I had read about Jaime De Leon and his ambitious wine program at a Kroger supermarket in Houston’s Heights neighborhood. But it wasn’t until I walked into the wine section there the other day that I could wrap my mind around what Jaime, who goes by James, has achieved.
It’s a truly extraordinary selection, with great depth and breadth. And it includes wines like the Aldo Conterno crus above and scores of skus from small, artisan-focused importers whose wines reach Texas through a growing network of small, courageous distributors.
The wine scene in Texas and in Houston in particular have come such a long way since I first moved here nearly eight years ago.
James’ work is a a great example of the growing verve, grit, and gusto of the youthful Houston wine community and I was thrilled to profile him today for the Houston Press. His story — from teen-aged bagger to Master Sommelier candidate — is as compelling as it is truly American.
Today, I also have to give a shout-out to my good friend of many years, Bryon Bates of Goatboy Selections (below, left) and Zev Rovine of Zev Rovine Selections (right), two of the grooviest wine importers working currently in the U.S. They were both in Houston yesterday for the final event and tasting in the month-long, Houston-based “Loire Festival,” organized by Master Sommelier David Keck.
It’s awecome to see their wines available in Texas, something that wouldn’t be possible without a handful of forward-thinking, brave small business owners who have reshaped the Texas wine scene over the arc of my years here.
Thanks for coming to Texas, guys, and thanks for checking out what’s been happening in this little corner of Southeast Texas.