Winemaker Dinner: Le Vigne di Alice

Friday, February 8, 2013


Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

Winemaker Cinzia Canzian (one website refers to her as “the wonder woman of Venetian bubbly”) of Le Vigne di Alice, a small-scale boutique winery located in the Veneto region, will be joining us for dinner this Friday to share some of her lovely sparkling wines. The menu will be our regular a la carte dinner menu but we will have a select offering of Le Vigne di Alice wines. Cinzia will be available to chat and taste (just make sure to mention you’ll be tasting when you are making your reservation).

We will be pouring the following Le Vigne di Alice wines by the glass and half glass:

Tajad Brut, N/V
Field blend of native grapes: Prosecco, Verdiso, Boschera
Vineyard: Conegliano and Valdobbiadene

Doro Brut, 2011
100% Prosecco
Vineyard: Valdobbiadene DOCG

Ose Brut, Rosato, N/V
10% Marzemino; 90% Prosecco
Vineyard: Conegliano and Valdobbiadene

Extra Dry, 2011
100% Prosecco
Vineyard: Conegliano and Valdobbiadene DOCG

Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online

2017-09-12T15:47:50-07:00February 4th, 2013|2013, Events, Italy, Wine Events, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments

Winemaker Dinner with Scacciadiavoli


Thursday, January 17, 2013

Please join us for dinner at Oliveto Restaurant as we welcome Liu Pambuffetti, winemaker for Azienda Agraria Scacciadiavoli in the Montefalco region of Umbria.

Chef Jonah Rhodehamel will prepare a special four-course menu that will be paired with outstanding wines from the Scacciadiavoli Winery.

Crostini di fegatini di pollo
with Umbrian poultry liver pȃté
Sagrantino Spumante Classico Rose N/V

Lenticchie con salsicce di Cascia
Umbrian lentils with pork sausage and sage
Montefalco Rosso 2009

Agnello allo spiedo
Spit-roasted leg of lamb with farro, sultana raisins, and pine nuts
Montefalco Sagrantino 2006

Selection of Caciotta, Pecorino and house-pulled mozzarella cheeses
Sagrantino Passito 2005

$95. plus tax and 18% gratuity
($60. menu $35. for wine parings)

Liu Pambuffetti will be in the dining room and available throughout the evening to chat and taste. All wines will be offered by the glass and half-glass if you chose not to order the prix fixe menu.

Call 510-547-5356 or reserve online


Founded in 1884, Cantina Scacciadiavoli, which translates as “cast out the devils,” takes its named from a 19th century exorcist who lived in the small village bordering the vineyard. Originally built by the Prince of Piombino, Ugo Boncompagni-Ludovisi, today Scacciadiavoli is owned by the wine-making Pambuffetti family. The estate covers 130 hectares with 35 hectares of vineyards, and is located in the heart of the Montefalco appellation. The vines are located at an average altitude of 400 meters with soils mixed between sand, schist and the typical clay of the area. The terrain is well suited for late maturing varieties such as the indigenous Sagrantino.

Sagrantino is a unique and rare grape variety grown in Umbria. Sagrantino produces elegant, complex, large structured red wines. It is full of character and has excellent aging potential.


Wine in Time just in Time for Truffles

Aldo Vacca of Produttori del Barbaresco gives us his vintage picks for this year’s truffle dinners:

The Oliveto “Wine in Time” program officially launched in 2007 with the intention of finding a way to serve great, age-worthy wine at somewhat affordable prices. Serving Barbaresco or Barolo with only five or six years of age doesn’t do wines like these much justice and in our opinion barbarescos and barolos made in a modern, more early-drinking style are not of the same quality.

Through good friends and cleverness, we were able to establish a very fine, though focused cellar of outstanding vintage Barbarescos and Barolos at bargain prices.

Events like our annual Truffle Dinners are when all that effort (and waiting!) truly pay off. We are so pleased to be able to offer some wonderful aged wines from our cellar as recommended by our friend Aldo Vacca of the renowned Produttori del Barbaresco estate in Piedmonte.

Wines for Truffles 2012

Special Produttori del Barbaresco Flight

Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco, ‘Asili’, Barbaresco, Piemonte 2001
Nebbiolo, Produttori del Barbaresco, ‘Ovello’, Barbaresco, Piemonte 2001

Whites by the glass

Cortese, La Scolca, ‘Black Label’, Gavi di Gavi, Piemonte 2009
Nascetta, Elvio Cogno, ‘Anas-Cetta’, Piemonte 2009
Fiano di Avellino, I Favati, “Pietramara Etichetta Bianca’, Campania 2007
Ribolla Gialla, Gravner, Anfora, Friuli Venezia Giulia, 2004
Verdicchio/Trebbiano/Malvasia/Grechetto, Monastero Suore Cistercensi,
Coenobium ‘Rusticum’, Lazio 2009
Ripoli/Fenile/Ginestra, Marisa Cuomo, ‘Fiorduva’, Costa d’Amalfi, Campania 2009

Reds by the glass

Nebbiolo, Marchesi di Barolo, Barolo, Piemonte 2006
Chiavanesca, Nino Negri, ‘Sfursat’, Valtellina, Lombardia 2007
Gropello, Zuliani, Garda Classico, Lombardia 2007
Barbera/Bonarda, Castello di Luzzano, ‘Romeo’, Emilia-Romagna 2008
Merlot/Pinot Nero/Cabernet Sauvignon, Movia, ‘Veliko Rosso’, Goriska Brda, Slovenia 2004
Nebbiolo, Castello di Verduno, Barolo, Piemonte 2002

Whites by the Bottle

Riesling, Bollig-Lehnert, ‘Piesporter Goldtropfchen’, Spatlese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Germany 1989
Malvasia, Boncompagni Ludovisi Fiorano, ‘Botte 26’, Lazio 1994 /
‘Botte 32’, Lazio 1993 / ‘Botte 26’, Lazio 1988 / ‘Botte 25’, Lazio 1986

Reds by the Bottle

Nebbiolo, Bruno Giacosa, ‘Gallina di Neive’, Barbaresco, Piemonte 1995
Nebbiolo, Giuseppe Rinaldi, ‘Brunate’, Barolo, Piemonte 1998

2017-09-12T15:47:57-07:00November 5th, 2012|2012, Events, Happened already..., Italy, Wine Journal|0 Comments

More From Our Celebrated Piedmontese Chef and Chef Jonah

Street view of Osteria Lalibera in Alba, Italy

Street view of Osteria Lalibera in Alba, Italy

Friday, April 20, 2012
Chef Marco Forneris of Lalibera, Alba, and Chef Jonah Rhodehamel of Oliveto create a collaborative tasting menu of the Langhe — a dinner of nine samplings of essential flavors of the Piedmont.

Saturday, April 21, 2012
Produttori del Barbaresco’s Aldo Vacca will pair some of his most exceptional vintages with a tasting menu of Marco’s and Jonah’s Piedmontese menu. Piedmontese a la carte menu also available throughout the dining room.

As our event gets closer, and more ideas express themselves over the internet among the chefs (Pastry Chef Jenny Raven has joined Marco and Jonah with an opinion and query about the Piemontese bunet), a postable, but not-quite-ready-for-prime-time, menu is taking form. Added to the below menu will be the collaborative dishes Jonah and Marco come up with once Marco arrives.

(Preliminary) Menu may include:

      • Salad of asparagus and purple artichokes with hazelnuts and their oil
      • Sardine e gelato di “bagna cauda”
      • Tajarin al raout di coniglio
      • Gnudi with ragù of spring vegetables
      • Ravioli with wild herbs and ricotta
      • Ravioli di gallina nel suo brodo ristretto
      • Pan-roasted scallops with …
      • Roast local king salmon with..
      • Charcoal-grilled quail with…
      • Charcoal-grilled pigeon with…
      • Spit-roasted suckling pig with…
      • Charcoal-grilled beef ribeye with …
[Piedmont specialty contorni depending on what’s just come in from the farms]
  • Chocolate-hazelnut bunet
  • And here’s the e-mail Pastry Chef Jenny Raven sent:

    Ciao Marco,
    I am so glad to hear of your return to California! . . . I have recently been annoyed by all of the fusion-y takes on the Piemontese bunet al cioccolato that are currently trendy in San Francisco, and would love to serve a really authentic one while you are here. I ate a few in the region some years past, and do what I hope is an accurate version, but was wondering if you would honor me with your recipe for the dish.
    Jenny Raven, Pastry Chef

    Marco’s response:

    Ciao Jenny,
    I still remember very well our meeting in Oliveto, you with your child in your arms… I tried to dig deeply into the history of bunet and I’m pretty sure that this recipe is very close… I mean this Langa dessert was not very sweet and of course with a strong taste of hazelnut. I remember that my grandmother used to cook it in the bain-marie, finish it covered with foil and with hot ashes just to have the crispy top!!!! Wow, it was great-still soft and never dry!

    More about Chef Marco Forneris from Aldo Vacca:

    “Marco was born and raised in Borgo San Dalmazzo at the feet of the Piemonte Maritime Alps. He grew up as a young chef in the Langhe region. Both areas of Piemonte played an important part in shaping his personality and skills as a chef. He has deep knowledge of both products and recipes from the Alps (the herbs, beef, cheeses) and from the hillside (vegetables, truffles, small animals such as rabbit, chicken, pheasant, wine, olive oil, etc.).

    This wide and deep experience meets with his brilliant style, creative but not crazy, modern but with deep roots in tradition, with great knowledge and passion for the food and the wines of the region. His cooking reflects his personality, humble yet confident.

    I do believe that Lalibera, the restaurant that Marco opened 15 years ago, is still nowadays the best dining experience in Alba.”

    Friday, April 20, 2012:

    Piedmontese Tasting menu
    9-course $130
    5-course $88
    Great vintage Produttori del Barbaresco wines by the glass, 1/2 glass, & bottle

    Saturday, April 21, 2012:

    9-course tasting menu paired with Produttori del Barbaresco vintages

    from ’79, ’85, ’90, ’95, ’99, ‘2001


    á la carte Piedmontese menu

    Please join us!

    call 510-547-5356

    or reserve online

    Announcing Two Evenings with Two Very Special Guests from Piedmont

    Friday, April 20, 2012:

    Chef Marco Forneris of Lalibera, Alba, and Chef Jonah Rhodehamel of Oliveto will join forces to create a tasting menu of the Langhe — a dinner of nine samplings of essential flavors of the Piedmont.

    Saturday, April 21, 2012:

    Produttori del Barbaresco’s Aldo Vacca will pair some of his most exceptional vintages with a tasting menu of Marco’s and Jonah’s collaborative Piedmontese menu.

    Marco Forneris

    Marco Forneris

    For the past decade-and-a-half, after asking any winemaker (or local with the usual piedmontese passion for food and wine), “Which restaurants should I absolutely not miss for a true and exceptional Piedmont experience?” visitors to the Piedmont would first be directed to Marco Forneris‘s La Libera in the city of Alba. We are delighted to announce that Chef Forneris will be our guest, cooking two collaborative dinners in the Oliveto kitchen, in just a few weeks.

    A gastronome and friend of Marco’s described him thus: “Marco Forneris is the best chef I’ve ever known . . . and I met him when he was my next door neighbor in Tetto Valentino Trombetto, Borgo San Dalmazzo

    [at the foot of the Maritime Alps]. He was 8 years old and already had a passion for the kitchen.”

    About the menu

    Oliveto Chef Jonah Rhodehamel’s preliminary e-mail and menu suggestions from Marco read thus:

    Ciao Jonah, I was thinking to do a Peperoni-alici fresche or sardines e gelato di “Bagna Cauda-like starter. About the salad we can play with artichokes, asparagus and some radish, hazelnut and hazelnut oil. For the pasta I was thinking Tajarin al raout di coniglio or a filled pasta that could be Ravioli di gallina nel suo brodo ristretto. The meat course probably a maialino arrostito con cime di rapa. What we need is a suckling pig. We could also make a starter of Merluzzo in sfogliata di patate con crema di acciughe with cod preserved and potatoes. Tell me your thoughts Jonah. Marco

    Winemaker Aldo Vacca says Marco’s “wide and deep experience” meet “with his brilliant style, creative but not crazy, modern but with deep roots in tradition, with great knowledge and passion for the food and the wines of the region.”

    Our relationship with Marco began when Oliveto co-owner Bob Klein discovered La Libera; he has since spent many evenings there over the years. Chef Jonah first met Marco in the chilly, rainy days of early spring 2011, and started planning this April’s visit at the end of last year. The two chefs are excited about the idea of two prix fixe tasting menus: “a nine-course menu of some of Marco’s favorite dishes, and an abbreviated five-course version for the evening of the 20th of April. (April 21st will be Aldo’s event, where he’ll host a multi-course dinner created by Jonah and Marco to be paired with exceptional wine vintages. More about that event and Aldo Vacca in the next posting.)

    As the menu-making process has just begun, with many choices dependent on what comes to market in the next few weeks, Jonah’s response to Marco’s e-mail and further details will be revealed in our next posting on this once-in-a-lifetime event.

    Chef Marco Forneris, Chef Jonah Rhodehamel, and Aldo Vacca collaboration:

    Friday, April 20, 2012:

    Piedmontese Tasting menu
    9-course $130
    5-course $88
    Great vintage Produttori del Barbaresco wines by the glass, 1/2 glass, & bottle

    Saturday, April 21, 2012:

    9-course tasting menu paired with Produttori del Barbaresco vintages

    from ’79, ’85, ’90, ’95, ’99, ‘2001


    à la carte Piedmontese menu

    Please join us!

    call 510-547-5356

    or reserve online

    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

    Sicilian Wine Tasting with author Robert Camuto

    Thursday, March 24th

    7:00 pm Robert Camuto discusses Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey at Mrs. Dalloway’s 8:30 pm book signingand& wine tasting in the Oliveto Cafe

    Wines offered by the glass will include: *Etna Bianco(Carricante and other indigenous varieties), “Outis,” Biondi, Sicily 2009 *Ceresuolo di Vittoria Classico (Nero d’Avola-Frappato), “Pithos”, COS, Sicily 2008 *Nero d’Avola, “Schiave,”Cantina Riofavara, Sicily 2007 (thank you, Kermit Lynch!) and may include others….

    Sicily has become the Italian wine region to watch, and for good reason. The island has a huge range of wines, delicate and complex reds and whites from Mt. Etna on the east coast, robust and earthy Nero d’Avola in the south, and rich whites, both sweet and dry in the west.

    We’ll be tasting some of these wines and helping to celebrate the the publication of Palmento: Ascilian Wine Odyssey by Robert Camuto.

    Palmento is a beautifully written travelogue of Camuto’s time spent on the island meeting winemakers, each providing a different look at life in Sicily.  In years past, Sicilian winemakers favored quantity over quality, and the wines produced were more industrialized. Today’s Sicilian winemakers seek to make wines of place, wines with their own specific identity.  Camuto’s book focuses on a dozen winemakers; my favorites include Guisto Occhipinti, Frank Cornelissen, Salvo Foti, and Alberto Graci.  All four of these men make wine in a more natural and traditional-style; they favor old techniques and use fewer machines.  Most of all, these winemakers are connected to the land, connected to Sicily.  Please join us as we taste and discuss some of these wines in the company of Robert Camuto.

    Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey is available for sale at Mrs. Dalloway’s on College Avenue in Berkeley. Robert Camuto will be reading at Mrs. Dalloway’s, Thursday March 24, 2011 at 7:00pm.

    If you cannot attend the reading but would like to taste the wines, all are welcome at Cafe Oliveto.

    Robert Camuto discusses Palmento: A Sicilian Wine Odyssey (At Table) (Univ. of Nebraska, $24.95). Inspired by a deep passion for wine, an Italian heritage, and a desire for a land somewhat wilder than his home in southern France, Robert Camuto set out to explore Sicily ‘s emerging wine scene. What he discovered during more than a year of traveling the region, however, was far more than a fascinating wine frontier. Chronicling his journey through Palermo to Marsala, and across the rugged interior of Sicily to the heights of Mount Etna, Camuto captures the personalities and flavors and the traditions and natural riches that have made Italy’s largest and oldest wine region the world traveler ‘s newest discovery. In the island’ s vastly different wines he finds an expression of humanity and nature and the space where the two merge into something more.

    Randall Grahm Is On A Mission

    I would suggest that greatness in wine may well come from a human being’s accidentally discovering a uniquely special site and having the wit to try not to guide things overmuch, and to be strong enough to allow Nature to do Her thing. Perhaps the point may be that if terroir’s signal is strong enough, the particular grape variety or varieties grown in a vineyard—assuming they are mas o menoswithin range of suitability—just might not matter so much, or even at all.” — Randall Grahm

    2017-09-12T15:48:33-07:00November 1st, 2010|California, Wine Journal, Wine Makers|0 Comments

    Dinners for Grifalco Wine

    November 11 and November 12

    Thursday, November 11, winemaker Cecilia Naldoni from Grifalco in the Monte Vulture region of Basilicata will be at Oliveto for a private winemaker dinner. Chef Paul Canales will prepare a four-course menu inspired by Basilicata and perfect for Aglianico pairings.  Thursday’s dinner in the Siena room will allow for Cecilia to discuss her wines with a small group of guests. Please call (510) 547-5356 for pricing and reservations.

    The following day, Friday November 12, Cecilia will be in the general dining room floating to chat tableside with interested guests who would like to know more about her wines, the region of Basilicata and her choice to migrate from Tuscany to the South of Italy.  We will be serving our regular a la carte dinner menu and have a number of Grifalco wines available by the glass.  Please call or reserve online.

    Available wines include:

    2006 Gricos, consisting of fruit from all four vineyards, half of the wine seeing slovenian oak, the other half in stainless steel. The grapes from each vineyard are always kept separate and blended at maturity.

    2004 and 2007 Grifalco, uses grapes from each of the four growing sites, a fifth of the wine spends twelve months in tonneau and barrique, all spends four months in bottle before release.

    2005 and 2007 Damaschito, the least produced style, 4000 bottles a year, this is a single vineyard aglianico, using grapes from their best vineyard. The vines in the maschito vineyard are all over 30 years old, grown at high altitude on a windy plateau of clay and volcanic soil.

    2005 and 2006 Bosco del Falco, this wine is made from fruit hand-harvested from the oldest (thirty plus years) vines in each of the four vineyards. Like Gricos and Grifalco, the fruit from each site is kept separate, Cecilia’s husband Fabrizio does this to ensure that proper oak treatment is used for the particular characteristics of each site. Bosco del Falco is aged 18 months in large oak barrels (25-50 hectoliters) then spends a year in bottle.


    Basilicata is one of Italy’s least known or visited regions, however it is not overlooked for lack of culture. Located at the instep of the boot, surrounded by Campania to the north, Puglia to the east, and Calabria to the southwest. The region has never been of notable wealth and the predominant source of income for Basilicata has always been agricultural production. Wheat is still grown over much of the region and eaten regularly. The best know and most enjoyed foods are based on those eaten by the peasant class. Common vegetables are broccoli rabe, bitter chicories, eggplant, and most of all peppers. Meat is mostly pork, including the cured sausages, sopressata and salsiccia. Lamb is also eaten, and many locals believe it is best served with the locally grown Aglianico. For a long time Aglianico produced in Basilicata was harsh and difficult to drink. It’s acids and tannins were too rough. Until recently, Aglianico was not seen as capable of greatness, often vines were torn out and replaced with wheat. Much has changed in the past 15 years, Aglianico is now somewhat well known and sought-after, but this shift is owed to winemakers like Fabrizio and Cecilia Piccin of Grifalco who saw the potential in Aglianico grown on Monte Vulture.

    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
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