One of the high points (for me) of the IGP trip to Piemonte was our tour the Cantina Clavesana took us on of the Clavesana area between Dogliani and the Barolo appellation, and Luciano has written eloquently of the beauty and authenticity of the land and the wines.
This spring Nebbiolo Prima ended with an afternoon dedicated to Dolcetto; enough people signed up that there were two busses. I ended up on the one that began with Diano and then went to Dogliani, and ended up staying longer in Diano to taste everything, and then hitching a ride with another slow-tasting journalist to Dogliani. We arrived late enough that rather than taste through the wineries decided to sip and talk.
I did taste Clavesna, however, because though I did meet Anna Bracco, Clavesana's Director, at Vinitaly, I didn't have time to taste the wines then. So I grabbed the opportunity to taste them in Dogliani. I'm glad I did.
Cantina Clavesana Dolcetto di Dogliani 2010
This is the Cantina's primary wine, 1.5 million bottles and half of their total production. Violet with pale rim. The bouquet is moderately intense with berry fruit and violets supported by spice, some warmth, and underlying bitter almonds. On the palate it's bright, with lively cherry fruit supported by bitter berry fruit acidity and some greenish accents, with fairly light tannins that flow into a pleasant slightly greenish finish with a rather bitter burr. It's a classic food wine of the kind that you have to set two bottles of out, because one will simply vanish. The perfect day-to-day wine. 2 stars
Cantina Clavesana Il Clu di Clavesana Dogliani DOCG 2008 This wine is made from grapes gathered from 20 of their associates; it spent 6 months in large oak and several months thereafter in bottle. Total production is 150,000 bottles. Deep violet ruby with ruby rim. The bouquet is moderately rich, with berry fruit and spice supported by vegetal accents and some savory notes, while the palate is fairly rich, with sour berry fruit supported by deft acidity and tannins that have a warm peppery burr and flow into a warm sour berry fruit finish. It's quite approachable and more similar to a Dolcetto than to many Dogliani wines in that while there is concentration and power it doesn't go to extremes; it's quite approachable, and versatile, and will go quickly. 2 stars
Cantina Clavesana 110 Dogliani alla Giornata Dogliani DOCG 2008 This is made from a specific associate's vineyard, and a Giornata is a measure of land, what a man and a team of oxen can work in a day -- about a third of a hectare. Lively ruby with black reflections. The bouquet is fairly intense, with berry fruit laced with some greenish accents, cedar and slight leaf tobacco, and lively berry fruit acidity with some spice, and also some graphite shaving bitterness. On the palate it's fresh and fairly rich, with lively berry fruit supported by smooth sweet tannins that have a warm dusky burr and are also supported by bright sour berry fruit acidity, flowing into a tart berry fruit finish. Nice depth and versatility; it's quite pleasant to drink and will work well with a variety of red meats, ranging from simple grilled meats through light stews. You will want more than a bottle, and it's the sort you may find yourself reaching for often. 2 stars
NO STAR goes to wines that are correctly made but nothing to get excited about.
ONE STAR goes to wines that are good. TWO STARS go to wines that are very good to excellent. THREE STARS and a POINT SCORE (90-100) go to wines that are superb to extraordinary. And I will give pairing suggestions, which I consider much more important than the scores.