SOLD OUT! – An Evening with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba

SOLD OUT! – An Evening with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba

NOW SOLD OUT!

 

On Friday, September 22 at 7pm, please join me, Spec’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, in welcoming our always-entertaining-and-ever-informative friend Jane Ferrari, traveling winemaker of Yalumba, to the Wine School at l’Alliance Française for a tasting of Yalumba’s excellent Australian wines. The net proceeds of this event will benefit ECHOS (see below).

The ever-popular Ms. Ferrari will talk about where the wines come from and how they are made as well as the history and traditions of both Yalumba and the Barossa Valley. A native of Australia’s acclaimed Barossa Valley, Jane Ferrari is a trained winemaker – a graduate of Australia’s Roseworthy College (one of the top three winemaking schools in the world) – who gets her hands dirty both in the vineyards and the wineries in Barossa but also travels the world telling the Yalumba story. She is down-to-earth and very entertaining in a way that must be experienced. Jane first visited Houston in October of 2003 and utterly charmed a group of over 60 wine fans. She has been back almost every year since and has wowed us all each time. In addition to information about wine, you may hear about Australian and American culture (or lack thereof), Baseball, Elvis, and other tangentially related topics.

We will taste:
Jansz Brut, Tasmania, NV
Jansz Rosé, Tasmania, NV
Yalumba Y-Series Riesling, 2016
Yalumba Viognier, Eden Valley, 2015
Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache), Barossa, 2014
Yalumba The Triangle (Shiraz – Viognier), Barossa, 2013
Yalumba Patchwork Shiraz, Barossa, 2014
Yalumba The Strapper (Grenache-Shiraz-Mourvedre), Barossa, 2014
Yalumba The Scribbler (Cabernet-Shiraz), Barossa, 2013
Yalumba The Signature, Barossa, 2013
Yalumba The Cigar Menzies, 2012
Yalumba Museum Antique Tawny NV

An Evening With Jane Ferrari will cost $30.00 (Cash or Check made out to the ECHOS only please). The class will meet at 7pm on Friday September 22, 2017. To reserve your spot for this event, please contact Susan Coburn at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

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).

About ECHOS
Epiphany Community Health Outreach Services (ECHOS) is a non-profit organization 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 a non-profit 501(C)3 corporation.

Wines To Drink Now: RHONE RANGERS

saint_cosme_cotes_du_rhone_rouge_2012To me the most useful notes are on the wines I can walk into a store and buy right now. These are available wines that go with the kinds of food I’m eating at that time of year. With our current dose of cold weather, I’ve been eating my share of braised meats. Since nothing goes better with braised meat than the Rhone blends, here are several of my favorites selected from the Rhone Range. Being an equal opportunity imbiber, these picks represent France (the Rhone), Spain (the origin of Grenache), Australia (G-S-M anyone?), and the USA (Paso Robles is the New Rhone Range). Prices range from everyday to the top of the weekend range but all these picks offer a great bang for the buck at their respective price points. And all of these are wines I have drunk (as opposed to just tasted) in the last month.

SAINT COSME, Cotes du Rhone, 2012 ($12.99)
A ripe 14.5% alcohol, 100% Syrah fermented and aged in a mix of concrete and stainless steel tanks at the winery in Gigondas.    Red-purple in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics.  Supple, fresh, juicy, mostly black fruit Cotes du Rhone offering notes of coffee and black pepper and a hint of garrigue. Easy to drink and like. Rich, warming, satisfying. Great everyday red to go with braised meats and other cool weather favorites. BS: 90+.CabasseDASablet

Domaine de CABASSE “Les Deux Anges”, Cotes du Rhone Villages – Sablet, 2012 ($11.39)
A 13% alcohol  blend of 70% Grenache, 27% Syrah, and 3% Carignan fermented and aged in a mix of concrete and stainless steel tanks.      Red-violet in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics.  Spicy fresh, lovely elegant, dark red cherry berry (even strawberry) fruit with spice and mineral and just a bit of garrigue. Pure, precise, pretty. YUM. Great wine for cooler weather and the braised and roasted meats that go with it. BS: 90+.

gr174CASA GRAN del SIURANA (Castillo Perelada) GR-174, Priorat, 2012 ($14.99)
A 15% alcohol blend of 40% Grenache, 30% Carignan, and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon aged 5 months in all oak French barrels (no new barrels).   Sensory: Purple red in color with well formed legs; dry, full-bodied with softly balanced acidity and medium chewy phenolics.  Rich but bright dark red and some black fruit. Supple feel. Rich in the mouth. Juicy and supple but still shows the graphite and a bit of garrigue. Utterly delicious. BS: 92.

StrapperYALUMBA “The Strapper” Grenache-Syrah-Mourvedre (GSM), Barossa, 2011 ($17.99)
A 14.1% alcohol blend of 48% Grenache, 47% Shiraz, 5% Mataro picked separately and fermented in small batches – some in oak vats and some in stainless steel – and then aged in a mixture of all seasoned large oak vats, small oak vats, puncheons, and smaller oak barrels, to allow the wines to develop without the influence of a lot of new oak. Made to be suitable for vegans and vegetarians.     Sensory: Purple-red in color with well-formed legs; dry, medium-full-bodied with freshly-balanced acidity; medium-chewy phenolics.  Supple and rich but still lively. Dark red spicy raspberry and strawberry fruit. Some earth and notes of black and white pepper with a hint of black fruit in the background. YUM. Satisfying and delicious. The Mourvedre is there more as texture than flavor. Perfect with a braise or a barbecue. Or a movie night snuggle on the couch. BS: 91. (In Australian horse racing parlance, the “strapper” is the person who tacks up – straps the saddle on –  the horse.)

TresVioletCALCAREOUS Tres Violet, Paso Robles, 2009 ($33.59)
A 15.4% alcohol blend of 36% Mourvedre, 34% Syrah, and 30% Grenache (all cropped under 2 tons per acre) aged 28 months in all French oak barrels (50% new).     Purple-violet in color with well formed legs; dry, full-bodied with freshly balanced acidity and medium-chewy phenolics.  Rich and Rhoney. Hits the “Paso sweet spot” as well as anything. Yes there is Violet to go with the juicy, almost sweet, succulent red and black fruit. Has a nice mix of earth and spice and floral. Elegant and perfumed. YUM! A party in the mouth. BS: 93.

CalcareousMooseCALCAREOUS “The Moose,” Paso Robles, 2010 ($33.99)
A 15.4% alcohol blend of 89% Syrah and 11% Petite Verdot aged 28 months in all French oak barrels; (55% new).   Rich purple in color with well formed legs; dry, full-bodied with fresh enough acidity and chewy phenolics.  Supple and delicious. Fine mix of bright but darker, still juicy fruit with dusty earth and supple sweet oak. Rollicking big red with exuberant fruit and a lovely fresh perfume. Yum. BS: 92.

PLEASE check the EVENTS PAGE for the annual 2011 CRU CLASSÉ BORDEAUX TASTING on January 21st at the Crystal Ballroom at the Rice.

WINE OF THE WEEK: The Scribbler

yalumba_yalscb10_mainThe labels (there are few versions) are sophomoric and gimmicky (and, OK, fun) but the wine is serious and Yalumba, the company behind it, is the real deal. Robert Hill-Smith and team have turned Yalumba into Australia’s most successful family-owned winery. Their flagship red, The Signature is a reference standard for higher-end Cabernet-Shiraz blends. This wine, the Scribbler is the mischievous younger brother of the Signature.

YALUMBA “The Scribbler” Cabernet – Shiraz, Barossa, 2010  ($17.99)
13.5% Alcohol. A blend of 57% Cabernet Sauvignon and 43% Shiraz all from Yalumba’s estate vineyards in Barossa fermented in tanks and aged in mixed sizes of mostly seasoned American oak barrels, puncheons, etc.    Purple red in color with well formed legs, dry and freshly balanced offering medium-chewy phenolics. Really pops in the mouth with fresh red and some black mixed cherry and red berry (raspberry) fruit accented with black and white pepper, tobacco leaf, and a bit of coffee grounds. Quite long and quite succulent. We have drunk it with steaks, we have drunk it with pasta, and we have drunk it with conversation and Friday night TV. And – GLW&CDR* – we will drink it again. Not another over-blown, over-ripe, over-manipulated, high-alcohol Aussie red; rather, this is a real deal, balanced, fresh, exuberantly tasty red for close to everyday drinking. BS: 92

*Good-Lord-Willing & Creek-Don’t-Rise

Please check the EVENTS PAGE for an information on the upcoming WINE 101 class and the annual CRU CLASSÉ BORDEAUX TASTING featuring the 2011 vintage.

UH OH, IT’S PARTY TIME (Budget Edition)

UH OH? Uh oh, indeed. The party season is here and you want to serve good wines but you’re on a tight budget. What to do? Glad you asked. First off, you need to know the range of wines you should buy. Just having white and a couple of bottles of red used to be OK but now, not so much. Now it’s “red, white, and bubbles” – and not just one of each. The name of the game is variety. Also, it’s nice if the wine somewhat matches the food you’ll be serving. It seems like a lot to consider but I’ve got you covered. Here are my preferred party picks (and some alternates) all priced under $12.00 per bottle.

BUBBLES:
Preferred Pick –
CASTILLO PERELADA Brut Reserva, Cava (Spain), NV ($8)PereladaCavaBrut
A blend of Macabeo, Xarel·lo and Parellada together with Chardonnay fermented using Methode Champenoise and aged at least 18 months on the yeasts in the bottle.    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. Great with appetizers and anti pastas. Perfect with potato chips or popcorn. BS: 90+.
Alternate Picks: Segura Viudas Brut Reserva Cava ($9) -or- Zonin Prosecco ($10)

WHITES:
Preferred Pick –
NICOLAS HERMEN Riesling Qba, Pfalz, 2011 ($8)
100% Riesling fermented cold in stainless steel tanks with no oak and no ML.    Pale straw with green highlights; bright and clear. Semi-dry with a crisp balance. Offers fresh apple and lime fruit with a hint of peach and a wildflower floral note over a core of wet stone minerality. Fresh and refreshing. Great as a glug-able aperitif. And fine with shellfish and especially with shrimp or mussel dishes. BS: 88+.
Alternate Picks: Polka Dot Riesling from Washington State ($8) -or- Dr. Loosen “L” Riesling from the Mosel ($10)

Preferred Pick –
YALUMBA “Y  Series” Pinot Grigio, South Australia, 2012 ($10)
100% Pinot Gris fermented and aged sur-lie in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks with its malo-lactic fermentation blocked.   Straw with green highlights with nice legs, medium-body, fresh acidity, and scant phenolics. The fruit ranges from pear and apple to lime with a hint of honey. Fresh and lively but with some richness in the mouth. Versatile, appealing white that goes with everything. BS: 89.
Alternate Picks: The Ned Pinot Gris New Zealand ($12) -or- Chateau Ste. Michelle Pinot Gris ($10)

Preferred Pick –
La NOBLE Chardonnay,  Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2011 ($10)LaNobleChardonnay
100% Chardonnay (from a mix of lower, more coastal vineyards and higher cooler mountain vineyards) fermented in temperature controlled stainless steel tanks, and aged “sur lie” (on the lees) until bottling.  Medium straw in color with well formed legs; dry, medium-bodied with freshly balanced acidity.  Fresh, lively, fruit-and-floral Chardonnay offering citrus and tree fruit with some leesy richness and enough mineral earth to keep it in focus. Because it does not go into oak barrels, this is a Chardonnay that works with lots of foods from shellfish through to pork and veal and even mushrooms. Very easy to appreciate and like. This could be your party wine. 88.
Alternate Picks: Louis Latour Ardeche Chardonnay ($9) -or-  Domaine de Gournier Chardonnay from Nimes in France ($10)

REDS:
Preferred Pick –
Le VERSANT Pinot Noir, Vin de Pays d’Oc, 2012 ($11)
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.    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. 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. Versatile enough to accompany almost anything you can serve red wine with. BS: 90.
Alternate Picks: Hahn Pinot Noir ($11) -or-  Louis Latour “Valmoissine” Pinot Noir ($12)

Preferred Pick –
CA’ MOMI Rosso di Napa, Napa Valley, 2010 ($10)CaMomiRosso
A blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Petite Sirah, and Merlot aged 8 months in French and American oak barrels. Sensory: Deep red-purple in color with good legs; dry, medium full-bodied with balanced acidity and medium plus phenolics. Offers fresh, dusty red & black fruit showing spicy cherry berry character combined with gravelly earth terroir, dusty mixed oak, and accents of cedar, tobacco, black pepper, leather, and dark spice. Long, clean finish. Fresh elegant integrated focused, and precise; almost Sangiovese like. This is an American red wine to use as you would use Chianti; try it with pizza, pasta and red sauce, lasagna, eggplant Parmigiana, etc. BS: 88+.
Alternate Picks: Tudal “Tractor Shed” Red ($11) -or- Tiziano Chianti DOCG ($11)

Preferred Pick –
HEALDSBURG RANCHES Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast 2010 ($12)
100% Cabernet Sauvignon aged in 100% French oak barrels (none new).   Sensory: Medium-red-purple in color with well formed legs; dry, medium full-bodied with fresh acidity; medium phenolics.  Supple more red than black fruit Cabernet with lots of spice, subtle oak, and a bit of mineral. tough to beat at this price point. Perfect with grilled meats, especially steak. BS: 89.
Alternate Picks: Yalumba “Y Series” Cabernet Sauvignon South Australia ($11) -or- Los Vascos Cabernet Sauvignon Chile ($10)

BAROSSA and BEYOND with Jane Ferrari of Yalumba

On Tuesday, November 26th at 7pm, please join me, SPEC’s fine wine buyer Bear Dalton, in welcoming Yalumba’s famed traveling winemaker, the ever popular Jane Ferrari to Houston at l’Alliance Française for a tasting and class featuring eleven wines of Yalumba.

The informative and entertaining Ms. Ferrari, who is a native of Barossa, will talk about where the wines come from and how they are made as well as the history and traditions of both Yalumba and the Barossa Valley. Jane Ferrari is a trained winemaker (educated at Australia’s esteemed Roseworthy College) who gets her hands dirty both in the vineyards and the wineries in Barossa but also travels the world telling the Yalumba  story. She is down to earth and very entertaining in a way that must be experienced. Jane first visited Houston in October of 2003 and utterly charmed a group of over 60 wine fans. She has been back almost every year since and has “wowed” us all each time. In addition to information about wine, you may hear about Australian and American culture (or lack thereof), Baseball, Elvis, and only Jane knows what else.

The wines she’ll present and we’ll taste include:

Jansz Brut, Tasmania, NV
Yalumba Y Series Unwooded Chardonnay, South Australia, 2012
Yalumba Y Series Viognier, South Australia, 2012
Yalumba Viognier, Eden Valley, 2011
Yalumba Y Series Shiraz Viognier, South Australia, 2012
Yalumba Y Series Cabernet Sauvignon, South Australia, 2012
Yalumba Barossa “The Strapper” GSM, Barossa, 2012
Yalumba Patchwork, Barossa, 2010
Yalumba The Scribbler, Barossa, 2010
Yalumba Shiraz Viognier, Eden Valley, 2009
Yalumba FSW8B Botrytis Viognier, Wrattonbully, 2009

BAROSSA AND BEYOND with Jane Ferrari will cost $30 per person cash ($31.58 regular). The event will be held at l’Alliance Française which is located at 427 Lovett Blvd. (The corner of Lovett and Whitney is a block south of Westheimer and two blocks east of Montrose.) To register for this class, please call Marlo Ammons at 832-660-0250 or send her a note at MarloAmmons@specsonline.com.

A portion of the proceeds will be donated to the Houston Area Women’s Center.

CHAMPAGNE FRIDAY (Well, Almost) – JANSZ Brut, Tasmania, NV

So this is almost Champagne Friday. Almost because it was Friday when I tasted the wine but it is now the wee hours of Saturday as I finish this post. And almost because the wine is sparkling wine from Tasmania rather than Champagne (but it might take a really good Master of Wine to figure that out in a blind tasting). Here’s the deal: I didn’t have a late Friday appointment in my office this week (the normal source for Champagne Friday), and I was quite late at the office. So to make it up to the lovely Miss Carol, we took a bottle of JANSZ Brut NV and a bottle of Girard Artistry 2008 (which I will most likely get to in another post) and went to La Vista (one of our favorite BYOBs) . Jansz is one of my very favorite non-Champagne bubblies. The winery is owned by the Hill Smith family who also own Yalamba. The winemaker, Natalie Fryar (that’s her in the picture), has been there since 2001 and before that she had five years of sparkling winemaking experience at Seppelt’s Great Western. As Tasmania – surrounded as it is by cold water – has one of the coolest climates of any new world wine region, it is ideal for growing sparkling wine grapes.  I should probably mention that my friends David Maib of Negoçiants USA and Jane Ferrari who is the “traveling winemaker” for Yalumba are the ones who, some years back, introduced me to Jansz. Back to the present: While waiting for a table, we popped the Jansz. Not long after we said “Cheers.”, Miss Carol said “Yum!” That should do it but I will nevertheless offer my more detailed note below. Perhaps I should also mention that we drank the Jansz out of Riedel “Grand Cru Riesling” glasses which are rapidly becoming a favorite for richer sparkling wines.

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+. ($20.00)