Founded in 1959, Clavesana is the co-operative of Dogliani, the traditional home of the dolcetto grape, which now has its own DOCG known simply as Dogliani.
Beginning with just 32 growers, the co-op now has 300 members and over 500 hectares of vines, 400 of which are planted with the dolcetto grape. This makes Clavesana the biggest producer of dolcetto, which they sell chiefly in Italy, particularly to other merchants. Enrico Gallo, one of the founding members, says simply: 'We are dolcetto.'
Most of the vineyards are in the highest areas of the Piedmont region in north-west Italy, where they are protected and cooled by the Monviso mountain (the highest of the Maritime Alps) and the Tanaro river. The dolcetto grape has thin skin which can burn in the sun, and flourishes in Dogliani's cooler, higher vineyards – it also responds well to the grey-blue clay and chalky marl soils found here.
The winery team believes dolcetto needs little intervention or manipulation and so they simply ferment it in cool stainless-steel tanks. We buy one of their best vats – an unoaked wine, which they bottle themselves.