About the Producer: 
Domenico Clerico grew up on a farm, but he didn’t consider a career in wine until 1976, when he gave up his job selling olive oil to follow his father’s path as a vignaiolo. In those days, growing grapes didn’t always coincide with making good wine and he admits that he still has a lot to learn when he bottled his first Barolo from 1979. But he soon acquired the knack to become a leader among Piedmont’s new wave winemakers, whose innovative cellar techniques include maturing Barolo and other wines in small barrels of French oak. Clerico and colleagues have been accused of flouting the grand tradition of aristocratically austere Barolo, a frequently voiced charge that the amiable winemaker greets with a patient smile and shrug. “I’m interested in making the best wines possible from native varieties,” he says. “New oak used judiciously rounds out Barolo and enhances color and depth of flavors, but the main thing I’ve learned in these years is that the secret of fine wine is all in the grapes.” Domenico, a wiry man with bushy hair and a prominent mustache, has a jovial nature that can make him hard to take seriously until you taste his wines. His prime Barolos come from Pajana and Ciabot Mentin Ginestra, adjacent vineyards in the Ginestra area of Monforte. Equally admired is his Langhe DOC called Arte (Nebbiolo with 10% Barbera), his first wine to be aged in barriques. Pajana combines smooth opulence with vital fruit sensations and splendid harmony in a style that exalts the so-called Barolo, though in a blind tasting it would be hard to distinguish from Ciabot Mentin Ginestra. Astute acquisitions have expanded vineyards to 15 hectares, primarily in the Ginestra area, enabling Domenico and wife Giuliana to gradually build total production to about 75,000 bottles a year. The list included DOC Barbera and Dolcetto d’Alba and Langhe DOC Freisa la Ginestrina.