Dolcetto is considered an easy grape to crush and tends to break easily from the stalk. The beater of the crusher-stemmer can therefore operate with fewer rotations, preserving grape skins from excessive rupture and oxidation. The crushing almost always involves a simultaneous de-stemming in order to avoid adding more tannins of a more astringent nature, in which Dolcetto is naturally rich.
MACERATION: DURATION AND TEMPERATURE
Fermentation occurs naturally upon contact with the skins. The choice of the duration of the maceration along with the fermentation temperature, will determine whether the resulting Dogliani is young, aromatic, and rich in colour or rather a more important, more structured wine capable of longer aging. This is the moment when the type of wine desired needs to be defined. For example, wines that are drawn off with a high content of residual sugar (around 10 grams per litre) and a lower level of alcohol (that has not acted on the tannins of the seeds), and undergo fermentation at a temperature of around 25-28° C, will be more immediate and approachable with fruity aromas. Opting to draw off the wine when it is practically dry, obtained from concentrated grapes fermented at a temperature between 30-32°, means that tannins will be extracted from the seeds, so the grapes must be harvested only when they are fully ripe. The wine in this case will need more time before it stabilized, opening up with perfumes that will replace the fruity scents with more complex aromas.
Another way of intervening during vinification is to extract the components present in the skins by allowing the must to flow through them. The frequency and the duration of the pumping over can vary, even though it is normally concentrated during the central phase of fermentation. Another way to achieve this is by drawing off the must after a few hours of maceration in order to then release it back onto the skins, a process known as “delestage”. With Dolcetto, as it has such an intense colour and tannins, it is important that the extraction be delicate and does not excessively rupture the skins, as this would produce wines of less finesse.