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Food, Wine & Friends Page 161

A DINNER FOR
AMÉLIE COUILLAUD
March 5, 2009

We had not seen Amélie in years!  She was a kid when she visited with her parents many years ago.
Now, she's grown up, married, has three kids and is taking over the family winery, Château de la Ragotiere.

We began with a bottle of L'Ermitage 2002 from the Roederer Estate in Mendocino's Anderson Valley.

Emmanuel Lemoine took care of opening and pouring the bubbly.

We had a small assortment of "nibbles" ready to pair with the sparkling wine.

At the dinner table we began with a small salad of asparagus and some La Quercia Pancetta.

Many people contend the "Pinot Blanc" of California is, in fact, the Melon de Bourgogne, the same grape as in Muscadet.
Wilkes contends its wine is, in fact, le vrai Pinot Blanc and not Melon.
In any event, this was a nice, light, crisp white and it paired well with the starter.


Emmanuel Lemoine, Vineyard Brands main man in Northern California.

We had intended to pair the crab cakes with an Ojai Sauvignon Blanc, but changed course when Amélie brought out a bottle of 1959 vintage Muscadet!

Quel surprise!


Jonathan was impressed to taste a wine nearly as old as he!


The wine was remarkable.  It was still alive and kicking!  The color was moderately yellow, but far from brown or brassy.
The nose offered a nicely yeasty, smoky quality from its time on the spent yeast.  After it warmed up in the glass, I described it as having the minerality of a Chablis with a nicely yeasty tone.

Next we had a little palate cleanser...an ice made of a fantastic Gamay Noir from Knights Valley.


Lucy Tolmach

We then decanted two bottles of Dunn Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon.
The 1998 and 1988.

And the main course was served...


Braised Lamb Shanks...


Lucy offers the bowl of Umbrian Lentils.

The 1998 was a much-maligned year for Napa Valley Cabernet and yet, when tasting this wine, now ten+ years old, you wouldn't know it was a "difficult" vintage.  The wine was gorgeous--nicely balanced and quite complex.  It showed some red fruit notes and a touch of tobacco...very fine.

The 1988 was older and a bit coarse.  Despite being 20 years old, the 1988 Howell Mountain still had a mildly aggressive tannic "bite" to it.  With the lamb, though, the wine was better and quite drinkable.

Next was an assortment of cheeses...Laura Chenel, Cowgirl Creamery, Cypress Grove's "Humboldt Fog," etc.  We wanted to show Amélie some artisan cheeses from the Left Coast.



I snuck in a German Mushroom Brie and Jonathan brought a Piemontese cheese he wanted to try.

We served a W.H. Smith 2006 Maritime Pinot Noir with these cheeses.  It was an exceptionally good Pinot Noir which had echoes of "Burgundy" all throughout the cheese course.
The bottle was drained, too, testimony to the quality of the wine!

Dessert was made by Lucy and Jonathan...


The Topaz sweet wine was stellar...honeyed and rich, yet still able to cleanse the palate.
The berry pie was a "taste of summer."

Emmanuel brought a box of Ghirardelli chocolates...


And now it was midnight...well past my bedtime...
With that we bid one and all a fond farewell!

Amélie was especially proud of her new chapeau.


Thanks to Lucy and Jonathan for the spectacular dessert and homemade baguettes...

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