Tasting Notes: This Week in Wine Blogs

Eats Blog: Texas has a new top sommelier, and his name is Bill Elsey (right), winner of the "best sommelier in Texas" competition held each year at the Texas Sommelier Conference. The title was conferred late yesterday afternoon in Irving, Texas on the last day of the event, and the news spread like wildfire. But the blogger who landed the scoop was food writer Kim Pierce of the Dallas Morning News Eats Blog. To become the "best sommelier in Texas," Bill competed in a series of grueling exams, including overall wine knowledge (written), service, and blind tasting. The Houston connection? Bill works as sales manager for the Duchman Family Winery, located in Driftwood, Texas (south of Austin in the Hill Country) and owned by Houston socialites and fine wine connoisseurs Drs. Lisa and Stan Duchman. Congratulations, Bill!

On the Wine Trail in Italy: Also posting from Dallas, Alfonso Cevola, aka The Italian Wine Guy, posted on yesterday's vertical tasting of Serge Hochar's Château Musar from Lebanon. (A "vertical" tasting is one in which multiple vintages of the same wine are tasted side-by-side.) The tasting was held Monday at the Texas Sommelier Conference, and the flight included vintages of Hochar's reds and whites stretching back to the late 1960s. "Serge's life hasn't been easy," writes Alfonso. "In fact, Serge and his family, the closest thing we have to the heirs to the throne of Bacchus, have had to struggle most of their lives. But Lebanon is a special place for wine. The Romans built a temple to the wine god in Baalbek, a town in the Bekaa Valley of Lebanon, known in ancient times as Heliopolis. So, those of us who are devotees of Bacchus have a fondness in our hearts for Lebanon and her wines." Click here to read about these amazing wines and the man behind them.

Barbed Rose: Video wine blogger and wine buyer for the Barbed Rose Steak and Seafood Company in Alvin, Roy Schneider, also posted a couple of video recaps of the Texas Sommelier Conference here and here. We are very geeked to see Roy's presence in the enoblogosphere expand and we hope that other Houston-area restaurateurs will take note.

29-95: Back here in Houston, one of our favorite wine writers, Dale Robertson of the Houston Chronicle, delivered two fantastic posts for his paper's blog, 29-95. In the first, Dale shares an insiders' tip from his recent trip to France on "the best little wine shop in Paris." And bringing it back home, he writes about an element often overlooked in fine wine and dining destinations: wine storage. "Wine cellars in Houston are a complicated, expensive proposition," observes Dale, "although perhaps our dramatically changing weather patterns will simplify things in the not-to-distant future. Uh, what water table?" His coverage includes "industrial chic" and highly creative wine storage solutions in some of Houston's top restaurants.

So You Want to Be a Sommelier?: And from places east and north, one of our country's top "cult" sommeliers, Levi Dalton in New York City, draws from ancient Chinese culture and wisdom to gauge the progression of the seasons. "I myself have smelled Muscadet and Vouvray and Santorini all this morning," waxes Levi, "so I know that it must be high summer." On the floor of any restaurant, few can compete these days with Levi's encyclopedic knowledge of wine and his taste-maker popularity among his peers and colleagues. In his blog, Levi brings a wonderful lyrical quality to the art of connoisseurship. Did I just sense the aroma of Assyrtiko?

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