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On a breezy Saturday in early June of 2017, Lois and Ken O'Tool came to dinner with their baby Grand-daughter, Winnie O'Poon and her parents Connie and Mark.
The Intrepid Sacramento runners, Kareasa and Ralph De UnaWilkins joined the festivities as we celebrated our friend Norbert Auth's Birthday.
Norbert and Gaby Auth were unable to join us, being at home in Frankfurt.

The table was set and we were prepared for a lovely evening to taste some new wines.

 

 

Winnie had her own place setting as part of her Mom's seating.

The teething ring was for Winnie, not Connie.

Winnie arrived and was ready to party.

Connie was pouring the Planeta Sparkling wine, but burst out laughing when someone suggested she take a job selling Champagne.


It seems she had just accepted a gig promoting the Champagnes of Dom Perignon and Krug.

We had some of our typical nibbles on the table.


Winnie was only mildly interested in evaluating this sparkling wine...

Also as part of the prelude to dinner was a bit of San Daniele Prosciutto and Melon.


Sicily's Planeta family made a lovely sparkling wine from Carricante grapes grown in the volcanic soils of Etna.  The wine is dry and crisp, showing nice balance.  We love good sparkling wines and this reminded us a bit more of really good Spanish Cava than it did of French Champagne.  That's not to denigrate the wine, as it showed beautifully and our bottle was empty much too quickly.
It's nicely minerally with a lightly yeasty note.  It seems quite dry and the acidity level gives it a nicely crisp quality.
We're now calling it PlanEtna Brut.


Winnie seemed to like her first taste of cantaloupe.


We opened a pair of 2015 German G-G's (Großes Gewächs)...
Von Schubert's Maximin Grünhäuser "Herrenberg"
and Fritz Haag 2015 (Brauneberger) Juffer.

Someone was waiting for the dining table festivities to begin.


Winnie asked if I could put some Riesling into her Sippee Cup.

"I'm maybe half as old as those Rieslings," she said.

Grandpa heard this and offered her a sniff of the Maximin Grünhäuser.

"Now you're talkin!" she said.


Chewie is always interested in what food preparations are taking place and he is routinely in the kitchen to supervise.


To pair with these Barbera wines, we had a little pasta.


Giacosa's labels look fairly similar, but one has the notation of "Falletto" on it, indicating the wine is made from vineyards owned by Giacosa.
 

The wines were close in terms of quality and character, but the prevailing opinion was in favor of the Barbera made from purchased fruit.  It seemed a shade brighter and with a bit more fruit.
Both were enjoyable with the pasta...

As a palate cleanser, we had a snappy Orange & Mint Sorbet.

Winnie wondered how different sorbet is from ice cream...


 


We wanted to taste some major league South American "Bordeaux" blends.


The 2013 Almaviva was outstanding.  It's really styled along the lines of top Bordeaux.
The wine is a collaboration between Mouton-Rothschild and Concha y Toro, sort of like the Opus One winery in Napa combining the talents of Mouton and Mondavi.
There's a cedary quality to the wine and a good measure of finesse.
The tannin level is modest, so the 2013 is drinkable now and should do well for another 5 to 10+ years.
The Concha y Toro "Don Melchor" was a good wine, but we felt it was a bit rustic alongside the Almaviva.  Good wine, but less impressive.

Meanwhile, we heated the grill in the kitchen...



Chewie was waiting for some steak, but in the meantime, he could have a toe or two.

Connie had the camera and was reflecting on using it.


Things were coming along in the kitchen...

Winnie was enjoying the perfumes emanating from the kitchen...

Kareasa loves kids...


Winnie came into the kitchen to help serve the food...
"Can I give you as hand?" she asked.
"Okay, how about a foot?"

For the main plate, as you've seen, we had some grilled steaks.



We know our friend Norbert, whose birthday we celebrated, is a big fan of Spargel/Asparagus.
In Germany, though, white asparagus is more common.

The little potatoes were quite good...

The serving dishes made their way around the table...


The 2012s were very good.
Cheval des Andes is slightly more than 2/3s Malbec with 28% Cabernet Sauvignon and 8% Petit Verdot.  It's got a mildly woodsy tone and it's drinkable now and should age well for 5-10 years, maybe longer.
The Casa Lapostolle was even more showy, with sweet oak and dark fruit notes.  It's also quite enjoyable now while having a bit of cellaring potential.  



Winnie had stepped into another room for a quick snooze and Connie told jokes for a few minutes.

"A day without wine is like...uh, I don't know...just kidding."

After her little snooze, Winnie wanted to come taste wine with her Uncle G.

So did Chewie.


Back in the kitchen we worked on plating the dessert.


Kareasa brought a 2005 Heidi Schröck Ruster Ausbruch called "On the Wings of Dawn."

The wine was nicely honeyed and had a fairly good level of acidity so it was not at all cloying.  The Apple Crumble and Cinnamon Ice Cream were a delicious combination, too.

Winnie enjoyed the dessert and wanted to call her school friends to tell them, as well as posting photos on Facebook.

Then she remembered she doesn't yet have school friends, nor does she have a Facebook page.



"Grandma Lois, can you sneak me some more of that ice cream?"



The evening wound down to its conclusion and everyone was full of good food and good cheer!


"Oh my god," Winnie said.  "It's way past my bedtime!"

Grandpa Ken said "You oughta talk...It's way past mine, too!"

Many thanks to all for coming.

 

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