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On a late Summer Sunday afternoon we began a leisurely gastronomic extravaganza to celebrate Alexia's 39th Birthday (for the 24th time!).


We had assembled some nibbles to start...


Henry opened the magnum of Ruelle Pertois Champagne...


This was delightfully dry and beautifully acidic...Just what Champagne made for an adult palate should be!


We hoisted our glasses and toasted to Alexia's good health!


Meanwhile, we had some shrimps on the barbie...


Brian took care of opening the white wines to pair with the first course.


Ellen grew some nice haricots of different colors and she provided some nice tomatoes for our salad starter.
Mache, mixed greens, a tiny bit of fresh corn, Ellen's little string beans, tomatoes and some locally smoked duck.


The 2006 Smith Haut Lafitte was stellar...nicely herbal and beautifully focused on the Sauvignon Blanc portion of the blend.  It had a touch of toasty oak and spice, too.
Vincent Ricard's peachy 2010 Touraine under his "?" label was also very good, if a tad simpler and perhaps a slightly less "noble" wine.  Still, it was enjoyable and paired well with the salad.




Alexia was well-toasted!

Bob, meanwhile, found something artistic and worthy of photographing.


The Granite of Garnacha was a delightful palate refresher...



We procured these little lamb "T-bones" from Olivier's up in San Francisco early Sunday morning.
They were seasoned with a finely ground "Herbes de Provence" rub with some freshly minced garlic.


Ready to serve!


Ellen is not a fan of red meat, so we had something for her...


We also hosted a young Zombie.

...at least, he appears to be a Zombie.


Alexia brought two bottles of well-aged Cabernet for the celebration.


The 1980 vintage was a fairly hot vintage, but I don't recall it garnering huge praise from the critics in its youth.

Both of these bottles were in good condition and better than expected.

The Mount Veeder was "just right," showing nice balance, moderate tannins and a measure of elegance.  The Caymus had some dark fruit notes and it was still a fairly tannic and rather severe Cabernet.  It may continue to soften with time, but its level of fruit is not likely to match the tannins over an extended time period.

Once again, glasses were hoisted...



Two different Gros Frere et Soeur Burgundies.

2008 Echezeaux--beautifully smoky, mildly meaty...a really top, fine example of Burgundy.

The 2009 Vosne-Romanee was quite good, though slightly over-shadowed by the more complex and noble Echezeaux.  Still, it was very good...we're simply just spoiled!


For dessert, we had a nice German sweet wine...

A 1979 Pfeffingen Scheurebe Auslese...Golden in color, but still fruity and bright on the nose and palate.

From Burlingame's wonderful "The Cakery":




Toohey The Smurf supervised the evening's festivities and approved of all the vittles and vino.


Everyone headed for home at a most sensible hour...



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