The territory of the municipality of Dogliani has been divided into sub-zones by the local agricultural Committee, and the most important, well-known or wine-producing vineyards within the sub-zones are identified and listed here.
Roughly speaking, the Dolcetto wines produced in the Santa Lucia district are renowned for their elegance: they are not heavily structured, they are fragrant and fruity with a respectable alcoholic content. The land is of average fertility and depth. Vineyards lie at altitudes between 320 and 370 metres above the sea level and the grapes ripen slightly earlier than those to the right of the Rea creek. The orography of the area is essentially made up of three parallel hillsides corresponding to the farmsteads of Toscana, Palazzolo, Borgata Santa Lucia and, the largest and most widely known, San Giacomo.
Two main production areas can be found along the road that climbs from Dogliani to Monforte passing by the small church of San Luigi. The first zone is located to the right of the road and is known as Valdiberti. It is nearly symmetrical to the northern zone of Valdibà and is composed of a series of ridges that are perpendicular the main axis (which coincides with the road) and whose southern and southwestern slopes are, as always, the most promising.
Between one ridge and the other, there are other areas that lie on the main crest such as Briccolero and La Bruna, which face east and southeast. While the altitude is constant all along the range (the ridges are about 440 metres high and the lower zones 400-420 metres high), the soil changes progressively and becomes paler. The style of the wines produced here changes accordingly, from the elegance of those produced below the church of San Luigi (Corte, Cagnassi, Massocco, Briccolero and Asel), to the more tannic wines of the areas bordering Monforte, especially Botte and Landes.
The area to the left of the road, known as San Luigi, is less articulated. Beyond the amphitheatre of Pizabò, the vineyards grow all along one southeast facing hillside that stretches from Giardina to Abbene, passing through the Valle dell’ Olmo or San Bernardo. The soil of this area is pale and light and is therefore renowned for its quality, yet unfortunately, no single-varietal wines are currently produced here. At the two extremities of this slope lie Doriolo, to the south, a more red and stony terrain that reaches all the way to the Tanaro plain, above Fossati, whereas to the north lies Torello, which is entirely similar in position, altitude, and land to the parallel Toscana ridge in the Santa Lucia area. Lastly, we have Ribote, whose exposure is certainly not the best, but is still held in high regard by some producers who believe its quality can rival some of the best crus of San Luigi (confirming that the soil can, in fact, sometimes compensate for an unfavorable exposure, especially in the case of Dolcetto). Still in the San Luigi area, but in a more secluded position and closer to Dogliani, we finally have La Brà, which lies on a slope that is well exposed to the sun and almost parallel to Fossati, yet with a slightly lighter soil.
The Valdibà hillside is perfectly parallel to San Luigi and Pianezzo, but, apart from the south-eastern slope which is similar to Pianezzo in structure and soil type and is a bit lower in elevation, the rest of the cru has very different characteristics.
The north-western slope is composed of a series of small ridges perpendicular to the main axis of the sub-zone and, consequently, has a good south-western exposure. The lowest areas are about 430 metres high, while the highest reach an altitude of 510 meters (San Fereolo) and 520 metres (Ciri and Serra). Altitude and exposure combine to form a favourable microclimate that influences the taste of the wines produced here, which are generally more supple than those produced in the less sunny parts of San Luigi and Pianezzo.
The vineyards that grow on the pale soil of the southeastern side, particularly in San Bartolomeo, produce a more mineral and coarser wine, similar to the wine of San Martino. On the other hand, in the area of Castelle the wines are richer in colour and volume and have more traits in common with those of the higher part of San Luigi (Landes and Botti) than with those of the rest of the Valdibà zone.
In terms of elevation and form, the Pianezzo hillside has more in common with the southern part of the DOCG area than with the rest of the Dogliani area. Having a more internal geographical position and altitudes that vary between 390 and 550 metres means the climate here is cooler and the wines are more tense and crisp, yet less mineral than those of the Sbaranzo hillside.
Three sub-zones can be defined within the main area, though none are densely cultivated. The southeastern side, San Martino, is narrow and steep and has a pale soil which produces elegant, delicate, and lightly-coloured wines. The northwestern side, Pianezzo, a sort of inclined plane with reddish soils, produces darker, fuller-bodied wines. Finally, the lower zones give less distinguished wines, with the exception of Castiglia, whose wines seem to be able to reconcile the distinctive acidity of this area with a heavier, almost austere tannic structure.
The sub-zone of Madonna delle Grazie, as established by the municipality of Dogliani, covers a large area that extends from the hills just south of the town to the ridge of Cornole, bordering the Giacchelli vineyards.
To the east, it reaches as far as Borgata San Giorgio, directly in front of the Pianezzo ridge; to the west, it ends at the road that connects Dogliani and Farigliano, beyond which the Taricchi sub-zone begins.
Two smaller but significant vine-growing areas are located within Taricchi: Gombe and Pironi. The first can be further divided into two vineyards: Tecc, with more structured wines, and Spina, whose wines are less intensely tannic, just like those from Gombe, an area directly behind the Sanctuary of Madonna delle Grazie.
To the east, the Pironi vineyards are smaller in size and, especially on the southern hillsides, produce very characteristic wines with strong, tarry tannins which, in the best vintages, allow for a length and persistence that are not often found in Dolcetto. Lastly, the ridge of Casale Soptano has a few good southeast-facing vineyards.
The sub-zone of Taricchi is limited to the ridge that runs westwards starting from the crossroads that leads to Belvedere and Murazzano, in one direction, and to Farigliano in the other. Only a small but sunny part of the hillside is included in the territory of Dogliani, while the rest, more specifically the Bricco Rosso, Garbiana, and Monterustico crus are part of Farigliano. Rather than for their structure, the wines produced here are known for being well balanced, round, and for having an expressive fruity notes.
The territory of Farigliano can be divided into three sub-zones.
The first is the above-mentioned area that encompasses the Monterustico, Bricco Rosso, Garbiana vineyards with their lightly structured, fruity wines. Further west, overlooking the Tanaro river and the plains, is the narrow strip of Carpeneta and Chicchivello. This land has not been fully capitalized on yet, but its Dolcetto wines are renowned for their delicacy.
The second zone lies immediately to the north of Fosso del Garino and shares many characteristics of the landscape with the bordering territory of Dogliani. One of the most significant parts of this zone is the hillside that descends from Belvedere Langhe and covers a series of vineyards: Giacchelli (under the municipality of Dogliani), Riviera, Cornole, Corsaletto, Genè, Sciondini, and, finally, the Spinardi vineyards which share many similarities with the others despite being located on a more southern slope, closer to Belvedere. At 530 metres, they are also the highest vineyards, while the lowest are the Sciondini at 350 metres.
The opposite hillside benefits from southern exposure and is rather steep in some spots. Along this slope, a series of northwest-facing ridges protrude, upon which we can find vineyards such as Masanti – only part of which is within the municipality of Dogliani and where wines tend to be fruity rather than powerful – as well as Corradini, at 450 metres in altitude.
The third zone lies beyond Fosso del Garino and is therefore more similar to the southern part of the denomination, which, for the most part, is within municipality of Clavesana. In this landscape, vineyards become less frequent, farming practices more ancient, and elevations reach, on average, between 500 and 600 meters. As a result, the weather here is cooler, the grapes ripen later, and the wines themselves are generally more acidic and have colder traits that integrate into their structure more successfully than in the wines from Pianezzo and San Luigi. The vineyards run along two side ridges that face north-west and originate from the windy hill that runs from Belvedere to Clavesana. Here we can find the Pianbosco, Schellini, and Moncucco vineyards, each characterized by slightly different soil types and climates, resulting in wines that vary both in colour and structure.
e) Bricco Rosso
g) Bricco Archisa
CLAVESANA E BASTIA
The territory of Clavesana begins just beyond the vineyards of Pianbosco and Moncucco, on the ridge that runs from Belvedere to Clavesana. The vineyards here, beginning with Gramoretti and Sbaranzo, lie on the slope that faces east, in the direction of Cigliè. A few metres beyond the Sbaranzo ridge, the landscape becomes more similar to that of Alta Langa, where vineyards are less frequent. The uniqueness of this territory is reflected in the wines, especially those produced in the area between Ghigliani (472 metres in altitude), Costa Prà (517 metres), and Bozzola (526 metres). These wines are relatively more intensely tannic and less fruity compared to the rest of the appellation. Apart from this small area, the Dolcetto wines tend to be edgier, and in the southernmost vineyards they tend to have a more significant tannic component, particularly in colder vintages.