This red grape grown in Piedmont, Liguria, Umbria and the Valle d’Aosta, is sometimes called Ormeasco or Ormeasca. This grape probably has an ancient Piemontese origin. It is said the variety first appeared in the Monferrato area around the year 1000 and that its systematic cultivation began in the late Middle Ages. This varietal was cited in a document in the 16th century and later in the 18th century by Count Nuvolone. The count discussed, in detail, a favored wine of the Piedmont called “Dosset” as well as its production area.
It is suggested that the name Dolcetto or “Little Sweet One” comes from the fact that this grape was planted in and among the rows of the Nebbiolo as it was an early ripener. By planting it among the noble Nebbiolo, the birds, at harvest time, would get their fill from the “little sweet one” thus leaving the Nebbiolo to produce its rich, long lived wines.
The contention that Dolcetto is the Charbono of California has been disproved by DNA.