10/13/14 – Taste with Ch. LEOVILLE POYFERRE’s Anne Cuvelier at SPEC’s on Smith Street

AnneCuvelierOn Monday, October 13, at 6:30pm, please join me (Bear Dalton) in welcoming Anne Cuvelier of the Cuvelier family, owners of Ch. Leoville Poyferre and Ch. Moulin Riche in St. Julien and Ch. Le Crock in St. Estephe. Anne will guide us through a tasting of six of her family’s wines including:
Ch. Leoville Poyferre 2011, 2010, and 2006
Ch. Moulin Riche 2007
Pavillon de Poyferre 2010 (the second wine of both Ch. Leoville Poferre and Ch. Moulin Riche)
Ch. Le Crock 2008

When: Monday, October 13th at 6:30pm
Where: The Second Floor meeting rooms at Spec’s on Smith Street
Cost: a $10 donation to the Houston Area Women’s Center (in cash or check only please)
RSVP: to MarloAmmons@specsonline.com or 832-660-0250. Limited to 60 guests.

Release Alert: OPUS ONE and OVERTURE

Here’s a little advance notice with my notes on the new vintage of Opus and the first release in Texas of “Overture,” the second wine of Opus. The wines will be in Spec’s on Friday, October 2, 2014. They cannot be purchased until then. Up to this point, Overture has been sold only at the winery and to a couple of cruise lines. I tasted these wines in August at the winery with winemaker Michael Silacci (and 22 Spec’s customers) and again in my office on September 24th. Please consider this your “heads up” (pun-intended) on these wines.
OVERTURE (by Opus One), Napa Valley, NV ($106.99)
A 14.5% alcohol, multi-vintage, mostly Cabernet Sauvignon (but undetermined) blend aged primarily in new French with small amounts going into 2nd and 3rd use French oak barrels. Winemaker Michael Silacci says the idea here is to make a ready to drink wine that reflects the Opus estate without worrying about reflecting a vintage. Deep-purple-black in color with well formed legs; dry, full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Rich, ripe, developed, juicy with as much or more black as red fruit with tobacco and dark spice. Earthy, rustic, robust. Satisfying. Ready to drink but will keep for a good while. BearScore: 92+.

OpusOneOPUS ONE, Napa Valley, 2011 ($226.99)
A 14% alcohol blend of 71% Cabernet Sauvignon, 11% Merlot, 9% Petit Verdot, 8% Cabernet Franc and 1% Malbec . The component lots got an average of 17 days of skin contact in the vats and were aged 18 months French oak barrels (all new). Purple-black in color with red highlights and well-formed legs; dry, full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Complex still developing Cabernet blend offering darkest red and black fruit accented with tobacco leaf and cedar with black pepper, earth, and hints of menthol and bell pepper. Complex and evolving in the glass and even in the mouth. Serious and seriously good. BearScore: 95.


LabelsA VALUE BORDEAUX SEMINAR AND TASTING benefitting the Houston Area Women’s Center
7pm on Monday, October 6, 2014 at l’Alliance Française
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 7pm on October 6th 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. Bread and cheese will be served.

The following Bordeaux wines will be served:
Ch Nicot Entre Deux Mers 2013
Ch Tour Leognan Pessac Leognan Blanc 2012
Ch Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur 2011
Ch Le Conseiller Bordeaux 2011
20 Mille, Bordeaux, 2011
Ch. Ampelia Castillon Cotes De Bordeaux 2011
Ch Puygueraud Bordeaux Cotes De Francs 2011
Ch Laplagnotte Bellevue St Emilion 2011
Ch Haut Vigneau Pessac Leognan Rouge 2012
Ch Pontoise Cabarrus Haut Medoc 2010
Ch Tour l’Aspic Pauillac 2008
Ch Du Glana Saint Julien 2009
Ch Petit Vedrines Sauternes 2010

To reserve your spot, please contact Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 (after 10am) or MarloAmmons@specsonline.com.
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).

09/26/14 – The WEEK in WINE

SchramBldeBlIt’s been a busy week. In addition to a new look applied to and several new article pages (look under the “THINKING About Wine” tab) posted to BearOnWine.com, things have been hopping (sorry, can’t resist) at Spec’s and on Spec’s Fine Wine.

New Posts at Spec’s Fine Wine include:
The Friday Fizz: SCHRAMSBERG Blanc de Blancs, North Coast, 2010
In 1965, Jack and Jamie Davies discovered the run-down Schramsberg winery on a mountainside above St. Helena. Their son Hugh was born the same year. The historic Schramsberg winery and vineyards had been abandoned for years; the antique Victorian mansion looked down on the tangled remnants of what used to be gardens behind which were the gaping entrances to Jacob Schram’s underground cellars hand-dug by Chinese laborers. (Read More …)

ChSmithHautLafitteSave the Date for our Annual Bordeaux Tasting at the Crystal Ball Room at the Rice
On Tuesday, January 20, 2015, Spec’s will host approximately 45 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers presenting over 60 mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux wines all from the 2012 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. This is our fourth time to host such a delegation from Bordeaux. Each of the last three years’ events was smashing a success so the chateaux are coming back and they are bringing friends so we will be showing more wines. (Read More …)

cabassedeuxangeslabel1Daily Drinker: Domaine de CABASSE Les Deux Anges, CdRV Sablet, 2012
Here’s a wine I wish I could take credit for Spec’s selling but, even if I’d been there, I’d have missed it. Here’s what happened: back in 1998, Spec’s owners John and Lindy Rydman were on a trip to the Rhone and were offered a morning horse back ride through the vineyards that they turned down. Instead, they went early to the hotel restaurant (think country inn) where they were scheduled to have lunch. When they went in, they noticed that the hotel/restaurant was also a wine domaine. (Read More …)

The Drinks Business (a British beverage industry site) reports that Winston Churchill is supposed to have drunk 42,000 bottles of Champagne in his lifetime. They say “Britain’s famous wartime leader drank 42,000 bottles of Champagne in his lifetime, according to a new book. Sir Winston Churchill’s fondness for fizz made headline news after it was reported by Mail Online that the British prime minister drank a staggering 42,000 bottles of Champagne. Along with other “dotty but true” facts, it was taken from 1,411 QI Facts to Knock You Sideways by John Lloyd, John Mitchinson and James Harken, the team behind the British TV show QI … The consumption between 1908 and Churchill’s death in 1965 works out at two bottles a day … (Read More …)

Also on Champagne, The Drinks Business reports:
As this year’s harvest in Champagne draws to a close, producers are heralding the quality of the Chardonnay grapes. Speaking to the drinks business on Wednesday this week, Veuve Clicquot senior winemaker Cyril Brun said that the vintage had produced “beautiful results with the Chardonnay”, with “a very good balance between the sugar and acidity”. Meanwhile, in a note sent to db yesterday evening, Bruno Paillard from the Champagne house by the same name, described Chardonnay as “the winner of the 2104 harvest”. Following a “bad summer” in Champagne according to Champagne De Castelnau’s Louis-Charles Pluot, with “cool and rainy” conditions, the vintage was rescued by a “very nice September, with two, warm sunny weeks”. (Read More …)

Wine-Searcher.com reports that
Many Burgundy vintners finished picking earlier this week and Claude Chevalier, president of the BIVB said that yields are “almost back to normal” following a string of lower-than-average production vintages. At his own Burgundy estate – Domaine Chevalier in Ladoix-Serrigny – Chevalier said: “The berries have good concentration, with phenolic ripeness”, and – importantly – there were plenty of them. (Read More …)

In the Santa Rosa Press Democrat, Dan Berger rants on “Natural Wine”
What’s behind ‘Natural Wine’?
No consumer would ignore a natural product for an unnatural one, and that distinction is at the heart of a huge wine controversy that, chances are, you haven’t heard about. Wine is basic: Grapes are crushed, fermented, aged, and packaged so we can consume the result with a meal. The rest is marketing. Ah, but the bizarre under-culture of wine is filled with strange movements, ideas, philosophies, strategies and pressures that prematurely turn winemakers’ hair gray and cause wineries to do all sorts of strange things to stay ahead of the curve. And among the most mystical is the phrase “natural wine.” (Read More …)

Catching Up

While this space has been quiet, I’m actually writing a lot right now. However, most of it is showing up at SpecsFineWine.com rather than here. Why? SpecsFineWine.com is the new fine wine only web-site I built for Spec’s and our fine wine customers. A lot of the content I have been generating for BearOnWine will be moving over there. Posts on Spec’s Fine Wine include regular features (The Big Deal, Daily Drinkers, The List, and The Friday Fizz) along with events and classes, winery profiles, articles, and opinion. And there are whole pages For Bordeaux, Burgundy, Champagne, California, and more with a lot more content coming.

Here are some links you may want to check out:

ChGloriaLabelPATZ & HALL Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay and Pinot Noir

THE BIG DEAL: One incredible deal each week on a great wine of Person and Place.
Ch. GLORIA, St. Julien, 2011

THE LIST: Each week a different list. Sometimes value, sometimes red, sometimes old favorites, sometimes nothing but new.
Five Fine Party Wines For Under $10

Ch. Martinon

Ch. Martinon

DAILY DRINKERS: A great pick on a fine wine (a wine made by a specific someone and from a specific somewhere) priced always under $20, most often under $15, and sometimes even under $10 per bottle. These are fine wines for daily drinking.
Ch. MARTINON Entre Deux Mers 2012

THE FRIDAY FIZZ: Check in every Friday for the week’s pick in bubbles, sparkles, and fizz. From Tasmania to Taittinger, from California to Cava, if it pops, it hops.
JanszLabelJANSZ Brut & Rosé

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT WINE: A four week class starting on 10/21/14.

So what about BearOnWine? Change is on the way. We have a new look and some new features are coming soon, so stay tuned.

Champagne Friday: ROEDERER ESTATE Brut NV

Champagne Friday is moving and changing. It is moving to the new SpecsFineWine.com site and it is changing from “Champagne Friday” to “The Friday Fizz“. The move puts it where it now belongs. And the name change is reflective of the many sparkling wines – not all Champagne – I want to cover. This week’s entry is Roederer Estate Brut from Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley.

RodererBrutLabelROEDERER ESTATE Brut, Anderson Valley, NV ($18.99)
A 12% alcohol, estate-grown 60% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir methode champenoise sparkler aged 2 years on yeasts and dosed to a 1.2% residual sugar Brut finish. Medium-gold-straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-light-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Fresh but with a welcome richness from the presence of up to 15% cask-aged multi-vintage reserve wines. Fine mix of citrus and tree fruit with some spice and good yeasty-nutty notes as well as a clean mineral note. Has enough weight and richness to take on some food. Lovely fizz for the money. BearScore: 91.

CLICK HERE to head on over to SpecsFineWine.com and check out the whole Friday Fizz post.

09/17/14 – The TOUR de MEDOC

WendyNarbyA Class and Tasting featuring the Wines of the Medoc with Wendy Narby

On Wednesday, September 17th at 7pm, please join me (Bear Dalton) at l’Alliance Française in welcoming my friend Wendy Narby of the Conseil Des Vins Du Médoc for The Tour de Medoc: a class and tasting offering a virtual tour through the wine appellations that make up the whole of the Medoc. British/French wine professional Wendy Narby will lead us through ten wines including:

Ch. Tour St Bonnet, Medoc, 2010
Ch. Senejac, Haut Medoc, 2011
Ch. Bibian, Haut Medoc, 2010
Ch. Pontoise Cabarrus, Haut Medoc, 2010
Ch. Poujeaux. Haut Medoc – Moulis. 2011
Ch. Fourcas Borie, Haut Medoc – Listrac, 2008
Ch. Beau Site, St. Estephe, 2010
Ch. Pontac Lynch, Margaux, 2011
Pavillon de Poyferre, St Julien, 2010
Ch. Batailley, Pauillac, 2010

To reserve your spot, please contact Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 (after 10am) or MarloAmmons@specsonline.com. The cost of this class is a $20 donation (cash or check please) to the Houston Area Women’s Center. L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., l’Alliance is on the south-east corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

Wendy Narby has spent the last 25 years in the French Food and Wine Industry. She is a teacher at the Ecole du Vin, has been a wine and food consultant in Paris and Bordeaux for the last 20 years. British born Wendy’s wine experience is not just based upon study but years working as a marketing consultant, journalist, teacher and guide. Leaving Paris to marry a local Château owner and negociant Wendy now shares her passion for the region with friends and clients from all over the world. Wendy now teaches professionals and the general public in Bordeaux, the UK and as far away as Asia and the US, as well as accompanying private wine tours for amateurs and enthusiasts alike. Her aim is to open the doors of the world’s most famous vineyards, explaining and making the wonderful world of French wine more accessible. Not being completely biased she often escapes to Champagne, Burgundy and the Rhone to explore other regions and wines. Wendy blogs on Bordeaux at InsiderTasting.com

CIMAbout the Conseil des Vins du Médoc
Formed in 1969, the Conseil des Vins du Médoc is the official body which represents all of the wine-producers in Médoc from the 8 appellations (Médoc, Haut-Médoc, Margaux, Listrac, Moulis, Saint-Julien, Pauillac and Saint-Estèphe) and from the different families of wines (Crus Bourgeois, Grands Crus Classés, Crus Artisans, brand wines and wines from cooperatives and other independent wines).

Two Classes and Two Events

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.

On Wednesday, September 10th 2014 at 6:00pm
(at Spec’s 2410 Smith Street Warehouse Store, 2nd floor), please join me (Bear Dalton) in welcoming second generation Rhone importer John Junguenet (son of “Wines of France” founder Alain Junguenet) for a tasting of some of the famous Rhone reds from their portfolio. For all the details and complete list the wines to be served, click here.

On Thursday, September 11th 2014 at 7:00pm
, Please join Bertrand Vigouroux (the “King of Cahors”) and restaurant l’Etoile for an adventurous five-course Cahors Malbec dinner at l’Etoile. Price per person is $105.00. Booking is directly through l’Etoile (click here) or call 832.668.5808

Tasting, Enjoying, and Appreciating Wine
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.

A New Fine Wine Site: SpecsFineWine.com

You may have noticed a recent drop off in my blogging activity.
Here’s why: I’ve been working on creating and loading content into a new, dedicated Fine Wine Web Site for Spec’s called “SPEC’s Fine Wine
You might note that Spec’s already has a web site and you’d be right. The only problem is that that sight does a good job on covering most bases for most Spec’s customers but has left the fine wine customer a bit out in the cold. This new sight will bring lots information to the wine lovers among us.
Welcome to SpecsFineWine.com (aka “SPEC’s FINE WINE”)As Spec’s has grown over the year’s, we have gotten better at just about everything we do except communicating with our fine wine customers. It’s not that we don’t have a lot of fine wine and it’s not that we don’t have a lot to say. In fact, Spec’s has more fine wine than anyone else and we, the wine buyers and consultants at Spec’s, have a lot of information to share. We just hadn’t found the right way to go about it – until now. With this new blog-based web site, we now have a way to publish all the information we have for our fine wine customers without inundating our other customers with wine esoterica they don’t care about.
So how does it work? Come to the site whenever you like and browse through all the information (which we will be adding to daily) or, by clicking the “Follow SPEC’s Fine Wine” button and entering your email address, you can subscribe to the site and be notified by email whenever we post something new.
Get your geek on and check us out at SpecsFineWine.com for information, reviews, events, offers, and features all focused on your favorite beverage – Fine Wine.
This is going to be fun.
(Once SpecsFineWine.com is locked and loaded, expect some interesting changes here at BearOnWine.com.)

A Stunning Bordeaux Bargain: Ch. PONTET CANET, Pauillac, 2011

Ch. PONTET CANET, Pauillac, 2011 ($99.49)logo_site
A 13.5% alcohol blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 35% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 1% Petite Verdot fermented using pump-over in a mix of wooden and concrete tanks and aged in all French oak barrels (60% new). Sensory: Deep purple-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with balanced acidity; medium-chewy phenolics. Supple, dark and darker red and some black fruit. Tobacco and gravel with hints of graphite, dark floral, and black pepper. Lots of richness but it is alive in the mouth. Quite fresh. Classic Pauillac. One of the great wines of the 2011 vintage. BearScore: 95.

About Pontet Canet:pontet_canet2011
In the early 18th century,Jean-François de Pontet, royal governor of the Médoc, combined several vineyard plots in Pauillac. Years later, his descendants added neighbouring vines in a place named Canet. This was the beginning of one of the largest estates in the Médoc, which quite naturally added the name of its founder to that of the land registry reference.

A century later, Pontet-Canet was included in the famous 1855 classification, thereby confirming its membership among the elite of the Médoc. This privileged position did not go unnoticed by one of the most important Bordeaux shippers of the time, Herman Cruse, who bought the estate in 1865. He built new cellars, modernised the winemaking facilities, and established the wine’s reputation around the world. The Cruse family owned Pontet-Canet for 110 years, until Guy Tesseron of Cognac, acquired it in 1975.

6Over the centuries Pontet-Canet has been owned by only three different families. Today it is run by Alfred Tesseron with his niece Melanie (daughter of his brother Gerard Tesseron) who is the descendant of Guy Tesseron. Since he took over the management of the family estate in 1994, Alfred Tesseron has steadily improved the quality even as he has converted the land to biodynamic farming, reverted to using horse for much of the work in the vineyards, installed a new vat room with concrete tanks, and (beginning with he 2012 vintage) begun using concrete amphoras for the aging of a part of each vintage (with the majority still going into oak barrels.chevaux03

Technical Information:
Appellation: Pauillac
Surface area: 120 Hectares of which 81 are in vines
quaternary gravel
Planted to: 62% Cabernet Sauvignon, 32% Merlot, 4% Cabernet Franc, and 2% Petit Verdot
Vines average age : 40-45 years
Method of Viticulture : Certified Organic and Biodynamic
Plantation density : 9500 vines per hectare
Pruning : Double Guyot pruning – médocain style
Harvest : By hand in small boxes