Winery Spotlight: Biale

Aldo Answers The Call.

“Hello Aldo, this is Giovanni. I’m fine, thank you. Per favore,
when you come by on Friday bring me some tomatoes, a pound of
walnuts two dozen eggs and a Black Chicken… Prego.”

And thus went one of the hundreds of phone orders to the rural farmhouse in north Napa during the 40’s and ‘50’s. In 1942, Aldo Biale and his mother Christina were left to run the family farm in Napa after Pietro Biale died in an industrial accident. To make a little extra money during those lean years, teenaged Aldo began making barrels of Zinfandel from which he would bottle wine for his family and friends in need of good table wine. The Biale’s home phone was on a party line where nosy neighbors could listen in on calls, so in order to maintain privacy, he instituted the codename “Black Chicken” for his wine. This system of phone call orders for produce, eggs and “Black Chicken’s” lasted for decades and even Aldo’s immigrant bride, Clementina, wasn’t in on the code for years.

Today, Aldo is no longer with us having passed in 2009, but his memory and the legend of Black Chicken lives on with his old punch down stick and a picker’s box gracing the new Food and Wine exhibition at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C. This new 2012 may very well be acclaimed by its loyal followers as “the best chicken yet” – we certainly think it flies among our best efforts.

2012 Robert Biale ‘Black Chicken’ Zinfandel, Napa Valley

Wine Spectrum Rated: 96 points

Big flavors of mixed warm berries black cherries round tannins mulling spices and a touch of pepper and toasty vanilla. A comforting sipper on its own this fantastic classic also pairs wonderfully with smokey barbecue burgers, pizza or hearty pasta. For added softness and aromatics stash a few bottles in a cool cellar for 5-8 years.

This extremely special (and fully legal) Zinfandel from the Biale Family and nearby vineyards is still bottled in memory of the old days, and particularly in the loving memory of Aldo Biale.

Winemaking: The fruit was hand-sorted first in the field then again at the winery. Open-top fermentation and punched down three times per day. Pressed to Burgundian oak – 20% new. Aged 14 months.

Learn more about the ‘Black Chicken’ story from Owner Robert Biale.


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