Wine In Time 2.0: 1999 vs. 2001 Barbaresco POSTPONED


Monday, November 18, 2013 Rescheduled for January 13, 2014
6:30 PM

Presented by St. George Spirits’ master distiller Lance Winters

A comparative tasting of four wines from two classic vintages at the beginning of their peak drinkability. While the 2000 vintage was a favorite with critics, barbaresco winemakers felt that the 1999 and 2001 vintages were actually the better years.

Verduno ‘Faset’
Barale Riserva
Produttori de Barbaresco ‘Asili’ Barbaresco
Produttori de Barbaresco ‘Ovello” Riserva

Antipasto of roast winter vegetables with bagna cauda

Sformatino of Chanterelle mushrooms

Brasato of Magruder beef with Full Belly Farm barlotto

Dessert: TBD

(White truffles available by the gram M.P.)

Dinner and wine: $125 (tax and gratuity not included)

CALL TO RESERVE: 510-547-535

see the full Wine In Time 2.0 schedule

2017-09-12T15:47:31-07:00November 12th, 2013|Events, Tasting Notes, Wine Events, Wine Journal|0 Comments

A visit with Roberto Stucchi of Badia a Coltibuono

Our old friend Roberto Stucchi will be coming to town this month to present his wines at a trade event called Cucina Pazza (“A Kitchen of Lunatics”), and to talk about Tuscan culture and history. We persuaded him to do an encore performance at Oliveto, and asked him to open some classic Badia a Coltibuono wines at a dinner for Badia. We’ll design our Sunday Farmhouse Supper around the event; Roberto will chat about the history of the Badia estate (the eleventh century Abby of the Good Harvest) and of Tuscany in general. Roberto is one of the most interesting people we know, truly brilliant.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

6:00 PM

We’ll be drinking 1999 and 2008 Chianti riservas, the 2010 Chianti Normale, and Coltibuono’s premiere Vin Santo, Occhio di Pernice, 2004.  Seating will be limited at Roberto’s table in our private dining room; we advise you to reserve soon if you’re interested in attending.

The wines will be available by the glass throughout the restaurant, along with our offering of a Tuscan Sunday Supper family-style meal for $40 per person (available by the table only), or our regular à la carte menu. We think it will be a very nice evening indeed.

Chef Rhodehamel has created this special menu for the event:

Stuzzichino:  Tuscan poultry liver pâté on whole grain crostino

Antipasto:  seared ribollita of Zolfini beans with Badia a Coltibuono’s premium “Alberto” olive oil

Primo:  rosemary pappardelle with ragù of Porcini mushrooms

Secondo:  roast pigeon with farro, chestnuts, and herb sugo

Biscotti and vin santo

Prix fixe menu with wine:  $95
(tax and gratuity not included)

Call 510 547-5356 for Roberto’s table, or call or reserve online for Sunday reservations in the main dining room.

Tasting Notes: Montevertine


by Chris Ryerson

Admittedly, this isn’t my most timely post ever; my notes on the wines of Montevertine date from April 27th when the owner and winemaker, Martino Manetti visited the Bay area. However, in a way it seems appropriate to have taken my time. These wines are imbued with a sense permanence and classic style, with an emphasis on balance, clarity, and moderation. Since 1968 when Martino’s father, Sergio, started this fabled estate almost nothing has changed in the winemaking style, and I get the very strong feeling nothing will be changing in the near future either. The elder Manetti was among the first in Tuscany to leave the Consorzio and to forego the status of the Chianti Classico D.O.C.G. in order to follow his conviction that authentic and truly great wines can be made entirely of Sangiovese or other indigenous varietals such as Canaiolo and Colorino. 

Montevertine makes three wines. The entry-level “Pian del Ciampolo” is essentially the equivalent of most producers’ Chianti Classico. “Montevertine” is the standard-bearer of the estate, made from at lest 90% Sangiovese with the balance Colorino, and aged 24 months in large barrels. Finally, made from 100% Sangiovese, “Le Pergole Torte” is the top wine only made in the best vintages. Although it used to be a single vineyard bottling, it is now a selection of the best grapes from the estate’s oldest vineyards.

2003 production and produced no “Le Pergole Torte,” so all the best grapes went into the regular “Montevertine.” Deeper notes of baked raspberry, coffee grounds, and grilled meat are offset by fresher notes of bright cherry showing through now and then. The smoky, earthy complexity is punctuated by the expected tangy flashes of great Sangiovese. At only 13% alcohol and with impeccable balance it should have a very long life ahead, however, the softer nature of this vintage allows for great enjoyment now.

The 2004 “Le Pergole Torte” is a remarkable wine from an outstanding vintage. The bouquet is intoxicating; ripe Bing cherry, licorice, baking spice and pipe smoke all make an appearance. The palate offers similar flavors, densely packed yet somehow finely delineated. The wine has impressive power and intensity, but like all Montevertine wines it exhibits fantastic purity and balance.

2017-09-12T15:48:40-07:00June 25th, 2010|Italy, Tasting Notes, Tuscany, Wine Journal|0 Comments

Tasting Notes: La Stoppa


by Chris Ryerson

One of the best parts of my job is planning out the wines to serve for the variety of special dinners we host throughout the year. However, several weeks ago I was stumped trying to finalize the list of wines to offer during our Balsamico Dinners. Usually, I have some pre-conceived notion of the types of wines I’m looking for; the best choices for the Oceanic, Truffle, and Whole Hog dinners come easily.  Yet, wines that seemed like an intuitive fit with Balsamico weren’t obvious to me.   I decided to go with the idea that wines from the area where Balsamico comes from might be a natural match.  Unfortunately, other than Lambrusco, most of the top wines of Emilia-Romagna didn’t exactly role off my tongue…

After a little research and digging through the portfolios I most trust, I came across the wines of La Stoppa. When I called the importer to inquire, she was practically giddy as she told me more about them: 100% organic and biodynamic, naturally low-yielding older vines grown in poor soil, and a dynamic young owner, Elena Pantaleoni, who is a leader in Italy’s natural wine movement.  The wines seemed to have everything going for them, but I still wasn’t prepared for how impressive they are.

The 2005 Ageno falls squarely into the category of “orange wines,” “oxidized whites,” whatever you want to call them, and it’s one of the best I’ve tried.  Made from Malvasia and Trebbiano soaked on the skins for 30 days with natural yeasts and then aged 12 months in a combination of stainless steel and used French barriques, it greets you with an amazing deep, orangey, brassy color. The Ageno is a study in contrasts. Although the color makes you think the wine will have apparent nutty flavors, it is actually quite fresh, light, and youthful. And even though it has fruit tannins nearly comparable to some red wines, it comes across as quite vibrant and light on its feet. Specific fruit notes are hard to pin down, but the amalgam of other flavors are plenty intriguing: hay, straw, wet tobacco, white tea, and dried flower nuances are all mesmerizing and lead into an amazingly long finish. 162 cases produced.

The 2005 Macchiona is made from equal parts Bonarda and Barbera aged 12 months in ten and twenty hectolitre Slavonian oak casks. The deep, dark, purple color is almost completely opaque. The subtle nose gradually reveals aromas of dark plum, black cherry, wet earthy/mulchy notes, cassis, cocoa powder, subtle baking spice, and even a touch of dried orange peel. The wine is beautiful, vibrant, and alive on the palate.   The acidity is lively and balanced and the tannins add just enough structure while remaining completely velvety and seductive.

Overall, the La Stoppa wines truly give the impression of being alive.  They each have a unique character, are clearly the product of careful, yet natural winemaking, and completely engage all your senses.

Tasting Notes: Fattoria Le Terrazze – Le Marche


by Chris Ryerson

I had the pleasure recently of meeting Antonio Terni, the owner of Fattoria Le Terrazze, one of the leading estates of the Marche. Terni is quite a personality. An avid Bob Dylan fan and yachtsman, he was born in Argentina and worked as a nuclear scientist before returning to his family’s estate in the foothills of Monte Conero on the beautiful Adriatic coast. The estate has belonged to his family since 1882 and under the direction of Terni and his wife, currently produces about 7500 cases of wine each year.

The Le Terrazze wine I was most familiar with from the past is “Chaos,” a blend of Montepulciano, Syrah, and Merlot named in honor of Terni’s physics background. “Chaos” is a full-blown, rich, modern-style, jammy wine. It was nice during this visit to taste Le Terrazze’s more traditional wines. In contrast to “Chaos,” and “Planet Waves,” which are both blends, the basic Rosso Conero and the “Sassi Neri Riserva” are 100% Montepulciano and reflect Terni’s commitment to and belief in that grape as being ideal for the climate of his area. In fact, he was instrumental in pushing for the recent (2004) creation of the Conero DOCG.

The 2007 Rosso Conero is a delicious, approachable expression of the Montepulciano grape, with juicy dark fruits, a hint of earthiness, and soft tannins. The stand-out wine of the day for me however, was the 2006 “Sassi Neri Riserva.” Although also very approachable, this wine has far greater depth, intensity, and structure. Sourced from two hectares of very old vines, it offers beautifully delineated flavors of black cherry and black currant and gains complexity from hints of dried flowers and leather while the year and a half in barrique adds notes of vanilla and spice.

Tasting Notes: Los Bermejos


Los Bermejos, Listan Negro Tinto Maceración Carbónica,
Lanzarote, Canary Islands, Spain 2008

There is always something fun and interesting in the bag when Keven from Farm Wine Imports stops by. Today, as usual, he brought an assortment of great wines, but the one that stood out as the most unique and truly memorable was a red wine from the island of Lanzarote in the Canary Islands.

As you can see from the picture above, this special place is one of the most picturesque grape-growing regions in the world. Each individual vine is planted in crater-like holes in the black volcanic soil and surrounded by a semi-circle stone wall to protect it from the wind. Not exactly the vineyard scene most people who have visited Tuscany or Napa Valley might expect, but grapes have been grown here for centuries and it is a true oenological and ecological treasure.

The tiny Bodega Los Bermejos was founded in 2001 and produces only 500 cases of wine annually. This particular cuvée, made from an indigenous grape called Listan Negro, has both fantastic complexity and a delightful freshness. Pure, bright cherry and strawberry fruit (accentuated by the use of carbonic maceration) are complimented by a fantastic herbal note and a distinctive smoky, ashy tone surely derived from the unique soils mentioned above. Light-bodied, but with nice intensity and a great, long finish, this will be fantastic heading into the warmer weather and will be on the menu starting next week and featured during the 2010 Oceanic Dinners in June!

For more tasting notes visit the Oliveto Wine Journal

2017-09-12T15:48:46-07:00March 24th, 2010|Tasting Notes, Wine Events|0 Comments

Tasting Notes: Castello di Verduno

by Chris Ryerson

Our string of fantastic visiting winemakers continued this week when Mario Andrion of Castello di Verduno stopped by on Wednesday night accompanied by Marcella Bianco (daughter of the estate owners). Other than the Produttori del Barbaresco, we have more wines in our cellars from Castello di Verduno than any other producer, so their visit was a great opportunity to sample current releases along with older wines from our list.

My overall impression of the line-up was of wines that are traditionally made, strive for perfect balance, can easily stand the test of time, and seem to be getting better and better under Andrion’s stewardship. He took over as of the 2001 vintage, so it was interesting to compare the 1998 and 1999 Barbarescos “Faset” with the current release 2005 Barbaresco and 2004 Barbaresco “Rabajà.” All four wines represent the best of traditional winemaking, yet even accounting for the age of the two older vintages, the two newer releases seem to be just a touch more cleanly made.

The 1998 Barbaresco “Faset” is medium-bodied with slightly chalky, creeping tannins. Dark, dusty raspberry fruit mingles with hints of menthol, dried flower, earthy and oolong tea notes. The primary fruit flavors are definitely fading behind a more prominent layer of delicious tertiary flavors – the reason we all love older wines. The 1999 Barbaresco “Faset” offers much more obvious primary fruit notes, and as expected of the vintage, is more full bodied and has more pronounced tannins. The fruit takes on a slightly darker tinge here and the vinous notes are less evolved: warm spice and cedar stood out to me. While the 1998 seems to be hitting a plateau in it’s maturity, the 1999 still has several years to go before it really reveals itself. They were both delicious with the Charcoal-grilled Paine Farm pigeon with carmelized Brussel sprouts, pancetta, and caraway as well as the Spezzatino of Watson Farm spring lamb with baby carrots, artichokes, and salsify.

In addition to the current release Barbarescos which I’ll discuss in a moment, we also featured the 2008 vintages of Castello di Verduno’s entry level Langhe Nebbiolo and the Pelaverga Piccolo “Basadone.” The Langhe Nebbiolo is a crowd-pleaser with mild tannins (for Nebbiolo), and ripe, candied cherry and cranberry notes softened by just a touch of vanilla. Delicious. However, the Pelaverga Piccolo, which is indigenous to their village of Verduno, was far more interesting and unique. The pale pink/rose petal color and delicate aromas lure you in to a surprisingly structured wine. The faint strawberry, red cherry, watermelon, floral, and bitter herbal notes are tightly knit within this light-bodied wine and are supported by the perfect balance of acidity and tannin. A perfect companion for our House-made dry-cured salumi.

Finally, Marcella and Mario brought two new releases with them. The 2005 Barbaresco normale is tasty, but still somewhat one-dimensional. Earthy notes dominate, with red cherry, raspberry, and a hint of baking spice in the background. The alcohol is completely in check, and the tannins not too formidable. While somewhat understated right now, it seems to have the perfect balance needed to evolve into a beautiful elegant wine. In comparison, the Barbaresco “Rabajà,” from the much-heralded 2004 vintage delivers quite an impact now as well as amazing potential for the future. Dense, perfectly ripe fruit barely masks notes of tobacco and rose petal waiting to poke through. It shows astonishing depth and complexity, the tannins are firm, yet have a velvety touch that allow for enjoying the wine now, and the finish billows around on the palate for at least 60 seconds. It was a thrill to taste this wine and I can’t wait to see what complexity emerges over the years ahead. It is, without a doubt, the finest wine I have tasted in the last year.

Tasting Notes: Canalicchio di Sopra

Canalicchio di Sopra

by Chris Ryerson

It was a pleasure to have Francesco Ripaccioli from Canalicchio di Sopra visit us last week, and an even greater pleasure to enjoy three older vintages of their Brunello di Montalcino together over dinner…

In addition to their recent Tre Bicchieri-winning 2004 Brunello and their 2007 Rosso di Montalcino, we also featured the 1998, 1999, and 2000 vintages of Brunello from our “Wine In Time” program. All three showed very well and it is great to see such fantastic results from the efforts of our owner and my predecessors holding back vintages of traditionally made wines for enjoyment when they are actually showing their best, ten or more years down the line.

Not surprisingly, the 2000 was the most accessible and open of the three. Definitely focused more toward the red fruit end of the spectrum, with light baking spice notes, subtle integrated earthiness, and supple tannins, it is delicious right out of the bottle and is a wine to drink now. The 1999 still has formidable tannins and took the longest to reveal its core of dark red fruits and leather notes. Greater complexity and range of flavors are lurking in this dense wine, but it seems we’ll have to be patient – it still has a long life ahead of it. The 1998 was the star of the show, however. During the first twenty minutes in the glass, it was a bit closed, but after that, it continually offered an evolving range of aromas and seemed to be the one wine we all regularly kept coming back to. It certainly offered the most complexity and balance, with a mix of red and black fruits, dried herbal notes, and hints of dried tobacco.

We have stored away our 2004 Brunello di Montalcino from Canalicchio di Sopra and look forward to sharing a bottle with Franceso on a future visit five or six years from now. In the mean time we’re well-stocked on older vintages that are drinking great right now!

Tasting Notes: Verus, Ormož, Slovenia


by Chris Ryerson

I taste a huge number of Italian wines on a regular basis, so it is a welcome surprise when some one brings me something unexpected and different to try. Just yesterday, I had the pleasure of being introduced to the wines of a new, small winery from Slovenia. Slovenian wines are not new to me, but most I have previously encountered are from the Goriska Brda region in the western part of the country just across the border from Friuli in Italy. However, Verus is located in the eastern part of the country in the hills near the town of Ormož. Consequently, their winemaking style seems much more influenced by nearby Austria than Friuli. 

A partnership of three friends who produced their first vintage in 2007, Verus produces six white varietals: Furmint, Pinot Gris, Riesling, Sauvignon Blanc, Yellow Muscat, and a late-harvest Welschriesling. If the two I tasted are any indication, they will quickly earn a reputation for crafting beautiful and precise wines. In particular, their 2007 Riesling is a classic, off-dry expression. The slight green tinge to the color belies its cool climate origins, and the aromas follow suit with clean lime zest, grapefruit and subtle floral aromas. Their Sauvignon Blanc is also outstanding, tending toward the fig/melon/tropical end of the spectrum, all within a dense, yet balanced mouth feel. Neither wine sees any oak and both come in under 12.5% alcohol. The prices are incredibly reasonable given the quality. Both wines will quickly find their way on to Oliveto’s list and I look forward to tasting the other wines from this fantastic new producer.

2017-09-12T15:48:48-07:00February 18th, 2010|Slovenia, Tasting Notes, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Tasting Notes: Conciliis


by Chris Ryerson

Our dinner with Bruno de Conciliis Monday night was a great success! It was a pleasure to have such a charming and thoughtful winemaker here to discuss his unique part of Campania and his philosophy of winemaking. Bruno is very committed to showing true vintage expression and true terroir in his wines and explains that although “wine is not just a beverage and must be an expression of the land, the vines, and the culture,” he doesn’t want to make esoteric wines for only a few people. From the beginning he has refused to employ a consulting enologist and prefers to make the wines himself. He describes the De Conciliis winery as “chaos” and tries to approach each new vintage without pre-conceived ideas and standardized formulas for making the wines. A former art student, Bruno feels that “specialization is the enemy of knowledge” and maintains that farming and making wine require a deeper knowledge than just the scientific; being faithful to genuine vintage and vineyard expression is much more difficult than just applying the same formulaic approach year after year. He views wine making as a long-term project and claims that it takes years (probably three generations) to understand the land and the vines and to make truly great wine.

A few tasting notes from the wines we enjoyed during the dinner:

Fiano, “Donnaluna” 2008 – White peach, canteloupe, and a hint of tropical fruit are held in check by zesty acidity, and hints of sea salt and nearby lemon groves.

Fiano, “Antece” 2004 – A wonderful, complex wine with notes of baked apples, creamy citrus, herbs, dried flowers, hazelnut, and warm spices.

Aglianico, “Donnaluna” 2008 – Black and Bing cherries and red currant fruit mingle with smoky, earthy, tobacco notes. The firm tannins and acidity give the wine ample structure but leave it relatively accessible even at this young age.

Aglianico, “Naima” 2005 – Still a monster, but showed brilliantly after three hours of decanting: dark plum, blackberry, and cassis are complimented by notes of baking chocolate, leather, and espresso.

2017-09-12T15:48:49-07:00February 17th, 2010|Campania, Italy, Tasting Notes, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments
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