Monday, December 5, 2011

Diary of a Sommelier Student: Domenico Clerico's Barolo...Let the Tasting Begin

I showed up a half hour early for a wine tasting that began a half hour late.  Sixty extra minutes at Enoteca La Botte in Caserta for a wine tasting with Domenico Clerico and his Barolo.

There is so much that goes on before we take our seats,  before the first glass is poured.  I took full advantage of watching the preparations for what would be a one of a kind event.
I watched how the sommeliers from AIS Caserta opened up each bottle of the wines that would be served that evening.  Pulling out the cork slowly, carefully.  Smelling the cork, in some cases silent discussions among themselves to ensure that the everything was just right.

I watched as winery owner Domenico Clerico along with his enologist Gianmatteo Ranieri and sales manager Luciano Racca silently tried each vintage...2007, 2006, 2001, and finally the 1990.  How they held each glass up to the light...smelled the aromas...tasted.

Clerico with his enologist and AIS sommelier Antonio Galileo

One bottle didn't meet Clerico's was placed to the side.  From my side of the counter, with curiosity, I watched this little scene.

Clerico, who, along with his father back in 1976, took his family's small farm.  4-5 hectres that over time, trial,s errors, some failures, and many successes has built a winery which is one of the top in Piedmont.  And here he was, not far from me, tasting his Barolo.

I'm curious what he was thinking as he tried each glass.  Of the territory, the weather, the challenges that life in the vineyard hands out?  Would I notice the same aromas in each glass as he was a he held the wine to his nose?  Be able to pick out the red fruits,florals,  note their maturity as the age increased, note how each glass opened up throughout the evening.

Would I note the tannins , the elegance, the warmth of each glass.

I quietly watched as Clerico pondered over each glass.  He knew his wines.  For over 30 years he has been walking his land, working his vineyards, immerging himself into the territory.  A man of few words...he lets the wine speak for itself.  From small beginnings to 21 hectres...110,000 bottles.

Clerico has few words, but a soft smile.  At one point he looked up, shared with me that smile, then quietly walked away.

Let the tasting begin....

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