Domenico Clerico, who passed away in July 2017, began producing wine in 1979, as one of the progressive "Barolo Boys," those experimental winemakers like Luciano Sandrone, Paolo Scavino, and Roberto Voerzio. Situated in Monforte d’Alba, right in the heart of Barolo, Clerico's small Monforte d'Alba estate possesses holdings in some of the region's most esteemed crus, including Ginestra, Pajanà, and Mosconi. This might suggest that Domenico's family always made wine, but that's not the case. Until Domenico took control of his father's eleven-acre estate in 1976 (since expanded as Clerico bought new vineyards), the estate only grew the grapes, selling them to the local consorzio or at the farmer's market. In 1977, Domenico acquired his first plot in the Bussia district of Barolo.
Domenico Clerico is often positioned in Piemonte’s modernist school, his style moved more toward traditional winemaking in the later half of his career. Like many of the modernist persuasion, Clerico began with traditional Slavonian oak casks, but he soon began experimenting with first tonneaux, an aging vessel in between the large botti and the modest barrique; however, by 1990, he had begun 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 is 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 that express the merits of distinct sites.
This former leading proponent of the modernist movement in Piemonte has evolved, seemingly operating at the extremes of tradition and modernism, and handling the dichotomy with finesse and passion. 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; it's as much a testament to Domenico's ancestry as it is to his humility.