2005 Napa Valley Meritage
Meritage • Riverview Ranch
California: Oak Knoll District (Napa)
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Mission Codename: Italian Heritage Meritage
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Return to Domenico Wines and secure a limited allocation of their delicious Napa Valley Meritage
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Domenico Wines
Wine Subject: 2005 Napa Valley Meritage
Winemaker: Dominick Chirichillo
Backgrounder: Meritage (pronounce like ‘heritage’, no French style accent) wine, blends made in the tradition of the great wines of Bordeaux can only carry the name if the winery is a member of The Meritage Association based in Sonoma County. Most wines made in the US are varietal wines, comprised of over 75% of a single varietal. Unfortunately, this labeling requirement is believed to impair many winemakers from making exceptional blends, since they are often labeled as simply Red Table Wine with the noble grapes of Bordeaux. Thus in 1988 Meritage was born as a way to highlight the winemaker’s art of careful blending and crafting of wines in the tradition of some of Europe’s finest wines.
Today’s selection is 72% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petit Verdot.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark but clear ruby red with glistening streaks that reflect as held to the light. Along the edges the color lightens slight to a pinkish ruby red and when swirled thin legs of varying speeds ring the glass.
Smell – Well integrated aromas of plum, black and red cherry and other dark fruit blend with vanilla and toasted oak. Distinct black olive tapenade notes along with hints of graphite, green bell pepper and a touch of cocoa adds character.
Feel – This dry wine is medium-to-full bodied with a round well developed tannic structure. Softer, but present, acidity, a little spice and subtle earthly minerality adds to the plush feel of this wine.
Taste – A bit more restrained on the palate than the nose would indicate with flavors of both black and red cherry, plum and other ripe berries. A touch of spice, dark chocolate, green bell pepper and toasted vanilla melds with notes of the black olive from the nose.
Finish – Long and lingering with the ripe fruit gently fading leaving behind notes of vanilla toasted oak, cocoa and just hints of the other complex flavors found on the nose and palate.
Conclusion – The 2005 Domenico Wines Napa Valley Meritage is lovely and value oriented Meritage that is drinking very well right now. An inviting nose of red and black fruit and other classic ‘Bordeaux’ aromas are carefully woven into a well structured package. A lovely flavor profile that doesn’t overpower and remains well balanced. A lovely wine to pair with a variety of foods where a traditional Napa red blend would be too rich. Enjoy this wine tonight or cellar for the next three to five years.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Dominick Chirichillo
WINE EDUCATION: Self-taught winemaker, I started making wine with my Italian Grandfather Domenico Giovinazzo in a basement in Staten Island New York when I was probably 2 years old, and continued until college. He made wine with California grapes shipped into the produce dealers. I then picked up wine making in 1987 making 2 barrels with my Brother Patrick in a 1000 sq. ft. basement in Seaside Heights New Jersey; using my Grandfathers press and hand crusher.
I shared the wine and the excitement of winemaking with family and friends and invited everyone I talked about it, and come make wine with us, we went from 2 to 20 barrels the next year and expanded to 67 barrels over the next few years then moved to a 3000 sg ft facility and got up to 300 barrels and launched the Bacchus School of Wine. I kept that going for a number of years then Franchised the concept in 1997 sold 4 franchises in NJ until 2001.
In 1998 I moved my wife Gloria and our 2 sons Nick and Matt to Half Moon Bay California, I commuted to NJ till 9/11 happened and our first Franchisee died in the World Trade Center Bombing. At that point my wife and I rethought our dream and decided it was time to pursue our dream in California. We then decided it was time to stop the franchising and start something in California.
We unraveled our franchise business, kept our New Jersey, Bacchus operation and in late 2001 planted a 8 acre vineyard in Amador County 5 acres of Syrah and 3 acres of Primitivo.
In June of 2004 we opened our Urban winery on the Peninsula in San Carlos, CA. and became members of the Santa Cruz Mountain Winegrowers Association, we source Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from that viticultural region. Since we opened Domenico Winery named in honor of my Grandfather I have received 300 winemaking awards.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Owner and wine maker.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Less is better! Let the vineyard and the grapes make good wine.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: I enjoy making in your face red wines.
FIRST COMMERCIAL WINE RELEASE: June 2004
AGENT WHITE: Greetings, Dominick. We are thrilled to be showing your 2005 Napa Valley Meritage today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
DOMINICK CHIRICHILLO: Thanks Agent White, I’m excited to have The showcase my this delicious wine.
WHITE: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
DOMINICK: YES my experience growing up in an Italian family and the many times I was lucky to learn the basics of winemaking from my grandfather, Domenico Giovinazzo.
WHITE: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
DOMINICK: It’s a 2005 Meritage consisting of 72% Napa Valley Merlot 25% Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon and 3% Petite Verdot, It is a full bodied wine with aromas and flavors of cassis, tobacco and blackberry.
WHITE: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
DOMINICK: This wine will pair well with most hearty meat dishes such as venison, rib eye steak, grilled tuna with a wasabi sauce, aged hard cheeses, or gorgonzola.
WHITE: In your opinion, what makes the Napa Valley so special?
DOMINICK: Well Napa Valley is known to produce some of the best Cabernet Sauvignon’s and Merlot’s in the world. These grapes are from the Oak Knoll AVA, the Cabernet is a Trethefan clone.
WHITE: Who do you make wine for?
DOMINICK: I first make wine to satisfy my selfish love of food and wine, and more specifically make wines to pair with food
WHITE: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
DOMINICK: We are racking wines and preparing several whites and a rose for bottling. Going thru all our wines to see what reds we will be getting prepared to do blending trials on and then bottling
WHITE: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
DOMINICK: with an open wine, and willing to try new wines.
WHITE: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
DOMINICK: I love what I do and I love sharing my wine and spending time with our winery wine club members and especially new customer that find their way into the winery.
WHITE: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Domenico Wines Tasting Room can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
About This Wine:
Full-bodied with aromas and flavors of cassis, tobacco, blackberry and bell pepper. Pair with venison, rib eye, grilled tuna, aged cheeses, Gorgonzola or dark chocolate
Winemaking: Whole berry fermented in small open fermenters. 10-12 days maceration with 2-3 hand punchdowns per day. Aged in French and American oak for 11 months.
About The Winery:
Dominick and Gloria Chirichillo’s choice of name for their winery is a reflection of their commitment to their Italian heritage and the tradition of family winemaking. In 1955 in New York, Dominick who is called Domenico in Italian was introduced to these traditions by his Nonno (grandfather), Domenico Giovinazzo. In the basement of their home was a wine press that Nonno showed Dominick; passing down from one generation to another the love of handcrafting wine.
Dominick’s passion for winemaking took him from amateur competitions, while he lived on the East Coast, to commercial status after moving to Northern California. Moving to California has enabled Dominick to choose his grapes hands-on from selected vineyards in Napa Valley, Sonoma’s Central Coast, Alexander Valley, Russian River Valley, Amador County and the Lodi District. Not to mention he is a member of the Santa Cruz Mountains Winegrowers Association, where he sources Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. As of spring 2006, the wines of Domenico have won 95 Medals for wines produced from these various regions!
Prior to opening Domenico Wines, Dominick and Gloria’s passion for the wine business was shared with others on both the East and West Coasts through 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. See the website, www.bacchuswinemakingclub.com for more information on making your own wines.
Our recipe for success in the wine business is simple… take the finest grapes of California, add Dominick’s passion, blend with family tradition, and you get wine that exudes complexity, finesse, and agreeability. We invite you to come by the winery to taste for yourself.
Varietals: 72% Merlot, 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 3% Petit Verdot
Appellation: Napa Valley
Production: 1500 Cases