A Wine Dinner Benefitting ECHOS – Friday October 13th

SOLD OUT – Have started waiting list.

Dear Friends,
People in the wine trade from around the world have been calling and emailing to ask how I fared during and after Hurricane Harvey. My initial response is that even though we had water lapping at our front porch, Carol and I “got no water in our house or vehicles and so we were unaffected.” But we are not “unaffected.” Harvey has affected everyone on the Texas coastal plain from below Corpus Christi to up past Beaumont. I was back in the office on Tuesday August 29 so I haven’t been out volunteering – but I have been donating. I have been listening to family and friends and customers who are very affected. And I have done some plotting and scheming. What-if-I-were-to host a wine dinner to benefit ECHOS (an organization in southwest Houston that helps a lower-income, mostly immigrant population with such basic issues as healthcare, housing, food, and English-as-a-second-language that has been doing yeoman work with their clients in the wake of Harvey)? What-if-I-were-to cook and serve really elevated comfort foods? What-if-I-were-to pair those foods with some of the very best wines from around the world? What-if-I-were-to say that ALL the proceeds were to go to ECHOS? What-if-I-were-to tell you that David Weekley Homes promises to match the funds we raise? What-if-I-were-to plan it all for Friday October 13th? Well, all that “What-if-I-were-to” has come together so …
On Friday October 13th at 7pm, I will host (and cook along with Denise Ehrlich and others) a wine dinner benefitting ECHOS (see more about ECHOS below). This dinner-for-24 will be held in the Parish Hall at the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany (which conveniently has a full commercial kitchen). We’ll start with a Champagne reception with nibbles and then sit down to a five-course dinner of “elevated comfort foods” served with extraordinary wines. Elevated comfort foods? Extraordinairy wines? Take a look at the menu. You may have to loosen your belt. And I think each of the selected wines represents the very best of its type. 

Assorted nibbles (including Champagne Nachos)
Barons Rothschild Blanc de Blancs Champagne, NV
Barons Rothschild Rosé Champagne, NV

Potato-Leek-Parsley Soup with a purple-potato-chip and lardon garnish
Lustau East India Sherry

Confit Quail and Seared Duck over dressed Mesclun with toasted pine nuts and lardons
Rochioli Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley 2014
Domaine Serene Evenstad Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2014 

Short-Rib-and-Ox-Tail Boeuf Bourguignon over Tagliatelle
Quintessa, Rutherford, 2014
Opus One, Oakville, 2014
Ridge Monte Bello 2014

Araujo Eisele Estate 2002 (from magnums)

Individual Apple Tarts with pecan and bacon served with an infused whipped cream
Ch. Rieussec Sauternes 2011

Graham’s Vintage Porto 1994

So come eat and drink knowing that every dime will go to a great cause; have fun and feel good about it. This ECHOS Wine Dinner will cost $500.00 per person (check payable to ECHOS or a credit card charge which will be processed by ECHOS). The reception will start at 7pm on Friday October 13, 2017. To reserve your spot for this unique and very special wine dinner, please reply by email to me at BearDalton@mac.com. I suggest coming by Uber or other car service as the wine pours will be generous. The Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is located at 9600 South Gessner Road (the southwest corner of Gessner and Bissonnet).

ECHOS (Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services) is a non-profit organization (501(C)3 corporation) connecting people in need with the health, social, and educational resources that can improve their lives. ECHOS’ mission is to connect people in need with health, social and educational resources that can improve their lives.
ECHOS  provides on-site help to families who are unable to access affordable health care and who do not have medical insurance coverage in completing and submitting applications for healthcare and social services. 
ECHOS offers on-site health care services and screenings promoting healthier and more productive lives including Children’s Immunizations, Blood Pressure and Glucose Screenings, Vision Screenings, Well and sick child check ups, and Dental care
ECHOS also assistclients in meeting basic needs and self-sufficiency.  Assistance is free and includes: Food from the Food Pantry, Food Fairs and Mini Health Fairs, English-as-a-second-language, Computer literacy, and Domestic violence support groups on campus.
ECHOS is located on the campus of the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany.

The “E” in ECHOS, the Episcopal Church of the Epiphany is located at 9600 South Gessner Road. Epiphany is where I go to church and where I raised my kids. While I no longer live in the area, I went to Sharpstown High School and used to pass Epiphany on the way to and from school. The area has changed since then; Epiphany has changed along with it and now boasts one of the most diverse congregations in Houston. ECHOS is Epiphany’s outreach to the local community.

All the wines are among my favorites and fall in the range of “best in class.”
The Barons Rothschild Champagnes are amongst my very favorite fixzz and both completely over deliver at their just under $100 per bottle price points.
The Lustau East India Sherry is the Sherry I buy most often and serve with the soup at all my family holiday meals.
The Rochioli Pinot Noir and Domaine Serene Evenstad Pinot Noir each offer best of Sonoma and best of Willamette quality as well as precise expression of their place(s).
The Quintessa, the Opus One, the Ridge Monte Bello, and the Eisele Estate (then Araujo) are my quartet of the definition of great Cabernet-based wine from California. All are farmed either sustainably, organically, or biodynamically. All are given an indigenous yeast fermentation. All are Layered-Textured-Dimensional wines of stunning quality.
Ch. Rieussec is one of my four favorite Sauternes producers. 2011 is a great Sauternes vintage. Bliss.
Graham’s Vintage Porto 1994. Legal-drinking-age Vintage Port from one of the greatest Port houses. Hope it’s cool that night.
All but one of the wines is provided for this event by the producer/supplier.

A Wine Trip to Napa and Sonoma Done Bear’s Way

Bear Dalton of Spec’s and Sarah Donaho of Frosch Travel are finishing up the planning (and budget) on a trip to the North Coast Wine Country (that would be Napa and Sonoma with side trips to Lake and Mendocino Counties) … and we are doing it Bear’s way.

“Bear’s way” means leaving the hotel about 8am with the first stop being breakfast (which in at least one case will be at a winery – OPUS One) and four(ish) winery visits a day … with most of our lunches and dinners at the wineries. We will be traveling by “Luxury Coach” (aka “the bus”). Law and policy allowing, some sparkling wine may get served/consumed on the bus. As we will be leaving at about 8am and getting back to the hotels between 9pm and 11pm (and so not spending much time there), we will be staying in nice but not fancy hotels. And we will only change hotels one time (Sunday through Tuesday nights we stay in Napa and Wednesday through Friday nights we stay in Rohnert Park just south of Santa Rosa in Sonoma County). If you like you can get in early and/or stay later. How you get there is up to you (airfare is NOT included).

The trip starts in Napa on Sunday and ends after our last visit on Saturday afternoon. The plan is for you to arrive at our hotel (Hilton Garden Inn) in Napa on Sunday (8/10/14) afternoon and for the group to gather for a welcome dinner on Sunday (Restaurant TBD). From there, the plan is …

Monday Aug 11
Breakfast at Black Bear Diner (Napa)
Winery Visits: Inglenook (formerly Niebaum Coppola), Schramsberg (Lunch), Corison, Shannon Ridge
Dinner at Shannon Ridge in Lake County

Tuesday Aug 12
Breakfast at Black Bear Diner (Napa)
Winery Visits: Domaine Carneros, Tetra-Expression-Prime Solum (Lunch), Buehler, Ca’Momi
Dinner at Oenoteca – Ca’Momi’s Pizzeria in Napa)

Wednesday Aug 13
Check out of Hilton Garden Inn.
Breakfast at Opus One
Winery Visits: Opus, Snowden (Lunch), Quintessa, Kenefick
(check into DoubleTree in Rohnert Park )
Dinner TBD in Santa Rosa area

Thursday Aug 14
Breakfast at Black Bear Diner (Rohnert Park)
Winery Visits: Dry Creek Vineyards, Alexander Valley Vineyards (Lunch), Ridge, Roederer Estate
Dinner at Roederer In Anderson Valley in Mendocino

Friday Aug 15
Breakfast at Black Bear Diner (Rohnert Park)
Winery Visits: Siduri, Ravenswood (Lunch), Hanzell, Sonoma Highway
Dinner TBD

Saturday Aug 16
Check out of DoubleTree Hotel
Breakfast at DoubleTree Hotel
Winery Visits: The Sorting Table (A morning Burgundy Tasting in the town of Napa), Gloria Ferrer (Lunch)
And we are done.

That’s the plan. Over the next couple of weeks, we will finalize all the visits and the itinerary. If we cannot see a particular winery, we will add another of comparable quality.
Cost is projecting to be between $3,100.00 and $3,300.00 per person based on double occupancy.
All meals, hotels, and wine country transportation are included. Airfare is not included.
The cost for a single supplement will be about $625.00.
We are finalizing the budget now.
Sarah is also working on shuttles to Napa and back  to airports.
This will be limited to 30 people.
If yes, please email BearDalton@mac.com and Sarah.Donaho@Frosch.com.

Wine of the Week: OPUS ONE 2009

OPUS is a consistent personal favorite Napa Valley Cabernet-based red. It fits in with my other favorites such as Araujo, Quintessa, Dunn, Snowden, Oakville East, Kenefick, Shafer, The Fourteen, Reynold’s Family Reserve, etc. in that the flavor of ripe (but not over-ripe) Cabernet comes through with its tobacco, cedar, black pepper nuance intact. It does not taste of chocolate or chocolate syrup. It is elegant, balanced, and has the acidity to go the distance. This is what Cabernet-based Napa Valley red wine is all about and what current wave of ripeness and extraction hounds have gotten too far away from. If this is old school, I guess that makes me an old school kind of guy. Oh, and I’ll take that steak to go with it rare-to-medium-rare with a nice crust on it.

OPUS ONE, Napa Valley, 2009  ($205)

A blend of 81% Cabernet Sauvignon, 9% Cabernet Franc, 6%, Petit Verdot, 3% Merlot, and 1% Malbec macerated for 20 days (including fermentation) and aged 17 months in all new French oak barrels.  Bottled un-fined at 14.5% AbV one year prior to release. Sensory: Deep-purple-black in color with well formed legs that stain the glass; dry, medium-full-bodied with a fresh balance and chewy but well-integrated phenols (tannins).   Supple, juicy, beautifully balanced. Offers red and black fruit with notes of tobacco, spice, black pepper, cedar. Dusty oak and earth. Lovely integration. Elegant. Rich but very approachable with a classic dusty feel in the mouth. YUM. 97+. In the short term, a splash through a decanter wouldn’t do it any harm. Neither would serving it in large glasses that allow for some vigorous swirling. Longer term, this 2009 Opus is a wine with a demonstrated track record that will easily repay aging for twenty or more years.