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

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.


Please join Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton on Tuesday, October 28th, at 7pm for PARSING ZINFANDEL. It’s been a few years since we have dug into Zin and with the arrival of the 2012s in Texas, I think we’re due. We’ll look at and taste 12 wines from all over Sonoma County (the spiritual home of Zinfandel) and a couple from Napa as well, all from the 2012 vintage. We’ll talk about Zin and blends, the terrors and techniques used to make it, and the food we eat with it. The class will include bread and a selection of fine cheeses to accompany the tasting.

The List:
DRY CREEK VINEYARDS Zinfandel Heritage Clone 2012
TRIG POINT Railyard Zinfandel The Alexander Valley 2012
SEGHESIO Zinfandel Sonoma 2012
RIDGE Three Valleys Zinfandel 2012
BEDROCK Old Vine Zinfandel, Sonoma, 2012
RIDGE East Bench Zinfandel 2012
HARTFORD COURT Zinfandel Russian River Valley 2012
RIDGE Geyserville 2012
RIDGE Lytton Springs 2012
RAVENSWOOD Old Hill Zinfandel 2012
RAVENSWOOD Dickerson Zinfandel 2012
RAVENSWOOD Teldeschi Zinfandel 2012
BIALE Black Chicken Zinfandel, Napa Valley, 2012
BEDROCK Monte Rosso Zinfandel 2012

Parsing Zinfandel will cost $60.00 per person cash ($63.16 regular). .
To reserve your spot, please contact Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 or The class will meet at 7pm on Tuesday, October 28, 2014 at l’Alliance Française, the French cultural center in Houston. Located at 427 Lovett Boulevard, l’Alliance is on the south-east corner of Lovett and Whitney (one block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose).

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 and