February 20, 2021
By Bruce Neyers
Mike Sangiacomo looking southwest at the start of a row of the Roberts Road Pinot Noir block. This one-acre parcel of vines is planted to non-clonal budwood brought to the US by Joe Swan in the mid-1960s.
Barbara and I found ourselves last week with the manager of a local bank working on a personal matter. After clearing up the details, he handed me a copy of his business card. His name was long and complicated, and as I was about to ask his nationality, he sensed my curiosity, and advised us that he was Thai. We ate at a Thai restaurant regularly when we lived in Chuncheon, South Korea, I remarked, and we’ve both loved Thai food ever since. We chatted for a few more minutes, and I asked him where he liked to go for Thai food.
He began to list some restaurants he thought we’d enjoy. He mentioned that while the best of them were in San Francisco and Berkeley, his favorite was Thai Kitchen, a family owned spot in Calistoga. Be sure to get extra chiles, he advised. He jotted down a handful of his favorite dishes, and we left.
I suspected that it wouldn’t take Barbara long to start looking into it. Before we had backed out of our parking space, she had them on the phone. She reported that while they were open, it was only for takeout. Calistoga is only 15 to 20 minutes away, though, and since it was Friday, we could easily drive up there after work, pick up some food, and dine at home. I suggested she call our daughter Lizzie – her husband is a firefighter so she’s often home alone with their young son when he works an overnight shift. She loves Thai Kitchen, and immediately told us what to order for her.
A classic dish in any Thai restaurant, charcoal grilled Chicken Satay is a mainstay of the cuisine. Served with a spicy peanut sauce, the version at Thai Kitchen is also accompanied by pickled cucumber in red-Chile and oil vinaigrette.
When we arrived we were treated like royalty. We wanted to try everything that looked like an old favorite, and half an hour or so later we left with three shopping bags full of food. We arrived home and Barbara set the table in the dining room. It looked like the reception following a Thai wedding.
What to drink didn’t require much thought, as I always prefer red Burgundy and Pinot Noir with spicy food, and this meal promised to be spicy. I selected a bottle of our 2017 Pinot Noir ‘Roberts Road’, a wine we made from grapes grown on the Sangiacomo family’s Petaluma Gap AVA property near Adobe Road in the Sonoma Coast. I think it’s one of the best bottlings of Pinot Noir that Tadeo has made, and would be ideal alongside another favorite, the 2017 Bourgogne Rouge ‘La Digoine’ from A&P deVillaine.
Aubert deVillaine is perhaps the most consequential figure in Burgundy today, as the co-owner and manager of Domaine de la Romanée-Conti. The red and white wines he makes with his American-born wife Pamela at his beautiful property in the Côte Chalonnaise south of Chagny are the sort of wines that turn the wheels in Burgundy – red or white, they’re all brilliant. Opening a bottle of Aubert’s wine with one of mine, then serving both with a dazzling assortment of classic Thai dishes seemed like the perfect way to finish the week. It was.
I can’t tell you how you might go about acquiring some of the A & P deVillaine wines, as the production is small, and what Kermit gets sells out quickly. Still, most stores in the fine-wine business can special order some if you’re interested. There may even be some available at Kermit’s Berkeley store, so call for information. They are wines well worth the search. We are now sold out of the 2017 Neyers Vineyards Pinot Noir ‘Roberts Road’, but we just released the 2018 vintage, which is every bit as good. Give it a try, and if you have a Thai food take-out location nearby, be sure to include them in your evening.
Looking to the southwest down the gentle slopes of the Sangiacomo Family Pinot Noir Vineyard at Roberts Road in the Petaluma Gap AVA