Revealing Rosé

Revealing Rosé

Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton on Tuesday, July 11 at 7pm for Revealing Rosé. We’ll beat the heat as we dig into dry French Rosé (the best kind of Rosé) with a look at fifteen refreshing 2016 vintage Rosé wines from all over France from Bordeaux to the Languedoc to Provence to the Rhone to Sancerre representing the range of styles from “Beach” to “Food Friendly.” We’ll talk about the grapes, the places they’re grown, how they’re made, and the food we eat with them. Bread and a selection of fine cheeses will accompany the tasting.

The List:
Pins des Dunes Rosé, Bordeaux, 2016
Rosé de Chevalier, Bordeaux, 2016
Villa des Anges Old Vine Rosé, 2016
Pierre Rougon Rosé d’Aix en Provence, 2016
Ch du Donjon Rosé Minervois, 2016
Mourgues du Gres Les Galets Rosé, Costieres de Nimes, 2016
Balandran Rosé, Costieres de Nimes, 2016
Ch. de Lancyre Rosé, Pic Saint Loup, 2016
Pierre Rougon Rosé, Cote du Rhone, 2016
Domaine de Cabasse Le Rosé de Marie, Seguret, 2016
Pink Pegau Rosé, France, 2016
Domaine de Mourchon CdRV Loubie Rosé 2016
Montmirail Rossignol Rosé, Gigondas, 2016
Bonnard Rosé, Sancerre, 2016
Domaine du Pre Semele Rosé, Sancerre, 2016

Revealing Rosé will cost $50.00 per person cash ($52.63 regular).
The class will meet at 7pm on Tuesday, July 11th at l’Alliance Française.
To purchase your ticket(s), 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).

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.


The other day, I bumped into a friend-of-some-years (thereby avoiding referring to her as an “old friend”) who asked if I’d made my list yet. Even though I look more-than-a-bit like Santa Claus, I generally wait until after all the Thanksgiving leftovers are gone to start thinking about Christmas stuff. And I said as much.

She replied “No. Not that list. Your value wine list.”

I told her that it had been a few years since I’d done that. She said I should do it again as she needed a new one … and then she pulled a much-taped-and-folded, very-beat-up piece-of-paper from her purse and showed me one of my old value wine picks lists she’d been carrying around for several years. The vintages were all way out-of-date but a good chunk of the wines that are still available are wines I’d still recommend. After I looked at it (with some wonderment on my part), she carefully refolded it and put it safely back in her purse saying “See. I need a new one … but I’ll hold on to this one until you get around to it.”

Well, OK. Good idea. And since she’s what I refer to as a “church lady” (although not all church ladies go to my church), her “request” is really more of a command anyway.

You may well ask “What makes a ‘Value Wine?’” (You also may ask “What makes a Church Lady?” but that‘s a topic for another time and place.) In the general parlance, “value wine” is a good or recommended wine below a certain price point. That well-worn list my friend had saved was all under $15.00 per bottle. And that’s fair as far as it goes but to make my list, the wines have to consistently over-deliver. That being the case, not many heavily-marketed, national brands make my list as, while many of them offer a fair value, seldom do they over-deliver (and almost never do they over deliver over a series of vintages).

bearonwinelogoWhat you’ll find on this list are my picks (wines I actually buy and drink at home) with First-of-December-2016 prices under $20 (Spec’s cash bottle price – if you’re buying six-mixed at a time or by-the-case, the prices will be lower). The prices listed will likely change (some up, some down) over time. The vintages on the list are those that are current as I compile it but don’t worry too much if you bump into a vintage that’s younger. These wines tend to be pretty consistent from vintage-to-vintage. These are wines with enough production that they are available most of the time; I’m not including anything where we don’t get at least a couple of pallets a year. Finally, these are wines that I recommend. Which means they are wines I like to drink. Which means they offer plenty of fruit but are not over-ripe or over-manipulated. Which is to say that they taste of the grapes from which they were made and (generally) of the specific place they were grown.



A Summer Dinner in the South (of France)

At 7pm on Thursday, August 6th, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, at Charivari Restaurant for a Summer Dinner in the South (of France) in which we will pair Chef Johann Schuster’s Provence-inspired menu with wines from the south of France. Rather than our usual Champagne, we’ll start with a sparkling Kir Violette and move on to and through a range of the brighter, fresher flavors that are the signature of this intriguing part of the world.

Baguettes Toast with Olive & Eggplant Tapenade
Kir Violette

Cantaloupe Melon with French Country Ham with
J Vidal Fleury Muscat Beaumes de Venise 2011

Bouillabaisse Marseillaise with
Ch. de Lancyre Pic St. Loup Rosé 2014
Ch. de Pegau “Pink” Rosé Vin de France 2014
Montmirail “Rossignol” Gigondas Rosé 2014

Roasted Leg of Lamb al Provencal, Ratatouille with
Ch. de Pegau “Maclura” Cotes du Rhone 2012
Montmirail “Jeune Vigne” Cotes du Rhone 2012
Ch. de Lancyre Pic St. Loup Vielles Vignes, 2009
Montmirail “Cuvee de Beauchamps” Gigondas, 2012
Domaine Pegau “Cuvee Reserve” Chateauneuf du Pape, 2012

Cherry Clafoutis

This fun and unique dinner will cost $130 per person including a 5% discount for cash or check or $136.84 regular. All taxes and tips are included. For reservations, please reply by email to or call Susan at 713-854-7855. Charivari is located at 2521 Bagby (77006) in Mid-Town Houston.

Rosé Returns: Commanderie de la BARGEMONE Rosé, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, 2013

Bargemone_Photo_BrandRemember the old TV show Password?
Q. “Rosé.”
A. “Provence.”
Rosé season is here. Well at least the first half of Rosé season is here. In Texas, we have a split season for Rosé just like we have a split season for dove hunting. Our Rosé season runs from about Memorial Day until mid July when it gets stupid-hot and everyone goes either inside or away until mid-late September when the season resumes and runs through Thanksgiving.
When I think of Rosé, the first place I think of is Provence. This Bargemone Rosé is a consistent winner of a Provence Rosé that I have drunk every year for at least the last 20 years. And it just keeps getting better.

Owned by Christian and Marina Garin since 2006, Commanderie de Bargemone is a former Knights Templar barrack originally converted to a fine wine estate by the Bargemone family and later revived and restored by French industrialist (do any little boys grow up saying “I want to be an industrialist?) Jean-Pierre Rozan. It seems that quality has improved with each transition. The current owners have continued the property’s tradition of sustainable farming and good winemaking so the good scores and recommendations just keep on coming. It’s not new and it’s not snazzy and the label is, well, a bit frumpy – but the wine is quite good and that’s all that should really matter.

Commanderie de la BARGEMONE Rosé, Coteaux d’Aix en Provence, 2013 ($13.99)Bargemone_Rose_300dpi_Label
Tech: A 12.5% alcohol classic Provence Rosé blended from 30% Grenache, 25% Syrah, 20% Cinsault, 15% Cabernet Sauvignon, 4% Carignan, and 6% white varietals including Vermentino, Sauvignon Blanc, and Ugni Blanc given a short skin contact before pressing and a 10 day, 57° white-wine-style fermentation in temperature-controlled stainless-steel tanks with no malo-lactic fermentation and no oak exposure.    Sensory: Offers fresh red cherry-berry fruit with notes of citrus and mineral. Lively and refreshing with a crisp balance and fine length. Finishes clean and dry. Excellent with steak tartar or beef carpaccio, rich seafood dishes (Gumbo, Crawfish Étouffée, etc.) and classic with Bouillabasse. Or enjoy it with a summer afternoon picnic. BS: 90.

There is little else that says summer to me like a lovely dry French Rosé.
– Sheri Sauter Morano, MW

As of 2007, sales of Rosé wines surpassed those of white wines within France.
– The Wine Enthusiast