2017 Bordeaux Vintage Q & A

Spec’s Annual Bordeaux Cru Classé Tasting is coming up next Thursday January 16thWe’ll be tasting the 2017 vintage so I thought a little question and answer on Bordeaux 2017 might be in order.

Question: How is 2017 as a Bordeaux vintage?
Answer: 2017 is complicated.
 As a vintage, the wines are Very Good to Excellent with some Outstanding wines. So why complicated? Because 2017 is a “frost vintage” and most people don’t understand what that entails.

Q. What’s a “frost vintage?”
A. Just that – a vintage affected by frost.
Which is to say springtime temperatures dropping below freezing when the vines are at a vulnerable stage. In 2017, this happened on April 27th when temperatures in some parts of Bordeaux locally dropped to as low as 25°F. It should be noted that that most of chateaux in Bordeaux had at least some small part of their vineyard affected by the cold with a few properties suffering close to 100% frost effect.

Q. What was the effect of the frost?
A. There were two ways the frost affected the vines, primary and secondary.
 The vines that suffered the primary affect either didn’t bear fruit or yielded less than 20% of the crop of a normal year as the vine set a “second crop” after the initial crop was frost damaged. We’ll come back to the secondary effect (which turned out to be a bit of a blessing) in a minute.

Q. How did the primary frost affect effect quality?
A. It didn’t. 
The primary affect simply reduced production. The vines that were affected did not produce. The other vines did and what they produced was as noted above Very Good to Excellent with some Outstanding wines. One of the reasons why is the secondary frost effect. The vines that showed no primary frost damage were affected in that the cold stopped the vegetative growth of the vine which then had to restart and slowly regain momentum after a several-days pause (the secondary frost effect). This growth pause very likely explains the extraordinary freshness and pretty red fruit character the best of the 2017 wines exhibit.

Q. So you’re saying that 2017 is a high-quality Bordeaux vintage that made less wine than normal?
A. YES!
 2017 is the fourth in an unprecedented string of at least five and maybe six consecutive vintages (beginning with 2014) making high quality wines. Of them, 2017 is the freshest and “prettiest” of the lot. The wines are delightfull and delicious with an immediate appeal and the acid structure to age well. For many people, they will compare very well to 1999 which is one of the all-time pretty vintages that drank well on release and that is drinking beautifully now at 20 years. Except 2017 is better. Substantially better.

Q. Where can I taste these Pretty, Very Good to Excellent and even Outstanding wines?
A. 5:00 – 8:30pm  Thursday, January 16, 2020  at The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice. 
SPEC’s will host over 30 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers presenting 57 Cru Classé Bordeaux wines from the lovely, pure, fresh, enticing 2017 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. This is our ninth year in a row to host such a delegation from Bordeaux in Houston. This is the best lineup of wines we’ve had to date. We’ll be tasting great wines from every major appellation in Bordeaux. The tasting will open at 5pm and run thru to 8:30pm, giving you ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a snack buffet chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses.


The 2017 Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting will cost $100.00 per person (including a 5% discount for cash or check, regular price is $105.26). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn at coburnsusan2@gmail.com or at 713-854-7855.

The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice is located in downtown Houston at 909 Texas Avenue between Travis and Main. Valet Parking will be available. Uber or Lyft are highly recommended.

2017 Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting

5:00 – 8:30pm  Thursday, January 16, 2020  at The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice

On Thursday, January 16th, SPEC’s will host over 30 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers presenting 57 (Mostly) Cru Classé Bordeaux wines from the lovely, pure, fresh, enticing 2017 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. This is our ninth year in a row to host such a delegation from Bordeaux in Houston and this is the best lineup of wines we’ve had to date. Our list of highly regarded Bordeaux wines includes …

Dry White Wines: Ch. Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, Blanc de Lynch Bages (2018)
Pessac Leognan Rouge: Ch. Carbonnieux, Ch. les Carmes Haut-Brion, Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, Clos Marsalette, Ch. Haut Bailly.
Margaux: Ch. Brane Cantenac and Baron de Brane, Ch. Cantenac Brown, Ch. Giscours, Ch. du Tertre, and Ch. Ferriere.  
St. Julien: Ch. Branaire Ducru, Ch. Saint Pierre, Ch. Gloria, Ch. Talbot, Ch. Beychevelle, Ch. Ducru Beaucaillou with La Croix Ducru-Beaucaillou and Ch. Lalande Borie, Ch. Leoville Barton, Ch. Langoa Barton, and Ch. Leoville Poyferre.
Pauillac: Ch. Grand Puy Lacoste and Lacoste Borie, Ch. Haut Bages Liberal, Ch. Pichon Longueville – Baron de Longueville and les Griffons de Pichon Baron, Ch. Pichon Longueville – Comtesse de Lalande and Reserve de la Comtesse, Ch. Lynch Bages and Echo de Lynch Bages, Ch. Haut Batailley, and Ch. Pibran.
St. Estephe: Ch. les Ormes de Pez, Ch. Phelan Segur.
Haut-Medoc: Ch. Cantemerle.
Pomerol: Ch. Clinet, Ch. Le Croix St. Georges, and Ch. Gazin.
St. Emilion: Ch. Troplong Mondot Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere, Clos de l’Oratoire, La Confession, Ch. Daugay, Ch. Pavie Macquin, and Ch. Larcis Ducasse.
Bordeaux, Cotes de Bordeaux, Satellites: Ch. d’Aiguilhe Castillon – Cotes de Bordeaux, Ch. Croix Mouton Bordeaux Superieur, Ch. Cap Saint Georges St. Georges St Emilion, and Ch. Puygueraud Francs – Cotes de Bordeaux.
Sweet Whites: Ch. Suduiraut and Lions de Suduiraut.
 
We’ll be tasting great wines from every major appellation in Bordeaux. The tasting will open at 5pm and run thru to 8:30pm, giving you ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a snack buffet chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses.

The 2017 Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting will cost $100.00 per person (including a 5% discount for cash or check, regular price is $105.26). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn at coburnsusan2@gmail.com or at 713-854-7855.

The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice is located in downtown Houston at 909 Texas Avenue between Travis and Main. Valet Parking will be available. Uber or Lyft are highly recommended.

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the event. No shows and later cancellations will be charged.

Exploring Red Port

Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, at 7pm on Monday, December 9th at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Exploring Red Port. Port wines are numbered among the classic wines of the world and as such are quite collectable. The most desired are the red declared Vintage Port. In this class, we will be focusing only on those Vintage Ports and the other styles (LBV, Crusted Port, Reserve Port) that seek to emulate true Vintage Port. We will not be tasting anything with extended cask aging so no Tawnies or Colheitas. Topics of discussion will include types of red Port, the origins of Port wine and how it evolved, Serving and Drinking Port, Port Vintages, and Decanting Port (including a decanting demonstration). Sixteen Port wines will be tasted and bread and cheese will be served.  We’ll taste 16 wines of which eleven are Vintage Ports with a focus on the classic 2017 vintage but going back to 1985.

We will taste:
Graham’s Six Grapes
Graham’s River Quinta
Graham’s Late Bottled Vintage Porto  2012
Smith Woodhouse Late Bottled Vintage Porto 2004
Dow’s Crusted Port NV
Dow’s Senhora Da Ribeira Vintage Port 2009
Fonseca 2017
Taylor Fladgate 2017
Quinta de Vesuvio 17 Vintage
Cockburn  2017 Vintage
Graham’s 2017 Vintage
Graham’s Stone Terraces Vintage Porto 2017
Dow’s Vintage 2017
Dow’s Vintage 2016
Dow’s Vintage 1994
Dow’s Vintage 1985

Exploring Red Port will cost $100.00 per person cash ($105.26 regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Bear Dalton at 713-854-5129 or BearDalton@mac.com. (Susan is out recovering from shoulder surgery. Please keep her in your prayers.)

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (77006), 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.

With over 40-years experience in the fine wine business and 30-plus-years experience teaching about wine, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton is one of the top wine authorities as well as the most experienced wine educator in Texas.

Classic Cabernet Class and Tasting

Do you love great Cabernet Sauvignon? Do you thrill at the thought of elegant, balanced wines that taste of variety and place? If so, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, at 7pm on Monday, December 2nd at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a taste of Classic Cabernet. We’ll taste and discuss fourteen Cabernet-dominant wines mostly from Napa Valley made using responsibly-farmed grapes using winemaking that respects the grapes and the places they are grown. We will discuss the farming and winemaking practices that make these wines taste as they do. At each price point, these wines represent the very best of the most balanced Cabernet being made in the US today. The wines tasted will be served in Riedel Degustazione stemware. A selection of cheeses and bread will be offered during each class.

The lineup includes:
Louis Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley VT
Robert Mondavi Napa 2016
Snowden Cabernet The Ranch 2016
Joseph Phelps Cabernet Sauvignon 6/cs 2015
Ridge Santa Cruz 2016
Robert Mondavi Oakville 2016
DuMOL Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa, 2017
Nickel & Nickel De Carle Cabernet Sauvignon 2017
Robert Mondavi To Kalon Private Reserve 2015
Quintessa 2016
Ridge Monte Bello 2016
Joseph Phelps Insignia Napa 2015
Opus One 2016
Eisele Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

This Classic Cabernet Class and Tasting will cost $120 per person (cash or check) or $126.32 (regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Bear Dalton at 713-854-5129 or BearDalton@mac.com. (Susan is out recovering from shoulder surgery. Please keep her in your prayers.)

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (77006), 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.

With over 40-years experience in the wine business and 30-plus-years experience teaching about wine, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton is one of the top wine authorities as well as the most experienced wine educator in Texas.

The TOUR de FIZZ or “Around the World in Sparkling Wine”

When I first think of sparkling wine, the image is of a bottle or glass of Champagne, the real stuff from Champagne in France. And that is as it should be.
But …  There are outposts of quality in other parts of the world where fine and even excellent sparkling wines are made so please join me (Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton) for a tour of some of those bubbly producers where quality is the goal – a sort of Tour de Fizz – ending (as it should) with an extended stay in Champagne. We’ll convene at 7pm on Monday, November 18th at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for The TOUR de FIZZ.

We’ll taste and discuss the range of Champagne-process sparkling wines from around the world with stops in Italy, Spain, elsewhere in France (not Champagne), the US, The UK, and Germany, all on the way to Champagne as we look at how they are made, their styles, where and from what grapes they are made, serving, glassware, and bubbly wine with food. The wines tasted will be served in Riedel Degustazione stemware. A selection of cheeses and bread will be offered during each class.

The lineup includes:
Zonin Prosecco NV
Perelada Cava Brut Spanish Sparkling NV
Mercat Rose Rose Cava NV
Can Xa Brut Rose Cava NV
Blason de Bourgogne Cremant de Bourgogne Brut NV
Roederer Estate Brut Anderson Valley – Sparkling NV
Nyetimber Classic Cuvee 6/cs (england) NV
Schloss Vaux Reserve Riesling Brut Sekt Rheingauer 2014
JP Marniquet Brut Tradition Champagne NV
Andre Clouet Brut Grand Reserve Champagne
Denis Chaput “Promesse de l’Aube” Blanc de Blancs (100% Chardonnay) Champagne NV
Andre Clouet “Cuvee 1911” (100% Pinot Noir) Brut NV
Egly Ouriet “les Vignes De Vrigny” (100% Pinot Meunier) Champagne NV
Camille Saves Rose Brut Grand Cru Champagne NV

The TOUR de FIZZ will cost $60 per person (cash or check) or $63.16 (regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

L’Alliance Française is the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (77006), 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.

With over 40 years experience in the wine business and 30- plus years experience teaching about wine, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton is one of the top wine authorities as well as the most experienced wine educator in Texas.

Jane Ferrari of Yalumba Talk and Tasting honoring our friend Traci Hahn and benefitting The Rose

On Thursday, October 24th at 7pm, please join me in welcoming our always entertaining and ever informative friend Jane Ferrari, traveling winemaker of Yalumba, to l’Alliance Française for a talk and tasting of Yalumba’s wines.
The ever-popular Ms. Ferrari, who is a native of Australia’s Barossa Valley, will talk about where the wines come from and how they are made as well as the history and traditions of both Yalumba and the Barossa Valley. Jane Ferrari is a trained winemaker (educated at Australia’s esteemed Roseworthy College) who gets her hands dirty both in the vineyards and the wineries in Barossa but also travels the world telling the Yalumba story. She is down-to-earth and very entertaining in a way that must be experienced. Jane first visited Houston in October of 2003 and utterly charmed a group of over 60 wine fans. She has been back almost every year since and has wowed us all each time. In addition to information about wine, you may hear about Australian and American culture (or lack thereof), Baseball, Elvis, and other tangentially related topics. All proceeds will benefit the The Rose in honor of Traci Hahn (please see below).

We will taste:
Jansz Brut Rosé, Tasmania, NV
Yalumba Y-Series Chardonnay
Yalumba Y-Series Viognier
Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Eden Valley Viognier
Yalumba Y-Series Shiraz
Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Shiraz
Yalumba Samuel’s Garden Old Bush Vine Grenache
Yalumba Samuel’s Garden The Strapper
Yalumba Samuel’s Garden The Scribbler
Yalumba The Cigar
Yalumba The Signature
Yalumba Aged Tawny 21-Year Old NV

Admission to this talk and tasting is a $40.00 per person (cash or check) or $42.10 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Thursday, October 24th. To purchase your ticket for this class, please contact Susan Coburn 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.

TRACI HAHN is a friend of the Wine School at l’Alliance Française (and a friend of mine), and inspiration, the spouse of the ever-ebullient Suzan Pickels, a breast cancer survivor, and a supporter of The Rose. If you have attended many of the Wine School classes, you likely have seen Traci rolling her eyes as Suzan asks another question. I love ‘em both.

About THE ROSE ( from TheRose.org):
“Fueled by frustration and driven by passion, the lives of Dorothy Weston Gibbons and Dr. Dixie Melillo have been filled with firsts. Dorothy established the first PR department at Bayshore Medical Center where she first met Dr. Dixie, one of the first female surgeons to graduate from UTMB. With camera in hand, Dorothy began to chronicle the startling number of women with late-stage breast cancer coming to see Dr. Dixie. Frustrated that breast cancer awareness and access to care was sorely lacking, the two women started their quest to educate. Soon they established The Rose, the first nonprofit breast cancer organization based on the insured covering the costs of the uninsured. The Rose has been in operation since 1986.
Long before Pink Ribbons covered the landscape, Dorothy and Dr. Dixie’s passionate advocacy established The Rose as an acclaimed model of breast health care. From mammograms to biopsies to treatment, The Rose excels in advanced digital imaging, mobile mammography, patient navigation, and medical excellence. Other firsts include establishing the Physicians Network, setting up the nationally acclaimed Empower Her® Sponsorship Program offering women navigation to screening, diagnosis, and treatment, and creation of the Breast Health Collaborative of Texas.
The Co-Founders’ determination to ensure that all women are heard and that all women have quality care is rooted in their own humble beginnings and cemented by the numerous encounters with patients through the years. Reminded almost daily that access to care in Texas is still not guaranteed, that women still must make their way through a medical maze that is both confusing and, at times seemingly insurmountable, they have ensured that The Rose is more than a medical facility, and is, in fact, a caring community.
Since the beginning, The Rose has depended upon community support. Civic groups, foundations, corporations and individuals along with the unwavering commitment of employees, physicians and volunteers all helped to create an organization that has changed the lives of countless women and families.
The Rose reduces deaths from breast cancer by providing access to screening, diagnostics and treatment services to any woman regardless of her ability to pay. The Rose addresses any barrier that might keep a woman from caring for her own needs. Studies show women often put personal needs on hold while tending to the needs of others. Many women cite costs and lack of access as reasons they delay preventive services. Yet early detection mammography screenings are the most powerful weapons in the fight against breast cancer—which is 98% curable when detected early.
Every service offered by The Rose is available to the uninsured through one of many sponsorship programs. In fact, the whole purpose of the Empower Her® Sponsorship Program is to ensure any woman has access to breast cancer screening, diagnosis and care. From the initial screening mammogram through diagnostic procedures such as ultrasound and biopsies, as well as access to treatment—all are part of the quality breast health care offered at The Rose.
Same day diagnosis, on-site physicians dedicated to breast health care, advanced digital technology—all this reflects The Rose’s emphasis on quality and excellence. The Rose collaborates with the best medical organizations in Texas and reaches women from Matagorda to Shelby Counties.”

CH. MARIS and MARIS: Delicious Terroir-driven Organic and Biodynamic Wines

Ch. Maris is a 79-acre estate planted to Syrah, Grenache, and Carignan in the Minervois cru La Liviniere. Minervois is one of the villages of the Languedoc with itss own applellation producing some of the best wines of the Languedoc. La Liviniere has long been considered the best part of the appellation of Minervois and has stricter rules for wines labeled “Minervois La Liviniere” than for wines labeled simply as “Minervois”. Ch. Maris is an estate growing grapes using organic and biodynamic practices in the vineyard and making wines in and environmental masterpiece of a winery (made from hemp bricks) with a focus on organic practice and a clean but not sterile biome to make wines ranging from fine to stunning. The 79 acres (divided into a non-contiguous patchwork of plots and blocks) is a good-sized estate for the area.

Although founded earlier, the modern history of Ch. Maris began in 1997 when the current ownership group bought the winery and installed Robert Eden (one of the ownership group) as winemaker. Under Eden’s guidance, Ch. Maris moved away from commercial chemical farming toward first organic and then Biodynamic vineyard practices. As they did, life returned to the soil, the vine got heathier, and the quality of the grapes improved. Ch, Maris gained EcoCert status in 2002, Biodyvin since 2004 and Demeter in 2008. Ch. Maris was certified a “BCorps” in 2016. All these certifications remain in effect. Minervois has never tasted so good. La Liviniere has never tasted so good.

British-born Robert Eden is the winemaker and co-owner of Ch. Maris. He has lived in France since 1994 after traveling in Australia, Italy, Burgundy, Spain and California where he worked with renowned winemakers. Since 1997, he has pursued organic and biodynamic viticulture at Chateau Maris. Robert has been actively involved in the protection of the environment going so far as to build the first hemp cellar that passively consumes Co2. He regularly presents on the advantages of biodynamic viticulture and the importance of taking steps to reduce the impact on the environment in the wine industry.

All well and good but how are the wines? In a word: Stunning. I was expecting this tasting in my office to be a courtesy appointment ending sooner rather than later in a “Thanks for coming by.” Instead, it stretched out over two hours as I tasted wine after wine that both surprised and delighted me. I’ve been tasting wines from Minervois (and its Languedoc neighbors) for over 30 years and I have never tasted wines like these. I have never before thought that this area could produce a wine I would score 97 or 98 points. I was both stunned and elated. Please see my notes below. And come taste the wines for yourself on Monday October 14th (7pm) at the Wine School at l’Allaince Française.

MY NOTES (Wines arriving at Spec’s on Thursday October 10th):
MARIS Vermentino, Pays d’Oc , 2018
100% Rolle (Vermentino) from all certified organic vineyards (both estate and under contract) pressed off before fermentation and 4 months aging in concrete tanks.  Straw color with well-formed legs; dry, light-bodied with refreshing acidity and scant phenolics with a long finish.     Fresh with more lemon and lemon peel fruit with a hint of fruit stones with mineral earth. Light, bright, and alive.   BearScore: 90+.
126827   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $13.99

MARIS Rouge Organic, Pays d’Oc , 2018
An Organic Wine from all certified organic vineyards (both estate and under contract). 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache fermented and aged 4 months in concrete tanks.  Deep-red color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium-light phenolics with a long finish.     Supple, fresh, easy drinking red fruit with some spiciness and a subtle mineral earthiness.   BearScore: 91.
126828  Spec’s Cash Bottle: $13.99

MARIS Le Zulu, Vin de France, 2018
An all certified organic vineyards (both estate and under contract) blend of 90% Syrah and 10% Grenache fermented and aged 4 months in concrete tanks. No sulfur added  SO2 at bottling was 2 parts per million. No fining / light filtration.    Magenta color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-light-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium-plus phenolics with a long finish.     Supple fresh, lively, chewy red fruit accompanied by garrigue and black pepper spice.   BearScore: 91+.
126830   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $15.99

CHATEAU MARIS La Touge, Minervois La Liviniere, 2017
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 60% Syrah 40% Grenache. The Syrah was fermented in foudre and pressed in a basket press before 12 months aging  in 500 liter demi-muits. Grenache was fermented in concrete, basket pressed, and aged in concrete eggs for 12 months before blending. The blended wine is then aged 6 months more in concrete eggs before bottling. No fining/filtering. (SO2: 54 ppm).     Red-purple color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a really long finish.     Fresh and lively red fruit with spicy garrigue. Bright fresh and alive. Vivid.   BearScore: 92+.
126831   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $18.99

CHATEAU MARIS Les Planels, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache. Syrah fermented in Foudre, basket pressed, and aged 12 months in 500 liter demi-muits. The blended wines is then aged 3 months in concrete eggs before bottling.      Red-purple color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics with a really long finish.     Supple, fresh, lively but full of red fruit flavor with hints of spice and garrigue. Layered-Textured-Dimensional.   BearScore: 93+.
126832   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $24.99

CHATEAU MARIS Savoir Vieillir, Minervois, 2018
An estate grown, certified biodynamic 100% Syrah Organic Wine that is in fact an earlier-bottled, no-sulfite version of “Les Planels”. Stabilized and bottled in Dec/Jan to avoid oxygen. As it is bottled early, it is classified as Minervois AOP. Since it is labeled “Minervois” and not “Minervois La Liviniere,” it does not need to have the normal 5% Grenache as part of the blend. Sulfites at bottling: 3 ppm.   Red-magenta color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with balanced-plus acidity and medium-plus phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Lovely pure, fresh red and darker red raspberry fruit with black and white pepper spice. Fresh and focused. Thrilling in the mouth.   BearScore: 93+.
126837   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $24.99

CHATEAU MARIS Las Combes, Minervois , 2017
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 100% Grenache fermented in 1500-liter wooden egg then aged 4 months in a concrete egg. Bottled early so declassified from Minervois La Liviniere to Minervois AOP. SO2 at bottling: 35 ppm.     Red-magenta color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Lovely pure sweet red fruit with only hints of garrigue and spice. Ethereal feel with a certain weightlessness in the mouth.   BearScore: 94.
126833   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $27.99

CHATEAU MARIS les Anciens, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 95% Carignan and 5% Grenache. Basket Press. Fermented and aged in concrete eggs. No fining/filtering.  500 bottles made.  Deep-purple color with very-well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Vivid, fresh, lively, slightly dusty red and darker red fruit with spice and liquid mineral. Wow and wow. Absolutely stunning. Layered-Textured-Dimensional.   BearScore: 97.
126835   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $31.99

CHATEAU MARIS Dynamic, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown, 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache fermented in foudre, basket pressed, and aged 18 months 224-liter oak barrels. No fining/filtering. Only 500 bottles made.     Red-magenta color with very-well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with very-freshly-balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a really quite long finish.      Fresh, ethereal, alive. Vivid red fruit with an almost crystaline structure. Thrilling in the mouth with lots of lingering flavors. Lasts and lasts. Layered-Textures-Dimensional.   BearScore: 97.
126834   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $75.99

CHATEAU MARIS les Amandieres, Minervois La Liviniere , 2016
All certified biodynamic, estate-grown 95% Syrah and 5% Grenache fermented in foudre, basket pressed, and aged in oak barrels. No fining/filtering. 500 bottles made.  Deep-purple color stains the glass with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics with a really quite long finish.     Has the fruit of Australia, the structure of Cote Rotie, and the ethereal weightlessness of a fantasy.  I have never had a Syrah like this before. Dark and darker red fruit with hints of coffee grounds and black pepper spice with a trill of white pepper. Vivid fruit with a finish that goes on and on. Oh, what a thrill. Layered-Textured-Dimensional. Would love to taste this next to Hill of Grace.  BearScore: 98.
126836   Spec’s Cash Bottle: $75.99

Ch. MARIS Wine Class and Tasting Featuring Robert Eden, Maris Winemaker and Co-Owner

On Monday, October 14th at 7pm, please join me in welcoming Robert Eden, winemaker and co-owner of Ch. Maris to The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a discussion and tasting of his organic and biodynamic wines from the Minervois cru of La Liviniere. I have recently tasted through this range and found them to be some of the most interesting and delicious wines I have tasted over the last five years. These are wines of purity and depth ranging in price from $13.99 to $75.99. These may well be the best wines you’ve never heard of.

The line-up includes:
Maris Vermintino 2018
Maris Rouge Organic 2018
Maris Zulu Organic 2018
Chateau Maris Les Combes 2017
Chateau Maris La Touge 2017
Chateau Maris Savoir Vieillir 2018
Chateau Maris Les Planels 2016
Chateau Maris Les Anciens 2016
Chateau Maris Dynamic 2016
Chateau Maris Les Amandiers 2016

This Ch. Maris Tasting will cost $40.00 per person (cash or check) or $42.10 regular. The class meets on Monday, October 14th at 7pm 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. (77006), 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.

About Robert Eden:
Robert Eden, winemaker and co-owner of Château Maris has been in France since 1994 after having spent some time in Australia, Italy, Spain and California, where he worked with a number of famous winemakers. Robert is strongly committed to sustainable agriculture. Since 1997, Château Maris has strictly followed organic and biodynamic principles. He is a reference for organic and biodynamic winemaking in the Languedoc and very often gives lectures about how to reduce the negative impact on the environment in the wine industry.

About Ch. Maris:
Approachable, pure fruit, elegant style of wine.
Top-rated bottles from the South of France reaching up to 97 Pts by the Wine Advocate.
One of the pioneers in sustainability, Certified Biodynamic for 20 years.
The first and only European winery to achieve B Corp status.
Ranked as one of the top greenest wineries in the world.
UPCOMING WINE EVENTS
10/14 – Monday … Ch. Maris class and tasting (all organic and biodynamic wines – pure, fresh, and exciting) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/17 – Thursday … Royal Oporto Tasting (with David Smith and me) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/21 – Monday … Bordeaux Value (sponsored by Sopexa) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/25 – Friday … An Evening with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba
12/02 – Monday … Symington (Graham’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Quinta do Vesuvio) Vintage Port Tasting at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
01/16 – Thursday … 2017 Bordeaux Vintage Preview at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice.

In addition, we’ll be scheduling some sparkling wine and Champagne classes and another general Port class as well as at least one dinner.

Exploring White Burgundy Class and Tasting With Burgundy Importer David Smith and Bear Dalton

On Monday, Octoberber 7 at 7pm, please join me in welcoming my good friend and Burgundy expert extraordinaire David Smith to The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tag-team (with me) class and tasting exploring the white wines of Burgundy. We’ll taste representative wines from five domaines from the Cote de Beaune (Pernot Belicard, Fontaine Gagnard, and Vincent Latour), Chablis (Dampt), and the Cote Chalonnaise (Baron Thenard). All of the wines are imported by David Smith. The lovely Miss Carol (aka the Missus) doesn’t generally like Chardonnay but she loves white Burgundy. Come find out why.

The line-up includes:
Pernot Belicard Bourgogne Blanc 2016
Pernot Belicard Pulginy Montrachet 2016
Pernot Belicard Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru Champ Canet 2016
Dampt Chablis 2017
Dampt Chablis 1er Cru Cote de Lechet
Dampt Chablis 1er Cru Rouchaume
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 2015
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagnie Montrachet 1er Cru Boudriottes 2015
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er Cru Clos St Jean 2015
Baron Thenard Givry Cellier des Moines 1er cru 2015
Vincent Latour Bourgogne Chardonnay 2016
Vincent Latour Meursault Pellans 2015
Vincent Latour Meursault 1er Cru Goutte D’Or 2015

This Exploring White Burgundy Class and Tasting will cost $50.00 per person (cash or check) or $52.63 regular. The class meets on Monday October 7th at 7pm at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your tickets, 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. (77006), 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 EVENTS
10/03 – Thursday … Women Of Wine Grand Tasting at the Czech Museum   (http://www.wowcharities.org/events-happy-hours/2019-grand-tasting-october-3/)
10/07 – Monday … Mostly White Burgundy Tasting (Fontaine Gagnard, Pernod Bellicard, etc. – David Smith and me) –  at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/14 – Monday … Ch. Maris class and tasting (all organic and biodynamic wines – pure, fresh, and exciting) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/17 – Thursday … Royal Oporto Tasting (with David Smith and me) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/21 – Monday … Bordeaux Value (sponsored by Sopexa) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
12/02 – Monday … Symington (Graham’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Quinta do Vesuvio) Vintage Port Tasting at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française

In addition, we’ll be scheduling some sparkling wine and Champagne classes and another general Port class as well as at least one dinner.

Domaine JESSIAUME Class and Tasting With Importer Bertand Leulliette and Bear Dalton

On Monday, September 30 at 7pm, please join me in welcoming my friend Burgundy import specialist Bertand Leulliette to The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of the wines of Domaine Jessiame. Domaine Jessiame is a small over-achieving domaine based in Santenay that is on the track to making some of the best wines of the area using farming moving toward certified organic and a thoughtful approach to wine making. So far, the results have been astounding with the already fine wines getting better vintage by vintage. (For more on the Domaine and on Bertand, please see below.)

The line-up includes:
Jessiame Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2016
Jessiame Bourgogne Chardonnay, 2017
Jessiame Santenay Blanc 1er Cru Gravières, 2016
Jessiame Santenay Blanc 1er Cru Gravières, 2017
Jessiame Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2016
Jessiame Bourgogne Pinot Noir, 2017
Jessiame Santenay Clos de Clos Genet – Monopole, 2016
Jessiame Santenay Clos de Clos Genet – Monopole, 2017
Jessiame Santenay 1er Cru Gravières, 2016
Jessiame Santenay 1er Cru Gravières, 2017
Jessiame Beaune 1er Cru Cent Vignes, 2016
Jessiame Beaune 1er Cru Cent Vignes, 2017
Jessiame Volnay 1er Cru Brouillards, 2016
Jessiame Volnay 1er Cru Brouillards, 2017

This Domaine Jessiaume Tasting will cost $50.00 per person (cash or check) or $52.63 regular. The class meets on Monday September 30th at 7pm 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. (77006), 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.

About Domaine JESSIAUME:
The Domaine was created in 1850 by the Jessiaume family. In 2006, after being run by many generations, the domaine was purchased by a Scottish businessman, Sir David Murray. A transition started between the two families. The Jessiaume family stayed until 2013 to manage the vines and the Domaine. The year 2014 marked a big turn for Domaine Jessiaume. A new team has arrived and the Domaine changed its direction. Megan McClune, the then new director (Estate Manager) of Domaine Jessiaume became the motive force behind the renewed domaine with responsibility for the general, commercial and financial management of the domaine as well as being a participant in various crucial stages of the wine making and elevage.
The wines are hand crafted with minimal intervention. In order to do that, new investments in equipment and renovating the winery took place immediately. Harvest and sorting are done by hand. Small elevators are used to fill the tanks. Vinifications are done with natural yeasts and the extractions are gentle and controlled. The goal is to obtain elegant and fine wines which respect the terroir.
In 2016, the domaine started the 3-year process of converting to organic viticulture. The 2019 vintage will yield the first organic wines at Domaine Jessiaume.  To be organic, what does it mean? First, we don’t use chemicals and pesticides in the vines. The wines are made with minimal intervention and less sulfites than in conventional wine. These changes are the philosophy of the team and the new Domaine Jessiaume.

About Bertrand Leulliette:
Bertrand was born in a small town near Dunkirk with a passion basketball. He played for the reserve team of the local pro team and had dreams of playing college in the United States. When that did not come about, he focused on his studies in International Trade and Logistics that brought him to the United States where his first job as an intern was in a wine department. After a week as an intern, the Beverage Manager that was supposed to oversea him quit and a gutsy offer was made to the then intern “do you think you’d have what it takes to be the manager”. The answer was swift… “Yes.” This is how at 23, discovered the world of wine
The connection with Burgundy and Beaujolais happened a year later when he started as a Regional Sales Manager for an Importer that represented Mommessin and the Clos de Tart.
In 2009, Bertrand left the United States to take an Export Director position in Beaune. In 2011 the company he worked for was bought out by a large group and they sent him and his family back to the USA the following year. The idea of working with Estate Burgundies was still very much there, growing stronger and stronger, and in early 2014 he parted ways with his employer and travelled back to Burgundy to offer his friends the possibility to represent their wines. In January 2015, Bertrand’s Wines was born with a handful of producers… that same year several well-known US based Burgundy Importers saw major changes and a few producers from Robert Kacher entrusted Bertrand with their wines, in 2016 it was producers from Esprit du Vin and in 2017 it was producers from Chateaux and Estates that joined the stable.
The portfolio focuses exclusively on family-owned Burgundy, Beaujolais and a bit of Minervois from the joint Estate of Anne Gros and Jean-Paul Tollot, Bertrand’s Wines is also the exclusive importer of Varichon & Clerc a small Methode Traditionnelle wine from Savoie. “We have decided to incorporate the shields of Bourgogne and Beaujolais to reflect our commitment to stay within these areas only. I believe that being a specialist is better and from a geographical standpoint, it makes it easy to be with our producers and to take our partners from the different tiers of the business to the house that we purchased in Beaune in 2017. You have to see Burgundy and Beaujolais to truly understand what is so special about them.”
“We’ll have the ability to accommodate customers either with our producers or very close to them so that customers can experience what we experience as importer and guardians of these jewels for the United States” is proud to announce Bertrand. “The Vignerons come first, without them we would not have a job… it is our duty to share their wines and to hopefully make many lifelong friends along the way.”

UPCOMING WINE EVENTS
09/26 – Thursday …  ECHOS Chef’s Dinner at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice  (http://echos-houston.org/events/chefs-dinner/)
09/30 – Monday … Domaine Jessiaume Burgundy Tasting (importer Bertrand Leulliette and me) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/03 – Thursday … Women Of Wine Grand Tasting at the Czech Museum   (http://www.wowcharities.org/events-happy-hours/2019-grand-tasting-october-3/)
10/07 – Monday … Mostly White Burgundy Tasting (Fontaine Gagnard, Pernod Bellicard, etc. – David Smith and me) –  at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/14 – Monday … Ch. Maris class and tasting (all organic and biodynamic wines – pure, fresh, and exciting) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/17 – Thursday … Royal Oporto Tasting (with David Smith and me) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
10/21 – Monday … Bordeaux Value (sponsored by Sopexa) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française
12/02 – Monday … Symington (Graham’s, Dow’s, Cockburn’s, Quinta do Vesuvio) Vintage Port Tasting at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française

In addition, we’ll be scheduling some sparkling wine and Champagne classes and another general Port class as well as at least one dinner.