Dolcetto: general information

general information managed by Istituto per la Protezione Sostenibile delle Piante - CNR
How to cite this source Raimondi S.,Torello Marinoni D., D'Onofrio C., Schneider A., 2014. Dolcetto. In: Italian Vitis Database,, ISSN 2282-006X
acknowledgments Ager Foundation, Regione Piemonte
botanical information
type of origin
Vitis vinifera
variety group
not available
variety for
Registered in the National Catalogue
Official name
Dolcetto N.
official synonyms (1)
synonyms reported in the National Catalogue
  • Ormeasco (Liguria di Ponente)
documented synonyms (2)
synonyms documented by the Istitution that appear with the eventual support of the literature
wrong denominations (2)
wrong denominations indicated by the Istitution that appear with the eventual support of the literature
released clones (15)
  • shoot
  • leaf
  • bunch
  • berry
Historical references

The first quote of Dolcetto, identified by Nada Patrone, dates back to 1593 (Comba, 1990). The quote precisely refers to “Dozzetti” and is related to the prohibition of harvesting hasten in the area of Dogliani, in the Piedmontese Langhe. So, if someone wanted to harvest Dolcetto, he should have asked an official permission.  From this short hint, the early grape ripening of Dolcetto, harvested before most of the other grapes, can easily been presumed. Indeed, the local vernacular name (Duset or Dosset, becoming Dolcetto in Italian), precisely refers to the high sugar content and to the moderate acidity of the grapes, among the first traditional black to be harvested in Piedmont. Nuvolone (1798), in his famous “instruction” on grapevine cultivation in Piedmont, listed Dolcetto among the 16 black grapes of first quality. He also claimed Dolcetto giving  a wine “resulting very sweet (i.e. soft)”, highly improving the one from other grapes like Zanello and Freisa. Count Gallesio (1817-39) appreciated Dolcetto either for vine fertility and adaptability to different cultural environments, either for its oenological outcomes.  In his times Dolcetto was already much spread in southern Piedmont , from Saluce to the Apennines’ valleys, and in the Ligurian hinterland. Historical synonyms are Ormeasco, from the village of Ormea in the higher valle Tanaro, Uva di Monferrato in the area of Genoa, and Nebbiolo in south-eastern Piedmont. The last name, according to Gallesio, “was at the beginning a fraud of wine merchants, who intended improve Dolcetto’s wine reputation”.

Count Gallesio also gave the first Dolcetto’s ampelographic description, combined with the beautiful and alike bunch and leaf plate, painted by Bianca Milesi Mojon. A second, technical and detailed description was published by Dalmasso et al. (1962), who listed also other synonyms resulted later wrong, like Piedirosso, Refosco, Primitivo and Douce noire, the last one already rightly denied by Mas e Pulliat (1874-75).

distribution & variation

Dolcetto area is shared between Piedmont (around 5,000 ha in 2010, 13% of regional plantings) and Liguria (around 100 ha in 2010, the 5% of the regional grape area). Several dozen of ha in Sardinia, in the appellation Colli del Limbara near Tempio Pausania, currently assigned to Nebbiolo must be added to these figures, because the variety cultivated there is actually Dolcetto. After the second world war, with the new vineyard founding due to philloxera damages, Dolcetto was introduced in the alpine valleys of Piedmont and seldom in the Aosta valley, because it was good in the cooler climates at higher altitudes for its early ripening. To the contrary, in the warmer areas like coastal Liguria, grapes shrivel up, loosing their positive features.  Anderson and Aryal (2013) globally assigned to Dolcetto in 2010 6,333 ha, mostly placed in Italy, with around 150 ha in Australia.

Berry colour or other somatic variants were not observed in Dolcetto. The variety Dolcetto bianco (White Dolcetto), mentioned in the historical references and recovered among the lesser grapes close to extinction in Piedmont, is a distinct genotype. Dolcetto di Boca, present in northern Piedmont, is actually identical to Neretto duro or Balau, while the so called Ducét vej (“Old Dolcetto”) is synonym of Cardìn, another early ripening, minor local variety.

technological use

Besides the use in blend with other winegrapes for colour improvement and softening, Dolcetto was esteemed in the past as an excellent wine but not so suitable to long aging. The same can be said about Dolcetto today, a wine not failing to show qualities of originality and charm, but not suitable for long aging. Dolcetto is usually sold in Italy or in Piedmont, and despite is accompanied in some places highly renowned wines made from Nebbiolo, and therefore has excellent opportunities to be known by foreigners, it does not seem to meet the favour of the international consumers. For the high amount of pigments is not suitable to vinification without skin contact, nor for the production of “novello” wines from carbonic maceration (Beaujolais style), because the stem tends to dry early and the berries to drop.

bibliographies (6)
authors year title journal citation
Anderson K., Aryal N. 2013 Database of Regional, National and Global Winegrape Bearing Areas by Variety, 2000 and 2010. Wine Economics Research Centre, University of Adelaide.
Comba R., Dal Verme A. 1990 Repertorio di vini e vitigni diffusi nel Piemonte medievale Vigne e vini nel Piemonte medievale. Ed. L'Arciere, Cuneo.
Dalmasso G., Dell'Olio G., Ricci P. 1962 Dolcetto Principali vitigni da vino coltivati in Italia, Ministero dell'Agricoltura e delle Foreste (Roma), Volume II: 22.
Gallesio G. 1839 Pomona italiana, ossia trattato degli alberi fruttiferi. Capurro N., Pisa, 1817-1839
Mas A. e Pulliat V. 1876 Le vignoble G Masson. Paris
Nuvolone G. 1798 Sulla coltivazione delle viti e sul metodo migliore di fare e conservare i vini. Calendario georgico della Società Agraria di Torino.
updated at 2021-02-18 10:13:03 (2 months ago)