Domenico Clerico, One of the “Barolo Boys”
Clerico, who passed away in 2017, never quit changing, never ceased tinkering with his wines, and never stopped surprising his fans with his wines’ ever-evolving, captivating palates. Situated in Monforte d’Alba, right in the heart of Barolo, the small Domenico Clerico estate possesses holdings in some of the region’s most esteemed crus, including Ginestra, Pajanà, and Mosconi. When Domenico took control of his father’s eleven-acre estate in 1976 (since expanded as Clerico bought new vineyards), the estate didn’t make wine; it only grew the grapes, selling to the local consorzio or at the farmer’s market. Domenico had the vision to estate-bottle his own wines, and the wine world has never been the same.
Though often positioned in Piemonte’s modernist school, Domenico’s style moved more toward traditional winemaking in the latter half of his career. Like many modernists, Clerico started with traditional Slavonian oak casks, but by 1990, he was aging all of his wines in barriques. As much as Clerico’s use of barriques might place him soundly in the modernist camp, his deep Langhe roots make this classification complicated. At the core of Clerico’s winemaking philosophy sits his belief that the quality of the vines is the sole factor determining a wine’s potential. Clerico always regarded production techniques as mere tools of the trade, and appropriately enough, he championed the virtues of terroir by focusing on single-vineyard bottlings.
There’s no better testament to Domenico Clerico’s commitment to viticulture than the sign on his cellar door:”Domenico Clerico, Viticoltore,” or Domenico Clerico, Vine-grower. This sign as much a testament to Domenico’s ancestry as it is to his humility, and it serves as a touchstone for the beauty of the wines that bear the Domenico Clerico name.
In recent years, there has been a swing towards less new, toasted oak and more larger format oak, as well as longer and slower fermentation and maceration times, with the resultant wines showing their classic powerful structure and beautiful polish. Today his wife continues his legacy along with winemaker Oscar Arrivabene who worked for many years alongside Domenico. and his protégé, Oscar Arrivabene, a talented, trained enologist. Together, Giuliana and Oscar ensure the legacy of Domenico’s vision, heritage, modesty, and painstaking winemaking.
Throughout his time, Domenico Clerico acquired some serious real estate in Monforte d’Alba, including important crus Bussia, Ginestra, Pajana and Mosconi, and was well known for championing an uprising of more ‘modern’ winemaking in Barolo.
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