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Food Wine & Friends Page 277


I've known Claus & Anette Bonifer since the mid-1980s and they've hosted me on numerous occasions at their home in Rodgau, Germany.

I watched their daughter Elena grow up...there are some photos of me holding the little squirt when she was an infant and now she's all of 24 years old and the kid has a great palate for tasting wine.

Claus has joined me for visiting wineries around Europe and we recently spent two busy days visiting cellars in Germany.

So I was especially pleased when they (finally) decided to come to San Francisco.

I was thrilled to host them for dinner.

I know that Claus has some allergies to mussels, for example.  And he's got a few other food phobias, so at the urging of a couple of troublemakers from Herr Bonifer's hometown, I printed this menu for him.


"Huh?  Canned Crab?  Raw Mussels?  Steak Tartare???!!!  Day old Bread?"
The poor fellow was wondering what was going on here.

We opened the bottle of L'Ermitage from Roederer Estate in Mendocino's Anderson Valley...and Henry! took care of pouring this.

We had a few nibbles, including some Macadamia Nuts, Dolmas and Truffle Pate.

Soon we were toasting...


The 2005 L'Ermitage is exceptional.  Crisp.  Quite dry.  Beautifully yeasty.  If Champagne is the benchmark, this gives it a damned good run for the money.

Anette has been taking snapshots with her I-Pad.

And Henry! & Alexia were able to see some of the photos from the past few days.


We had a little gift for Claus...


A Limited Edition Claus Bonifer-on-a-Camel Kitchen Apron!

Claus had been sent to Morocco as his 'team' at work supposedly won a sales contest.
I've been asking him, though, "Claus, Are you sure your team won? Where did they send the second place team?"

 

We sat down at the dinner table, ready to start our little wine and food excursion...


Mixed greens with a small avocado and some fresh, local Dungeness Crab meat.


We paired the crab with two California Albarino wines.
Pierce is a small estate in the southern part of Monterey County.  They specialize in Iberian varieties and we've been fans of their Albarino for a number of vintages.
The 2013 is fresh and bright, with a faintly peachy, melony note and the classic touch-of-spice notes we look for in Spanish Albarino wines.

The 2013 Tangent is a wine from the Niven family in Edna Valley.  It's a bit more floral and maybe shows a note of jasmine.
Both wines were good and a delight with the first course.



Next we prepared some Prawns and Scallops in Parchment paper...cherry tomatoes and grilled baby artichokes, along with Cannellini Beans were in this little "clam shell" package with some olive oil and fresh tarragon.


Anette took a snapshot of the Seafood course...



We put two very different California white wines on the table.
On the left was Hart's Desire Chardonnay from Knights Valley.  This wine may be John Hart's best Chardonnay to date and it reminds us of early bottlings from the Peter Michael Winery (also Knights Valley fruit).  This displayed a nice pear nectar note with some toasty, creamy oak.
Meanwhile the Napa Sauvignon Blanc of Agnitio was herbal fragrances which are reminiscent of boxwood.  Some tasters interpret this grassiness as "cat pee."  If you find the grassy notes to be appealing, you'll be a fan of this wine.
We liked it.

We then got started on the main course...Grilled Lamb.

While the lamb was on the grill, we served a Granita of Garnacha...

...a beautiful palate cleanser as it's very refreshing.

Meanwhile, back to the lamb:


Decanting the two Napa Cabernets was the next task.

1996 Dunn Napa Valley
and
1996 Spottswoode Napa Valley.

 

Once everyone was served, we had another toast...




Both wines were very good.  Nicely developed and seemingly at their peaks.

The Spottswoode had a faintly sweeter note on the nose, but was dry and smooth on the palate.  It paired handsomely with the lamb.  Medium to medium-full bodied.

The Dunn had some nice dark fruit notes and it was nicely balanced, too.  Dry, but with a supple texture on the palate, this was a delicious bottle.  Also medium to medium-full in body.

 

Cheeses next...all but one were locally-made California cheeses.


We drank a stellar bottle of 2012 Neyers Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast...Roberts Road.  It's a half acre vineyard site planted solely with Joe Swan Clone Pinot Noir...intensely aromatic and hugely fruity.  What a great glass of wine!


Next we had some dessert...I reprised the Hazelnut Torta with a bit of Chocolate and paired it with a batch of homemade Vanilla Ice Cream and dotted the Ice Cream with fresh raspberries.


Before serving the dessert, we opened a Stony Hill Semillon du Soleil, a nice, mildly honeyed dessert wine that's not too sweet.  You might find some dried apricot there, too.
A sip prior to the dessert was good.


Schnute, Schnute...Much fun!


And with that, we concluded a fun evening of a wonderful wine & food marathon.


And the famous Camel Man, Claus Bonifer now had one more item for his already too-heavy suitcase!

Many thanks to one and all for coming and helping eat and drink.

 

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