Winemaker Dinner with Aldo Vacca


Photo courtesy of Produttori del Barbaresco.

Photo courtesy of Produttori del Barbaresco.

March 24, 2016 at 7pm
Call to Reserve (510) 547-5356

We’re endlessly fond of our longtime friend Aldo Vacca, a gentle, highly intelligent soul whose light hand, as the director of world-renowned Produttori del Barbaresco, persuades the Nebbiolo grape to express what seems inexpressible – the essence of a place.

His skill has made his wine cooperative world-renowned, and he’s done much to shape our own cellar and ideas about wine.

Our list of single-vineyard Barbarescos from the Produttori is extensive, going back to 1979. Made without care to trends, focused exclusively on place, they are elusive, delicate, untamed, and made to age, which they do in surprising ways. We sent Aldo the full list and he’s selected seven for our comparison – four different vintages that represent two very different vineyards in the area.

2009 Asili vs Ovello
2004 Asili vs Ovello
2001 Asili vs Ovello
1982 Asili

It will be a fascinating evening with a master craftsman. Aldo is an inspiring teacher of terroir – in fact we made a video in tribute to what he’s taught us. The four-course prix-fixe dinner will be intimate, taking place in the Siena room. Be sure to call, instead of making an online reservation, to be certain of booking.

not including tax and service charge
March 24th, 2016 at 7pm

Call to Reserve!
(510) 547-5356

A Tasting with Alto Piemonte’s Brilliant Young Winemaker Cristiano Garella

We are great admirers of young winemaker Cristiano Garella. Considered a “whiz kid” by Wine Spectator, he quickly made his mark with outrageously good wines in the emerging region of Northern Piedmont. At the age of 23, he was made the winemaker of Tenute Sella, the most prominent winery in the region at that time, and manager of the whole estate a year later. Now 30, he is a consulting winemaker for a number of small producers in Northern Piedmont, and one in the Oltrepò Pavese.

“Cristiano is my kind of enologist,” says wine importer Oliver McCrum, “very technologically savvy but committed to making wines that express terroir through largely traditional techniques. He’s an amazing taster, too.”

This area is considered up-and-coming, but actually the area was producing Nebbiolo far before Barolo and Barbaresco became fashionable — in fact it is the original home of Nebbiolo, and these new wines are a reconnection to the area’s past and its long-held traditions, which are capable of producing beautiful, age-worthy reds with character.

We will be tasting four wines based on the delicate and complex Nebbiolo grape, coming from three different growing areas in Northern Piedmont — Bramaterra, Fara, and Lessona, all with varying soil types and terrain. These wines come from small, young wineries for which Garella consults: Le Pianelle, Boniperti, and La Prevostura. Garella makes wine organically, favoring a low-intervention approach with natural yeasts.

After the tasting, our menu upstairs will feature Garella’s wines by the glass and Piedmontese dishes, and Garella will be present to discuss his wines.
August 16th, 5:30 pm to 6:15 pm



2017-09-12T15:46:54-07:00July 30th, 2015|Commons Past Events, Events, Happened already..., Italy, Piedmont, Wine Events|Comments Off on A Tasting with Alto Piemonte’s Brilliant Young Winemaker Cristiano Garella

Visitors from Sicily


Monday, June 15th

We’re huge fans of Ciro and Stef Biondi. They are smart, generous, and full of life. Their wines are too. While their vineyards have been producing wine for centuries on Mt. Etna, Ciro hit the restart button less than two decades ago, trying to make a great wine, taking full advantage of the extraordinary gifts of Mt. Etna — its young volcanic soil, its altitude high above the sea, and warm days.

We’re pleased to introduce you to them. Ciro and Stef will be in the Oliveto dining room, pouring their wines (some older vintages too) this coming Monday, and Chef Jonah will be offering some appropriate dishes to go with these wines:

  • Fritto of house made ricotta-stuffed squash blossoms
  • Crudo of swordfish with oregano, currants, pine nuts, and lemon
  • Rigatoni alla trapanese
  • Spaghetti with fresh anchovies, saffron, pine nuts, and raisins
  • Charcoal-grilled pork porterhouse with eggplant, artichoke, and salmoriglio

There are also a few places still available in the 6:15 to 7 PM tasting that Ciro will offering in our private dining room.

  • 2014 Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Bianco
  • 2013 Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Rosso
  • 2011 ‘Cisterna Fuori’
  • 2008 Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Rosso
  • 2007 Biondi ‘Monte Ilice’ Etna Rosso

The tasting is $40. Register here.
After the tasting, stay for dinner.

Wine Tasting with Ciro Biondi



On the ferry to Sicily from Naples, you can see the city of Catania and its surrounding villages, above which the active volcano, Mt. Etna, looms. Here lives Ciro Biondi, who tends centuries-old vines on his family plot.

His vineyards are a simple, beautiful place on the eastern slope, where cool evenings and warm days make for a wine that far exceeds the standards of the island. Its soil is of young volcanic ash, crumbly and crystalline, and its eastern aspect allows the morning dew to dry from the grapes when the sun rises. His wines are spectacular. Over the last five years, Etna has emerged as one of the most important wine regions, and Ciro is one of its biggest players.

We love Ciro personally as well. He’s warm and passionate, both in winemaking and in life. We’re happy to have him for a tasting of his wines, and we’ll be having Sicilian dishes on the dinner menu that evening in his honor.

The wine tasting will consist of:

2014 Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Bianco
2013 Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Rosso
2011 ‘Cisterna Fuori’ Etna Rosso
2008 Biondi ‘Outis’ Etna Rosso
2007 Biondi ‘Monte Ilice’ Etna Rosso

$40 per person
Monday, June 15, 2015 from 6:15 PM to 7:00 PM
Oliveto Restaurant & Café
Oakland, CA


Wine Offerings for Provençal Dinners, May 19th and 20th


Our good fortune is your good fortune.

Our most recently acquired stash of French wines from the 80’s and 90’s has revealed a number of delights, and we’re eager to share them with you at our upcoming Provençal Dinners on May 19th and 20th.

We have a handful of wines to offer:

1979 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Mourvèdre, “Speciale La Migoua”
*1987 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre, “Speciale La Louffe”
1988 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Mourvèdre, “Cabassaou”
1989 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Cinsault-Grenache-Mourvèdre, “La Tourtine”
*1989 Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée, Mourvèdre, “Cabassaou”

All bottles are priced at $100, and those labeled with asterisks above are available by the glass ($20) and half glass ($10) as well. It should be an interesting event, as all of these have held up quite well over time, though there may be some uncustomary variation from bottle to bottle.

We hope to share these with you Tuesday and Wednesday for our prix-fixe menu from the classic Richard Olney cookbook, Lulu’s Provencal TableVisit our website for details on this simple, delicious late spring menu.

Opening Our Treasure Trove of Bandols



For many a bébé boomer, Provence’s Domaine Tempier, and Lulu and Lucien Peyraud, opened a door to what food should be: full-flavored, true, beautiful, not fussy, seasonal, and full of life.

We were shown a way. Preparing for next week’s dinners and the release of our little treasure trove of old Tempier red Bandols, we’ve been going through a tasting of bottles from select vintages. It’s been an honor and an adventure.

We’ve tasted many extraordinary bottles and a few “interesting” ones-the lesser ones having aged, alas, for too long, or some in which Brett yeast cells have run amok. Unfortunately, there’s little accurate information on what to expect as each vintage ages-even from the experts at Kermit Lynch. We’re rather enjoying performing the task of looking into each to determine the effects of time. (We must keep in mind that bottles might even vary within each vintage, creating yet another problem in making them available to you.) But we know we will be offering many spectacular aged Tempier Bandols at good prices, along with some merely good ones. Yesterday, we opened a ’79 and last rites were performed; then, an ’87, and it blew us away, and today it is still very much alive, with interesting character.

Here’s what we are working with.

1979 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1981 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1982 Bandol Cuvée Speciale, Domaine Tempier
1982 Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1985 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1985 Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1987 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1988 Grenache-Syrah-Mouvédre, “Speciale La Louffe,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1988 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1989 Mourvédre, “Speciale La Miguoa,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Cuvée
1989 Cinsaut-Grenache-Mourvédre, “La Tourtine,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1989 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée
1999 Mourvédre, “Cabassaou,” Domaine Tempier, Bandol Rouge Cuvée


View our special Provençal menus for May 19th and 20th here.


Newly Acquired French Wines Welcomed with Provençal Dinners, May 19 and 20


We just took delivery on part of a large, beautifully chosen cellar (17 cases) of vintage French wines including some great Bordeaux (Pomerol 1982 and Saint-Emillion 1982); Rhônes, vintages 1978-88; a few older bottles from Burgundy; and, in largest part, Bandols from Domaine Tempier, 1979-90.


We’ll start offering the wines on May 18, and will celebrate with two evenings of Provençal dinners May 19 and 20. Inspired by Richard Olney’s paean to Lulu and Lucien Peyraud and Domaine Tempier, Lulu’s Provençal Table: The Exuberant Food and Wine from the Domaine Tempier Vineyard, this classic late spring menu Chef Jonah Rhodehamel selected is comprised of:


Apèritif: Melon Cubes Wrapped with Raw Ham,
Bouchées de Melon au Jambon Cru
Black Olives, Olives Noires
Buttered Sardine Crusts, Sardines Crues, Croûtons Beurrées


Sautéed Squid with Parsley and Garlic, Suppions à la Persillade

Leg of Lamb on a Bed of Thyme, Gigot sur Lit de Thym
Sautéed Artichokes and Potatoes, Artichauts Sautés aux Rattes


Dandelion Salad with Garlic Croutons, Salade de Pissenlit aux Chapons


Goat Cheeses, Fromages de Chèvre Frais


Cherries, Cerises


Prix fixe 70.
(Does not include beverages, service charge, or cheese course)
Jonah’s resumé includes four years at La Folie, which culminated in a position as Sous Chef; the Provence dinners will give him a chance to practice some old chops, figuratively speaking, that is. A selection of our vintage French wine will be available by the glass. Reserve online, or call 510-547-5356.

Oliveto Commons Spring Event: A Study of Nebbiolo

A chance to taste something rare.


An old friend.

Even with its uncommonly finicky personality, Nebbiolo has had a long-term romance with the water, soil, and wind of Italy, and only of Italy — for some reason, it doesn’t fulfill its potential in other climes. And while many wines are fruit forward and quick to please, Nebbiolo wines take their time to blossom. Years of careful (and expensive) storage are required for Nebbiolo wine’s structure to relax, for its tannins to soften, and for its inner beauty to come forth.

Time is precious, and therefore Italian wines made from Nebbiolo grapes are costly. For many of us, such wines are generally not for ordinary days. We’d like to drop the price barrier to experiencing these rare wines.

As part of our Oliveto Commons series of events, we’re happy to be holding a tasting, led by our General Manager Shane Walker. It will consist of four wines of notable vintage from what NYT wine and food critic Eric Asimov calls Oliveto’s “brilliant list of aged Nebbiolo wines”.

Priced modestly, the tasting is an accessible way to become acquainted with Nebbiolo.  A select bottle of aged wine will also be available at wholesale price for those who would like to dine with us afterward.

Wednesday, March 25th, 6:15 pm to 7 pm. Tickets ($30) are available on Eventbrite.

This event is part of Oliveto Commons, a series of community programs with the mission of inspiring a shared sense of possibility, purpose, and unity throughout Oliveto and the community to which we belong. Please see our full list of spring events.

An Evening with Roberto Stucchi and the wines of Badia a Coltibuono


Early this year Oliveto sous chef Hans Huysentruyt scored a stage at famed Osteria Le Logge. Thanks to the assistance of our friend Roberto Stucchi of Badia a Coltibuono, Hans spent three weeks in the kitchen “of arguably the best restaurant in Siena” according to Oliveto owner Bob Klein, “…and I’ve been to a lot of restaurants,” he quantified. With Roberto in town this month and some of his older wines ready to drink, we thought it would be cool to arrange a particularly Tuscan menu to accompany them.

Prix Fixe Le Logge-inspired menu

Crostini of whipped lardo
Crostini of almond puree
Arancini with tomato conserva

Ribolita with poached egg

Penne with albacore and tomato

Due of Liberty duck with ricotta and black garlic


Roberto will have on hand the following wines from Coltibuono’s catalog which will be available for purchase by the glass and half-glass:

2010/2011 Chianti Classico
90% Sangioveto 10% canaiolo+Colorino+Ciliegiolo. From the Monti (Gaiole) and Vitignano (Castelnuovo Berardenga) estate vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 1 year in 20 hl (400 gallons) austrian and french oak casks. True Chianti expression, elegant, complex, fresh and food friendly. Chianti that tastes like Chianti at it’s best.

2008 Chianti Riserva
90% Sangioveto 10% Canaiolo+Colorino+Ciliegiolo.From the Monti (Gaiole) estate vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 2 year in 20 hl (400 gallons) austrian and french oak casks. The top selection from the vintage, the deepest expression of the estate; a wine made to live and evolve for decades.

2009 Cultus Boni
80% Sangioveto 20% Canaiolo+Colorino+Ciliegiolo+Mammolo+Fogliatonda+Pugnitello+Malvasia Nera+Sanforte. From the Monti (Gaiole) estate vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 12 months in french oak barrels, 10% new oak. A modern expression of a classic.

2009 Sangioveto
100% Sangioveto. From 30+ year vineyards, the oldest in the estate, in Monti, organically farmed for 20 years, planted with the estate’s historical “massal “ selection. Fermented with indigenous yeast. Aged 12 months in french oak barrels, 10% new oak. One of the original “Supertuscans” created in 1980 to make a statement about the potential of Sangioveto in its purest expression.

2007 Vin Santo
50% Malvasia 50% Trebbiano from the estate’s Monti vineyards, organically farmed for 20 years. Grapes partially raisined indoors, wine fermented and aged in sealed barrels in attics. The true tuscan hospitality wine. Sweet and crisp and aromatic, more than a dessert wine.

And in very limited supply:
1985 Chianti Classico Riserva

1999 Barbaresco/Barolo Dinner with Peter Granoff August 19, 2014

Tuesday, August 19th, 2014

6:30 PM

1999: Denver beat Atlanta in the the Super Bowl. The Spurs took the Nicks in the NBA playoffs. Shakespeare in Love received the Academy Award for Best Picture. The Y2K bug is a thing. Napster and the euro made their debut. And the cost of a first-class stamp was $0.33.


Meanwhile in the Piedmont region of Italy: After two unusually warm years, winter temperatures dropped to a more normal range with adequate amounts of snow fall adding needed moisture reserves to the subsoil. Bud-break arrived right on time in most parts, and plentiful spring rains helped with early growth but also led to some mold-issues by May. Temperatures got hot in June and July, but unusually chilly in August. The growing season finished out with a burst of warmth again in September, allowing for a good final ripening and a successful harvest.

We’ll be drinking four wines from the 1999 harvest from four renowned producers:

Fratelli Barale, Riserva, Barbaresco
Bruno Giacosa, “Santo Stephano” Barbaresco
Giuseppe Rinaldi, “Brunate” Barolo
Castello di Verduno, “Massara” Barolo

Presented by Peter Granoff, master sommelier and co-proprietor of Ferry Plaza Wine Merchant & Wine Bar in San Francisco and Oxbow Cheese & Wine Merchant in Napa, CA.

Dinner Menu

Vitello tonnato
classic Northern Italian cold veal with tuna sauce

Agnolotti dal plin
meat-stuffed, “pinched” raviolini from the Piedmont


Bavarois with berry sauce

*One of the most luxurious of the boiled sausages, cotechino derives from Modena and owes its rich texture to the inclusion of cooked pork skin.

(tax & service charge not included)

Space is limited.

Call (510) 547-5356 to reserve.

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