White Wines of Chablis and the Cote d’Or / Upcoming Events

7pm  Monday August 29, 2016 at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française

Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for this in-depth look at the Chardonnay-based white wines of BURGUNDY’s Cote d’Or and Chablis (plus one from the Cote Chalonnaise). We will examine the intricacies and differences to be found in a region with hundreds of legally delimited vineyards split into thousands of plots farmed by myriad producers large and small.   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.

We will taste:
Daniel Dampt Chablis 2015
Daniel Dampt Chablis Cote De Lechet 1er Cru 2014
Daniel Dampt Chablis Les Clos Grand Cru 2014
Dom Jessiaume Bourgogne Chardonnay 2013
Domaine Thenard Givry Clos Du Cellier Aux Moines Blanc 1er Cru 2013
Vincent Latour Saint Aubin Cuvee Les Frionnes 1er Cru 2014
Dom Jessiaume Santenay Gravieres Blanc 1er cru 2013
Vincent Latour Meursault Les Pelans 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Chenevottes 1er Cru 2013
Jerome Castagnier Puligny Montrachet Le Cailleret 1er Cru 2013
Domaine Thenard Montrachet 2009

This White Burgundy class will cost $100 per person cash ($105.26 regular). The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 29th at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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).

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

UPCOMING WINE CLASSES and EVENTS
09/12  Red Burgundy – Cote de Beaune and Cote Chalonnaise (Monday, 7pm)
09/19  Red Burgundy – Cote de Nuits (Monday, 7pm)
09/26  Zinfandel (Monday, 7pm)
10/03  TBD (Monday, 7pm)
10/05  An Evening with Quintessa benefitting the Houston Area Women’s Center (Wednesday, 7pm) – A tasting of Quintessa vintages and components presented by Larry Stone of Quintessa
10/10  Bordeaux Basics benefitting the Houston Area Women’s Center (Monday, 7pm)
10/25  Bordeaux Basics benefitting the Houston Area Women’s Center (Tuesday, 7pm)  – These Bordeaux Basics classes are identical so please sign up for one or the other but not both.
10/18  Bordeaux and Champagne Tasting at the Crystal Ball Room at the Rice (Tuesday, 4:30pm – 8:30pm)  – 30 Bordeaux wines (mostly dry red) and over a dozen Champagnes

Bordeaux 2016’s bone-dry summer

Please click here for a look at a free article from JancisRobinson.com giving an update on the the 2016 vintage in Bordeaux.

http://www.jancisrobinson.com/articles/bordeaux-2016s-bone-dry-summer

Bordeaux 2016’s bone-dry summer

Rauzan_Segla_veraison_Cab-1-7Gavin Quinney of Ch Bauduc sends this report, written last night, on the 2016 growing season so far in Bordeaux. Harvest will not be early. 

It’s been exceptionally dry during the holidays, with plenty of sunshine around Bordeaux. Most tourists have been on the beach, relaxing by the pool, strolling around markets or spending time in the city of Bordeaux itself. Those with an interest in wine might have visited the new Cité du Vin, which opened in June, or taken a trip out to St-Émilion. Most dogs, as here at Ch Bauduc, have been looking for shade.

Those who have ventured out into the vineyards – beyond the refreshingly cool barrel cellars – might have seen how dry the ground looks. The parched grass verges contrast starkly with the lush green rows of vines, which are, for the most part, in remarkably rude health. As you’d imagine, young vines with shallow roots on dry soils suffer when there’s no rain but, overall, the vines are coping well, especially given the heat over the French holiday this last weekend with temperatures consistently reaching 33 °C (91 ºF) or more.

Read More …

New Wine Class: Considering California Chardonnay

patz-hall-2013-chardonnay-hyde-vineyard-carneros-napa-valley-2On Monday, August 22nd at 7pm, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Considering California Chardonnay. We will discuss some history of Chardonnay in California, America’s on-again-off-again-on-again love affair with Chardonnay, how Chardonnay is made, where it is best grown in California, and pairing Chardonnay with food. Fourteen top quality Chardonnay wines will be tasted. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served.

The line up:
Banshee Chardonnay Sonoma Coast, 2014
Expression 38 Chardonnay Russian Camp Russian River Valley, 2015
Hanzell Chardonnay Sebella Sonoma Valley, 2014
Chalk Hill Chardonnay, Chalk Hill, 2013
Patz & Hall Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2014
Lynmar Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2012
Cakebread Chardonnay, Napa Valley, 2014
Ridge Vineyards Chardonnay, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2013
Flowers Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2014
Rochioli Chardonnay, Sonoma Coast, 2014
Patz & Hall Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard, Carneros, 2013
Dumol Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2013
Lynmar Quail Hill Chardonnay, Russian River Valley, 2012
Mount Eden Chardonnay Estate, Santa Cruz Mountains, 2012
Hanzell Chardonnay, Sonoma Valley, 2013

Considering California Chardonnay will cost $80.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $84.21 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 22nd at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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).

Cancellation Policy: If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the class or you may be charged. Later cancellations will not be charged if we can fill the seat. This is often case as we regularly have waiting lists for these classes.

Utterly Unique: Henriot Cuve 38

2___cuve_38____dition_2___henriot__1820.jpeg_north_600x_whiteIn 1990, the late Joseph Henriot (1936-2015, former head of Veuve Clicquot and owner of Henriot in Champagne and Bouchard Pere et Fils in Burgundy) set aside one vat to add a portion of outstanding Blanc de Blancs each year, capturing the essence of every harvest in a sort of solera. The idea was to create a perpetual blend of 100% Chardonnay from 100% Cote de Blancs grands cru vineyards (Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly, Avize and Oger). In 2009, the first 1,000 magnums were drawn and put through the Champagne process. After another 5 years aging on the lees in Henriot’s cellars in Reims, the wine was disgorged and given a final dosage of less than 5 grams per liter. Each year, another 1,000 magnums will be released.

From Henriot:
“Its dosage of less than 5g/l gives full rein to the aromas of its terroir.  It is a beautiful pale yellow with golden highlights and a gently efferevescent mousse, leading into a bouquet of fresh butter and white flowers. Cuve 38 also reveals both mineral and slightly creamy notes underpinned by hints of liquorice. On the palate, its richness is elegant and there are avours of citrus and ripe apricot. Finally, the wine delivers elements of both honey and viennoiserie, redolent of the Henriot style.

From Bear:
HENRIOT Cuve 38, Champagne, NV     ($669.74)
100% Chardonnay all from Grand Cru vineyards fermented and aged in a reserve wine solera representing 19 vintages made using Methode Champenoise in in Magnum, aged another 5 years on the yeasts and then finished only with a less-than-0.5 dosage. (The tank or cuve holding the wine is Cuve 38 – hence the name.)     Pale-gold-straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics.  Deep dense, unique wine. Pure expression of Chardonnay and chalk, mineral and yeast but most of all development. The wine evolves in the glass as if slowly flattens and warms. It really succeeds as wine, not just as sparkling wine. My first impression score was 94+. Three hours later it was 97. Two days later (the still 2/3s full magnum stored cold and tightly stoppered) it was 100. This is stunningly good, utterly unique champagne that almost demands decanting to help it develop in a reasonable time. Or you could keep it for a few years and then … WOW! Only 2 magnums available only at Spec’s at 2410 Smith Street in Houston.

Meeting Minerality

One day last week, Sunny Brown of Michael Skurnik Wines and David Graves of Pioneer came by my office for a business meeting. As they are veteran wine guys, they brought three somewhat fancy wines to taste: PIERRE GIMONNET Oenophile Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, 2008, BRUNDLMAYER Riesling Helligenstein, Kamptal, 2013, and PAUL JABOULET Condireu Les Armandiers, Condireu, 2014. When I saw this line-up, I felt an inward cringe which I hope did not show on my face. I do not (generally) like Extra Brut Champagne (too dry). I do not (generally) like Austrian Riesling (often out of balance on the dry side). I do not (generally) like Condrieu as Viognier (from which Condrieu is made) is near the bottom of my hierarchy of wine grapes (right there with Torrontes). But, out of courtesy and maybe a bit of morbid curiosity, I agreed to taste through these three (initially at least) less than inspiring selections with them. Please pass the salt as I need to put a little on the humble pie I will now eat. Color me stunned! WOW! All three wines were stellar. Each seemed to be trying to out mineral the others. One might allow as to how “Rocks rock!” What a great way to meet minerality.

pierregimmonetoenophile_largePIERRE GIMONNET Oenophile Extra Brut Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, 2008   ($73.99)
100% Chardonnay (33.5% from Cramant, 32.5% Chouilly, 10% Oger, 22% Cuis and 2% Vertus) given a full malo-lactic fermentation (unusual for Champagne) and aged 8 months in stainless steel tanks (with two rackings) before the methode champenoise.  Aged 60+ months on the yeasts in the bottle before disgorgement. No dosage (added sugar).  Yellow-gold and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics.  Focused, delicious, supple style of Champagne offering more than enough richness to handle the dryness. Toasty, very ripe lemon and orange mostly citrus fruit and lots of mineral with ample yeasty richness. Integrated and complete. Really holds your interest. Lovely. BearScore: 94+.IMG_0930_1024x1024

BRUNDLMAYER Riesling Helligenstein, Kamptal, 2013 ($36.29)
100% Riesling fermented in stainless steel at 15-20°C and then racked into big neutral wooden casks to age on the fine lees.   Straw with green highlights and well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant (typical of higher-end, drier Rieslings) phenolics. Lovely pure dry Riesling with essence of peach and citrus and even some apple perfume but dry and restrained. Lots of mineral. Delicious. Holds your interest as it develops and opens up in the glass. BearScore: 94+.

PAUL JABOULET Condireu Les Armandiers, Condireu, 2014 ($108.99)
Condrieu-Les-Cassines-Label-500x500100% Viognier from biodynamically-farmed, 25+ year-old-vines planted on south-facing slopes cropped at very low yields of 20 hl/ha. Aged 55% in French oak barrels (5% new), 25% in small concrete eggs, and 20% in stainless steel tank. Gold-straw with green highlights and well formed legs. Dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics. Vivid, fresh, elegant, but supple mineral-centered Condrieu. Essence of peach and peach stone, citrus and peel and liquid stones. Lovely, pure, focused. About as good as Condrieu gets. BearScore: 95.

Parsing PINOT

On Monday, August 15th 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. Discussion will include some history of Pinot Noir, how it is made, where it is best grown in California, and pairing Pinot Noir with food. Fourteen Pinot Noir wines will be tasted. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served. Prepare your palate.

The line up:
Banshee Pinot Noir Sonoma County 2014
Lompoc Wine Co Santa Rita Hills Pinot Noir 2014
Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble 2013
Domaine Carneros Pinot Noir 2013
Copain Pinot Noir Les Voisins 2012
Martinelli Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2013
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2013
Lynmar Russian River Pinot Noir 2014
Lynmar Quail Hill Pinot Noir 2013
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown 2013
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Hyde Vineyard 2014
Domaine de la Cote Bloom’s Field Pinot Noir 2013
Dumol Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2013
Domaine de la Cote La Cote Pinot Noir 2013

Parsing Pinot will cost $80.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $84.21 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 15th at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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).

Pulling The Cork . . . and other things you need to know about wine


On Monday, August 8th, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Pulling The Cork . . .  and other things you need to know about wine – a one-night, next-step into tasting, drinking, and enjoying wine. Tasting because that’s how you figure out what you like. Drinking because drinking good wine is the object of all that tasting (however much fun all that tasting may be). And Enjoying because there are things you can do to enjoy wine more without spending more money on wine. And you can’t taste, drink, or enjoy without Pulling the Cork!

This two-hour class will lead you through a tasting of 12 wines including red, white, sparkling and dessert wines. Discussion will include what to look for when tasting, wine and food pairing, wine serving and storage temperatures (and why they matter), proper wine glasses (why they are important and when they are not), pulling the cork (there is both more and less to it than you might think), and more.

Pulling the Cork . . . will cost $50 per person (Cash or Check) or $52.63 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 8, 2016 at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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).

As The Wine School at l’Alliance Française, Bear Dalton has been teaching Texans about wine since 1998. He has over 35 years of experience tasting (currently over 9,000 wines a year), drinking and enjoying, and working professionally with wine – including over 30 years experience teaching and writing about wine.

NOTE:
A lot of folks on my email list have been asking for a what-you-need-to-know-about-wine class for friends who are getting into wine. This is that class. Please forward this along to whomever you think may be interested. – Bear