Menu Announced for Barbaresco Dinner with Aldo Vacca


Dinner with Aldo Vacca
Thursday, March 24, 7pm

Call to reserve (510) 547-5356

Elusive, feminine Barbaresco is meant to be savored with food, and in the case of our upcoming dinner with friend and mentor Aldo Vacca of Produttori del Barbaresco, the food will be as eloquent, and as outrageously good, as the wine.

While we compare two Barbaresco vineyards over the course of four vintages, chef Jonah will be treating us to food from the region – of which the cotechino is eagerly anticipated. A new addition to chef Jonah’s repertoire, it will be similar to the one he created for our recent Whole Hog Dinners, in which the muscles were removed from a pig’s shank, stuffed back into its skin, and braised in wine.


Warm salad of roasted vegetables with bagna cauda classica
Vitello tonnato classic Northern Italian cold veal with tuna sauce
Tajarin with pigeon ragù
Cotechino al Barolo with de Puy lentils and salsa verde
Crema di latticello with poached rhubarb, elderflower granita, juniper-rhubarb reduction and meringue crumb


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


This intimate four-course prix-fixe dinner will take place in the Siena room.

not including tax and service charge
March 24th, 7p
Call to Reserve
2017-09-12T15:46:39-07:00March 17th, 2016|Coming up..., Italy, Piedmont, Uncategorized|0 Comments

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

Think Big — Go Ahead.


There are only two days left of Randall Grahm’s (Bonny Doon Vineyard) crowdfunding campaign for his new, incredible, vineyard Popelouchum. Several great perks remain, including the unique opportunity to sit at the table and dine with Randall and New York Times food writer Mark Bittman as they discuss Randall’s most audacious plan yet – to create a true California terroir-driven wine.

It will surely be an amazing meeting of the minds. Over the years, we’ve never missed an opportunity to hear Randall’s intellectually rigorous flights of fancy. We’re equally eager to spend time with our newer friend, the immensely insightful and knowledgeable journalist Mark Bittman. And we’re thrilled to host an intimate dinner with both of them at Oliveto.

Popelouchum is a vineyard in San Juan Bautista that’s trying to take California terroir-driven winemaking into its next phase. To listen to Grahm speak about it- or write about it,  as he does, prodigiously, on his blog – the undertaking is immense, with wide-ranging considerations that are at once terrestrial and poetic.

With Popelouchum, he hopes to breed new grape varieties by planting them by seed (as opposed to cloning). The goals of his breeding plan are many. We’ve teased out a few for you:

  • To discover new grape varieties that reveal the unique characteristics of his land. Instead of mimicking Burgundy in its traditions and its grapes, Grahm hopes to discover a uniquely Californian wine – just as haunting as the Burgundies, and with its own character, nuances, and enchantments.
  • To discover new varieties that are “less needful of heroic levels of intervention”, and that require less water. (Such grapes could have “greater utility in a warmer, drier world”.)

To be privy to Grahm’s dreams makes one’s head swim in the most pleasant way. And to be able to help in making the dreams a reality, will make such swimming an even greater delight.

We think Popelouchum is a profoundly worthwhile endeavor, and we hope many will get into it. In support, we are also offering a free pizza downstairs in the Cafe if you bring us a receipt of your contribution of $25 or more to Randall’s extraordinary project.

To take part, read more here.

2017-09-12T15:46:53-07:00August 20th, 2015|California, Coming up...|0 Comments

Randall Grahm’s Visionary Project


Grahm planting some of the first grapes at Popelouchum.


Visit Randall Grahm’s Restaurant Row and make something happen.

Our friend Randall Grahm of Bonny Doon Vineyard has launched a project, a “life’s work” kind of project, to create an original vineyard that in every way mines the attributes of place.

Hearing a winemaker speak of terroir has become meaningless. But that doesn’t mean that terroir is without meaning.  Randall’s search for terroir is brilliant, far-reaching, and though hard to imagine, makes you want to imagine.  The vineyard is being built at his new property in San Juan Bautista, and is called Popelouchum.

Read about it here, and consider supporting it.  It is so rare to have the opportunity to support something actually original. There are perks involved.  Note Randall’s very fine Restaurant Row.


Restaurant_Row_Grid 8.3.15 FOUR ONLY (1)


2017-09-12T15:46:53-07:00August 5th, 2015|California, Coming up..., Events|0 Comments

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.

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

Wine In Time 2.0: Rinaldi Vertical

Monday, December 16, 2013

A legend among piedmontese producers, Giuseppe Rinaldi has been producing Barolo wine for over a century. As traditional as it gets, “Beppe” Rinaldi still ferments all of his Baroli in the massive, 110 year old piedmontese oak vat that his great grandfather used. The wines are aged in large old oak for two years before bottling. Rinaldi still holds to the tradition of blending fruit from different vineyards to create a perfectly balanced, long aging wine.

We’ll taste some cool/classic vintages as well as some warmer vintages.

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.



Four-course dinner and wine: $125 (tax and gratuity not included)

CALL TO RESERVE: 510-547-5356

see the full Wine In Time 2.0 schedule

2017-09-12T15:47:29-07:00December 11th, 2013|2013, Events, Italy, Wine Events, Wine Journal|0 Comments

Wine In Time 2.0: 2000 Barolo vs. Barbaresco

Monday, November 11, 2013

Presented by David Lynch, owner of St. Vincent Restaurant in San Francisco, CA

A rare chance to taste four distinct terriors and winemaking styles from the highly publicized 2000 Piedmontese vintage.
Please join us!

Produttori de Barbaresco ‘Asili’ Barbaresco
Giacosa ‘Asili’ Barbaresco
Verduno ‘monvigliero’ Barolo
Barale ‘Bussia’ Barolo

Vitello” tonato of Magruder beef

German butterball potato gnocchi with pigeon sugo and Barolo reduction

Brasato of Magruder lamb with red flint Corn polenta

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

Dinner with Randall Grahm and 14 of His Wines

Dinner With Randall Grahm
and 14 of His Wines

– A Rare Evening –

What’s Doon is Doon:
A Comprehensive Consideration of the Celestial and Terrestrial Oeuvre of Randall Grahm
(Along with a Pretty Spectacular Meal)
Randall Grahm’s Greatest Adventure
[from a 2009 visit]
Monday, June 10, 2013 at 6:30 pm
Call 510-547-5356 for reservations
When Oliveto sommelier Esteban Brunello went to a Bonny Doon Vineyard wine tasting a couple months back, he tasted all of Randall Grahm’s currently available wines and returned astounded. He thought all of them — some twenty different wines — uniquely good. It’s unusual enough for a small independent producer to offer that many wines, but that they were all, every one of them, estimable, doesn’t happen.

We’ve known Randall for quite some time: the Rhone Ranger of old, deeply devoted to terroir as the source of a wine’s character, leader and practitioner of a movement for transparency in wine labels, advocate of the screwcap closure, lover of obscure Italian grape varieties, biodynamic farmer with dry-farming leanings, the man who would plant grape vines from seed and plant a vineyard that looked more like a garden (“promiscuous culture,” in the vernacular). He is an original thinker, a charming, witty, and gentle person.

Randall, for all his renown and knowledge of wine’s most important topics, has said he’d really just like to be known as someone who makes really good wine. So, after Esteban’s pronouncement, we decided that, while presenting a wine dinner with 14 different wines would be challenging, we could make it fresh, fun, unpretentious, and, most important, about delicious wine.
So, here’s the evening we imagine:
One seating at 6:30 pm, in casual, family-style tables of twelve.
Randall will chat about:
Biodynamics, the painful beauty of vins de terroir, his very ambitious plans to plant a truly sustainable, genetically heterodox, dry-farmed vineyard. He will talk about the esoteric mysteries of the Tantric élevage of wines (with a special geeky sidebar on wine electrochemistry), and will say something or three about the wines he is presenting.
6 courses from Chef Jonah, matching (as best we can) a very large array of wines:
(Sparkling Riesling as apéritif)
’04 Le Cigare Blanc
’01 Le Cigare Volant
’05 Le Cigare Volant
’06 Nebbiolo
’07 Nebbiolo
Price: $125
plus tax and gratuity
Menu to follow
Call (510) 547-5356 for reservations
Dinner is June 10, 2013
Please note there will be one seating at 6:30 pm

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