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Satisfying Saturdays
Angelo's Wine Country Deli

 87 ANGELO’S WINE COUNTRY DELI 23400 Arnold Drive CA121, Sonoma, CA 95476 GOOD VALUE


By Stephen Eliot

I first discovered Angelo's Wine Country Deli nearly twenty years ago, in my early days as wine instructor for the San Francisco's California Culinary Academy. I would periodically take busloads of my student chefs off for a day in the wine country, and a good many of these outings were hosted by the Carneros Quality Alliance which would conduct in-depth vineyard seminars and winery visits for my students. On one of our initial visits, the director of the CQA said that they would provide lunch and we were to drop by Angelo's and pick up said lunch on our way, and thus began a decades-long love affair with the place. The unassuming Angelo's is located on California Highway 121 just south of the town of Sonoma and right across the street from the sparkling wine cellars of Gloria Ferrer.

It would easy to miss but for the large plastic cow sitting atop its roof, but this a stop well worth making. Angelo is the self-styled “smoke king” of Sonoma, and his generous smoked- turkey sandwiches slathered with proprietary garlicky mustard remain one of the best quick wine-country lunches around. Beyond the usual deli fare of sandwiches and salads, all of which get enthusiastic thumbs-up endorsement, the real stars of the place are Angelo’s house-made sausages and what has got to be the finest beef jerky we have ever tasted. On any given day, you can find up to 18 different sausages, all of which are laced with plenty of garlic. The Smoked Linguisa and Smoked Hot Itailan are special favorites, and the Smoked Portuguese Hawaiian is not to be missed. There are 8 varieties of beef jerky on the list, and Angelo is particularly proud of the “VIP” recipe. Further specialities include sauces and salsas and a marvelous BBQ rub, all made by Angelo and only available here. The place is as informal as informal gets with a couple of picnic tables located outside the front door should you want to eat there. Whether hungry or not, we find time to drop by whenever we are in the neighborhood, and inevitably head home with bags of sausages, sauces, jerky and smoked meats to tide us over until our return.


It is an odd twist that the most priceworthy of the so-called “aromatic” white wines is Riesling, when, for our money, it is also the most interesting of those grapes (think also of Chenin Blanc, Gewürztraminer and Pinot Gris among current U. S. grown wines and also of Albarino, Arneis, Torrontes and Tocai Friulano/Sauvignon Vert among varieties less often seen here). Riesling comes with the fragrances of flowers and white peaches and when well-made, has bristling acidity, often offset by moderate to boldly evident amounts of residual sugar. But like Champages and good sparkling wines, when that acidity and sweetness are blended harmoniously, the wine is in good balance and can be very likeable. In our recent look at Rieslings from across the United States, including lots from the Northwest as well as wines from Michigan’s Old Mission Peninsula and New York’s Finger Lakes region, the absolute standouts for value among a long list of values were the siblings that follow. Either vintage will suit just fine, and we often find the wines discounted locally nearer to $6.00 than to their listed retail price.

88 COLUMBIA CREST Two Vines Riesling Washington State 2009 $8.00
It is said that good things come in threes, and for the third year in a row, Columbia Crest's "Two Vine" Riesling delivers lots of bright and buoyant fruit with near-perfect balance between its medium sugars and cleansing acidity. That it does so at an out-and-out bargain price makes this good thing even better, and, it is certain to stay fresh and alive for two or three years. GOOD VALUE

88 COLUMBIA CREST Two Vines Riesling Washington State 2008 $8.00
The last vintage of Two Vines Riesling was one of the year's big surprises, and Columbia Crest has hit the mark for both quality and outstanding value once again. A fresh and buoyant wine of evident sweetness, it is far more about bright, Riesling-like fruit than it is about sugar, and, as easy as it is to taste now, it is so nicely constructed that it will keep well for several years should you elect to buy it by the case. GOOD VALUE

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