Jorge Ordonez Spanish Wine Tasting

On Monday, January 14 at 7pm, please join me in welcoming Victor Ordonez, son of famed Spanish wine importer Jorge Ordonez to the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of a dozen wines from the Jorge Ordonez portfolio covering Spain from the Cava zone in Penedes across to Calatayud, Rioja, Toro, and Rias Baixas. There are a number of outstanding wines in this range of some of my favorite Spanish producers as well as some excellent values. (Please see below for more on Victor Ordonez.)

The line-up includes:
Marques de Gelida Brut Gran Reserva, Cava,  2014
La Caña Albarino, Rias Baixas, 2016
Breca Garnacha de Fuego, Calatayud, 2016
Breca Garnacha de Aragon, Calatayud, 2015
Triton Tinto de Toro, 2016
Rio Madre Graciano, Rioja, 2016
Sierra Cantabria Crianza, Rioja, 2015
Sierra Cantabria Reserva Unica, Rioja, 2014
Muga Reserva, Rioja, 2014
Vatan Tinta de Toro, 2015
Breca Brega, Calatayud, 2015
San Vicente Cosecha, Rijoa, 2014

This Jorge Ordonez Spanish Tasting will cost $40.00 per person (cash or check) or $42.11 regular. The class will meet at 7pm on Monday, January 14 at l’Alliance Française. To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or

L’Alliance Françaiseis 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.

About Victor Ordonez:
Son of legendary Spanish wine importer Jorge Ordóñez, Victor Ordóñez is one of the third generation in his family’s wine business, which started when his grandfather Jose María started selling bottles of gran reserva Rioja out of a milk crate strapped to a bicycle to the hotels of Málaga, Spain. Victor grew up immersed in the wine business and Spanish culture. A bottle of wine was on the family dinner table every night, and Victor was frequently ready to shake the hand of an important customer who was at his father’s home office tasting wine when he came home from school. After studying Viticulture & Enology and Business and competing on the lightweight rowing team at Cornell University, Victor jumped head first into the family business, and is now managing national sales and distribution for Jorge Ordóñez Selections. Although his current focus is on the sales and marketing end of the wine business, his true passion lies in winemaking, and since he was sixteen has worked five harvests in Málaga, Rueda, Toro, and Valdeorras. In the little time when he is not working he enjoys cooking, training, and spending time with his friends & family.



Wines That Over Deliver

ChTourSalvetThinking about Value in Wine
Value is a funny thing. When we hear value, we tend to think of lower-priced wines (many of which do not deliver value) but low-priced wine is nowhere near the whole story. While it may be hard to think of $75 bottle of wine as a value, the fact is that many (which is not to say most) are. Saying that a wine offers value means that it over-delivers at its price point. Once viewed in that light, it becomes clear that there are values – wines that over-deliver – at every price point, just as there are wines that under-deliver at every price point.

What is hard for me is to say that “this $25 wine is ‘as-good-as-that’ $75 wine” – because in the vast majority of cases, it isn’t. If it were, the market would have pushed up the price of the $25 bottle and pushed down the price of the $75 bottle. Or both. If, over the long term, both wines are stable at their price points (meaning that they have achieved market equilibrium), then, at least for those who are buying them, they deliver at least fair value at their respective price points.

While much is made of the occasional blind tasting where a cheaper wine trounces a flashier bottling, it happens less often than you might think. You hear about it because it’s so unusual and because it becomes news. An expensive wine trouncing a cheap wine isn’t news (and so is not reported) because that’s what’s supposed to (and most often does) happen. So you read about the cheap wine that won. And you wonder if it really is better.

When I read about something like that, I ask some questions:
– How where the wines tasted and presented?
– Were they tasted or drunk?
– How much time did the tasters have with each wine?
– Could they directly compare back and forth?
– Did the tasters know the prices of the two wines?
– Was there an interest in the outcome or bias on the part of whoever was conducting the tasting?



So you need to buy a bottle (or 3 or 4) for Thanksgiving but you’re not really clear on the menu? You know there will be turkey but you don’t know how it will be cooked and you don’t know which sides will accompany it? You’re flying blind; I’m here to help.

All other things being equal, Pinot Noir is the best wine to serve with the traditional thanksgiving meal with all its regional and familial variations and permutations. Traditional New England? No Problem. Pit-roasted Turkey with jalapeño cornbread oyster stuffing? Ditto. Deep-fried Turkey with a Cajun spice injection? Out-a-sight. Turduken? Uh-Huh. Pinot handles ’em all even as it deals with all the oddball spicy, sweet (candied yams, cranberry sauce), salty, or gloppy (overcooked green beans served in casserole with canned mushroom soup and French’s fried onions) side dishes better han any other red. And, if served at 55-58°F (which is ideal cellar temperature), Pinot will actually help a slightly dried out turkey (of which there are far too many) taste better.

My picks (in three different price ranges) are all from France because these wines are lower in alcohol and a bit higher in acidity (freshness) making them better partners at the table.

Le VERSANT Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2012versantpn
100% Pinot Noir, grown on north and east facing slopes in the highlands near Puisserguier & Cazouls in Southwestern France. Fermented using rack-and-return (most unusual for Pinot) and aged 5 months in 90% Stainless Steel tanks and 10% in older oak barrels.   Sensory Note: Deep-red color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics.  Supple dark red cherry and some berry fruit with accents of cola, a subtle earthiness and a bit of black pepper along with spice and a dark floral note. Bear Note: Lovely in the mouth This is the value-priced, food friendly, everyday Pinot Noir you’ve been looking for. Grows on you as you drink it. Shockingly good for the price. BS: 90. ($12 SRP)

LEONCE BOCQUET, Rully Rouge, 2009
100% Pinot Noir (from Rully in Burgundy’s Cote Chalonnaise) aged 14 months in a combination of 50% used oak barrels and 50% tank.     Sensory Note: Red-violet in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics with a longer finish.    Supple darker red cherry-berry fruit and even a hint of cocoa to complement the cola and dark floral notes.    Bear Note: Complete. Drinking very well now. This is Chalonnaise Pinot Noir at a high level.  BS: 91. ($24 SRP)

HENRI de VILLAMONT, Savigny les Beaune Clos des Guettes 1er cru, 2011
Tech Note: 13% Alcohol. 100% Pinot Noir fermented using open-top tanks and punch-downs (classic for Burgundy) and aged 14 months in French oak barrels (40% new).   Sensory Note: Red in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium phenolics.  Shows fresh red cherry and berry fruit. Lots of cola and spice but on an elegant and even ethereal structure. Vivid in the mouth with a lingering finish that comes in waves.   Bear Note: YUM. Precise, pure, refreshing; alive-in-the-mouth. BS: 92+. ($35 SRP)

And maybe you’d like to bring some bubbles? Everybody may like the guy who brings donuts or breakfast tacos but everybody LOVES the guy who brings the bubbles. You can be that guy. Don’t know what to grab? Gotcha covered there too:

Castillo PERELADA Brut Reserva, Cava (Spain), NVPerelada500x500
Tech: 11.5% Alcohol. A blend of Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada together with Chardonnay and Subirat Parent, Garnatxa Tinta, and Monastrell. Fermented using Methode Champenoise and aged at least 18 months on the yeasts in the bottle. Sensory: Pale-gold-straw in color; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity. Cheap Cava that both smells and tastes better than its price. Toasty, yeasty earth with citrus and tree fruit along with some earthy red fruit. Good grip in the mouth, quite long. So much better than it has to be at this price point. BS: 90+. ($10 SRP)

JANSZ Brut, Tasmania, NV
Tech Note: 12% Alc. A methode champenoise blend of 58% Chardonnay, 40% Pinot Noir, and 2% Pinot Meunier aged two years en tirage (on the yeasts) before disgorgement and finishing. Sensory Note: Pale green straw in color and fully sparkling with a nice bead even in the larger Riedel glasses. Plenty of fizz. The yeast-and-fruit nose was evident even as I was pouring the wine. In the glass, I found yeast and toast notes along with citrus and floral as well as a bit of red fruit. There is even a Champagne-like mineral component along with enough richness to make this work well with food. (I continued to sip it after we were seated with some of La Vista’s excellent mussels.) It is crisp and fresh with a fine balance and very long finish. Bear Note: Delicious. I think Carol has a slight preference for the Jansz Rosé but I find them both to be excellent. And I think this was better with the mussels than the Rosé would have been. BS: 92+. ($25 SRP)

GOSSET Brut Excellence, Champagne, NVimages-1
Tech: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 45% Pinot Noir, 36% Chardonnay, and 19% Pinot Meunier sourced primarily from Grand and Premier Cru vineyards. Gosset bases this blend on three vintages and then adds 20% reserve wines (wines aged in a sort of solera with many vintages blended together). The wine spends over 2.5 years en tirage (resting on the lees before disgorging). Sensory: Medium straw in color with a hint of green highlights. Dry, light-to-medium-bodied with crisp acidity and scant phenolics. Focused, classy, classic, and delicious. Tart lemon-citrus fruit with some some subtle red fruit notes along with lots of toast and a lot of minerals. Fine style. Gets richer and more satisfying as it warms and flattens (which I like very much). Delicious. BS: 92. ($41)


Champagne Friday: MONTSARRA Brut Cava, NV

WELL,it is Friday but this is little “c” rather than big “C” champagne. Which is to say that it is not real Champagne but rather Cava from Spain. Even though they can no longer use the term, Cava producers utilize the methode champenoise (the classic Champagne process) in producing their wines. As Cava producers go, Montsarra is on the small side and as smaller Cava producers go, on the traditional side in that they use only the three classic native varieties (Macabeo, Parellada, and Xarel-lo) rather than adding in Chardonnay and even Pinot Noir.

MONTSARRA Brut, Cava (Spain), NV ($17)

A blend of 65% Macabeo, 17.5% Parellada, and 17.5% Xarel-lo grown on a 99 acre estate near Torrelles de Foix in the classic Penedes part of the larger (and non-contiguous) Cava zone, fermented using methode champenoise, and aged 18 months on the lees in the bottle before disgorging. Finished at 12% AbV.   Sensory: Medium straw in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-bodied with fresh acidity.  Clean but classic Cava offering toasty-yeasty notes with some mineral earth supporting citrus and an essence of earthy red fruit. Has a welcome richness and enough weight to accompany food. Think of Montsarra as the entry level to “top tier” Cava; it is way past the high-volume mass market offerings that come in black bottles or sport fake French names. 90+. We have often enjoyed this with a range of tapas and recently had a bottle with grilled lamb served over a hearty spinach-and-spring-mix salad with red grapes, blue cheese, and black walnuts.