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

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

Dinner with Marta Rinaldi

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

6:30 PM

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. In recent years, Giuseppe’s daughter Marta Rinaldi has become more involved in the business. Along with Eleanora Barale, Maria Teresa Mascarello, Mariacristina and Mariavittoria at Oddero, and Bruna Giacosa we are now seeing a younger generation of women making many of these traditionally masculine wines, ushering in the feminine future of Barolo. Marta will join us for a very special prix fixe menu paired with select Rinaldi vintages. For those interested in our regular à la carte menu, all of the Rinaldi wines will be available by the glass and half-glass to the whole dinning room.

1st Course Antipasti Misti: Celery with marrow sauce, leeks with red wine sauce, and soft green chard with amaretti cookies

Wines: Brunate 1998 Brunate 1999

2nd Course Red Winter wheat bigoli with ragù of duck giblets

Wines: Brunate 2000 Brunate 2001

3rd Course Slow Roasted Liberty Farms duck with butter poached lobster

Wines: Brunate 1996 Brunate 2006

Cheese Course Brunate 1995

$260 + tax and service charge

please call 510-547-5356 to make a reservation

Aldo’s Vineyard Update: HARVEST! 2010

It is hard to guess at the time of harvest how a vintage will eventually turn out. Only after malalactic fermentation has happened, some time in the spring of 2011, will there be a clear sense of the qualities of that year’s fruit.

But, here are Aldo’s best guesses:

The 2010 Barbaresco should make good, not great (he’s always so modest!), medium-bodied, well-balanced, classic wines. Similar to the 2005 vintage.

It was very rainy in Barbaresco on September 7, 19, 27 and October 4th, with dry/warm days in between. Although there wasn’t a mold problem and the harvest went well, the soil remained fairly wet, which makes for less concentrated juice. Sugar was good, 13.4.

Color was good in some vineyards, less so in others.

Produttori has several exceptional vintages in their cellar, not yet released, so they will decide in the springtime if they will make 2010 single vineyard wines.

Watch a few more videos about the harvest:

Learn more about the history of Barbaresco:

Five lessons from Aldo:

2017-09-12T15:48:34-07:00October 13th, 2010|Italy, Piedmont, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|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.

Dinner for Castello di Verduno

by Chris Ryerson

The Castello di Verduno, owned by Gabriella Burlotto and Franco Bianco, is a beautiful old building at the top of the village of Verduno, on the edge of the Barolo zone. Virtually unknown outside of Italy, Castello di Verduno produces a variety of Piedmontese wines in a classic style. The label unites two cellars, one under the castle in the Barolo zone and the other near the famous ‘cru’ Rabajà, in the Barbaresco area. Wines are produced in Barbaresco and bottled and stored in Verduno. The vineyards owned by Verduno are the Barbaresco crus, Faset and Rabajà, the last being one of the best vineyards in Barbaresco, and the Barolo crus Monvigliero and Massara. All wines are vinified traditionally by Mario Andrion, the talented young enologist who took over the cellar in 2000. The estate also produces a small amount of delicious Langhe Nebbiolo, and an excellent example of the variety indigenous to Verduno, Pelaverga.

Wine maker Mario Andrion will be with us in the restaurant for dinner Wednesday, March 3, 2010.  The menu will be à la carte as usual and the following wines will be served by-the-glass and in flights:

Pelaverga Piccolo “Basadone” 2008

Langhe Nebbiolo 2008

Barolo “Monvigliero” 2000

Barbaresco “Faset” 1998

Barbaresco “Faset” 1999

Barolo “Monvigliero” 1996

510-547-5356 or reserve online

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