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FOOD, WINE & FRIENDS PAGE 179


AN INFORMAL EVENING
AVEC
SOPHIE & JEAN-MARC AUTRAN


The local BART station had an interesting sign posted as I waited for the train...

 

The evening began with a few flutes of bubbly...


Monsieur Gary Marcaletti trades a glass of Lancelot Pienne's Cuvee Perceval for a "Merci."

Our host this evening was the famous wine guy, Charles Neal.

 

Charles baked some Gougères to accompany the Champagne.

 


JJ and Jean-Marc Autran.

 


Jean Marc & Mumu


Sophie brought out some plates of Chef Charles' mushroom starters...


"Judge Jon" Bates


Mulan

The main course...

Some sort of braised pork dish...a nice accompaniment to the various Grenache-based red wines of the Piaugier estate.

 

 

Sophie showed everyone a map of their home territory and where some of their vineyard sites are located.


Les Briguières, a delicious Sablet made of Grenache and Mourvèdre.


Each of these wines was excellent...the Gigondas having a lot of 'soul.'  Nice fruit, some brushy and earthy notes, spice and a woodsy undertone...


A peppery Mourvèdre from Monterey...


The 1970 Mirassou Cabernet was an extremely vegetal wine when it was a youngster and it's still a bit herbal today.  It was from young vines planted in Monterey and this proved to be a difficult region to cultivate Cabernet Sauvignon.


Charles Neal tries to explain his taste in "music" albums and CDs, but most of the sensible people in the room still think there's something wrong with the sound system.

We had a Mystery Red...

...most of the people correctly identified the planet of origin.

 


Mulan was curious to know what was 'wrong' with the CD player...



"The music sounds better if you close your eyes." Charles explained.

A few of us did not buy into this notion.

What DID sound good was the offer to taste a special bottling from the Piaugier estate...

Le Rêve de Marine, a wine made entirely of Syrah...
Very impressive, too.


Jon Bates did not want to be the first at the table to cut the cheese.


Gary and Julia brought a 1999 Colgin Cabernet...nice wine...developed and showing a bit of cassis and cedary oak...



Jon registered a look of shock and disbelief when he noticed Charles Neal on the album cover of "Saturday Night Fever" (above his head)...

JJ reached for the old bottle of Vouvray, while Charles started singing old Bee Gee's tunes.

JJ finally was brandishing a knife in hopes of coercing Charles to stop singing.


This bottle of 2004 Salvatore Molettieri Taurasi was showing beautifully...Mildly tannic and nicely woodsy...



After Charles played the record depicted above, he put on some real music...!!!

.....finally.
"CHARLES NEAL & THE WINE-ETTES" album:
SOIRÉE PIAUGIER


Julia and Sophie discussed album cover art and Charles' lack of taste in tunes.

Having forced people to listen to such curious tunes, Charles pulled out a nice bottle of "Ondenc" to say "Thanks for putting up with the sounds..."

Charles then shared a taste of the Camut Brother's fantastically fine Calvados "Rareté."


Only a few bottles are sold annually, so it's best to be a friend of the family.


JJ and the Calvados...

 

Meanwhile, the next day we saw a woman walking around in downtown San Francisco...

And driving down Van Ness Avenue, we saw a Mercedes with this license plate:

On my ride into San Francisco, I noticed this cool billboard...

 

This fellow was roaming the streets near Union Square in downtown San Francisco...

Clearly this guy is a Charles Neal Selections' customer!

In a neighborhood dining establishment...


Thanks to Charles for hosting a lovely evening and to Sophie & Jean-Marc for their visit to San Francisco!


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