Happy Drinking in Houston April 19th, 2023

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My first visit to Texas! Very exciting. I arrived on a Sunday afternoon before four of us went to Aya Sushi where we chose chef Yoshi’s stupendous 23 piece Omakase set, not all of which I can remember thanks to the deliciousness of the accompanying wines. I was particularly taken though with CHAWANMUSHI, traditional savory egg custard – chicken, white fish, kamaboko, scallop, gingko, caviar; BAFUN UNI sea urchin (Hokkaido) – tamari, wasabi and the trio of salmon nigiri : Fuji Salmon (Mt. Fuji) – sujoyu, lemon zest, oba, Sockeye Salmon (PNW) – wasabi yogurt, mango chili salsa and Ivory King Salmon (PNW) – shiro dashi, fried negi, sesame oil.

We drank an elegant Billecart-Salmon Cuvée Nicolas François 2007, sublime Raveneau les Butteaux 2011, an enticing Bourgogne Cote d’Or 2018 from Morey-Coffinet that was much more open for business than the same producer’s Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Cailleret 2015. What might have been a mistake though was the ‘after-party’ trio from Chambolle-Musigny of which Dujac’s 2017 1er Cru Gruenchers was the stand-out.

The next three days were full-on with a mix of masterclasses, lunches and Paulée style dinners. The masterclasses, attended by the thriving Houston and Austin sommelier scene (I believe there are six Master Sommeliers in Houston alone) featured a look at some of my favourite relatively up-and-coming producers (Domaine de la Croix Montjoie, Domaine Roland Lavantureux, Chanterêves, H & G Buisson, Agnes Paquet and Elodie Roy), followed the next day by a trade tasting of affordable wines from the 2020 vintage. Lunches gave me a chance to try various types of cuisine – Vietnamese (Huynh). Mexican (Caracol) plus a crawfish blow-out.

The first of three memorable evenings was held at Navy Blue Restaurant and featured a memorable pair of Dauvissat 2000s (actually a trio but the Preuses was somewhat oxidised, unlike the pristine pair of 1er Cru Forest and Grand Cru les Clos).

Other stand out whites were Domaine Latour-Giraud’s Meursault Genevrières 2012 and the Jadot/Duc de Magenta 2017 Chassagne-Montrachet 1er Cru Morgeot Clos de la Chapelle. Most intriguing of the reds – and still delicious from this modest fifty year old vintage – was a bottle of Clos de la Roche 1973 from Domaine Amiot-Bertrand.

Tuesday night’s dinner was a smaller affair at Pappas Steak House, overseen by Master Sommelier Steven McDonald, the highlights including a pairing of Perrot-Minot magnums from 1999, Chambolle-Musigny 1er Cru les Fuées and Morey-St-Denis 1er Cru La Riotte.

The final wine though was an absolute thriller, one of the best bottles I have had of the glorious 1990 Charmes-Chambertin Vieilles Vignes from Denis Bachelet. No hurry, there is still a great deal of life left in this wine!

Wednesday evening, post a white Burgundy masterclass, featured a quintessential Texas barbecue for a substantial crowd of wine enthusiasts (70+) accompanied by their bottles, Paulée style. A few of my favourite bottles are pictured below.  PAULEE IMAGES

On Thursday morning we drove across to Austin for a masterclass at Jeffrey’s, featuring the leading negociant houses – an interesting change after the constant focus on the small domaines. Of course, these days most of their wines are from their own domaines, or at least vineyards which they manage. The key is to concentrate on the quality of the wines and not worry about the official ownership status. Gems included Drouhin’s Beaune Clos des Mouches, and a fine example of the same from Chanson, Jadot’s Beaune Clos des Ursules and Savigny Dominode, plus Meursault-Blagny and Mercurey Clos des Myglands from Faiveley.

A late lunch followed, with some Mediterranean wines to relax us, before a first dinner back at Jeffrey’s. Various pairings (one young and one old vintage) were provided – Dauvissat Chablis Les Clos 2007 and 2020, Bonneau du Martray 2007 and 2019, Denis Bachelet Gevrey-Chambertin 1er Cru Les Corbeaux 2005 and 2020 (both too young), and Grivot’s Echezeaux (same vintages, same comment). Just in case this was not going to be enough for my last evening in Texas, all the guests were encouraged to bring their own bottles along, and they didn’t disappoint. Champagne from Egly-Ouriet and Krug, Meursault from Comte Lafon (2012 in magnum) and Domaine Bernard Bonin (Vieilles Vignes 2018), Simon Bize Latricières-Chambertin 1996 and Jadot Chambertin Clos de Bèze 2015 were among the treasures. No detailed tasting notes taken, I regret to say, after such an action packed four days. Very many thanks to my generous Texan hosts and there is every chance that you may see me sporting a pair of wonderful Texas boots in future!




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