Steven McDonald, whose MS title was “invalidated” by Court in cheating scandal, regains pin

Beloved Houston sommelier Steven McDonald became a Master Sommelier for the second time last week.

That’s Steven (above), wine director for one of the city’s leading steakhouses, with his wife Adria in St. Louis where he retook the tasting exam after being stripped of his title in the wake of a cheating scandal (photo via Steven’s Facebook).

Steven wasn’t involved with the malfeasance in any way. But he was one of 23 erstwhile Master Sommeliers whose newly earned titles were “invalidated” by the Court of Master Sommeliers more than a month after the group’s coveted pins had been conferred.

Houston Chronicle wine writer Dale Robertson reported the story here.

And for more background, information on steps the Court has taken to rectify the situation, and updates on some of the candidates who didn’t pass the “reset” (as its called), see this excellent reporting by Seven Fifty Daily contributor Courtney Schiessl.


Burgundy ‘IN FOCUS’ Master Class: Cote Chalonnaise 4/12

Event Name: Burgundy ‘IN FOCUS’ Master Class: Cote Chalonnaise

Event Link:

Date: December 4, 2018

Time: 6:30-8:00PM

Location/Venue: Prohibition Texas Bar
26420 Preston Avenue, Spring TX 77373

Cost: $45.00 Per Person

Event Description.: Please join me, James C. Barlow, Bourgogne Wine Ambassador and Certified Wine Educator, for the 2nd installation of my Burgundy ‘In Focus’ Master Classes. This class will focus on the Cote Chalonnaise. Often overlooked, this quaint region just south of the Cote D’Or is quietly building a great reputation for quality wines that are still quite affordable.

1.Louis Jadot Aligote 2015, Bouzeron
2.Vincent Girardin Premier Cru ‘Les Cloux’ Chardonnay 2015, Rully
3.Albert Bichot Premier Cru Chardonnay 2015, Montagny
4.Domaine Thenard Premier Cru ‘Les Bois Chevaux’ Pinot Noir 2011, Givry
5.Famille Masse ‘Vieilles Vignes’ Pinot Noir 2015, Givry
6.Albert Bichot Pinot Noir 2015, Mercurey

Native Grapes of Italy author Ian D’Agata coming to Houston next month…

Indegina World Tour
Ian D’Agata
Houston, Texas
December 11 & 12, 2018

Please come experience one of the greatest speakers on Italian wine in the world: Mr. Ian D’Agata. Ian is one of the world’s foremost experts on native grapes of Italy and his most recent book Native Grapes of Italy has become a defacto tome for wine lovers across the globe. In addition to being an author Ian has established the Indegina Center for Food & Wine studies in Barolo, Piemonte. Indegina has been created to teach and explore the world’s native foodstuffs and wine grapes from all angles: science, economics, history, culinary and sociologically.

Indegina World Tour is a glimpse into what Ian is doing and offers the chance to taste wines and learn with Ian. We are extremely excited to end our 2018 journey in Houston, Texas and hope you will come along for the experience as we explore Barbera and other native grapes of Piemonte and the Marche in this two-day seminar. Each day lunch will be provided and it is FREE. So do not miss this opportunity to learn from a legend and get on the ground floor to what is happening today in Italy. You are welcome to attend just one day or both days and again the event is FREE and includes lunch both days.

Please RSVP to Jeffrey Porter:

Tuesday December 11, 2018
9:00 AM: Coffee & Pastries
9:30 AM – 9:40 AM: Welcome and Introduction
9:40 AM – 12:00 PM: Session 1: Nizza – An exploration of Barbera
12:00 PM – 12:45 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Session 2: Asti

Wednesday December 12, 2018
9:00 AM: Coffee & Pastries
9:30 AM – 12:00 PM: Introduction into Day 2
9:40 AM – 12:00 PM: Session 1: Marche – Verdicchio
12:00 PM – 12:45 PM: Lunch
1:00 PM – 3:00 PM: Session 2: Marche – the Reds

The Houstonian Hotel, Club & Spa
11 N. Post Oak Ln
Houston, TX 77024

Julie Dalton wins Periwinkle Foundation Iron Sommelier competition

Julie Dalton of Mastro’s Steakhouse is the winner of the 2018 Periwinkle Foundation Iron Sommelier competition.

From Sandra Crittenden’s blog Wine Thoughts:

Iron Sommelier 2018 was held last night at The Houstonian Hotel, Club, and Spa. Iron Sommelier is Houston’s most important competition for local beverage gurus with some of the city’s best sommeliers competing for the title. There was great excitement in the room when Julie Dalton of Mastro’s was named this year’s Iron Sommelier.

Dalton is the first female to ever win the title. Her theme of “Drink Gneiss Schist” was a clever play on words with all of the wines she chose coming from grapes sourced from metamorphic soil types. “The wines that have made me take pause or cry or have a come to Jesus moment have all been wines from metamorphic soils,” she shared. She explained that gneiss and schist are both metamorphoses of shale and slate created from pressure and heat. “I just find the wines to be so expressive, there is electricity on the palate.” She said that she was not anticipating to win as a newcomer to the city, ” I was honored to even be invited to be a participant and I chose something really geeky, I wasn’t expecting that at all.”

Click here to continue reading…

Image via the Iron Somm Facebook.

Event: Camerata Holiday Retail Sale

Event Link:

Date: November 18, 2018

Time: 2 pm- 6 pm

Location/Venue – please use Google map info: Camerata at Paulie’s
1834 Westheimer Road
Houston, Texas

Cost: Free Admission

Event Description: With the holidays rapidly approaching, Camerata is excited to announce its fourth annual retail sale. Taking place on the Sunday before Thanksgiving, this walk-around tasting is a chance for you to purchase small-production wines at big-box prices. Camerata’s favorite wine distributors & importers will be on hand to discuss and pour samples to try before you buy. As always, case discounts will be offered, so stock up for the holidays! Give the gift that your friends and family really want this holiday season!

Registration Telephone: 713-522-8466

Registration Email:

Event: Beaujolais Nouveau Tiki Luau Carbonic Disco November 15

Event Name: Beaujolais Nouveau Tiki Luau: Carbonic Disco

Event Link:

Date: November 15, 2018

Time: 4 p.m.

Location/Venue – please use Google map info: Camerata at Paulie’s
1830 Westheimer Rd.
Houston, TX

Cost: N/A

Event Description: A traditional French holiday, Beaujolais Nouveau Day celebrates the end of harvest with freshly-fermented wine made from Gamay, a red grape grown prodigiously in Beaujolais, the southernmost part of Burgundy. Typically, these “new” Gamay wines are built for instant-gratification guzzling, which led to a reputation of low-quality that hounded the Beaujolais region for decades.

We love Gamay and we love Beaujolais, but most of all we love an unabashedly kitschy bacchanal. So in that spirit, we are embracing the frivolity of Nouveau season with a Tiki-themed luau. We know what you’re thinking: Camerata is a wine bar with no (legal) access to rum — they’re not even close to being a Tiki bar! You’re absolutely right, but for one night only, we’ll be decked out in Hawaiian shirts, slinging some carbonic juice and getting our freak on. Here’s a quick list of what we’ve lined up:

The Gang of Four – all by the glass
Freaujolais (Frojo-Nouveau)
Angostura Ice Luge
Ridiculous straws & copious cocktail umbrellas

Bust out your grass skirt and come ready to party!

Registration Telephone: 8322287926

Registration Email:

HSA hosts Donatella Cinelli Colombini

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We are getting giddy over Italy!! We are super excited to welcome that Violante Gardini, daughter of the “Lady of Brunello”, Donatella Cinelli Colombini.

The roots of the Colombini family in Tuscany go back to 1592, and their tradition of excellence in winemaking began in 1790 with the founding of the Fattoria dei Barbi. It was in the 1960’s that Francesca Cinelli Colombini, also known as the “Lady of Brunello” made a name for herself as the stalwart leader of Barbi’s top wines. When the next generation came into the spotlight, her son Stefano took over the family estate, while Francesca placed her daughter Donatella in charge of farming the neighboring property, Azienda de Casato.

Donatella officially inherited the Casato estate from her mother in 1998. If her brother Stefano at Fattoria dei Barbi represents tradition and continuity, Donatella Cinelli Colombini is all about new beginnings. Softly spoken but extremely determined lady, Donatella has embarked on an endless succession of innovative projects. One of her first missions was to create a winery exclusively staffed by women (there’s a story there). She is also completely replanting her vineyards on the hills north of the village. She ferments with strains of indigenous yeasts, selected on the estate. Her latest innovation is to move over to conical cement fermenting vats – cutting-edge stuff for the region.

CAN.NOT.WAIT. See you Wednesday!

See y’all Wednesday at The Art of Cellaring located at 2301 Portsmouth St. Street parking is available as well as in the lot across the street. Please plan to be on time as the doors here will lock at 10:30AM to reduce interruption and distraction out of respect for our speakers. Remember, EARLY IS ON TIME!! Professional attire is encouraged… please.

Also… please keep in mind that we are all doing this on a volunteer basis (no one is being paid for this) Please stick around to help clean up… Polishing glasses and resetting the space. It takes a village.. 😄