Estate Bottled Champagne tasting with Sophie Couvreur

On Wednesday, April 18th at 7pm, please join me in welcoming Sophie Couvreur of Champagne et Villages to the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of twelve estate-bottled Champagnes from her portfolio of grower-producers at Champagne et Villages.

Champagne et Villages was created by Paul and Françoise Couvreur in 1998 and is now run by their daughter Sophie. Their business is dedicated to the promotion of boutique grower champagnes. Drawing on Paul’s extensive experience with over 20 years running and marketing major champagne houses, together they have selected a range of quality driven, passionate and individual champagne brands that mirror their own philosophy of quality and commitment. The family has established fantastic relationships with their grower producers  – a testament to their desire to understand the family, their philosophy and practices as much as their wines.

The line up:
VAZART-COQUARTt Blanc de Blancs NV
CAMILLE SAVES Brut 1er Cru NV
JACQUES PICARD Berru Brut NV
MARCEL MOINEAUX Brut Grand Cru NV
JOSE DHONDT Brut Rose de Saignee NV
CAMILLE SAVES Brut Rose Grand Cru
VAZART-COQUART Blanc de Blancs Brut Special Club 2009
SERVEAUX Brut Carte Noire NV
CAMILLE SAVES Brut Gand Cru “Anais Jolie Coeur” 2008
GODME Alouettes St. Bets 1er cru Blanc de Blancs 2008
GODME Champs St. Martin Grand cru Blanc de Noirs 2008
VAZART-COQUART Demi Sec NV

The CHAMPAGNE et VILLAGES Tasting will cost $50.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $52.63 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Wednesday April 18 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.

Taste Domaine de la POUSSE d’OR 2014s with owner Patrick Landanger

Normally, my class invitations start out “Please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton for a tasting of …” or words to that effect. Not this time.*
So on Wednesday March 14th at 7pm, please join Burgundy importer David Smith along with Domaine de la Pousse d’Or owner Patrick Landanger and new general manager Benoit Landanger (son of Patrick) at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of ten wines from the Domaine de la Pousse d’Or.

Originally created in 1954, Domaine de la Pousse d’Or has long been among my favorite domaines of Burgundy. I first tasted two of the Volnays in the early 1980s and got to know the range of wines better tasting with Becky Wasserman (who was then their broker) in 1986. I’ve been tasting at the domaine for the last fifteen years. Patrick Landanger purchased the property in 1997 and immediately began investing in bothe the physical plant and the vineyards. Since then, I have watched as Pousse d’Or improved in quality and grew from a Volnay specialist with some Santenay and Pommard to include vines on the hill of Corton (1999), in Puligny Montrachet (2004), and in Chambolle and Morey (2008). At this time Spec’s is able to purchase thirteen wines (one village appellation, nine 1er crus, and three grand crus) from the estate, all of which are consistently excellent. (There are four wines we don’t get – yet.) We’ll taste through ten Pousse d’Or crus from the fine 2014 vintage including nine reds and one white with special attention paid to the specificity of place and process of each wine.

The line up:
Pousse d’Or Santenay Clos Tavannes 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Volnay en Caillerets 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de la 60 Ouvrees 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Volnay Clos de la Bousse d’Or 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Pommard Jarollieres 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Corton Clos du Roi Grand Cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Chambolle Musigny 2014
Pousse d’Or Chambolle Musigny les Amoureuses 1er cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Clos de la Roche Grand Cru 2014
Pousse d’Or Puligny Montrachet Clos le Caillerets 1er cru 2014

Domaine de la Pousse d’Or 2014 will cost $50.00 per person (Cash or Check) or $52.63 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Wednesday March 14 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.

*I am will be in the hospital on Wednesday recovering from surgery to reconnect my previously rerouted plumbing. I hate to miss this because I love these wines but this is a major step forward in my healing process.

One Week from Today – 2015 (Mostly) Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting

If you love Bordeaux, this is a can’t miss event. Taste 60+ high quality Bordeaux Wines from the excellent 2015 vintage. Meet and talk with some of the producers. Wallow in Bordeaux wonderfulness.

Tuesday March 6, 2018 at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice

As most know, this event was originally scheduled for Tuesday January 16, 2018 but we had to cancel due to extreme (for Houston anyway) winter weather conditions. We are sorry for any inconvenience that cancellation may have caused but safety considerations won out. The original plan was to host over 30 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers (aka “the Bordelaise”) presenting 62 mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux wines all from the superb 2015 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. The wines are here and will be served. Some of the Chateau owners/winemakeers are coming back as well. In any case, there will be someone informed about the wine pouring each wine. In the end, we will have the 2015 tasting and you will get to taste …

Pomerol: Chx. Clinet, Gazin, Croix St. Georges, and La Pointe (along with 2nd vin Ballade de La Pointe)

St. Emilion: Chx. Canon la Gaffeliere, Clos l’Oratoire, Daugay, Grand Corbin Despagne, La Confession, Larcis Ducasse, and Pavie Macquin

St. Georges St. Emilion: Ch. Cap St. George

Castillon and Francs: Chx. d’Aiguilhe and Ampelia, Ch. Puygueraud

Bordeaux: Chx. Croix Mouton and le Conseiller

St. Estephe: Chx. Phelan Segur, Lafon Rochet, and les Ormes de Pez

Pauillac: Chx. Pichon Lalande (with 2nd vin Reserve de la Comtesse), Pichon Baron (with 2nd vin Les Griffons), Pibran, Lynch Bages (with 2nd vin Echo de Lynch Bages), Grand Puy Lacoste (with 2nd vin Lacoste Borie), Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac, and Haut Bages Liberal

St. Julien: Chx. Branaire Ducru, Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton, Leoville Poyferrre, and Talbot

Margaux: Chx. Giscours, Cantenac Brown, Ferriere, du Tertre and Brane Cantenac (along with 2nd vin Baron de Brane)

Haut Medoc, Moulis, Listrac: Chx. Cantemerle, Chasse Spleen, Camensac, Mauvesin Barton, and Senejac

Pessac Leognan Reds: Chx. Carmes Haut Brion, Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte, Clos Marsalette, and Haut Bailly with 2nd vin La Parde de Haut Bailly

Dry Whites: Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte, and Blanc de Lynch Bages (2014)

Sweet Whites: Chx. Suduiraut (along with 2nd vin Lions de Suduiraut) and Coutet

You can see that we’ll be tasting great wines from every major appellation in Bordeaux. After re-tasting all these wines on January 17 in Dallas, I can tell you that they are showing very well.
The tasting will open at 5pm and run until 9pm, giving you ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a spread of artisanal cheeses and breads chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses. The Vintage 2015 Mostly 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 at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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

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.

Bear Dalton Health Update

Dear Friends,

I’m posting this because so many people are inquiring that it’s difficult to answer everyone. I am humbled by and deeply appreciate all the prayers and concern. Please feel free to share this.

The old news:
I first realized I had a problem early on the morning of Monday January 29th. Carol drove me to the Methodist emergency room with what I thought was appendicitis. After a CT scan, I was diagnosed with stage-four colon cancer which got me quickly admitted to Methodist hospital. After a day-and-half of scans and tests, pokes and prods, Dr. Eric Haas and his team operated on me beginning at about 4:30pm on Wednesday Jan 31. During the four-hour surgery, they took out a grapefruit-sized tumor and about a foot of colon (along with my appendix and some lymph nodes) and rerouted my plumbing. The labs came back with clean margins so they feel like the got out all the cancer in my gut.
I had a follow up appointment with Dr. Haas last Thursday and got nothing but good news. He said I am 7-10 days ahead of schedule on healing from the surgery. We are working on getting scheduled to reconnect all the plumbing.

Maybe you knew most of that before now. Here’s the new stuff:
Tuesday (2/20) I had a needle biopsy on one of two spots in my liver. Today (Friday, February 23) I had an appointment with my oncologist Dr. Monisha Singh who gave me the unwelcome-but-not-unexpected news that the colon cancer had spread to my liver so I will need chemo-therapy (beginning in mid-April) and some other follow up. I was hoping that wouldn’t be the case but it was not unexpected.
We are getting everything (reconnection surgery and chemo) scheduled around a couple of wine business trips to Europe in April and May. We have a plan. The doctors and the rest of the care team has been great; Carol and I are becoming huge fans of Methodist.

So my energy level improves almost daily. Since I was released from the hospital on the afternoon of February 6th, I’ve walked at least 2 miles every day the weather has permitted; Scout and I walked 3.3 miles today.  And I am really enjoying cooking my own dinners again. Thank you to everyone who has offered to bring food but cooking is a passion for me and I am quite enjoying indulging it. I cooked seared salmon, a sweet potato, and shiso peppers for dinner tonight as Carol – my “health care pit bull” – was at St. Luke’s visiting her only-marginally-more-cooperative-than-me mother Nancy who is once more rallying.  I still get tired sooner than my normal but that’s improving. I’m learning to eat a bit differently to accommodate my modified plumbing. I’m going back to work at Spec’s on Monday and am anxious to get back in the saddle. There have been silver linings: Since the surgery, I have experienced no back pain. And I am steadily losing weight (I now weigh less than I have in over 30 years). On March 3rd, I plan to walk (not run) in the Houston Area Women’s Center’s 5K Race Against Violence. (The Houston Area Women’s Center and ECHOS are my two dearest causes so I’m doing what I can to help and hope you will too. Please click this link for more info on that:
https://www.houstonrav.org/rav-donate/?kwofrid=IIO2HO4)

Also, please join me on March 6th for our rescheduled 2015 Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice. This is an amazing opportunity to taste 60+ fine Bordeaux wines from the excellent 2015 vintage.

So that’s the whole dang deal. Everything is positive (my blood type and life philosophy are the same: B+). With God’s help, we will beat this. Please keep me and Carol and Nancy in your prayers. Wishing all of you all the best.

Thanks be to God.

Bear

Vintage 2015 (Mostly) Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting on March 6th

Tuesday March 6, 2018 at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice

(Please see the end of this post for an update on Bear Dalton)

This event was originally scheduled for Tuesday January 16, 2018 but we had to cancel due to extreme winter weather conditions (the “Ice-Pocolypse” that virtually closed the city of Houston). The original plan was to host over 30 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers (aka “the Bordelaise”) presenting 62 mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux wines all from the superb 2015 vintage in a standup-and-walk-around tasting format. The wines are here and will be served. The Bordelaise are working-it-out to come back in March. Many will make it but some won’t. In any case, there will be someone informed about the wine pouring each wine. In the end, we will have the 2015 tasting and you will get to taste …

Pomerol: Chx. Clinet, Gazin, Croix St. Georges, and La Pointe (along with 2nd vin Ballade de La Pointe)

St. Emilion: Chx. Canon la Gaffeliere, Clos l’Oratoire, Daugay, Grand Corbin Despagne, La Confession, Larcis Ducasse, and Pavie Macquin

St. Georges St. Emilion: Ch. Cap St. George

Castillon and Francs: Chx. d’Aiguilhe and Ampelia, Ch. Puygueraud

Bordeaux: Chx. Croix Mouton and le Conseiller

St. Estephe: Chx. Phelan Segur, Lafon Rochet, and les Ormes de Pez

Pauillac: Chx. Pichon Lalande (with 2nd vin Reserve de la Comtesse), Pichon Baron (with 2nd vin Les Griffons), Pibran, Lynch Bages (with 2nd vin Echo de Lynch Bages), Grand Puy Lacoste (with 2nd vin Lacoste Borie), Clerc Milon, d’Armailhac, and Haut Bages Liberal

St. Julien: Chx. Branaire Ducru, Leoville Barton and Langoa Barton, Leoville Poyferrre, and Talbot

Margaux: Chx. Giscours, Cantenac Brown, Ferriere, du Tertre and Brane Cantenac (along with 2nd vin Baron de Brane)

Haut Medoc, Moulis, Listrac: Chx. Cantemerle, Chasse Spleen, Camensac, Mauvesin Barton, and Senejac

Pessac Leognan Reds: Chx. Carmes Haut Brion, Carbonnieux, Domaine de Chevalier, Smith Haut Lafitte, Clos Marsalette, and Haut Bailly with 2nd vin La Parde de Haut Bailly

Dry Whites: Domaine de Chevalier, Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte, Ch. Carbonnieux, and Blanc de Lynch Bages (2014)

Sweet Whites: Chx. Suduiraut (along with 2nd vin Lions de Suduiraut) and Coutet

We’ll be tasting great wines from every major appellation in Bordeaux. After re-tasting all these wines on January 17 in Dallas, I can tell you that they are showing very well.
The tasting will open at 5pm and run until 9pm, giving you ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a spread of artisanal cheeses and breads chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses. The Vintage 2015 Mostly 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 at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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

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.

 

About BEAR DALTON
As many of you know, on Monday, January 29th at about 6am, my wife Carol drove me to the Methodist Emergency Room on the Southwest freeway at Kirby with what we assumed was appendicitis. By 10:30am, we were informed that it was not appendicitis. Rather, I had stage 4 colon cancer. I was admitted and transported via ambulance to Methodist Hospital. After a long day-and-a-half of tests and scans, I had a four-hour surgery on Wednesday afternoon that cut out all the cancer in my colon along with my appendix and some lymph nodes. They say they got it all. Plumbing has been redone and rerouted. I was up walking a few steps and sitting up Wednesday night. I was discharged a week after my surgery. Every day is better now. It has been over a week since I’ve taken any pain meds and I am not hurting. I’m walking  at least 2 miles every day. All my doctors’ comments have been very positive. All good news. They say I am 7-10 days ahead of schedule on my recovery and anticipate a full recovery and that I should be able to resume my normal activity (Ok, maybe toned down a little bit) over the next 4-6 weeks.And I feel pretty good. My energy level is up. I still get tired but I am feeling stronger every day. My spirits are good. I know I am in God’s hands. I am humbled to have more people than I can count praying for me. And Carol has been a rock.

Obviously, I will still host our rescheduled 2015 Cru Classé Bordeaux event on March 6th at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice (which would still go on whether I could be there or not). And my customer trip to the UK, Cahors, and Bordeaux is a “Go.” And I’ll be scheduling a couple of classes at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française soon.

I cannot say enough good things about the care I have received at Methodist. The doctors are exceptional and the nursing care has been super. Please continue to pray for me but know that I am on the mend and with God’s help will be just fine.

 

Update on Bear Dalton

On Monday, January 29th at about 6am, my wife Carol drove me to the Methodist Emergency Room (aka “The Chick-fil-A ER”) on the Southwest freeway at Kirby with what we assumed was appendicitis. By 10:30am, we were informed that it was not appendicitis. Rather, it seemed I had stage 4 colon cancer. I was admitted and transported via ambulance (not something I ever want to do again) to Methodist Hospital in the medical center. After a long day-and-a-half of tests and scans, I had a four-hour surgery on Wednesday afternoon that cut out all the cancer in my colon along with my appendix and some lymph nodes. They say they got it all. Plumbing has been redone and rerouted. I was up walking a few steps and sitting up Wednesday night. Every day is better now. It has been over 12 hours since I have had any pain meds and I am not (at this moment anyway) hurting. I’m up walking laps on the hospital floor. I got in 2.2 miles yesterday. If things line up properly, I may get discharged today. The plan is for me to go home and rest and recover, and to continue to walk and build up. At some point, I will have a biopsy on two small spots on my liver. Other than that, there seems to be no remaining cancer in my body.

So how am I? Actually, I feel pretty good and that’s with no pain meds in over 12 hours. My energy level is up. I still and will get tired but that’s what the next couple of weeks are for. I feel quite lucky that all this happened when and as it did because there was a real possibility my colon could have ruptured which would have added layers of difficulty to all of this. My spirits are good. I know I am in God’s hands and that I have more people than I can count praying for me. I cannot begin to say how much I appreciate that. Carol has been a rock.

Why am I telling you all this? Well, frankly, a lot of you have asked. And I’ve heard rumors that I am in much more dire shape than in fact I am. My doctors all expect a full recovery and that I should be able to resume my normal activity (Ok, maybe toned down a little bit) over the next 4-6 weeks.

I still plan to host our rescheduled 2015 Cru Classé Bordeaux event on March 6th at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice (which would still go on whether I could be there or not). And my customer trip to the UK, Cahors, and Bordeaux is a “Go.” And I’ll be scheduling a couple of classes at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française soon.

I cannot say enough good things about the care I have received at Methodist. The doctors are exceptional and the nursing care has been super. Please continue to pray for me but know that I am on the mend and with God’s help will be just fine.

Thinking About Cooking (with Wine)

“I enjoy cooking with wine, sometimes I even put it in the food…”
– attributed to both Julia Child and WC Fields

I cook lots of different kinds of foods: Mexican and Italian, Chinese and Vietnamese, Argentine, French, Spanish and Texan. Some of my favorite food is a sort of Texas fushion which can incorporate bits and pieces of all of them. I like things like foie gras potstickers, cowboy snails, and sweetbreads tacos. Except for baking (which is as much chemistry as cooking) and Julia Child’s Beef Bourguignon (out of respect), I generally don’t use recipes. I’m more of a technique guy. As much as I love to cook, I particularly like cooking with wine.

I use a lot of wine when I cook and it doesn’t matter what sort of food I’m cooking. And it’s something I’m regularly asked about. Why use wine? Which wine? How much do you use? When should I add it? Does the alcohol all evaporate? And so on.

I use wine in cooking for a variety of reasons. Wine can replace some of the water when I make rice (or polenta or masa for tamales). Wine can add acidity and/or sweetness. Wine can add richness and complexity and even a savory element. Wine adds alcohol, which along with fat and water, is one of the key vectors for flavor (some flavors are soluble in fat, some in water, and some only in alcohol). And, of course, red wine can add color.

Along with dry red and white wines, fortified wines – Port, Sherry, Madera, and Marsala – are often called for in recipes but there is more to it than just that. Red or white wine can be tart or smooth. Port can be tawny or ruby. Sherry, Madera, and Marsala can be bone dry, lushly sweet, or anywhere in between. Consider the dish to choose the wine. Even if no type is specified or you are – as I almost always do – winging it, think about the dish. The dish will tell you which wine to use and when to use it.

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