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It was a great surprise to receive a phone call from Jean-Gabriel Camut.
He and his brother Emmanuel had just landed in San Francisco.

On a gray and rainy Saturday evening we all convened Chez Neal for some vittles and vino.



The Adrien Camut name is the benchmark for Calvados, the great apple (or pear) brandy from France's Normandy region.

We had dined together some years ago when the Camut brothers booked a table at a notable restaurant in the town of Rouen.  The restaurant, La Couronne, is famous for its "canard a la presse."  It's also the restaurant credited by the late Julia Child for kindling her love for French cuisine.

There was a disc on the turntable as host Charles Neal is a big fan of wax.



A bottle of bubbly was chilled and ready to drink.

 

 



Emmanuel and Jean-Gabriel.

Charles had a pan full of mixed mushrooms as a pasta sauce, so he asked Jean-Gabriel to do the honors.

A grate snapshot of Monsieur Camut.

Mrs. Neal, who's a jet-setter herself, flew in to SFO and arrived home at just the right time.

As you can see, she's Nathalie-attired, too!


"Oui, je suis Catherine Deneuve."




We decanted a bottle of Dunn Napa Valley Cabernet to serve with the main course and Jean Gabriel captured the label for future reference.

For many people, Dunn Vineyards is the "Adrien Camut of California Cabernet Sauvignon."

Meanwhile, Il Grande Cuoco, Carlo Nealone had the pasta course ready to serve.



A bottle of Chateau de Hureau's Saumur Blanc called "Foudre."  This is not made every vintage, but it's meant to showcase bone dry Chenin Blanc...and this was a good match for the aromatic mushroom pasta.
The bottle was finished before all the plates were empty!





 

The oven was roasting a pan full of Charles Neal-style ribs!


The 1998 Dunn Napa Cabernet was remarkably good.
It was at its peak, certainly, and nicely complex.
The wine was beautifully balanced, too, with a dark fruit tone and an earthy, faintly herbal note.

The Camut brothers were delighted to taste such a good California wine.

But we had another bottle for comparison.

Dunn 1998 Howell Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon





This wine was typical of Howell Mountain-grown Cabernet, showing more structure.  In fact, while the Napa bottling was ready to drink, the Howell Mountain bottling still has a fair bit of tannin.

That bottle, though, disappeared rather quickly.

 



Charles then decanted a 1999 La Poderina Brunello di Montalcino...

This was a very fine bottle of wine, though it seemed to show more oak and less Brunello character.
We enjoyed the wine, though, and it is still young and sports a moderately cedary bouquet from its aging in wood.
It is usually matured in both large botte as well as French oak barriques.




After we'd finished the Brunello, the Camut Brothers opened a bottle of their delightful handiwork!

Rarete.
The brothers said some of the spirit in this bottle are 75 to 100 years of age!

It was so "pure" and complex...It's difficult to describe this as words can't really explain the character of this amazing Calvados.
It should be noted, though, that it is dangerously drinkable.

Knowing these fellows are apple "meisters," I brought a bottle of a Canadian Apple "Ice Wine" for dessert.

First, however, Emmanuel wanted us to experience his Apple "Balsamico"...

Oh my!
The fragrance was a bit sharp and strong but the flavor was deep and remarkable.
It's intense, dark and syrupy...too bad we didn't have a bowl of fresh strawberries!

 

At this stage, Charles went to the cellar and found a bottle of a nice eau-de-vie from our friends in Italy's Trentino region:

POJER & SANDRI ALBICOCCHE


As nice as this is, it was no match for the Camut Rarete!

At this point in the evening, it was time to adjourn the festivities...



Many thanks to Charles for hosting and inviting...and to the Freres Camut!

***********************************
Just before they departed, we met again at the Hong Kong Flower Lounge for some German wines and Dim Sum.

The Wirsching Scheurebe was very good and a charming start to lunch.


Things kicked into a higher gear with Von Simmern's 2014 Hattenheimer Nussbrunnen Kabinett Trocken Riesling.

Singapore Styled Chow Fun noodles...


And a Dungeness Crab...

And then some fresh prawns out of the tank with a Wagner Stempel Riesling.

The 2013 is showing beautifully...I was surprised it was so drinkable at such a relatively early stage in its life.

Jean Gabriel and Emmanuel said this was the best lunch of their American visit and home we can have dinner in Normandy in the not-too-distant future!
Avec Plasir!!!

 

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