SIERRA CANTABRIA Wine Class and Tasting

Featuring Ambassador / Educator Alejandra Naranjo

On Monday, August 5th at 7pm, please join me in welcoming VIÑEDOS Y BODEGAS SIERRA CANTABRIA Ambassador / Educator AlejandraNaranjo (bio below) to The Wine School at L’Alliance Française for a discussion and tasting of their wines: Protocolo (Castilla y Leon), Sierra Cantabria and San Vicente (Rioja), and Teso La Monja (Toro).

The line-up includes:
Protocolo Blanco, Castilla Y Leon, 2018
Protocolo Rosado, Castilla Y Leon, 2018
Protocolo Tinto, Castilla Y Leon, 2017
Sierra Cantabria Rosado, Rioja, 2018
Sierra Cantabria Seleccion Tinto, Rioja, 2017
Sierra Cantabria Crianza, Rioja, 2015
Sierra Cantabria Rioja Reserva, Unica, 2014
San Vicente, Rioja, 2015
El Puntido Gran Reserva, 2006
Teso La Monja Romanico Toro, 2016
Teso La Monja Almirez Toro, 2016
Teso La Monja Victorino Toro, 2016

This Sierra Cantabria Tasting will cost $40.00per person (cash or check) or $42.11 regular. The class meets on Monday August 5th 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  Alejandra Naranjo:
After a 13 year career (that includes education and certifications from WSET, Académie de Bordeaux, the International School of Sommellerie, and the Universidad Autónoma de Barcelona) in the wine business and wine education spanning four countries and three continents, Alejandro Naranjo went to Vinedos Y Bodegas Sierra Cantabria in Rioja as an ambassador / educator in 2017 with a portfolio including all of their brands from their three regions of production. I met Alejandra in May of 2019 and was impressed with her knowledge and passion and her ability to communicate those same qualities in talking about the wines she represents.

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.

UTTERLY UNIQUE x 3

I taste a lot of wine and certainly more than my share of great wine. Every-once-in-a-while, I taste something really unique. Every-once-in-a-great-while, I taste a something both great and unique. Great in terms of flavor and unique both in flavor and process. These are three of those:

TRASNOCHO
Ramirez de Ganuza Trasnocho is such a wine. Trasnocho means “overnight” and the wine is aptly named. After the fermentation and maceration for Ramirez de Ganuza’s excellent Rioja Reserva is complete, the tanks are drained and the free run wine is put into barrels to age. That’s when the trasnocho process starts. Plastic bladders are inserted into each of the drained tanks which still contain skins and pulp wet with trapped wine. The bladders are then filled with warm water and allowed to gently press the skins overnight. This smaller proportion of “overnight” wine that seeps from the tanks is kept separate and aged 2 years in all new French oak barrels. The result is Trasnocho Reserva. For me, it’s easy to think of the excellent Ramirez de Ganuza Reserva as the Ch. Margaux of Rioja while the utterly unique Trasnocho fills the role of Ch. Latour.

REMIREZ de GANUZA Trasnocho Reserva, Rioja, 2009 ($109.99)
A blend of 90% Tempranillo, 5% Graciano, 5% Viura-Malvasía from average 60 years vines, transported in boxes of 12kg and thermo-regulated specially designed cooling chambers during 24 hours (4-6°C degrees) prior to fermentation. Selection of grape on tables and separation of shoulders and bunch tips. This wine is elaborated from de-stemmed cluster shoulders (the ripest part of the bunch) only (the rest of the bunch is used to make an inexpensive carbonic maceration wine). Fermentation in 7,000 liter stainless steel tanks. After the tanks are drained, a bladder is inserted into the top of each tank, filled with warm water, and left overnight (hence “Trasnocho”) to gently press the remaining wine from the skins. This unique press wine is then aged 24 months in all new French oak barrels.       Purple-red color with well-formed legs; dry, full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics. Supple, ripe, juicy with some density but still elegant with spice and subtle-newer-leather to go along with the pure red Tempranillo fruit. Delicious and innovative but still identifiably Rioja. Avoids becoming a caricature. Layered – Textured – Dimensional. Utterly unique. BearScore: 96+.

 

HENRIOT CUVE 38
In 1990 Joseph Henriot set aside one vat (a “cuve”) to which toadd a portion of outstanding Blanc de Blancs each year, capturing the essence of every harvest in a sort of solera. The idea was to create a perpetual blend of 100% Chardonnay from 100% Cote de Blancs grand cru vineyards (Mesnil-sur-Oger, Chouilly, Avize and Oger). In 2009, the first 1,000 magnums were drawn and put through the Champagne process. After another 5 years aging on the lees in Henriot’s cellars in Reims, the wine was disgorged and given a final dosage of less than 5 grams per liter. Each year, another 1,000 magnums will be released.

HENRIOT Cuve 38, Champagne, NV   ($599.97 through 12/31/17)
100% Chardonnay all from Grand Cru Vineyards aged through a special reserve wine solera bottled in Magnum only re-fermented using Methode Champenoise, aged another 5 years on the yeasts and finished with a less-than-5-grams-per-liter dosage.      Pale-gold-straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant phenolics. Deep dense, unique wine. Pure expression of Chardonnay and chalk, mineral and yeast but most of all development. The wine evolves in the glass as if slowly flattens and warms. It really succeeds as wine, not just as sparkling wine. My first impression score was 94+. Three hours later it was 97. Two days later (the still 2/3s full magnum stored cold and tightly stoppered) it was 100.
This is stunningly good, utterly unique Champagne that almost demands decanting to help it develop in a reasonable time. Or you could keep it for a few years and then … WOW! Only three magnums came to Texas. Available only at Spec’s at 2410 Smith Street in Houston.

 

LA TYRE
Ch. Montus is the producer who put Madiran on the world quality wine map. The wines from Montus offer an elegant expression of Tannat, the red grape of Madiran and now the adopted grape of Uraguay. This La Tyre takes it to the Nth level. What’s unique here? First off Tannat as a base for a world class wine. And then, a very new world process applied with classic results.

Ch. MONTUS La Tyre, Madiran, 2009   ($138.99)
100% organically grown Tanat from a 25 year old vineyard southwest exposure on 5 hectares at the highest point (260 meters) in Madiran. Windswept, steep slopes, highly permeable, covered with smooth large stones with subsoils of brown and red clay. The grapes are totally de-stemmed and given a cold 4 week maceration with only occasional punch-downs (no pump-overs). The juice is then fermented (both alcoholic and malo-lactic) at 28°C in all new French oak barrels. The new wine is aged 16 months with infrequent racking before bottling. It then gets another 2 years of bottle age prior to release.      Black-purple color that stains the glass with well formed legs; dry, full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium chewy phenolics. Stunning rich ripe fresh red and black fruit Tannat with spice and earth and oak. Finesse with power. Layered, textured, dimensional. BearScore: 96.

Of Interest

LUXURY CHAMPAGNE Tasting Benefiting Sonoma Fires Relief – 
There are still a few seats left for this coming Monday’s (12/4/17) extraordinary and (at least in my experience unprecedented) look at most of the very top Luxury Cuvee Champagnes in a comparative format. For more information, please see https://bearonwine.com/2017/11/27/luxury-cuvee-champagne-benefit-tasting-for-sonoma-fires/

BORDEAUX 2017
For a good, informed, even first look at the 2017 vintage in Bordeaux from one of the best Bordeaux writers working today, please see Jane Anson’s Decanter article at
http://www.decanter.com/learn/vintage-guides/en-primeur/bordeaux-en-primeur/bordeaux-2017-how-it-is-shaping-up-380695/

MAYBE THE BEST NAPA VALLEY CHARDONNAY I’ve tasted in over two years!
I don’t often drink California Chardonnay but when I do, this 2016 from Trefethen is the kind that gets me going. Delicious, balanced, elegant. The integrated oak and subtle richness are components here but fruit and freshness are what this is all about. This is not “Cougar Juice.” Rather, it is Chardonnay that a Burgundian winemaker would recognize and drink.

TREFETHEN Estate Chardonnay, Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley CA, 2016  ($29.99)
100% sustainably grown Chardonnay, half of which is given an indigenous yeast fermentation and half of which is innoculated. 69% is barrel fermented witht he balance fermented in tank. 8% gets malo-lactic fermentation. the assemblage is aged 9 months in all French oak barrels (19% new).      Straw color with well formed legs; dry, medium light-bodied with fresh acidity. Best Trefethen Chardonnay I have ever tasted and maybe the best Napa Chardonnay I’ve tasted in two or three years. Citrus and a bit of mixed apple fruit with mineral and freshness. Integrated and pure. California answer to 1er cru Chablis. Delicious.  BearScore: 93+.

Estate-Bottled Champagne (Well, Mostly)

Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton at 7pm on Monday, November 20th at The Wine School at l’Alliance Française for Estate-Bottled Champagne. In Estate-Bottled Champagne, we will taste and discuss the range of interesting and sometimes idiosyncratic estate-bottled sparkling wines from Champagne. We will look at how they are made, their styles, and where and from what grapes they are made with a focus on each wine’s specificity. The tasting will start with a non-estate grand marque brut NV to serve as a baseline and will include one other negoçiant Champagne (the excellent Barons de Rothschild Blanc de Blancs). Everything else is estate bottled. All wines tasted will be served in Riedel Degustazione stemware. A selection of cheeses and bread will be offered.

The lineup includes:
Perrier Jouet Grand Brut NV
JP Marniquet Brut Tradition NV
Bonnaire Brut Tradition NV
Jacques Picard Berru Brut NV
Chateau de Bligny Grand Reserve Brut NV
Camille Saves Carte Blanche Brut 1er Cru NV
Marcel Moineaux Chouilly Brut Blanc De Blanc Grand Cru NV
Bonnaire Variance Brut NV
Marcel Moineaux Chouilly Millesime Blanc De Blancs Brut Grand Cru 2008
Lancelot Royer Cuvee Chevaliers Champagne NV
Barons Rothschild Blanc de Blancs NV
Andre Clouet “Cuvee 1911” Brut NV
Godme Brut 1er Cru Les Romaines 2006
JP Marniquet Champagne 1995

Estate-Bottled Champagne will cost $80 per person (cash or check) or $84.21 (regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn 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 40 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.

More Classes Coming Soon:
11.27.17          Monday          Heitz Cellars tasting including 5 vintages of Martha’s Vineyard
12.04.17          Monday          Tete de Cuvee Tasting benefitting Sonoma fires relief
12.11.17          Monday          Sparkling Rosé (Mostly Champagne)
12.18.17          Monday          Wine School Christmas Party and Toy Gather
01.08.18          Monday          TBD
01.16.18          Tuesday          Big 2015 Bordeaux Tasting at Crystal Ballroom (Houston)
01.17.18          Wednesday     Big 2015 Bordeaux Tasting at Trinity Groves (Dallas)

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.