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It’s been a busy last few weeks what with my trip with 22 customers to Napa and Sonoma, and the preceding 4 day business trip through the central coast of California (including visits to Calcareous and Ridge), along with the inevitable log-jam on returning to the office. I’d like to say I am catching up or at least catching my breath but things haven’t slowed down a bit and a busy events schedule is now kicking off.

On Tuesday September 2nd, 2014 at 7pm, The Wine School at l’Alliance Française will offer our high-end BURGUNDY CRU CLASS & TASTING featuring some of the top wines from the Cote d’Or. This filled up quickly but we were able to add a some more space so we have 4 or five seats still open (as of 6pm on 8-29-14). This class will be held at l’Alliance Française located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (Houston, 77006). For all the details and complete list the wines to be served, click here.

On Wednesday and Thursday, September 3rd and 4th, 2014, Spec’s welcomes Eric Perrin of Ch. Carbonnieux and Noel Richard of Bordeaux negoçiant Borie Manoux who together will host two events.
The first, A TOUR of BORDEAUX featuring seven top wines from the acclaimed 2010 vintage is at 6:30pm on Wednesday September 3rd. For more information and list of the wines, please click here.
The second, a FOCUS on Chx. CARBONNIEUX & BATAILLEY featuring four wines from each property (for a total of eight wines), will follow at 6:30pm on Thursday September 4th. For more information and list of the wines, click here.
Both of these events featuring Messrs. Perrin and Richard will be held on the second floor at Spec’s Warehouse Store located at 2410 Smith Street in Houston. Admission to each event is a $20 donation to the Houston Area Women’s Center.

Beginning at 7pm on Tuesday, September 9th, The Wine School at l’Alliance Française will offer RANGING THE SOUTHERN RHONE in which we will look at Cotes du Rhone and Chateauneuf du Pape and a bit of everything in between. This class will be held at l’Alliance Française located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (Houston, 77006). For all the details and complete list the wines to be served, click here.

Beginning at 7pm on Monday, September 15th (and running four consecutive Mondays), please join me at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WINE. This four-week class will focus on tasting, enjoying, and appreciating wine even as you learn more about your favorite drink and maybe even which kinds of wine you like the most. This class will be held at l’Alliance Française located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (Houston, 77006). For all the details and complete list the wines to be served, click here.

See what I mean? Busy, Busy, Busy … and there is more to come.

Back to school indeed.

 

Check it out. Here is your chance to drink while you learn about Dry French Rosé, Bordeaux and Adventurous food, and the wines of the whole of Burgundy.

7/7/2014 – REVEALING ROSÉ
Spec’s and the Wine School at l’Alliance Française invite you to join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for “Revealing Rosé” at 7pm on Monday, July 7th at l’Alliance Française. Why Rosé? And why now? Because there is no better and more refreshing wine to drink this time of year. And our Texas Rosé drinking season is up and running. Topics of discussion will include vintages, types of Rosé, Rosé and food, and the grape varieties and techniques used to make the wines. Fifteen pink wines will be tasted and bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served.
For a list of the wines and more information, please click here.

7/14/2014 – An ADVENTUROUS BORDEAUX DINNER
On Monday, July 14th at 7pm, please join me, Bear Dalton, at Charivari for a 2011 Bordeaux Menu featuring eleven great Bordeaux wines from the under-rated 2011 vintage with a foodie’s dream menu. Normally for these dinners at Charivari, I pick the wine and then ask Chef for a menu. In this case, Chef Schuster sent me a great adventurous menu and I then selected wines to pair with it. I am prepared to be dazzled.
For a list of the wines and more information, please click here.

7/15/2014 – A BURGUNDY MASTER CLASS
Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for this three-week in-depth look at the Chardonnay and Pinot Noir wines of BURGUNDY. We will examine the intricacies and differences to be found in an area with hundreds of legally delimited vineyards split into tiny plots famed by thousands of producers large and small. This class is appropriate both for those developing their interest in Burgundy and as a refresher for those who want to organize their tasting and thinking about or better understand Burgundy. We will discuss appellation, heirarchy, terroir, tradition, style, technique, and personality. The wines tasted will be served in Riedel Degustazione stemware. A selection of cheeses and bread will be offered during each class.
Week 1 (7/15/14): “The Last Stuff you Think About When You Think About Burgundy” -We will introduce Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and taste and talk about Burgundy’s appellations outside the Cote d’Or. Additional topics will include terroir, vintages, and burgundy and food. Twelve wines will be tasted.
Week 2 (7/22/14): The Cote de Beaune – We will taste and talk about the wines from the southern half of Burgundies famed Cote’dOr – The Cote de Beaune. We will get in depth on terroir and exposure and why the wines taste as they do. We will taste regional wines, village wines, 1er cru wines and grand cru wines. A total of twelve wines (6 white and six red) will be tasted.
Week 3 (7/29/14): The Cote de Nuits – We will taste and talk about the wines from the northern half of Burgundies famed Cote’dOr – The Cote de Nuits. We will get in depth on terroir and exposure and why the wines taste as they do. We will taste regional wines, village wines, 1er cru wines and grand cru wines. A total of twelve wines (1 white and 11 red) will be tasted.
For all the details and the list of wines to be tasted, please click here.

Bollinger.LilyBollinger
Grande Annee.
Barrel-fermented vintage Champagne.
Aged over 9 years on the yeasts.
The Champagne of James Bond.
The Champagne of Lily Bollinger (see quote below).

BOLLINGER La Grande Annee Brut, Champagne, 2002 ($126.99)

A 12.3% alcohol blend of 6% Pinot Noir and 34% Chardonnay from all Grand and Premier Cru vineyards. 100% underwent primary fermentation in small oak casks. Disgorged November of 2012 so over 9 years on the lees.
bollingerGrandeAnnee2002Gold-straw in color and fully-sparkling; dry, medium-full-bodied with fresh acidity and scant (but present) phenolics.  Lovely, rich, developed. Supple feel. Fine mix of toasty layered red fruit and citrus but the complete integration of the whole including the toasty-yeast and mineral terroir is the amazing thing here. Stunningly good Champagne that continues to develop in the glass for as long as you can keep some in your glass. BearScore: 98+.

CHAMPAGNE QUOTE:
(A rerun of maybe the best Champagne quote ever)
I only drink champagne when I’m happy and when I’m sad. Sometimes I drink it when I’m alone. When I have company I consider it obligatory. I trifle with it if I’m not in a hurry and drink it when I am, otherwise I never touch the stuff unless I am thirsty. – Madame Lily Bollinger

Ch. Senejac has been on the periphery of my wine awareness for several years. Over the last few it has moved front and center. The quality seems to have improved. Maybe it is the Cordier family ownership. Maybe it has a bit to do with some consulting (now ended) from Alfred Tesseron of Ch. Pontet Canet. Maybe it is the very able winemaking team from Ch. Talbot (which goes back to that Cordier family ownership). Whatever the case, Senejac has – for me at least – stepped up to the front of the line for high quality wine from the Haut Medoc. And it hits a a particular and useful style.ChateauSenejacHouse

The Haut Medoc is large appellation and the style of the wines vary quite a bit based on where they are in the appellation. Ch. Pontoise Cabarrus in the north (past St. Estephe) offers a leaner and more focused style as you might expect from the cooler temperature, slopes, and more wind in the area. Ch. Caronne St. Gemme (behind St. Julien very close to Ch. Talbot) offers something more in the middle with a lot of the character you’d expect to find in a good St. Julien. And Senjac, located in Pian de Medoc in the southern most part of the Haut Medoc between Margaux and the city of Bordeaux offers more warmth and richness – which is what you’d expect from a warmer and more temperate (more protected from the weather of the Atlantic coast) area. (I like all of these styles, find all of these wines useful in pairing with different foods, and so drink all of them – and am richer for it.)

I have tasted (and quite liked) this 2011 several times beginning in early April of 2012 and most recently (as of this posting) on July 1, 2014. Each time I taste it, I seem to think a bit more highly of it.

Ch. SENEJAC, Haut Medoc, 2011 ($21.84)SenejacBottle
A Southern Medoc (between Bordeaux and Margaux) 13.5% alcohol blend of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Merlot, 15% Cabernet Franc, and 4% Petite Verdot fermented using pump-over and aged 15 months in all French oak barrels (33% new). Red in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics along with impressive richness. Offers red & black cherry berry fruit with accents of black pepper, tobacco, dusty wood, black flowers. Quite long in the mouth. Opens up beautifully as it evolves in the glass. Satisfying and delicious. BearScore: 91.

Here’s a Rosé on the richer side from the very Chateauneuf du Pape-like terroir of the Costieres de Nimes (the slopes around the city of Nime which is perhaps more famous for its namesake indigo cloth de Nimes or denim). Mourges du Gres is a top producer of both red and Rosé wines from the area and is under the same ownership but separate from Domaine La Tour de Berraud. mdg g r main

Ch. MOURGUES du GRES “les Galets” Rosé, Costieres de Nimes, 2013 ($12.99)
A 13.5% alcohol blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Mourvedre, 70% of which are grown in vineyards with a deep covering of rolled stones (galets) made using a combination of free run juice and first press. Vinified and aged 6 months in stainless steel tanks. Pink-rose in color with good legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and a very light phenolic content. Richer and rounder style. Softer with riper fruit and plenty of mineral. Closer to being red wine with riper, richer, darker red fruit. Lovely, clean, fresh. BearScore: 90.

For more on fine dry French Rosé, check out our coming soon class Revealing Rosé.

DRINK PINK!
A Seminar and Tasting from the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
7pm on Monday, July 7th, $30 Cash

Bargemone_Rose_300dpi_LabelSpec’s and the Wine School at l’Alliance Française invite you to join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for “Revealing Rosé” at 7pm on Monday, July 7th at l’Alliance Française. Why Rosé? And why now? Because there is no better and more refreshing wine to drink this time of year. And our Texas Rosé drinking season is up and running. Topics of discussion will include vintages, types of Rosé, Rosé and food, and the grape varieties and techniques used to make the wines. Fifteen pink wines will be tasted and bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served.

The following Rosé wines will be served:
Penya Rosé 2013
Villa Des Anges Old Vine Rosé 2013
Chapoutier Belleruche Cotes du Rhone Rosé 2013
Pigmentum Rosé Malbec 2013
Ch du Donjon Minervois Rosé 2013
Dom Cabirau Rosé 2013
Les Rocailles Rosé Gamay De Savoie 2013
Mourgues du Gres Rosé Les Galets Costieres de Nimes 2013
Balandran Costieres de Nimes Rosé 2013
Commanderie Bargemone Rosé De Provence 2013
Domaine de Triennes Provence Rosé 2013
Ch de Lancyre Rosé Pic Saint Loup 2013
Mourchon Cotes Du Rhone Villages Loubie Rosé 2013
Pink Pegau Rosé 2013
Miraval Provence Rosé 2013

Lancyre BottleDress cool and join us for delicious and refreshing Rosé. Revealing Rosé will cost $30.00 per person cash ($31.58 regular). To reserve your spot at this event, please contact Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 or MarloAmmons@specsonline.com.

L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., it is on the Southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

Pic Saint Loup

Pic Saint Loup

A few months ago, Christi and Matthew and I tasted through a range of 2013 French Rose’s to decide which 2013s to buy. We were very persnickety and so bought fewer pink wines than in some years past. At that time we were tasting either tank samples or, in some cases, barely bottled wines and so did not take notes for use in describing the wines. Now that the wines are here, I’m re-tasting them to give accurate notes. This 2013 Ch. de Lancyre is the latest iteration of a consistent year-to-year favorite that thrill s on release and has the stuffing and character to last and even improve for a couple of years (The 2012 improved for the first 8-9 months and is still drinking great). It is a bit more expensive than the run-of-the-mill Rosé but well worth the “bit more.” Ch. de Lancyre is an estate owned by two families in Pic Saint Loup, the best part of the Languedoc.

Ch. de LANCYRE Rosé, Pic Saint Loup, 2013 ($17.09)Lancyre Bottle
A 13.5% alcohol blend of 50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Cinsault grown on clay (for fruit) and limestone (for minerality) at 2,000 feet of elevation about 15 miles inland from the Mediterranean sea with hot days and cool (60° or less) nights.  Made using both rapid cuvaison and saignee techniques with fermentation in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with some lees stirring and no oak contact.   Salmon-pink in color with good legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with crisp acidity and scant phenolics.  Vivid red fruit in the raspberry and strawberry range with some cherry and enough citrus to give it a thrilling balance. Fresh and vivid and alive in the mouth. The mineral component is there along with a surprising (but welcome) richness and a bit of earthiness. Lovely classic pure Rosé for summer picnic foods and some richer meals. This is more than just another “porch pounder.” Delicious. BearScore: 92.

ROSÉ WINE QUOTE:
Let’s get ready to stumble!
– paraphrasing wrestling ring announcer Michael Buffer

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