BORDEAUX 2016: Day 3

Tasting at Nathaniel Johnston With Spec’s Christina Walther (aka Audrey Hepburn) and Ivanhoe Johnston

9:00am the morning of Thursday March 30th brought us to the offices of negoçiant Nathaniel Johnson on the Coeur du Medoc in Bordeaux for a brisk tasting of 34 wines. After that it was off to the right back for a series of chateau visits to taste mainly 2016s.

2016 Highlights from the office tasting include Ch. Tour St. Bonnet Medoc 2016 (90+), Ch. Senejac Haut Medoc 2016 (91+), Ch. Mauvesin Barton Moulis en Medoc 2016 (91), and Ch. D’Issan Margaux 2016 (93+). Highlights of some of the currently available wines include Ch. Tour Salvet Haut Medoc 2014 (91), Ch. Daugay St. Emilion 2005 (92+), Ch. Lalande Borie St. Julien 2014 (92), Duluc de Baranaire Ducru St. Julien 2014 (92), and Margaux de Brane Margaux 2015 (91+).

Old Cabernet Vines at Ch. Daugay in St. Emilion

First stop on the right bank (after a traffic jam near Libourne) was Ch. Daugay St. Emilion with the irrepressible Jean Bernard Grenie. Both the 2015 (92+) and the 2016 (93) are showing very well.

Daugay then gives way to a tasting with Stephan von Neipperg at Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere. You will be shocked to learn that the count  was wearing neither an ascot or a scarf nor did he have a sweater draped over his shoulders. He did however ably present seven excellent wines: Ch. Clos Marsalette Pessac Leognan Rouge 2016 (93+), Ch. d’Aiguilhe Castillon 2016 (92+), Clos de l’Oratoire St. Emilion 2016 (93), Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere St. Emilion 2016 (96+), and Ch. La Mondotte St. Emilion (96) along with the rarer white Ch. Clos Marsalette Pessac Leognan Blanc 2016 (92), and Ch. d’Aiguille Castillon Blanc 2016 (92).

Count Stephan von Neipperg with his signature scarf and sweater on his bottles rather than his person


Our next stop was Grand Corbin Despagne to taste both that wine and special Ch. Ampelia with François Despagne. Ch. Ampelia Castillon 2016 (92+) is the best Ampelia yet. Ch. Grand Corbin Despagne St. Emilion 2016 (93+) also stands out. After our visit and tasting, we were treated to lunch at Grand Corbin Despagne that included the lovely 1970 served blind. Bragging a bit, I did guess the vintage so my record at Grand Corbin Despagne is intact at 2-0 (since I also correctly guessed the 1959 he served three years ago).

As Grand Corbin Despagne is next to Pomerol, we headed to our three Pomerol stops to taste Ch. La Pointe 2016 (92+), Fugue de Nenin 2016 (91), Ch. Nenin 2016 (93) and Ch. Clinet 2016 (94). After Pomerol,  we visited and tasted at Ch. Tour St. Christophe in St. Emilion. While these wines (owned by Mr. Kwok) were well received by others, I struggled with what seemed to me to be too much wine making to the point where the winemaking overwhelmed the terroir. At this point, I will say that these are wines I don’t understand very well and so am not going to score.

Our last appointment of the day was with Jean Philippe Janouiex at his Ch. La Confession St. Emilion where warmly greeted with both the Texas and American flags flying. We tasted the range:

Ch. Croix Mouton Bordeaux 2016 (90+ – best Croix Mouton yet))
Ch. Le Conseiller Bordeaux 2016 (91)
20 Mille Bordeaux 2016 (93)
Ch. Cap St. Georges St. Georges St. Emilion 2016 (92)
Ch. La Confession St. Emilion 2016 (94)
Sacre Couer Pomerol 2016 2016 (92 – a new wine I hadn’t tasted before)
Ch. Croix St. Georges Pomerol (94)

The Spec’s Bordeaux Crew with Jean Philippe Janouiex and Ivanhoe Johnston


BORDEAUX TRIO Dinner on October 19th At the new Houston Club

On Monday October 19th at 7pm, please join Spec’s in welcoming a trio from Bordeaux in Stephan von Niepperg (Ch. Canon La Gaffeliere as well as Ch. d’Aiguilhe and Clos de l’Oratoire), Patrick Maroteau (Ch. Branaire Ducru), and Ludovic Frandin (Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte) to Houston for a Bordeaux Trio Dinner at the new Houston Club featuring wines from these great properties and Houston Club chef Doug George’s wine-friendly menu.

Aperitif: Passed Daikon Lobster Rolls / Rosemary Ginger Aioli
Toasted Almond & Parmigiano Crostini
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2012   

1st: Silky Leek & Red Wine Soup with Gruyere Croutons
Ch. d’Aiguilhe, Castillon,  2009
Duluc de Branaire, St. Julien, 2006

2nd: Alder Wood Smoked Moulard Duck Breast / Baby Arugula / Shaved Fennel / Dried Cherry Gastrique
Clos de l’Oratoire, St. Emilion,  2012
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge 2012
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2012

3rd: Grilled Venison Chop / Creamy Blue Corn Grits / Balsamic Roasted Brussel Sprouts
Ch. Canon la Gafelliere, St. Emilion, 2011
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac Leognan, 2011
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2011

Cheese: Artisan Cheeses
Ch. Canon la Gafelliere, St. Emilion, 2006
Ch. Smith Haut Lafitte Rouge, Pessac Leognan, 2006
Ch. Branaire Ducru, St. Julien, 2006

Dessert: Bittersweet Chocolate Raspberry Terrine / Honey Truffle / Chocolate Dipped Grapes

This unique Bordeaux Trio Dinner will cost $185 per person all inclusive.

For reservations, contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

The Houston Club is located on the 49th floor of One Shell Plaza (910 Louisianna, 77002).
Gentlemen are requested to wear a Jacket and Tie.