The State of Zin

Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, on Monday, October 16th, at 7pm for The State of Zin. We’ll dig into Zinfandel as we look-at-and-taste fifteen Zin-based wines (mostly from Sonoma County – the spiritual home of Zinfandel) that represent some of the best of what is in the market (mostly 2014s and 2015s). We’ll talk about Zin and blends (including the increasingly important “Rhone-fandels”), the terroirs and techniques used to make it, and the food we eat with it. The class will include bread and a selection of fine cheeses to accompany the tasting.

The List:
PARIS Valley Road Zinfandel, Central Coast, 2014
HEITZ Ink Grade Zinfandel, Napa Valley, 2013
DRY CREEK VINEYARDS Heritage Vines Zinfandel, Sonoma County, 2015
SEGHESIO Zinfandel, Sonoma County, 2015
SEXTANT Wheelhouse Zinfandel, Paso Robles, 2014
BIRICHINO St. Georges Vineyard Zinfandel, Central Coast, 2014
ACRE Zinfandel, Oakville, 2014
DRY CREEK VINEYARDS Old Vines Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 2015
RIDGE Vineyards East Bench Zinfandel, Dry Creek Valley, 2015
RIDGE Vineyards Pagani Zinfandel, Sonoma Valley, 2015
RIDGE Vineyards Ponzo Zinfandel, Russian River Valley2015
RIDGE Vineyards Geyserville Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, 2015
RIDGE Vineyards Lytton Springs Zinfandel, Alexander Valley, 2015

The State of Zin will cost $70.00 per person cash ($73.68 regular). The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, October 16, 2017 at l’Alliance Française. To reserve your spot, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or  coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

L’Alliance Française is French Cultural Center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Blvd., it 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 35 years 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.

Domaine FONTAINE GAGNARD 2013 Class & Tasting

Domaine Fontaine Gagnard is among my favorite white wine specialists in Burgundy. Based in Chassagne Montrachet, the Domaine was founded in 1985 after the wedding of French Air Force officer Richard Fontaine to Laurence Gagnard (daughter of long-time Chassagne vignerons Jacques and Marie-Joseph Gagnard), the Domaine is now run (since 2011) by their daughter Celine who has worked with her father since 2007. There is a passion for the terroir of Chassagne in its many expressions that runs back through the generation in this domaine. With the respectful winemaking of a family that gets “place,” each wine reflects the specificity of its place. Farming is by organic principles and winemaking features indigenous yeast fermentations.
On Monday, October 9th at 7pm, please join me (Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for this tasting of Fontaine Gagnard’s 2013s. We’ll taste through all twelve available crus including one red and eleven whites with special attention paid to the specificity of place and process of each wine.

The line up:
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Caillerets 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Clos Saint Jean 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru La Boudriotte 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru La Grande Montagne 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Les Vergers 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Morgeot 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru Chenevottes 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet 1er cru La Romanée 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Batard Montrachet 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Le Montrachet 2013
Fontaine Gagnard Chassagne Montrachet Rouge 2013

Domaine Fontaine Gagnard 2013 will cost $120.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $126.32 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, October 9, 2017 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.

With 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.

A Wine Dinner Benefitting ECHOS – Friday October 13th

SOLD OUT – Have started waiting list.

Dear Friends,
People in the wine trade from around the world have been calling and emailing to ask how I fared during and after Hurricane Harvey. My initial response is that even though we had water lapping at our front porch, Carol and I “got no water in our house or vehicles and so we were unaffected.” But we are not “unaffected.” Harvey has affected everyone on the Texas coastal plain from below Corpus Christi to up past Beaumont. I was back in the office on Tuesday August 29 so I haven’t been out volunteering – but I have been donating. I have been listening to family and friends and customers who are very affected. And I have done some plotting and scheming. What-if-I-were-to host a wine dinner to benefit ECHOS (an organization in southwest Houston that helps a lower-income, mostly immigrant population with such basic issues as healthcare, housing, food, and English-as-a-second-language that has been doing yeoman work with their clients in the wake of Harvey)? What-if-I-were-to cook and serve really elevated comfort foods? What-if-I-were-to pair those foods with some of the very best wines from around the world? What-if-I-were-to say that ALL the proceeds were to go to ECHOS? What-if-I-were-to tell you that David Weekley Homes promises to match the funds we raise? What-if-I-were-to plan it all for Friday October 13th? Well, all that “What-if-I-were-to” has come together so …
On Friday October 13th at 7pm, I will host (and cook along with Denise Ehrlich and others) a wine dinner benefitting ECHOS (see more about ECHOS below). This dinner-for-24 will be held in the Parish Hall at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany (which conveniently has a full commercial kitchen). We’ll start with a Champagne reception with nibbles and then sit down to a five-course dinner of “elevated comfort foods” served with extraordinary wines. Elevated comfort foods? Extraordinairy wines? Take a look at the menu. You may have to loosen your belt. And I think each of the selected wines represents the very best of its type. 


RECEPTION
Assorted nibbles (including Champagne Nachos)
Barons Rothschild Blanc de Blancs Champagne, NV
Barons Rothschild Rosé Champagne, NV

DINNER
Potato-Leek-Parsley Soup with a purple-potato-chip and lardon garnish
Lustau East India Sherry

Confit Quail and Seared Duck over dressed Mesclun with toasted pine nuts and lardons
Rochioli Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2014
Domaine Serene Evenstad Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014 

Short-Rib-and-Ox-Tail Boeuf Bourguignon over Tagliatelle
Quintessa, Rutherford, 2014
Opus One, Oakville, 2014
Ridge Monte Bello 2014

Cheese
Araujo Eisele Estate 2002 (from magnums)

Individual Apple Tarts with pecan and bacon served with an infused whipped cream
Ch. Rieussec Sauternes 2011

Graham’s Vintage Porto 1994

So come eat and drink knowing that every dime will go to a great cause; have fun and feel good about it. This ECHOS Wine Dinner will cost $500.00 per person (check payable to ECHOS or a credit card charge which will be processed by ECHOS). The reception will start at 7pm on Friday October 13, 2017. To reserve your spot for this unique and very special wine dinner, please reply by email to me at BearDalton@mac.com. I suggest coming by Uber or other car service as the wine pours will be generous. The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is located at 9600 South Gessner Road (the southwest corner of Gessner and Bissonnet).


ECHOS (Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services) is a non-profit organization (501(C)3 corporation) connecting people in need with the health, social, and educational resources that can improve their lives. ECHOS’ mission is to connect people in need with health, social and educational resources that can improve their lives.
ECHOS  provides on-site help to families who are unable to access affordable health care and who do not have medical insurance coverage in completing and submitting applications for healthcare and social services. 
ECHOS offers on-site health care services and screenings promoting healthier and more productive lives including Children’s Immunizations, Blood Pressure and Glucose Screenings, Vision Screenings, Well and sick child check ups, and Dental care
ECHOS also assistclients in meeting basic needs and self-sufficiency.  Assistance is free and includes: Food from the Food Pantry, Food Fairs and Mini Health Fairs, English-as-a-second-language, Computer literacy, and Domestic violence support groups on campus.
ECHOS is located on the campus of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

The “E” in ECHOS, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is located at 9600 South Gessner Road. Epiphany is where I go to church and where I raised my kids. While I no longer live in the area, I went to Sharpstown High School and used to pass Epiphany on the way to and from school. The area has changed since then; Epiphany has changed along with it and now boasts one of the most diverse congregations in Houston. ECHOS is Epiphany’s outreach to the local community.

ABOUT THE WINES
All the wines are among my favorites and fall in the range of “best in class.”
The Barons Rothschild Champagnes are amongst my very favorite fixzz and both completely over deliver at their just under $100 per bottle price points.
The Lustau East India Sherry is the Sherry I buy most often and serve with the soup at all my family holiday meals.
The Rochioli Pinot Noir and Domaine Serene Evenstad Pinot Noir each offer best of Sonoma and best of Willamette quality as well as precise expression of their place(s).
The Quintessa, the Opus One, the Ridge Monte Bello, and the Eisele Estate (then Araujo) are my quartet of the definition of great Cabernet-based wine from California. All are farmed either sustainably, organically, or biodynamically. All are given an indigenous yeast fermentation. All are Layered-Textured-Dimensional wines of stunning quality.
Ch. Rieussec is one of my four favorite Sauternes producers. 2011 is a great Sauternes vintage. Bliss.
Graham’s Vintage Porto 1994. Legal-drinking-age Vintage Port from one of the greatest Port houses. Hope it’s cool that night.
All but one of the wines is provided for this event by the producer/supplier.
SOLD OUT! – An Evening with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba

SOLD OUT! – An Evening with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba

NOW SOLD OUT!

 

On Friday, September 22 at 7pm, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, in welcoming our always-entertaining-and-ever-informative friend Jane Ferrari, traveling winemaker of Yalumba, to the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of Yalumba’s excellent Australian wines. The net proceeds of this event will benefit ECHOS (see below).

The ever-popular Ms. Ferrari 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. A native of Australia’s acclaimed Barossa Valley, Jane Ferrari is a trained winemaker – a graduate of Australia’s Roseworthy College (one of the top three winemaking schools in the world) – 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.

We will taste:
Jansz Brut, Tasmania, NV
Jansz Rosé, Tasmania, NV
Yalumba Y-Series Riesling, 2016
Yalumba Viognier, Eden Valley, 2015
Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache), Barossa, 2014
Yalumba The Triangle (Shiraz – Viognier), Barossa, 2013
Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz, Barossa, 2014
Yalumba The Strapper (Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre), Barossa, 2014
Yalumba The Scribbler (Cabernet-Shiraz), Barossa, 2013
Yalumba The Signature, Barossa, 2013
Yalumba The Cigar Menzies, 2012
Yalumba Museum Antique Tawny NV

An Evening With Jane Ferrari will cost $30.00 (Cash or Check made out to the ECHOS only please). The class will meet at 7pm on Friday September 22, 2017. To reserve your spot for this event, 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).

About ECHOS
Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS) is a non-profit organization connecting people in need with the health, social and educational resources that can improve their lives. ECHOS’ mission is to connect people in need with health, social and educational resources that can improve their lives.
ECHOS  provides on-site help to families who are unable to access affordable health care and who do not have medical insurance coverage in completing and submitting applications for healthcare and social services.
ECHOS offers on-site health care services and screenings promoting healthier and more productive lives including Children’s Immunizations, Blood Pressure and Glucose Screenings, Vision Screenings, Well and sick child check ups, and Dental care
ECHOS also assistclients in meeting basic needs and self-sufficiency.  Assistance is free and includes: Food from the Food Pantry, Food Fairs and Mini Health Fairs, English-as-a-second-language, Computer literacy, and Domestic violence support groups on campus.
ECHOS is a non-profit 501(C)3 corporation.

News from Bordeaux from Ivanhoe Johnston of negoçiant Nathaniel Johnston:

On September 1, our friend Ivanhoe Johnston (who many of you have met at our annual Bordeaux event at the Rice downtown) sent me the flowing information from Bordeaux which I share with you with his permission.

Ivanhoe writes:

At the end of August, we’d like to give a last update before the harvest:

August in Bordeaux has been fairly dry (+/-20 mm of rain in general) and fairly sunny and hot but not extremely hot. This was very good for the maturation of the white and will likely prevent from having a “too sunny” vintage.

The first white grapes were harvested the last week (August 21-26 with Haut Brion picking on August 22nd) and the first of reds picked this week (August 28 – September 2) even if some real action will begin next week (after September 3).

Most properties will be in full harvest by the week of the September 11 altough in the Medoc most likely the week of the 18th…so this is an early harvest vintage so far running about 10 days ahead of last year (2016).

After some days of extreme temperatures the last 2 week (few day at 30°C and some even over 35°C which raises sugars and makes alcohol potentials increase quickly) , weather should be more normal the next weeks (highs around 24°C) with cold nights (which is extremely good for maintaining acidity).

For those who have not suffered from the spring frosts, there is a nice quantity of grapes but they are rather small with not too much juice which is a reason why people would be pleased with a little of rain.

Still, it all looks very good with the potential of a rich and intense vintage. We all are afraid of a hail strom as it happens around Potensac last Sunday…but apart from that we should do again have at least a very nice vintage.

In other summer Bordeaux news :

Ch. Phelan Segur has been sold with some details still to be finalized but it looks as though the management team will remain in place.

Ch. Troplong Mondot had been sold and Aymeric de Gironde (former GM of Cos d’Estournel) will now run the property.

Ch. Berliquet has been taken over by Canon but the wines will be kept separate (here again some details are not yet final).

Due primarily to the spring frosts, total 2017 production is forecast down 41% in Bordeaux but, due to their superior terroir, many of the top château are far less affected.

 

On July 24, 2017 Ivanhoe Johnston provided the following:

As most of you know, Bordeaux has been quite affected by the frost at end of April. This as a massive impact on the global quantity that Bordeaux will produce but has little or no impact at this stage on the potential quality of the vintage.

Here is a closer look at the situation, area by area:

Medoc: most of properties along the Gironde Estuary were not affected by the frost because they were “protected” by the warmer water. Therefore most classified growths from the Medoc are ok, especially with their first wines (grand vin) that are usually mainly done on the best terroir. Their second wines may be more seriously affected. Property like Lagrange for example suffered more on terroir for the Fiefs de Lagrange. Properties like Poujeaux, Chasse Spleen, Camensac, and Latour Carnet that are further from the river were more affected. Ch. Mauvesin Barton will not have a crop.

Pessac is fine even if Pape Clement had been affected. Leognan was more affected with Fieuzal suffering heavily this year.

St Emilion: The plain (lower lying and closer to the Dordogne) is heavily affected as well as the area of Corbin (with almost no crop left) but the plateau is mostly fine. Of the major names, the most affected, as far as we know, are Canon Gaffeliere and to a lesser lesser extent Figeac & Cheval Blanc.

Pomerol: In general, the plateau is fine but the rest of the appellation is heavily affected. Lower lying chateaux such as like La Pointe and Taillefer were really strongly affected.

If we speak only about the chateaux that had no frost, situation is quite nice. Flowering went well with potential quantities looking good (maybe slightly less than last year but it is too early to say with certainty). Veraison has started. Here and there people did a light green harvest and only light leaf thinning to avoid sun-burned grapes.

It is likely to be a early harvest, which is rather a good sign for quality. Some whites are likely to be picked the week of August 20th and some reds by the 4th of September. This early harvest might offer the one who suffer more of the frost to harvest some “2nd crop” grapes in the middle of October so there can be a delay of a +/- one month the general harvest and a potential second harvest from recovering frost affected vineyards.

Some of the growers say that things are now looking good but the weather over the next two months will ultimately determine the quality of the vintage.

The Bordeaux weather forecast is now predicting a rather hot and dry August and a “normal” September.

Pinot Prism: Anderson Valley

CANCELED DUE TO WEATHER EVENT (HARVEY)

WILL RESCHEDULE


On Monday, August 28th at 7pm, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for Pinot Prism: Anderson Valley, the second in a series of Pinot Noir classes planned before the end of the year. Anderson Valley is the new frontier for Pinot Noir and a source of both top wines and great values. We will look at and taste Pinot Noir from Mendocino County’s Anderson Valley. Discussion will include some history of Pinot Noir, how it is made, how it came to Anderson Valley, the special attributes of Anderson Valley, and pairing Pinot Noir with food. Fourteen Anderson Valley Pinot Noir wines will be tasted. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will be served. Prepare your palate.

The line up:
Handley Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2013
Brutocao Pinot Noir Slo Lope’n Vineyard, Anderson Valley, 2013
Copain Pinot Noir Tous Ensemble, Anderson Valley, 2014
Expression 39 Pinot Noir Anderson Valley 2013
Copain Pinot Noir Les Voisins, Anderson Valley, 2014
Expression 39 Pinot Noir Ordway, Anderson Valley, 2012
Expression 39 Pinot Noir Anderson Creek, Anderson Valley, 2013
La Crema Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2013
Goldeneye Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2014
Failla Savoy Vineyard Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2015
Copain Wendling Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2013
Copain Monument Tree Pinot Noir, Anderson Valley, 2012
Goldeneye Pinot Noir Gowan Vineyard, Anderson Valley, 2013
Goldeneye Pinot Noir Ten Degrees, Anderson Valley, 2013

Pinot Prism: Anderson Valley will cost $80.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $84.21 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 28th 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.

With almost 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.

Pinot Prism: Sonoma

On Monday, August 7th at 7pm, please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Pinot Prism: Sonoma, the first in a series of Pinot Noir classes planned before the end of the year. We will look at Pinot Noir from Sonoma County in its various appellations from County and Valley, Russian River, Sonoma Coast and the real Sonoma Coast (Fort Ross). Discussion will include some history of Pinot Noir, how it is made, where it is best grown in Sonoma, and pairing Pinot Noir with food. Fourteen Sonoma County 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 2015
Expression 38 Gaps Crown Pinot Noir 2013
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2015
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Jenkins 2014
Patz & Hall Pinot Noir Gap’s Crown 2014
Flowers Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2015
Flowers Pinot Noir Sea View Ridge 2014
Hanzell Sebella Pinot Noir 2013
Rochioli Pinot Noir 2014
Dumol Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2013
Dumol Aidan Pinot Noir 2014
Dumol Finn Pinot Noir 2014
Dumol Ryan Pinot Noir 2014
Dumol Russian River Estate Pinot Noir 2014

Pinot Prism: Sonoma will cost $100.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $105.26 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, August 7th 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.

With almost 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.