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Food, Wine & Friends Page 259

Connie, Mark & Chewie opened the doors to Chateau O'Poon on a Sunday in May to celebrate the birthdays of Kareasa, Brian and Mark.


We had some crudités amongst the offerings for "nibbles."

Connie prepared a tapenade...

...which caught me by surprise....It was made of figs!


Chef Constance

Meanwhile, we brought a new little shirt for Chewie.  
And he was happy to show off his new duds.


Yes...he's a fan of the Milwaukee Brewers Baseball Team.

Meanwhile, the table was set and waiting for people to sit down and roll up their sleeves.

Kareasa opened the first bottle of Champagne, a Charles Vercy Brut.

Apparently this is a wine made at a grower's cooperative cellar.

 


The Charles Vercy Brut Champagne showed itself as a respectable bottle...it's made by a grower's co-operative cellar and the wine had a mildly toasty note to start and was fairly dry and crisp.
It retails for about $42 at normal margins and I felt it was not worth that sort of money...it ought to retail for closer to $30.

We then began assembling the Lobster & Mango Salad...with a finishing touch of Lobster Caviar on top...


We had two Condrieu wines...I figured Condrieu might pair handsomely with the Lobster and Mango Salad, but the two bottles we had were not up to the task.
On the left was a 2010 Dumazet "Cote Fournet" and this was (as you can see) a bit deeper in color, suggesting an older wine.  It was on the opulent end of the spectrum, but what it offered in richness, it lacked in fruit and charm.  It was a bit tired, in my view, though we could also say the wine was very old-fashioned and maybe a bit rustic.
The Remi Niero Condrieu was from the 2011 vintage.  It had more of the classic peach and apricot-like fruit we look for in Viognier wines.  The winery web site says this spends about a year in the cellar, 40% in wood and the rest in stainless steel.  I wonder if this aging period is a good idea, since the youthfully fruity elements  of Viognier may dissipate over that time frame.  The Niero wine was the more charming and worked better with the salad, but it was still not the wine I was hoping to find.

The salad, though...well, that was good.  A vinaigrette I'd made incorporated a bit of fresh lemon and lime juices and a bit of grated citrus peel, too...the mango and tangerine were nicely balanced by the mildly peppery arugula.  The lobster was delicious...I'd purchased it at Burlingame's New England Lobster Company.

 

I did not know Connie was planning to have an Octopus Stew...but she prepared this dish using the recipe from La Ciccia restaurant in San Francisco.

I had two additional whites from France in the bag and we tried these...The Semaska Viognier was light and a weak version of that grape.  
More interesting was Jaboulet's Crozes-Hermitage Blanc, the Mule Blanche bottling.  It's a blend of Roussanne and Marsanne.  It was the best white wine of the evening.  The nose displays white flowers and maybe a hint of acacia.

Ellen and Brian then opened a couple of the reds.

Mark had fired up the grill outside and seared a bunch of little loin lamb chops.


The Delas Cote-Rotie was a nice, youthful, bright example of Northern Rhone Syrah.  It's well-made and simply needs about five to ten years of cellaring before it blossoms into the sort of Syrah which is worthy of a lofty price tag.
The Hermitage from Romain Duvernay was less interesting.  Either I've misjudged it and the wine has unforeseen potential or its simply a robust, clunky red wine.  Perhaps time till prove me wrong, but I could not see investing in a second bottle.

Connie brought out a platter of grilled eggplant, topped with a garlic sauce.

 


The cuisine was ideal for Northern Rhone reds...

We had a bottle of Jaboulet's Crozes-Hermitage from the 2010 vintage...

It was the best of the three red wines we had one the table...it was a shade more developed than the Delas and even a bit more intense in terms of Syrah character.

As a prelude to Ellen's two killer desserts, we opened this nicely-aged bottle of Austrian sweet wine...

This is made of the grape known as "Sämling" to some, Scheurebe to others.
There's not very much planted in Austria, though it can make a delightful sweet wine, as it's susceptible to Botrytis Cinerea (Noble Rot, if you will) which dehydrates the grapes and concentrates the sugar.
This was intensely peachy, with hints of mango and honey...the acidity is not especially pronounced in this wine, though.


Ralph Unamano pours, as you might expect, with one hand.

Then he "does a Bob":


Everyone got busy and tasted the Sämling.


The Sämling paired nicely with this strawberry cake...And Ellen even grew the strawberries!

Connie insisted on opening a bottle they'd acquired on a visit to France some years ago...a Rivesaltes from former rugby star Gerard Bertrand.

It was from the 1982 vintage.
Rivesaltes wines are typically made from Grenache, much like Banyuls and Maury wines.  Muscat is also a resident in this neighborhood.
This was terrific on its own and even better paired with Ellen's killer Chocolate Hazelnut Cake.

 

 


The cake was even more delicious than it looks.
Sorry to torture you with that, but it was, on a scale of 1 to 10, an eleven.

 





And then there were a few birthday gifts...


"Hey Ralph, Look!  Glasses like the ones I was using in Germany!!  These are great!!!"

 


Mark received a baseball jersey to match the one Chewie was wearing, much to his delight.

In fact, Chewie found a nice, comfortable place from which to watch the proceedings, which were winding down to a nice conclusion.

 

And with that we made tracks for home!

Thanks everyone for such a lovely evening.

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