Two Great Wine Events This Week

While I try not to schedule two wine events in one week, sometimes things just work out that way. This week I have two events scheduled and both are exceptional.Pousse d'Or

The first, on Monday night (2/29/16) at 7pm, is an advanced Burgundy class in which we will look at the fine differences that small changes in the myriad variables of terroir, grape growing, and winemaking can make in Burgundy. Within it’s 14 wines, Taking Burgundy to the Next Level will showcase the difference terroir makes with the variables in winemaking controlled and the differences in winemaking with terroir controlled. For more information including the full list of exceptional Burgundy wines to be tasted, please go to Taking Burgundy to the Next Level

ImpressionThe second, on Wednesday night (3/2/16) at 7pm, a Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou – Vieux Chateau Certan Dinner at Brennan’s offers a chance to hear about two of Bordeaux’s top chateaux from the owner – motive force behind each – Bruno Borie of Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou (St. Julien) and Alexander Thienpont of Vieux Chateau Certan (Pomerol) – while drinking fine mature vintages of each. VCCLogo.jpgFor more information including the menu and vintages to be served, please go to a Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou – Vieux Chateau Certan Dinner.

Between the two, this promises to be a great week in wine.

Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou – Vieux Ch. Certan Dinner

On Wednesday, March 2nd at 7pm, please join Bear Dalton of Spec’s along with Bruno Borie (of Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou), Alexander Thienpont (of Vieux Chateau Certan), and François Thienpont (of Wings) for a special dinner presenting the wines of St. Julien’s Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou and Pomerol’s Vieux Chateau Certan along with the cuisine of Chef Danny Trace at Brennan’s.

Castelnau Brut, Champagne,1998 (from Magnums)

Pate de Foie Gras
Strawberry Onion Soubise, GH Farm Petite Sprouts, Toasted Pecan Croustade and Port Wine Glaze
Croix de Beaucaillou 2013
Gravette de Certan 2013

Tabasco Smoked Rabbit & Collard Green Gumbo
Jalapeno Cornbread Croutons, Covey Rise Greens and Chef’s Blend of File
Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou 2006
Vieux Chateau Certan 2012

Whiskey Lacquered Hill Country Quail
Atchafalaya Crawfish Stuffing, Bacon Braised Red Cabbage and
Bird Dog Whiskey Glaze
Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou 2003
Vieux Chateau Certan 2005

Creole Mustard Crusted Rocky Mountain Lamb Chop
Lamb Sausage & Root Vegetable Hash, Charred Peppers and Mint Chimichurri
Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou 1996
Vieux Chateau Certan 1998

Old Fashioned Chocolate Cake
Chicory Coffee Buttercream and Texicana Coffee Shot
Kopke Colheita Porto 1985

This unique wine and food event is $320 per person (all inclusive). To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

Brennan’s is located at 3300 Smith Street, Houston, Texas 77006.

Taking BURGUNDY to the Next Level

Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, on February 29th at 7pm for Taking Burgundy to the Next Level. Back on February 15th, we did a high level look at the length of the Cote d’Or. On Feb 29th, we’ll take it to the next level focusing in on the differences found in terroirs. We’ll start with five white wines from the “Cote de Blancs” villages of Chassagne, Puligny, and Meursault, all from 2011. The two Chassagnes are both 1er crus from Fontaine Gagnard, The Puligny is also a top 1er cru. And the two Meursaults are a top premier cru and what is arguably the most sought after village wine in all of Burgundy.

Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Grand Montagne 1er cru 2011
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Vergers 1er cru 2011
Bachelet Monnot Puligny Montrachet Les Folatieres 1er cru 2011
Bouchard Pere et Fils Meursault Genevrieres 1er cru 2011
Comtes Lafon Meursault Clos de la Barre 2011

Then comes a range of reds starting with two of the very top wines 1er cru wines from Beaune (from two rival producers) followed by three Volnay 1er cru reds, all from the same winery and same 2011 vintage. We’ll follow that with two 2009 1er crus from Michel Gros comparing two distinct terroir with essentially the same farming and winemaking. And we’ll finish up with two Clos Vougeot Grand Cru reds, both 2008s from the special climate of Grand Maupertuis, one from Anne Gros and the other from Michel Gros (who are cousins).

Bouchard Beaune Greves Vigne l’Enfant Jesus 1er cru 2011
Drouhin Beaune Clos des Mouches Rouge 1er cru 2011
Pousse d’Or Volnay Caillerets 1er cru 2011
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos des 60 Ouvrees 1er cru 2011
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1er cru 2011
Michel Gros Vosne Romanee aux Brulees 1er cru 2009
Michel Gros Vosne Romanee Clos des Reas 1er cru 2009
Anne Gros Clos Vougeot le Grand Maupertui Grand Cru 2008
Michel Gros Clos Vougeot Grand Maupertuis Grand Cru 2008

Taking Burgundy to the Next Level will cost $140.00 per person cash ($147.37 regular). The course will meet at 7pm on Monday February 29, 2016 at l’Alliance Française. Registration is limited to 28 people. 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).

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 about 9,000 wines a year), drinking and enjoying, and working professionally with wine – including over 30 years experience teaching and writing about wine.

Ch. Margaux Dinner at Masraff’s

On Tuesday, February 23rd at 7pm, please join Bear Dalton of Spec’s and Aurélien Valence of Chateau Margaux for a special dinner presenting the exceptional wines of Chateau Margaux along with Masraff’s unique cuisine.

ChMargauxThe Reception
Seared Scallop, Sunomono Salad on Spoon
Lobster, Mango Relish on Plantain
Tuna Maki Rolls, Wasabi Aioli
Bacon Wrapped Quail Kabobs
Pavillon Blanc 2011

The Dinner
Pan Roasted Duck Breast, Crispy Potato Croquette, Arugula, Candy Beets, Charred Baby Carrots, Blackberry Reduction
Pavillon Rouge 2010
Pavillon Rouge 2000

Herb Crusted Australian Lamb Medallion, Corn and Parsnip Puree, Shallot Confit, Thyme, Roasted Brown Beech Mushrooms,Porcini Mushroom Veal Glaze
Château Margaux 2003
Château Margaux 1999

P’tit Basque, Brie Cheese, Comte le Montagnard, Gruyere
Château Margaux 1989
Château Margaux 1985

Peach Tart, Vanilla Bean Cookie Crumble, Mango Puree, Mango Sorbet
Château Suduiraut 2011

This unique wine and food event is $450 per person inclusive. To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or This dinner is limited to a total 20 people which number includes the two hosts.

BURGUNDY’s COTE d’OR Class and Tasting

Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, on Monday February 15th at 7pm for an over-the-top overview of the fine wines of Burgundy’s Cote d’Or. We will discuss the terroir and techniques that go into making high quality white and red Burgundies in the Cote d’Or as well as the hierarchical quality classifications of Burgundy (regional, village, premier cru, grand cru). We will taste six whites (1 regional, 2 village, 2 premier cru and 1 grand cru) and ten reds (1 village, 7 premier cru, and 2 grand cru). Together these very high quality wines offer an overview of the potential quality and styles of Burgundy’s most recognized and desired region –  the Cote d’Or. The class will include bread and a selection of fine cheeses to accompany the tasting.

Jessiaume Bourgogne Blanc 2013
Jessiaume Santenay les Gravieres Blanc 1er cru 2013
Vincent Latour Meursault les Pellans 2013
Albert Joly Puligny Montrachet Vielles Vignes 2012
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Boudriotte 1er Cru 2011
Bouchard Pere & Fils Corton Charlemagne Grand Cru 2013

Cote de Beaune Red:
Jessiaume Rouge Santenay 2013
Ch. de Santenay Beaune Clos du Roi 1er cru 2013
Roblet Monnot Pommard les Arvelets 1er cru 2011
Pousse D’or Volnay Clos des 60 Ouvrees 1er Cru 2011
Pousse D’or Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2011

Cote de Nuits Red:
Georges Mugneret Gibourg Nuits St. Georges les Chaignots 1er Cru 2011
Louis Trapet Petite Chapelle Gevrey Chambertin 1er Cru 2011
Michel Gros Vosne Romanee Clos des Reas 1er Cru 2011
Taupenot Merme Morey St Denis la Riotte 1er Cru 2013
Michel Gros Clos Vougeot les Grands Maupertuis Grand Cru 2008

Burgundy’s Cote d’Or will cost $120.00 per person cash ($126.32 regular). The course will meet at 7pm on Monday February 15, 2016 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).

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 about 9,000 wines a year), drinking and enjoying, and working professionally with wine – including over 30 years experience teaching and writing about wine.

Wines That Over Deliver

ChTourSalvetThinking about Value in Wine
Value is a funny thing. When we hear value, we tend to think of lower-priced wines (many of which do not deliver value) but low-priced wine is nowhere near the whole story. While it may be hard to think of $75 bottle of wine as a value, the fact is that many (which is not to say most) are. Saying that a wine offers value means that it over-delivers at its price point. Once viewed in that light, it becomes clear that there are values – wines that over-deliver – at every price point, just as there are wines that under-deliver at every price point.

What is hard for me is to say that “this $25 wine is ‘as-good-as-that’ $75 wine” – because in the vast majority of cases, it isn’t. If it were, the market would have pushed up the price of the $25 bottle and pushed down the price of the $75 bottle. Or both. If, over the long term, both wines are stable at their price points (meaning that they have achieved market equilibrium), then, at least for those who are buying them, they deliver at least fair value at their respective price points.

While much is made of the occasional blind tasting where a cheaper wine trounces a flashier bottling, it happens less often than you might think. You hear about it because it’s so unusual and because it becomes news. An expensive wine trouncing a cheap wine isn’t news (and so is not reported) because that’s what’s supposed to (and most often does) happen. So you read about the cheap wine that won. And you wonder if it really is better.

When I read about something like that, I ask some questions:
– How where the wines tasted and presented?
– Were they tasted or drunk?
– How much time did the tasters have with each wine?
– Could they directly compare back and forth?
– Did the tasters know the prices of the two wines?
– Was there an interest in the outcome or bias on the part of whoever was conducting the tasting?