Below-average vegetative vigour means that pruning should not be too intrusive or widespread. Vine shoots tend to be light brown in colour with closely spaced internodes and a non-vertical growth. Consequently, vegetative growth is confined to a reduced space, creating the risk of tangled shoots and leaves, as well as the overlapping of clusters, which can only be kept under control by means of careful and precise manual thinning and by eliminating sterile canes.
Budding occurs late, whereas ripening can go from average to early. Dolcetto germinates towards the middle of April (later than with Nebbiolo and Barbera), and is harvested during the second 10 days of September, depending on the vintage. Therefore, it has a shorter vegetative cycle, which allows it to avoid the early autumnal rains and lower temperatures. However, germination may be irregular and late, meaning it may take place during the warmest period of summer with the risk of developing with threatening speeds during warmer years.
Productivity is rewarding, but not always constant. Poorly developed fruit and variably ripening berries are frequent, although with the thinning process, the vines are able to direct more energy into grape production and maintain a more constant production over time.
Along with having an expanded apex its colour is green with vinous tones, it has average bud scales, and small, apical, red-vinous leaves with a downy underside. Its coloration reveals a wealth of anthocyanins.
Medium-small in size, the leaf has a slightly furry underside, five lobes, and are redder in colour the closer they are to the leaf stalk. The basal leaves are thick and fleshy and are more susceptible to cryptogamic or fungal diseases, like vine mildew or grey rot.
The shape is long and pyramidal. On average, it is more loosely packed than Nebbiolo and relatively winged. Berries are average-sized and round but not always identical, with a thin dark, bluish-black skin covered with bloom and a sweet and juicy pulp.