Charles Neal Selections
Essays and books by Charles Neal, importer of fine French wine and spirits.
Snapshots of Montmiral hillside, house in Combret, Etienne Daulny by his vineyard, Charles Neal with a glass of Calvados, and view outside a wine tasting room.

Your Guide to Fine French Wine and Spirits

Explore the beauty of France's wine country and get to know the people who produce some of the most exquisite wines and spirits on Earth.

Calvados and Armagnac author Charles Neal
Importer Charles Neal

Charles Neal, an author and importer based in San Francisco, California, is a leading authority on single-estate and bottled French brandies as well as numerous wines produced in France.

Throughout this website and in his books, Charles takes you on a tour of France where you'll meet grower producers, learn about the geographic features that make each region unique, and find tasting notes.

Distilled French Spirits

The producers of Armagnac, Cognac and Calvados that you'll read about here create some of the most natural brandies available, made without the usage of boisé, sugar, or caramel. They are hand-bottled directly from cask in extremely limited quantities.

Fine Wines from France

In addition to these spirits, Charles imports wonderful wines from nearly all the French wine regions. He specializes in wines from southwestern France, Bordeaux, central France (Loire Valley and Burgundy), Champagne, eastern France (Jura mountains, Beaujolais, Bugey and Savoie), and wines produced from France's Rhône Valley (northern Rhône and southern Rhône).

Charles has sought out and brought attention to wines from relatively unknown appellations like Madiran, Cahors, Jurançon, Gaillac, Fronton, Marcillac, and Béarn, as well as the unheralded Alpine crus of Chignin, Arbin, Apremont, Ripaille, and Marestel.

Vineyards in the hills of France

By law, Charles Neal Selections can only import and distribute wines and spirits to licensed wholesalers, retail stores and restaurants. But you can use this site as a guide to choosing the finest wines and spirits from France from your local retailer or favorite five-star restaurant.

Additionally, enjoy a guided video tour of the brandy-producing regions of France in the four-part documentary, Beyond the Snifter.

Bon voyage, and thank you for your interest in Charles Neal Selections!

Portable alembic still. Cote Rotie vineyards in the Rhone Valley region of France. Calvados producer Michael Huard standing by his still. Jean-Marie Revel holding a bottle of Marcillac vin rouge.

Books About Calvados and Armagnac by Charles Neal

Charles Neal's intense interest in the brandies of France has prompted him to write two books on the subject. The first was in 1997 and offers a detailed look at Cognac's sophisticated cousin, Armagnac. In the fall of 2011, Flame Grape Press published Neal's 700-page tome about Calvados, a brandy based from pears and apples produced in the Normandy region of France.


The Spirit of Normandy

Cover to the book Calvados: The Spirit of Normandy by Charles Neal
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"Calvados is an astounding 700-page stroll through the history and culture of Normandy and Calvados producers, through orchards and cellars, down to seemingly esoteric details, like what a producer might have scribbled in chalk on a typical barrel."

— Eric Asimov, New York Times


The Definitive Guide to
France's Premier Brandy

Cover to the book Armagnac: The Definitive Guide to France's Premier Brandy by Charles Neal
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"A lively and well-researched book. Impressive and timely."

— Gerald Asher, Wine Editor Gourmet Magazine


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