CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY – Lancelot Royer “Cuvee des Chevaliers”

No meetings this Friday so I’m posting a favorite from the last couple of weeks. Lanceleot Royer is a grower/estate bottler in the village of Cramant in the Cote de Blancs of Champagne. Cramant is a Grand Cru village so this is a 100% Chardonnay Grand Cru Champagne.

LANCELOT ROYER Cuvee des Chevaliers Brut Blanc de Blancs Grand Cru, Champagne, NV
Tech: 12% Alcohol. 100% Chardonnay all from Grand Cru vineyards in Cramant in the Cote de Blancs.       Sensory: Straw in color, bright and clear and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with crisp acidity. Fresh but ripe mixed citrus with a hint of tree fruit accented with chalky children’s vitamins mineral terroir; long clean, fresh finish. This is a toasty, yeasty, focused, rich Champagne offering citrus and spice. Classic Chardonnay bubbles. Long and alive in the mouth. Delicious. Excellent. BS: 94+. ($48.00 per 750ml)

For more on Champagne, check out BNV (Brut Non-Vintage) on the articles page.

WINE of the WEEK – PROULX – 12/30/11

Proulx (pronounced “Pru“) is a small (1500 case) family-owned (winemaker Kevin and wife Genoa Riley) winery in Paso Robles producing exciting wines from grapes sourced from Genoa Riley’s family’s Wet Side Paso Robles vineyard and others. Combining Caberernet Sauvignon and Merlot with a high persentage of Petite Verdot and Petite Syrah makes for a typical Paso red in the tradition of Linne Calado, l’Aventure, and Viña Robles among others.

PROULX “Merveille” Red Blend, Paso Robles, 2008 
Tech Note: 14.8% Alcohol. A blend of 44% Cab Sauv, 30% Petite Verdot, 14% Merlot, and 12% Petite Sirah aged 21 months in 12% new French oak barrels, 6% new Hungarian oak barrels, 4% new American oak barrels, 78% Neutral oak barrels.     Sensory Note:  Deep purple red iin color with well-formed legs; dry, full-bodied with balanced acidity and chewy phenolics. Big, rich, supple, lovely in the mouth. Lots of mostly black fruit with fine spice, supple oak, note of tobacco, hint of dry chocolate.      Bear Note: Tastes like Paso Robles in the very best possible way. YUM. Satisfying but brilliant in the mouth. BS: 92+. ($21.00 per 750ml)

Bubbles, Riesling, and Pinot Noir

Mike Veseth posted “That’s Where The Money Goes” on his Wine Economist blog citing Nielson figures showing holiday (the weeks leading up to Christmas and New Year’s) sales indicating the big winners in extra wine sales for the holidays. A good, brief, interesting post that, unlike some Wine Economist posts, is hard to disagree with. To see the post, go to

The meat of the Nielson info is “The U.S. consumer is much more inclined to open up their pocket books during the holidays.  While overall wine sales are 67% higher in that week leading up to Christmas compared to an average week, that jumps up to 124% higher for wines priced $15-$20, and 180% higher for wines $20 and higher. And which varieties tend to really shine during the holidays? Rieslings and Pinot Noir lead the way – with sales increases compared to an average week in the year 107% and 74% higher respectively, even more of a jump than the wine category overall. By country, wines from Germany, tied to that Riesling jump, followed by France and Italy exhibit the greatest holiday sales leap compared to an average week, while wines from Oregon pop the most when looking at major U.S. wine producing states. “

I found that part of that part of Veseth’s post interesting but was even more interested in the end. He states
” Trading up for the holidays doesn’t surprise me, but I must admit that I would not have predicted surging sales for Riesling and Pinot Noir. Those are actually the wines that I recommend to my students for festive holiday meals (along with bubbles, of course). I guess the word is out!”

The word is and has been out. Bubbly, Riesling, and Pinot Noir – from where ever in the world they come – are often the best and always among the most versatile wines for pairing with food. If I am packing a wine bag to take to a BYOB restaurant or to a friend’s house for dinner – and I don’t already know what we’ll be eating – those three wines are almost guaranteed to be in the bag. If you peeked into my beverage ‘fridge at home, you see Riesling (Germany, Washington State, and New Zealand) and bubbly (Champagne, Tasmania, California, and other French) and not much else. And my under-the-kitchen-counter wine “cave” is well stocked with Pinot Noir (Burgundy, California, Oregon, and New Zealand). These three – Bubbly, Riesling, and Pinot Noir – are the way to go.

Here are some of my every-day and weekend (better than every-day but not “special occasion” or “break-the-bank”) picks in these three categories:

Varichon et Clerc Brut Blanc de Blancs, France, NV
Gruet Blanc de Noirs, New Mexico, NV
François Labet Cremant Rose, Bourgogne, NV
Jansz Brut Tasmania, NV
Jansz Brut Rose Tasmania, NV
Domaine Carneros Brut, Carneros, 2006
Marniquet Brut Tradition Champagne, NV

Polka Dot Riseling, Pfalz, 2010
Selbach Riesling QbA, Mosel, 2009 (in a screw cap liter bottle)
Schloss Vollrads Riesling QbA, Rheingau, 2010
Ch. Ste. Michelle Dr. Loosen “Eroica” Riesling, Washington State, 2009 and 2010
Donnhoff Estate Riesling, Nahe, 2010
Zind Humbrecht Riesling, Alsace, 2009

Pinot Noir:
Leonce Bocquet Bourgogne Pinot Noir Screwcap 2009
Hahn Pinot Noir, Monterey County, 2009/2010
Pierre Labet Bourgogne Pinot Noir Vielles Vignes, 2008/2009
Wild Earth Pinot Noir, Central Otago, 2006
Vincent Girardin Cuvee St. Vincent Pinot Noir, Bourgogne, 2009
Expression 44* Pinot Noir Eola Amity Hills 2009
Archery Summit Premiere Cuvee Pinot Noir, Willamette Valley, 2009

Announcing a 2009 Bordeaux Tasting

2009 Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting

at the InterContinental Hotel

On January 19th, 2012, Spec’s will host over thirty Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers presenting forty top-appellation Bordeaux wines all from the excellent 2009 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. This is the first time Houston has ever hosted such a delegation from Bordeaux. The event will be held at the INTER-CONTINENTAL HOTEL. The list of well-known and highly regarded wineries has come together nicely.

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 from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a spread of artisanal cheeses and breads chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will be tasting from Riedel Degustazione glasses.

For more information, please go to

Announcing a new Wine 101 class

The Wine School at l’Alliance Française presents

WINE 101: A Four-Week Course on Wine Basics

Please join Spec’s corporate fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for this four-week Wine Basics course. “Wine 101” is designed both for those just developing their interest in wine and those who feel the need for a good review to help organize their tasting and thinking about wine. This class also would be a good place to start for a service professional looking to move more into the wine side of the restaurant business or anyone looking to move into the wholesale or retail wine trade. As wine from all over the world is now so readily available, the 40 wines we will taste over the four-week class will come from all over the world.  The four-week Wine 101 will cost $220.00 total per person cash ($231.58 regular) for all four sessions. The course will meet at 7pm on Monday January 23, January 30, February 6, and February 13 of 2012.

For details and complete information, please go to

CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY – Laurent Perrier Brut “LP”

Champagne Friday just makes sense. Friday afternoon comes and the cork pops. If the first wine is not so good we’ll go to Plan B and maybe C or D. When we get to a good one, we’ll have a sip and get on with business. But there will be a blog post. And some more sipping. For our first Champagne Friday, we have …

Tech: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 50% Chardonnay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 15% Pinot Meunier.   Sensory: light-gold-straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and just a hint skin contact phenolics.  Medium rich, toasty nose that leads to a palate offering mixed citrus with some earthy red fruit, lots of toasted-yeasty-bready notes and an earth and mineral terroir component. Satisfying and delicious. Can serve as a richer aperitif or sipping Champagne but is also well suited to food. Lovely feel in the mouth. BS: 93.


Hello and welcome to I’m Bear Dalton and I will be blogging on this space about wine from around the world and a lot of other wine, food, and Houston related topics. Look for weekly features including Champagne Friday and a Wine of the Week as well as other posts. I’ll also be posting new events (classes, tastings, dinners, etc.) which can also be found under the Events tab and full blown articles (as opposed to blog posts) that can be found under the Articles tab.