Thursday, December 29, 2011

Domenico Winery - An Italian Urban Winery in San Carlos, California



Continuing the theme of visiting urban wineries, having visited Alameda and San Francisco, I headed south to San Carlos to visit Domenico Winery.

The winery is founded by Dominick (“Domenico” in Italian) Chirichillo who was introduced to home wine making back in 1955 in New York by his grandfather, who had a wine press in the basement. Dominick then continued the family tradition of home wine making, entering amateur competitions.

 Prior to opening Domenico Wines, Dominick and is wife Gloria’s passion for the wine business was shared with others on both the East and West Coasts through the Bacchus Winemaking Club. This membership club enabled many more people to create their own wines with custom labels. Over 200,000 cases of wine have been created by amateur winemakers on both the East and West Coasts through the years.


Then Dominick began commercial wine making in Northern California at Domenico Winery where he was able to acquire premium wine grapes from the Napa Valley, Sonoma’s Central Coast, the Alexander Valley, the Russian River Valley, Amador County, the Santa Cruz Mountains and Lodi California. His success in crafting wines has not gone unnoticed as he has been awarded over 300 Medals for wines produced from these regions.


While Domenico Winery specializes in Italian varietals (such as Aglianico, Barbera, Dolcetto, Montepulciano, and Primativo) made in an old-world style they also produce several French varietals including Chardonnay, Riesling, Pinot Noir, and Bordeaux blends.

While visiting I tasted the following wines:

My first white wine was the 2010 Riesling, California. This is a big, round creamy and fruity style Riesling that displays a lot of tropical and canned fruit aromas (pears and peaches) along with golden delicious apples. So, this is not your typical German super-crisp style wine. It sells for $16.60 a bottle

My first red wine was 2007 Pinot Noir from the Santa Cruz Mountains. They don’t use Pinot stemware so I brought in one of my own. This is an unmistakable Santa Cruz Pinot that is very similar to wines I have tasted at David Bruce Winery. It is a darker-earthier wine with loads of fresh strawberry preserves, cherries, cranberries with under lying notes of cinnamon and spice. A really nice wine for $35 a bottle.

My second red wine was the 2005 Aglianico which is a blend of 91.7% Aglianico and 8.3% Petite Sirah. Pronounced “ah-LYAH-nee-koe,” it is rarely found in California and it originated in Greece and was then Greek settlers brought it to the south of Italy and it is now grown in Basilicata and Campania. This is a very old-world style wine, very earthy, big and meaty with tannins that have a definite grip. On the tail end of the nose I also picked up more black fruits, cinnamon and cola. This is not a sipping wine and needs some hearty beef or barbequed beef to be truly appreciated. It sells for $30 a bottle and I brought one home. I’ll probably open it the next time I have a BBQ with some friends.

The third red wine that was poured was the 2007 Primativo. This is another grape that originated in Greece and was brought to Italy. It is found in the southeastern Puglia region of Italy, above the “boot,” along the coast. It is the grandfather of Zinfandel and was named “Primitivo” by Benedictine monks because of it early maturity in this region. However, both Primitivo and Zinfandel are actually clones of a Croatian grape called Crljenak Kaštelanski (pronounced “sirl-yen-ack kastelanski”). This wine does not have your typical California Zinfandel profile. Think of this as a tomato and pasta wine, it is bold and fruity with loads of raspberries, blackberries, plums, spice and a hint of anise on the back end. It seems sweet on entry but a little spicy on the finish. Again, this is not so much a sipping wine as it is the perfect compliment to a Friday night pizza. It sells for $30 a bottle and I brought one home.
The next two samples were both dessert wines, a white and a red.

The first was the 2010 “Piccolo Dolce” Moscato, California - a blend of 67% Moscato di Alexandria and 33% Orange Moscato. This wine displays a classic nose of honey, melon, orange blossoms as well as pears and canned peaches. It isn’t overly sweet but it is quite viscous as it coats your mouth. It sells for $22 a bottle.

The second dessert wine and final sample of the day was the 2005 “Black Silk” Ruby Red Dessert Wine. This wine is entirely made from the Portuguese grape Souzao (also called Sousão or Vinhão) that originated in the Minho regions of Portugal and it is also found in Douro, and Dão-Lafões area. It is generally used for make Port. Whereas the previous wine was only slightly sweet, this one is S-W-E-E-T ! It also has a bit of alcohol bite on the finish. On the nose and palate it displays blackberry jam, cassis, and dark chocolate and it sells for $22 for a 375 ml bottle.

If you are in the area, I highly recommend visiting. Like many other urban wineries, it is in an industrial part of town where you wouldn’t expect to find a winery.

To visit or for more information:

Domenico Winery
1697 Industrial Road
San Carlos, California 94070
Phone: 1-650-593-2335

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