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A Note about Rossese, and Dolceacqua
The town of Dolceacqua is just a few miles from the French border. It turns out that the Rossese grape appears on the French side as Tibouren (see the beautiful rose from Clos Cibonne!), but no one knows which came first... Of course (this being Italy) there are other Rosseses, from further east in Liguria, but it's the territory of Dolceacqua that yields the classic version, a fragrant, light, and gracefully energetic wine. Rossese does best on the local steep, terraced vineyards - a distinctly Provencal kind of landscape, lending pleasing garrigue notes to the wine.
We have it on very good authority that Rossese can age well; said authority recently reported on a bottle of 1977, which apparently was spectacular.
Wine geeks, go crazy here - these are from the best of their generation, now (we have to say it) legendary winemakers, and there are some super-rare bottles,. As it happens, they are also old-school wines, not modern, not manipulated.
A Note About Dolcetto, and Ovada
If you ask Barolo or Barbaresco producers about what they drink day-to-day, Dolcetto is always the first wine mentioned. As recently as the 1970s, Dolcetto was so popular that it sometimes sold for a higher price than Nebbiolo. Nowadays demand for Dolcetto takes a distant third place behind the vastly more popular Nebbiolo and Barbera. While we do taste many Dolcettos that are trying too hard to be important wines, there are some exceptional examples (by Chionetti, Principiano, Elio Sandri, and San Fereolo, for instance), and we lose out if we pass them by. We're most familiar with Dolcetto from the Langhe (Dolcetto d'Alba, Diano, Dogliani) and Asti, but historically the town of Ovada (which is on the road to Genoa, east of Alba) was the place for Dolcetto. I recently pontificated about the over-use of “legendary” to describe a wine (or just about anything else being marketed), but it might apply to Giuseppe “Pino” Ratto, who made long-lived wines of great character, and who was considered one of the greatest producers of Dolcetto (from Ovada, or anywhere else). I met him once about 12 years ago (he died in 2014) and was knocked out by the wild (and elegant) character of his wine, which I don’t think was ever exported to the US. At least as rare, and theoretically as sought after, are Giuseppe Poggio's wines, described by Burton Anderson as "the most prized wine of the zone".
The Veronelli cellar was very hard on labels – too humid for paper (fine for corks). We sometimes clean old bottles to remove years of dust and dirt so that they are more conventional in appearance, but this time we’ve decided that you would enjoy sharing the kick we get out of having the wines as-is, direct from the cellar; it’s part of the pleasure of the history of these bottles. Jamie Wolff
Read more about Luigi Veronelli and his amazing cellar.