Cascina Degli Ulivi 'Nibio' Dolcetto 2014
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Direct Press Selection | October 2022
This wine contains everything that embodies the spirit and approach of the late, legendary Stefano Bellotti, who made this wine a few years before his passing in 2018. Embracing Biodynamics as far back as 1984, he was a huge figure in the push for natural wine and better farming in Europe. Cascina degli Ulivi is still a lush, mixed farm with livestock, cereals, beehives, pastures, and of course grapevines, and the wines and the farm are safely in the hands of Stefano's daugher Ilaria. The agriturismo attached to the farm is a beautiful place that is not to miss if you're in the area, with wines from the estate that are not found elsewhere; plus some friendly dogs and cats that I enjoyed meeting when I was there in September.
Dolcetto was the main grape of this part of the Piedmont before the phylloxera scourge of the late 1800s, and it's clear why. This is age-worthy and complex wine with an abundance of character. Made with zero sulfur from roughly 60 year-old vines and aged in huge old botti for two years before bottling. Because the vines are from a less sunny, northeast facing site, it is a nervy, rustic wine. Iron and umami dominate, with rhubarb, horehound, and feral notes. Crunchy grape skin, tangy tension, and complex aromatic potpourri make this unique. It's an energetic wine with both finesse and power that will continue to soften with time in the bottle. Drink it now with a good decant and a plate full of roast beef or risotto with wild mushrooms and chicken livers. Jonathan Kemp