Robert Biale Vineyards of the Napa Valley We are starting off 2022 with the “Killer Bees” – Buon Appetito and Biale.

We have never featured Robert Biale Vineyards before, but we (Gail and I) have admired their Zinfandels for years. Biale is rather unusual among Napa Valley wineries in that they feature Zinfandel and Petite Sirah rather than Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot. The reason for this is the Zinfandel and Petite Sirah plantings were there before Napa became known for Bordeaux varieties.

To contrast with the undiscovered country of Biale, we have the warm familiarity of Buon Appetito. Martino and his staff always treat us well, and the menu reflects that. Upon reviewing the menu, you might wonder why we chose the Italian Crème Brule (Crema Cotta) rather than the Chocolate Souffle to pair with the Petite Sirah Dessert wine. The reason is eggs. Eggs are the heart of the Crema Cotta and what is now Robert Biale Vineyards started out as a poultry farm.
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Milliare Winery of Calaveras County Spring Greetings Fellow Diablo Wine Tasters

For our April dinner, we will be featuring the wines of Milliaire Winery. Milliaire is located in Calaveras County, and many of the wines we will be featuring will be from either the Calaveras County AVA or the down-river Mokelumne River AVA. We have been trying to persuade Steve Millier to be our featured winery for a while, and he finally agreed in 2020 – and then the pandemic hit.  Steve Millier did help coordinate the wines for the Calaveras County Wine Association when we did our dinner with them back in November 1995.

We are returning to Buon Appetito to enjoy some of our favorites like Gnocchi con Salmone and Osso Buco di Angnello, mixed with some dishes I don’t believe we have had before like Pennette alla Vodka and Involtini di Melanzane alla Modonese.
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May Salutations! CANCELLED

Unlike our first two dinners of the year which featured wineries we had not featured before, for May we will be bringing back an old favorite. Sobon Estate was our featured winery in January 1997 and in April 2010, and also a stop on both of our Amador County trips. Sobon Estate was established on the site of the former D’Agostini Winery, which in turn was previously the Uhlinger Winery, established in 1856, making it the oldest continuously operated winery in California. Sobon Estate has been known for their Zinfandel for years and has added Rhone varietals to their portfolio.

For this dinner, Sobon Estate sent us a dozen bottles, and Martino prepared several sample courses for us to try. For the first course, he prepared the Calamari steak and a seafood risotto. The assembled group (Joyce & Dan Jones, Karen & Keith Kato, Peter Mierau and I) tried three wines with those dishes and concluded that the best combination was their Rosé and Sauvignon Blanc with the Calamari steak. (Their Viognier just didn't work as well.) Similarly, with the third course we tried both the Lasagna and the Penne Bolognese to go with either the Barbera or the ReZerve Zinfandel. We decided we couldn’t leave out either wine, and that both went better with the Bolognese. You might also notice the ultra-rare occurrence of two (yes, two) dessert wines.
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Copia Vineyards of Paso Robles at Massimo's Under the light of a June moon...

June brings a new winery and a new venue.  The winery is Copia Vineyards, a Paso Robles based Rhone variety specialist. I “met” Copia’s Owner & Winemaker Varinder Sahi, on Facebook.  I suggested that he could come up from the Central Coast and familiarize our group with his wines. Once we came up with a date, Owner & General Manager Anita Sahi, took over the planning aspects of the dinner. We (Gail and I) visited Copia’s Downtown Paso Robles tasting room for a private tasting, and thoroughly enjoyed their offerings. Most of the grapes for their wines are from Paso Robles or from the nearby, but cooler, Edna Valley.

Karen and Keith Kato are the first members to take advantage of bonus points for suggesting a new restaurant when they suggested Massimo’s Restaurant in Fremont.  Massimo’s former Executive Chef, and current Special Events Chef, Frank Regaldo, has come up with some excellent wine and food pairings. Due to the unfamiliarity of how our dinners work, Massimo’s has limited the amount of attendees this time around, so send in your reservations early.

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C'era una Volta at Urban Legend Cellars

Summertime, and the living is easy . . .

For July, we are doing something we haven’t done in quite a while. We are having dinner at the featured winery, catered by a restaurant. In this instance, Cheryl at C’era una Volta suggested that we contact Urban Legend Cellars, so we did. Thus, our dinner will be at Urban Legend, and it will be outside (so think layers).

The dinner will be catered by C’era una Volta.  Because C’era una Volta is inherently Italian, Marilee at Urban Legend has paired Rudy’s offerings with Italian varietal wines which are described on Urban Legend’s website as follows:

Leggera; Urban Legend thrives on bubbles—crisp, scintillating wines that pop. We love creating wines with fizz, but that’s all about the stars coming right—the right grapes, the right color, the right flavor. Maybe finding those grapes was a myth.  2020 brought it all together with a Barbera harvest that was lighter and crisper but, while delicate, was beautifully fruity. Leggera—”light” in Italian—is just the trick, we think, to start your own myth. Don’t be led astray by its light, almost ghostly, shade of pink. Its ultra-premium Barbera grapes don’t give up their secrets—or color. Leggera does, however, issue a siren’s call with each glittery, strawberry sip.

Vermentino; We love all things Italian: motorcycles (a due Ducati family), cars (loved that Alfa, even if it was always wanting tuned), and, of course, wine. In that vein, Vermentino is a fabulous addition to the UL family. If Vermentino was an automobile, it would undoubtedly be a sleek, white exotic, angular, but with curves enough that it was never austere or edgy, but still classically beautiful. Originally from Sardinia and Liguria, the French love it, too, with growing interest in Languedoc and Roussillon. In the glass, Vermentino is full of zippy mineral and citrus notes: lemon zest, wet granite, and a squeeze of grapefruit. While light, crisp, and always refreshing, it never lacks complexity with finishing notes of stone fruit, fresh almond, and salinity.

Barbera (Cooper Vineyard); If there’s a “Godfather” of Barbera, it’s Dick Cooper. The Cooper ranches grow some of the best around, and it makes deep, dark, mouth-watering wine. We had a Cooper-grown Barbera shortly after making our first wines and knew that we absolutely had to have some of his fruit. Of course, all his Barbera was contracted for. Unobtainium. So, when we received a call from Dick’s daughter, Chrissy, (like all good Godfathers, he’s surrounded by family) that Barbera was available, we jumped on it like an offer we couldn’t refuse. This Barbera is loaded with cherry and cassis aromas with a sprinkling of clove. In the mouth it’s full of darker cherry and cola flavors with nutmeg on the finish. Flavors are deepening as the wine bottle ages; with firm acidity and moderate tannin, it just keeps improving with time.

Teroldego; Deep and dark – that’s Teroldego (teh-RAWL-deh-go) in a nutshell. Blackberries. Black raspberries. Black figs and a sprinkle of black pepper. You get the picture. In the glass, it’s the deepest purple around, and it’ll stain your teeth almost as fast as it will win over your palate. If you inhale deeply, you’ll get a whiff of lavender and, maybe, a bit of thyme to follow. Take a sip. Rich dark fruit flavors finish with nice hints of minerality that aren’t too intense. And there’s plenty of tannin to give it a smooth and supple mouthfeel.

Aglow Late Harvest White; The best pairing for this wine may just be good friends and a warm fire. When you're sipping spiced honey and flowers, that's enough said. Aglow is all about ripe fruit in all its lush glory—with an edge. Deep, ripe apricots and tangerines with silky drizzled honey is its essence. However, we fermented this wine on its skins—just like a red. So called “orange” wines have a beautiful golden glow and amazing flavor complexity. Think spice cake in a glass. This is NOT your Great Aunt Tilly's cordial.

Reminder of the new incentives for 2022: Please help us out with these.

  • As much as we love Martino et al, we would prefer a core group of restaurants. So, instead of one Diablo Point. We are upping it to five Diablo Points. Please send me the name of the restaurant and the email for the contact person that you have previously discussed our group with.
  • To encourage an increase in membership, we are also increasing the Diablo Points for new members from three to five. Also, if you re-indoctrinate a member(-ship) who has not been to a dinner for more than four years, you and the members that renew split four Diablo Points. If the former member rejoins of their own volition, they receive the whole four Diablo points.

Covid Protocols 2022 – All Attendees, Members, guests and speakers, will be required to show proof of vaccination and booster before entry. There will be no refunds. If you are a member, you only have to show your proof of vaccination once.

Please click here to download the menu
Hook & Ladder of Sonoma County End of an era!  Final Diablo Wine Tasters dinner!

John and Gail Engstrom have decided to move out of state so this will be the final dinner for Diablo Wine Tasters. It has been twenty eight years of wonderful friends, wine, food and memories. We would prefer to go out with a bang, so invite all current and former members to join us.

For September we will be featuring Hook & Ladder Winery. Hook & Ladder has vineyards in both Russian River (where the winery is located) and in the warmer Chalk Hill AVA. So Hook & Ladder vineyards grows Pinot Noir and Chardonnay in Russian River, and Bordeaux varieties, like Cabernet Sauvignon and Cabernet Franc, in Chalk Hill

Chef Martino has come up with a couple of new dishes which we have integrated with some tried and true ones for this dinner.

Covid Protocols 2022 – All Attendees, Members, guests and speakers, will be required to show proof of vaccination and booster before entry. There will be no refunds. If you are a member, you only have to show your proof of vaccination once.

Please click here to download the menu