CHIONETTI WINERY: Dolcetto Di Dogliani

A visit to the beautiful Italian winery


A little over a year ago, my husband and I went arbitrarily cruising in our convertible VW bug looking for fun wineries to visit. We ended up in the middle of the vineyards of Dogliani and took the driveway marked Chionetti. Looking more like someone's house than a winery, we hesitantly asked the smiling people standing outside if we could "fare una degustazione." A pint-sized silvery grey haired man waived us in with a smile. It was the winemaking legend himself, 86-year-old Quinto Chionetti. As they would say in Italy, "che culo!" or "what luck!"

We sat down at the old wood table as he opened up one brand new bottle of wine and then a second. Just like family, we drank our glasses of Dolcetto (an everyday wine), while shooting the breeze and getting to know each other. We talked about everything from our local mountain cheese, his tragic loss of a son and politics to changes in the wine industry.

His words and "modo di fare" enchanted me.
"Wine needs sediments... it shouldn't be too filtered...chemicals...there is too much garbage out there," he chuckled as he spoke. "And barrique... ahh it's all a show!" Sipping his Dolcetto, I was starting to understand the expression of both these wines and Quinto himself. Natural, well-ageing, genuine and profound. We moved on to the Briccolero Dolcetto, one of the best of the best. For the first time in my life, I actually bought a whole case. This was a wine that I wanted to drink again and again.

A few weeks ago I started flipping through my mental archives of all the wineries I have visited here. My current task was to take around a few Texans and show them the best of Langhe. So in the land of Barolo, I took them to experience Dolcetto first.
Boiling hot, we kept our promised cheese up on the dashboard in front of the AC vents in our van full of tourists. Sharp as a button remembering us and our cheese vow, Quinto was out to greet us again and led us into the open room. To my dismay, he left us right away and took care of the other visitors already there! I was sweating bullets and getting nervous. This visit would not be the same without the man behind it all. The secretary assured us that he was coming. In the meantime, we were happy reading our printed articles about their 1982 Dolcetto that was surprisingly opened almost 20 years later and still as good as ever, easily confused with a good Bordeaux! Who says Dolcettos must be drunk young? Not Chionetti. I guess there must be something in the water because Quinto is looking pretty good himself.

First we tried the 2010 Dolcetto San Luigi (one of his two Dolcetto "crus") and were relieved to see him make himself comfortable at the table with us. He immediately got the group laughing as he talked about his philosophy on unfiltered wines again. This time he described it by comparing it to a beating.
"It's like beating a good guy with a stick, trying to get something out of him. You can do it but he's never gonna be the same!".

Along came the secretary who lives with them on their property and whose husband basically takes care of the winemaking nowadays. Their children showed up at the table too and you could see the sparkle in Quinto's eyes as he looked at them. They were all like family to him and we were lucky to feel a part of it, even if only for a moment. He got a kick out of the fact that the oldest child told him he wanted to take over the winery (he is only about 6-years-old, I think). This time we got to see the "cantina" where they keep their wines, made in stainless steel tanks, overlooking the the hilltop town of Monforte. We kicked the soccer ball around near the apricot trees and soaked in this very special moment.

Quinto is a pioneer in quality winemaking and remains a legend in Langhe. What continues to strike me is his sense of humor, sincerity and humility. Of course after a couple compliments to the ladies, he won everyone's hearts over. This man and his wines are basically what made me fall in love with Langhe.

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  • Another "must visit" on our next trip to Langhe! Thanks for sharing.

    Jul 06, 2012 at 11:06 AM

  • Snooth User: Giacomo Pevere
    Hand of Snooth
    806471 999

    I would define its Dolcetto as "da tracannare compulsivamente" (gulping compulsively?), i fall in love of it few years ago, when I can go to Langhe i really don't want to miss the visit. Briccolero cru is exactly what u say. Great!

    Jul 06, 2012 at 7:54 PM

  • Snooth User: Eric Guido
    Hand of Snooth Voice of Snooth
    92549 196,371

    I'm getting really jealous, reading about your adventures around Piedmont. I love Dolcetto, it's so under appreciated here in the states..

    Jul 08, 2012 at 11:58 AM

  • Snooth User: Richard Foxall
    Hand of Snooth
    262583 4,006

    Just had a great dolcetto here in Stresa along Lake Maggiore. You score points asking the waiter for his favorite dolcetto (in this case the Giacosa) instead of ordering another (yawn) Barbera. Already made friends with the owner of a superb wine shop--GDP is gonna die when I post pix of the verticals of Siepi they have. Had a terrific Roero Arneis tonight with dinner. Wish I had bought a case of Chionetti instead of the paltry few bottles I got.

    Jul 08, 2012 at 3:51 PM

  • Snooth User: hnachaj
    740601 8

    "Che culo" actualy means: "What an A**" Sorry but that is the translation! He does make some lovely wines!

    Jul 09, 2012 at 5:51 PM

  • Snooth User: Anna Savino
    Hand of Snooth
    640513 46,172

    hnachaj yes technically translated yes it does mean that! But used as an expression means that you were very lucky for something:)

    Jul 10, 2012 at 2:53 AM

  • It's a nice blog and have much information. Thanks for sharing with us these memorable moments...
    <a href="">Online Wine</a>

    Jul 10, 2012 at 5:20 AM

  • Snooth User: Anna Savino
    Hand of Snooth
    640513 46,172

    Foxall: do you remember which arneis you had?

    Jul 11, 2012 at 4:01 AM

  • good blog

    Aug 20, 2013 at 4:36 AM

  • Snooth User: EmmaJansen
    1339600 34


    Sep 07, 2013 at 1:00 AM

  • really wonderuful

    Sep 08, 2013 at 4:19 PM

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