from these denominations:

Dogliani DOCG

Dolcetto d’Acqui

Diano d’Alba DOCG

Ovada DOCG

More to come…