Luxury Cuvee Champagne Benefit Tasting for Sonoma Fires

So I was thinking of how to raise some money to send out to California to help with the aftermath of the Napa and Sonoma Fires. And then Carl Zorn of LVMH (Louis Vuitton Moet Hennessy) walks into my office and says he wants to make available Dom Perignon and La Grande Dame and Krug Grand Cuvee for promotion. A plan begins to come together. Why not do a big (and pretty much unprecedented) Luxury Cuvee Champagne tasting as a benefit to help our friends in California who have been so effected by the September fires?

So, with special thanks to all the Champagne houses who are providing their top wines, on December 4th at 7pm, please join me at the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for our Luxury Cuvee Champagne Benefit. We’ll taste through 15 of the most famous (and expensive) Champagnes in the market from the top Grand Marque producers.  Champagne-appropriate nibbles will be served. The wines will be tasted from Reidel Degustazion stemware. This will be a sit down tasting where you will have a separate glass for each wine so you can compare them all. All net proceeds will go to fire relief in and around Santa Rosa (the most heavily fire-damaged are) in Sonoma County.

The line up includes:
Dom Perignon Brut
Dom Perignon Rose
Dom Perignon P2 Late release
Krug Grand Cuvee
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame
Veuve Clicquot La Grande Dame Rose
Dom Ruinart Blanc de Blancs
Salon Blanc de Blancs
Pol Roger Cuvee Winston Churchill
Roederer Cristal
Duvall Leroy Le Femme
Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Blanc de Blancs
Taittinger Comtes des Champagne Rose
Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque (Flower Bottle)
Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque Rose

The Luxury Cuvee Champagne Benefit will cost $250 per person (cash or check) or $263.16 (regular). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855 or

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:
12.04.17          Monday          Tete de Cuvee Tasting benefitting Sonoma fires relief
12.11.17          Monday          2015 Domiane Dujac Tasting
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)


I’m back.
And what better way to come back than with two great bottles of Champagne.perrier-jouet-belle-epoque-fleur-de-champagne-blanc-de-blancs-brut-millesime-champagne-france-10334806
How does it feel to drink two great Champagnes like this on a Friday Afternoon? About how it felt the other night when I walked into a party between two beautiful women both wearing mink coats (sort of the inside of a mink sandwich). Both felt pretty darn good.

The most famous of the PJs is the already luxurious Perrier Jouet Belle Epoque (aka Flower Bottle) Brut Champagne with its distinctive painted green bottle and its $150 SRP. This wine in the still available 2004 took the top spot in a recent competitive tasting by a number of top Texas sommeliers against such competition as Roederer Cristal 2005, Taittinger Comtes de Champagne 2004, Dom Perignon 2004, and Krug Grand Cuvee. But the two wines I have tasted here – the two PJs in the clear flower bottles – are something else. Layering Lux on Lux, they are among the ultimate expressions of Blanc de Blancs on the one hand and Rosé on the other. The yin and yang of Champagne, they are the ultimate PJs.

PERRIER JOUET Belle Epoque Blanc de Blancs, Champagne, 2002
Tech: 12.5% Alcohol. A blend of 100% Chardonnay wines from Cramant and Avize in the Cote de Blancs aged 6 years en tirage (on the yeasts) and finished with a 0.9% dossage. Sensory: straw in color with green highlight and fully sparkling; dry, light-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Fresh and alive and vividly Chardonnay with lots of lemony ripe citrus, plenty of chalky mineral and a subtle pie crust yeastiness. Succeeds both as wine and a sparkling wine. BS: 96+. (SRP: $350)

PERRIER JOUET Belle Epoque Rose, Champagne, 2004

Tech: 12.5% Alcohol. A blend of 45% Pinot Noir from the Montagne de Reims and 55% Chardonnay from Cramant and Avize in the Cote de Blancs aged 6 years en tirage (on the yeasts) and finished with a 0.9% dosage. Sensory: Copper-salmon in color and fully sparkling; dry, medium-light-bodied with fresh acidity and scant phenolics. Rich with notes of red fruit and citrus to go with mineral earth and subtle toast. Lovely, integrated complete. Delicious food friendly Rosé. BS: 96. (SRP: $300)

Too much of anything is bad but too much Champagne is just right. – F. Scott Fitzgerald

CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY “Two-fer” – KRUG Grande Cuvée and DOM PERIGNON Rosé 2000

So, its Friday (actually (2/3/12), about 6:15pm. We – Robert, Ned, and I – are sipping Jansz Brut (the subject of a recent Champagne Friday posting). The white stretch limo pulls into my driveway. We bring our Champagne glasses and get in. As the limo pulls out of the driveway and down the street, Robert pulls out a bottle of Krug Grande Cuvee. He opens and pours. While the Jansz had been fine, this Krug is amazing (see note below). I don’t care what you are about to do, this is a good way to start. We sip the Krug all the way downtown to Toyota Center, finishing the bottle just as we arrive. We go inside to get a drink and find our seats (Mid-Court, 18 rows up – Sweet!) so we can watch the Houston Rockets embarrass the Phoenix Suns. After we walk out and find our car and driver, we load up and Robert pulls out another bottle, this time a Dom Perignon Rosé 2000, which we drink on the way home. Returning home took a lot less time so there is still some DP Rosé for Miss Carol to have a glass when we get there. She approves but retires from the living room as we are acting like three men who’ve been drinking Champagne and beer and … and, as she put it, being “guys” all evening. Miss Carol did not ride in the limo or go to the game as she would rather face an IRS audit conducted by a malevolent dentist than attend a professional sporting event. Here’s the run-down on the bubbles.

KRUG Grand Cuvée, Champagne, NV
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. An unspecified blend of Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, possibly dozens of wines sourced from 6 to 10 vintages that, after blending and second fermentation, is aged another 6 years on the lees (en tirage). The complete, real-deal, specific tech info is unavailable. But, after drinking the wine, I don’t really care all that much. Sensory Note: Due to the siuation in which we enjoyed this wine, I have no color note. Dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and scant but still present phenolics. On pouring, there is the expected citrus fruit, toast, and mineral. As the wine warms and bubbles a bit in the glass, the citrus expands beyond lemon as some tree fruit (apple, pear?) and subtle red fruit essence comes in, the simple toast expands to toasted brioche served in a bakery, and the mineral combines with the acidity to provide structure and depth. Bear Note: The wine starts interesting but becomes complex and intriguing. It satisfies as if it were an aged red Burgundy. Truly delicious. Goes way beyond basic “Brut Non-Vintage.” BS: 95. ($125)

DOM PERIGNON Rosé, Champagne, 2000
Tech Note: 12% Alcohol. A blend of 45% Chardonnay and 55% Pinot Noir, of which 1/4 is still red Pinot Noir.     Sensory Note:  No color note due to dark limo. Dry, medium full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and light phenolics. Deep, rich, and satisfying with supple red fruit and enough ripe citrus to keep it balanced. There is richness from the red fruit and the distinctive toasty-yeasty biscuit character. So good in the mouth, you are reluctant to swallow.  Satisfying and delicious.     Bear Note: More than being Champagne that can stand up to food, this is Champagne AS food. YUM.  BS: 97 now and it will only improve with a few more years of age. ($375)

Thank you, Robert!

A couple of my favorite Champagne quotes seem to apply here:
“Too much of anything is bad, but too much Champagne is just right.” – F. Scott Fitzgerald
“Champagne offers a minimum of alcohol and a maximum of companionship.” – David Niven