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    Water becomes sculpture in Sam Ciricillo's backyard infinity pool. Ciricillo is a neurosurgeon whose home features perhaps the swankiest wine cellar in Sacramento.


    The deck outside Ciricillo's bedroom wraps around native oak trees.


    The great room awaits the next group of guests at one of Ciricillo's frequent wine get-togethers.

Carmichael home gives refuge to neurosurgeon and his wines

Published: Saturday, Jul. 20, 2013 - 12:00 am | Page 4CALIFORNIA LIFE
Last Modified: Sunday, Jul. 21, 2013 - 11:44 am

Dr. Sam Ciricillo's newly installed "wine wall" could double as a flashy stage prop for a Lady Gaga concert. Hundreds of wines, among them some of California's and France's blue-chip bottles, lie temptingly among rows of sturdy acrylic tubes. The flick of a remote control starts a multicolored LED light show that illuminates the collection.

No question, Ciricillo oversees two of Sacramento's swankiest wine cellars, which are among the core features of his spectacularly modern Carmichael home.

The adjacent wine room uses a fingerprint scanner, and the clear doors slide open with a "Star Trek"-like "whoosh" once access is granted. All together, Ciricillo's wine collection spans 2,300 bottles, ranging from budget Lodi wines to an unopened wooden case of 1990 Petrus, which currently costs about $50,000 at auction.

"I don't look at this as an investment like other people do," said Ciricillo. "I have never bought a bottle of wine so I could sell it. For me, wine's about sharing."

Popping a fine wine with friends remains a favorite way to decompress for Ciricillo, a longtime local neurosurgeon. His interest in wine kicked off more than a decade ago when he tasted a 1994 Harlan Estate, a highly coveted Bordeaux-style blend from one of California's classic vintages.

"I had an almost religious experience with that wine," said Ciricillo, still savoring the memory. "It was the most phenomenal set of flavors: the sweetness and the richness of the fruit, and this layer of herbaceousness. Oh my gosh, it was just wonderful."

And befitting his meticulous line of work, Ciricillo keeps precise control over his wine collection, which is stored at an optimal 58 degrees and monitored with a wireless remote. If the cellar temperature dips too low or shoots too high, an app on Ciricillo's smartphone alerts him, the wine equivalent of being paged from the hospital.

Ciricillo keeps his wines inventoried on a computer spreadsheet and organized in the cellar by style: Rhone wines, California pinot noir, fine wines from Bordeaux and Burgundy.

"If I'm having a spaghetti dinner and want a bottle of Italian red with a few years on it, I can go find it," said Ciricillo. "The goal was always to have a nice bottle with dinner."

The star single bottle of Ciricillo's collection: a 1974 Heitz Cellar Martha's Vineyard cabernet sauvignon, considered among the finest wines ever produced in California.

"I bought this at auction a few years ago," said Ciricillo, while cradling the bottle. "I'm just kind of waiting for that super special occasion to open it."

After a typical 12-hour day that might involve gamma-knife radiosurgery and other procedures on the brain, Ciricillo, 52, comes home to a luxurious and artful living space. He refers to his 5,300-square-foot home as a playful "urban treehouse," with its wine collection, handsome American walnut hardwood floors, gorgeous grand pianos and a native oak tree that ascends through an opening in the deck off the master bedroom.

For cooling off, there's an infinity edge pool whose overflow cascades over a sleek black wall. The adjacent pool house doubles as a 1,200-square-foot guest house that overlooks plenty of lush landscaping.

All together, Ciricillo's estate looks like a scene from the Hollywood Hills rather than a neighborhood nestled off Fair Oaks Boulevard.

Ciricillo, who shares the home with his partner and two spunky Weimaraner dogs, Maverick and Nina, purchased the property in 1998. He set his original budget under $2 million to rebuild this property into his modern art dreams but sheepishly says he's gone way over budget.

Ciricillo expects the main house, a project that's taken six years so far, to be fully finished in about six months. The building materials have included parex – a fine-grain stucco – black Venetian plaster and lots of glass to complete the minimalist yet classy feel.

He's eyeing more furniture for the house, which inspired a recent shopping trip and vacation to New York City – a rare bit of extended time off given the demands of his field.

At least he never goes thirsty, and that goes for his guests, too. Ciricillo is known around Sacramento wine circles for his generous spirit, sometimes inviting local sommeliers and friends to come over and empty a bunch of bottles from the cellar of his urban treehouse.

"Wine is a conversation thing," said Ciricillo. "It's a way to bring people together. It's a shame to not let other people enjoy it and see what it's all about."

Call The Bee's Chris Macias, (916) 321-1253. Follow him on Twitter @chris_macias.

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