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Having just returned from their European Honeymoon, Newlyweds Kareasa and Ralph UnaWilkins hosted a winter time evening featuring
Cassoulet.

We trekked to Fremont, California (which I think is on the eastern edge of the Pacific time zone, but I'm not entirely certain), having picked up Marathoners Connie Poon and Mark O'Tool from their Star Wars run down in Orange County.

 


October 4th, 2014...a momentous day!

 

The tables were set as we arrived at Chateau UnaWilkins...

 

And the menu was posted...



Mark and Ralph each opened a bottle of Meyer-Fonne's lovely Cremant d'Alsace to get things going...



This delightfully dry bubbly is made predominantly with Pinot Auxerrois, though it has some Chardonnay, Pinot Blanc and a bit of Pinot Noir in the blend.  It's faintly toasty and nicely dry...



Cheese and Pate...

Ralph (and others) immediately dove in!


And so we had a toast (Anna and Taylor joining in for the evening's festivities).

We soon made our way to the dinner table where Kareasa had assembled an interesting salad...

...arugula and some smoked trout...

Kareasa had two really nice whites from Alsace to pair with the salad.

 


Albert Boxler 2011 Pinot Gris is from the Grand Cru site of Brand.  This was drier than I expected and a really showy wine.  The Brand vineyard site has granite soils and we found the fragrance of this wine to show a mildly smoky, slightly flinty quality.  There's a touch of a honeyed quality to the wine, too.  Very fine!

The Deiss 2011 white blend from the Grand Cru site Mambourg was also very showy.  This is made of a bunch of Pinots:  Noir, Blanc, Gris and Meunier.  It had a mildly creamy, sort of buttery quality and was rather full and lush on the palate.  I'm not sure it's quite dry, but it was a marvelous wine!

After the salad, we opened a bunch of reds, 4 Chateauneuf-du-Pape bottlings and a couple of other Grenache-based red blends.


Mayard's Cuvee Alex 2012 was young, fruity and undeveloped.  It's really a shame to have such a wine on the market when it's years away from showing itself as a "premium" wine.  Poured into the glass on this occasion, you'll find the wine to be of the quality of a modest Cotes-du-Rhone.
I'd like to taste an older vintage of this to see how it develops and if it's worth cellaring.  
Tasting just this vintage, I'll be hesitant to splurge for another.


Delas 2010 "Haute Pierre" was next...and being a couple of years older than the 2012 Mayard, we did find a wine of greater maturity.
The wine displayed a mildly leathery quality.  It's soft and dry with a faintly herbal quality.
It was possibly more drinkable than its predecessor, but still not an especially fine Chateauneuf.



Okay...now here we have a somewhat more interesting bottle of wine!
The Galet des Papes 2010 offered some spice notes and was medium-full on the palate.  There's a cherry/berry quality on the nose and palate, fairly typical of Grenache.
This is showing nicely now (and 4+ years of age) and should continue to be in good condition for another five or ten.



The 2009 Vieux Lazaret Cuvee Exceptionnelle was typical of many so-called "reserve" wines.  It was big and potent, mildly tannic, but more of a big bruiser than an elegant red wine.  We'd enjoyed an earlier vintage of this some years ago, but this wine pushes the envelope and is intended, in my view, more for wine critics to include in a tasting than it is for a consumer to put on the dinner table to pair with a meal (even Kareasa's Cassoulet!).


Saint Jean de Barroux's 2008 La Pierre Noire. 
This is 85% Grenache and 15% Syrah from the Cotes du Ventoux area just east of Gigondas.  The wine shows some spice notes and was another bruiser...Low yields seem to be the idea here to maximize the intensity of the wine.  It's supposed to retail for $45, or so...I find that to be an optimistic price point.



This is a new winery in Spain and it's a blend of Grenache, Syrah and Monastrell (called Garrut in this Catalan region).
The wine was medium bodied and nicely balanced.  It had a drinkability to it that many of the other wines did not.
I believe it retails for about $20 and this wine I would purchase again.
Berries and mild spicy notes with lots of red fruit.
It seems to be intended for immediate drinking, though a few years of cellaring might be interesting to see how it develops.  But it's quite good in its youth.

And then Kareasa presented her Cassoulet.

 


Kareasa took care of serving everyone.

And some folks had "seconds" (and this is easy to understand why!).

Damned Good!
I was thinking our late colleague Bob Gorman would have been delighted by this rendition of Cassoulet, as he was capable of whipping up a good one himself.
I can hear him saying "Kareasa, ya' done derned good!"


Dessert!


Cascina Gilli's Malvasia for dessert!

 



We then toasted with the wonderfully fruity Malvasia...


 

And Kareasa served the Chocolate Rum Cake from Burlingame's The Cakery.

Delicious!

Ralph then brought out some "souvenirs" from their trip.

We then opened a few holiday gifts...

It was now a rather late hour and it's a "school night," so we adjourned the proceedings until next time.

Many thanks to Kareasa and Ralph for hosting such a lovely evening!



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