Parsing PINOT

On Monday, November 23 at 7pm, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Parsing Pinot. We will parse, ponder, and peruse Pinot Noir from California with a focus on Carneros and Sonoma County. Discussion will include some history of Pinot Noir, how it is made, where it is best grown in California, and Pinot Noir with food (it’s GREAT with Turkey). Fifteen Pinot Noir wines will be tasted. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served.

The line up:
Siduri Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2013
Fort Ross Sea Slopes Pinot Noir, Fort Ross, 2012
Etude Pinot Noir, Carneros, 2013
Copain Pinot Noir Les Voisins, Anderson Valley, 2012
Expression 38 Gaps Crown Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley, 2012
Expression 38 Pinot Noir Bellflower Vineyard, Russian River Valley, 2012
Martinelli Pinot Noir Bella Vigne, Russian River Valley, 2012
Martinelli Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2012
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir, Sonoma Coast, 2012
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Jenkins, Sonoma Coast, 2013
Sea Smoke Pinot Noir Southing Vineyard, Santa Rita Hills, 2013
Hartford Court Pinot Noir Far Coast, Sonoma Coast, 2012
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown, Russian River Valley, 2013
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard, Carneros, 2012
Paul Hobbs Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard, Carneros, 2013

Parsing Pinot will cost $80.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $84.21 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, November 23rd at l’Alliance Française. To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).



On Monday, November 16 at 7pm, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Considering Cabernet. We will consider Cabernet Sauvignon and Cab-based blends from California with an emphasis on Napa Valley. Discussion will include the history of Cabernet, what makes it special, its Bordeaux blending partners (Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Petite Verdot, and Malbec), how it is made, and Cabernet with food (it’s more than just “a-Cab-and-a-slab”). Fifteen Cabernet-based wines will be tasted. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served.

The line up:
Trig Point Cabernet Diamond Dust Vineyard 2013
Alexander Valley Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Organic 2012
Franciscan Cabernet Sauvignon Oakville 2012
Buehler Cabernet Sauvignon Napa 2013
Faust Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Kenefick Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Snowden Brothers Vineyard Napa Cabernet 2013
Bernardus Marinus 2009
Ridge Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Ridge Vineyards Monte Bello 2010
Overture Red by Opus NV
Altagracia by Araujo Cabernet Sauvignon 2012
Quintessa Red 2012
Opus One 2012
Araujo Eisele Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2012

Considering Cabernet will cost $100.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $105.26 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, November 16th at l’Alliance Française. To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

Classic Pairings BORDEAUX Tasting from the Women of Wine

On Monday, November 2nd, please join the Women of Wine (WOW) at Ralph Smith Photography’s gorgeous Bellaire-area studio (5226 Elm  Houston, Texas   77081) for this special wine and food pairing event featuring twelve Bordeaux wines selected by Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton (that would be me) paired in five flights with assorted bites prepared by master Chef of France Frederic Perrier for this unique tasting and class.

We will taste:
Dry White Bordeaux: Contrasting simple vs. complex, no oak vs. oak
Ch Martinon Entre Deux Mers 2014
Ch Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc Pessac Leognan 2012

Right Bank: Merlot-based from differing terrors
Ch d’Aiguilhe Cotes De Castillon 2012
Ch La Pointe Pomerol 2012
Ch Larcis Ducasse St Emilion 2012

Left Bank: Cabernet-based from differing terrors
Ch Senejac Haut Medoc 2012
Ch Brane Cantenac Margaux 2012
Ch Langoa Barton St Julien 2012
Ch Clerc Milon Pauillac 2012

Pessac Leognan: Balance
Domaine de Chevalier Rouge Pessac Leognan 2012
Ch Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge Pessac Leognan 2012

Sauternes: A finishing sip
Ch Coutet Sauternes Barsac 2012

This unique class and tasting will cost $125 per person for WOW members and $150 per person for non-members.
Please click the link below to purchase tickets.
Limited number of tickets available.

Women of Wine is an organization of women in-and-around-the-wine-industry devoted to raising money and awareness for the Houston Area Women’s Center.

Ralph Smith is generously donating his gorgeous space, fifty-two-twenty-six elm, for our event. This AIA award-winning building is well-known amongst Houston architects. The building’s innovative use of materials and elegantly designed interiors combined to win the American Institute of Architects prestigious “building of the Year” design award for Texas.

Frederic Perrier, chef/owner of Aura Brasserie and one of only three certified Master Chefs of France in Houston (or Texas for that matter), will provide signature dishes to accompany the wines of Bordeaux. Chef Perrier is a native of Lyon where he apprenticed at the age of 15 under Georges Blanc at Vonnas. He eventually moved to New York where he gained national recognition as Executive Chef of La Cite and splashed onto the Houston scene as Executive Chef/Co-owner at Grille 5115 and then Café Perrier. Since 2007 Chef Perrier has been offering his American and French cuisine at Aura Brasserie in Sugarland.

Bear Dalton is the fine wine buyer for Spec’s, but his knowledge of wine extends beyond this auspicious post. He travels extensively throughout the wine regions of the world tasting in excess of 9,000 wines each year as he teaches, writes and consults about wine. Equally at home on Loop 610 and the Rocade (the “loop” around Bordeaux), he doesn’t need a GPS to find his way around Bordeaux.


BORDEAUX TRIO Dinner on October 19th At the new Houston Club

On Monday October 19th at 7pm, please join Spec’s in welcoming a trio from Bordeaux in Stephan von Niepperg (Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere as well as Ch. d’Aiguilhe and Clos de l’Oratoire), Patrick Maroteau (Ch. Branaire Ducru), and Ludovic Frandin (Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte) to Houston for a Bordeaux Trio Dinner at the new Houston Club featuring wines from these great properties and Houston Club chef Doug George’s wine-friendly menu.

Aperitif: Passed Daikon Lobster Rolls / Rosemary Ginger Aioli
Toasted Almond & Parmigiano Crostini
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2012   

1st: Silky Leek & Red Wine Soup with Gruyere Croutons
Ch. d’Aiguilhe, Castillon,  2009
Duluc de Branaire, St. Julien, 2006

2nd: Alder Wood Smoked Moulard Duck Breast / Baby Arugula / Shaved Fennel / Dried Cherry Gastrique
Clos de l’Oratoire, St. Emilion,  2012
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge 2012
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2012

3rd: Grilled Venison Chop / Creamy Blue Corn Grits / Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Ch. Canon la Gafelliere, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac Leognan, 2011
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2011

Cheese: Artisan Cheeses
Ch. Canon la Gafelliere, St. Emilion, 2006
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac Leognan, 2006
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2006

Dessert: Bittersweet Chocolate Raspberry Terrine / Honey Truffle / Chocolate Dipped Grapes

This unique Bordeaux Trio Dinner will cost $185 per person all inclusive.

For reservations, contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

The Houston Club is located on the 49th floor of One Shell Plaza (910 Louisianna, 77002).
Gentlemen are requested to wear a Jacket and Tie.

2012 Bordeaux and Champagne Tasting At the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice

On Tuesday, October 20, 2015, Spec’s will host a number of chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers presenting 30 mostly Cru Classé and second label Bordeaux wines all from the 2012 vintage along with 17 Champagnes in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. This is similar to our wildly popular January Bordeaux event but with a mostly different lineup of wines – and, of course, with Champagne. If you are a wine lover in or near Houston, this is a “don’t miss” event.

BORDEAUX to be Tasted
Dry White: Clos de Lune Blanche (Bordeaux Blanc), Domaine de Chevalier and Esprit de Chevalier (both Pessac Leognan Blanc)
St. Emilion: Ch. Figeac and Petite Figeac, Ch. Larcis Ducasse and Murmure de Larcis, and Ch. Pavie Macquin and Chenes de Macquin
Pomerol: Vieux Ch. Certan and Gravette de Certan
Francs: Ch. Puygueraud
St. Estephe: Ch. Calon Segur and Marquis de Calon, Ch. Montrose and La Dame de Montrose
Pauillac: Ch. Pichon Lalande and Reserve de la Comtesee, Ch. Pontet Canet and Haut de Pontet Canet
St. Julien: Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou and La Croix de Beaucaillou
Margaux: Ch. Giscours and Sirene de Giscours
Pessac Leognan: Ch. Haut Bailly and La Parde de Haut Bailly, Domaine de Chevalier and Espirit de Chevalier
Sauternes: Ch. Guiraud and La Petit Guiraud 
CHAMPAGNE to be Tasted
Barons de Rothschild Brut NV, Blanc de Blancs NV and Rosé NV
Castelnau Brut Reserve NV, Rosé NV, and Vintage 2002
Bonnaire Brut Tradition NV, Blanc De Blanc NV, Brut Variance NV and Rosé NV
Andre Clouet Brut Grand Reserve NV, Rosé NV, and Brut Millesime 2008
Louis de Sacy Brut Originel NV, Grand Soir NV, Grand Cru NV, and Rosé NV

The tasting will open at 4:30pm and run until 8:30pm, giving tasters ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests. The tasting will include a spread of artisanal cheeses and breads chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses. The 2012 Bordeaux and Champagne Tasting will cost $80.00 total per person cash ($84.21 regular). To reserve your spot for this unique Bordeaux and Champagne Event, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

The Crystal Ballroom is located in downtown Houston at 909 Texas Avenue between Travis and Main. Valet Parking will be available.

A VALUE BORDEAUX SEMINAR AND TASTING benefitting the Houston Area Women’s Center

7pm on Monday, September 28, 2015
– OR –
7pm on Monday, October 12, 2015
at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française.

The same class is being offered on two different dates.
You may sign up for one or the other but not both.

Spec’s, the Conseil Interprofessionnel du Vin de Bordeaux, and the European Union invite you to join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for “Bordeaux Values” at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française. These are the wines I consistently go-to for my personal drinking at home or with friends. In this seminar tasting, we’ll look at wines from around Bordeaux that offer quality and value. Topics of discussion will include vintages, the appellations of Bordeaux (including what makes an appellation), styles of Bordeaux, and the grape varieties and techniques used to make the wines. This is a good general introduction to Bordeaux. Bread and cheese will be served.

The following ten Bordeaux wines will be served:
Ch. Martinon, Entre Deux Mers, 2014
Ch. d’Archambeau, Graves Blanc, 2013
Ch. Carbonnieux, Pessac Leognan Blanc, 2011
Ch. Ampelia, Cotes de Bordeaux – Castillon, 2011
Ch. Laplagnotte Bellvue, St. Emilion, 2012
Ch. La Pointe, Pomerol, 2012
Ch. Clos Marsalette, Pessac Leognan Rouge, 2012
Ch. Senejac, Haut Medoc, 2012
Ch. Pontac Lynch, Margaux, 2012
Ch. Lynch Moussas, Pauillac, 2011

To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or When you call or email, please specify which session you wish to attend. The cost of this class is a $20 donation (cash or check only please) to the Houston Area Women’s Center. L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance Française is on the south-east corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

Varietal Focus: GRENACHE

On Monday, September 14th at 7pm, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a VARIETAL FOCUS on GRENACHE. We will trace and taste Grenache from its homeland in northeastern Spain through the south of France and on to the new world. Discussion will include the history of Grenache, what makes it special, and how it is made and its blending partners (mainly Syrah and Mourvedre) as well as Grenache with food. Fourteen Grenache-based wines will be tasted, the final four of which are icon wines. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served.

The line up:
Honoro Vera Garnacha (Spain), 2013
Domaine de Cabasse Deux Anges Cotes du Rhone Villages – Sablet, 2014
Pagos Del Moncayo Garnacha / Syrah (Spain), 2012
Casa Gran del Siurana “Gr-174” Priorat (Spain), 2013
d’Arenberg Custodian Grenache, McLaren Vale, 2012
Yalumba GSM “the Strapper”, Barossa Valley, 2012
Mourchon “Tradition” Cotes Du Rhone Villages – Seguret, 2012
Montmirail “Cuvee deux Freres” Vacqueyras, 2012
Domaine de Cabasse Gigondas,  2012
Bois Boursan Chateauneuf du Pape, 2012
D’Arenberg Ironstone Pressings, 2009
Mourchon “Family Reserve Grenache” Seguret, 2011
Chateau St. Cosme Le Claux Gigondas, 2012
Domaine Pegau Reserve Chateauneuf Du Pape, 2012

This Varietal Focus on Grenache will cost $60.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $63.16 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday September 14, 2015 at l’Alliance Française. To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the southeast corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).