By Mobbs Pitcher. I have a great fondness for the Dolcetto di Dogliani, particularly from the village of Clavesana. As a child, my mother would take us children to spend the summer months in Piedmont. We would stay with one of her brothers in a town outside Cuneo, not far from Dogliani.
My memories of Clavesana are of relaxed family lunches around a table beneath a verandah. Above all, the flask of wine in the centre mesmerised me. A metal basket, on a heavy, solid base with a pivotal joint, held the bottle in place. No-one passed the bottle. Instead, everyone filled their glass by reaching forward and turning the basket towards them.
My uncle occasionally took us with him to the Cantina Clavesana. I recall the bare rock faces, the Calanchi, near the Dolcetto vineyards. We used to purchase perhaps two huge demijohns of Dogliani, each the equivalent of six bottles. These he loaded into his Fiat 850. After that, when we arrived home, we would watch him unload these heavy beasts into his cellar. Then he would perform the careful process of decanting the Dogliani into his rustic, round bottles complete with raffia base. This ensured they fitted snugly into the revolving wine stand for our lovely lunches.
My aunt features strongly in my memories of Clavesana. She would serve her heavenly home-made pasta. She tipped the revolving flask quickly, so that I was allowed a little splash of Dogliani to ‘improve the sugo’ (a rich sauce). By the time I was twelve, I could also have a Dogliani splash in my fizzy water to turn it pale pink. Even now when I return to my hometown in Piedmont, I dunk the soft and doughy breadsticks (Rubatà) in my full glass of Dolcetto.
I came to know this as my everyday wine, my comfort wine. The typical light tannins and drying texture remind me of the Calanchi. Meanwhile, the subtle bramble and forest fruit flavours transport me back to the Piemontese cuisine we so adored.
The Clavesana Dogliani is October 2021’s Wine of the Month. You can order it here, or explore other regional wines via the links below.