JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF APRIL 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email. As you all know, I was recently in Spain and it took awhile to catch back up on things before I could get to this blog.  But here we are!  April is in full bloom and Easter is right around the corner. I have decided to make red blends a focus this month as I have tried numerous delightful wines lately that are based on blending grapes.  Enjoy!

Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

Blue Rock is an all estate produced winery that is located right next to Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley property.  The 2015 vintage was absolutely stunning with excellent depth and concentration.  The winery  is focused on showing the quality of terroir and offering balanced wines that  reflect the soil.  Blue Rock shows dark purple color with medium plus legs. The palate offers delicious flavors of blueberry and black cherry that sinew softly into medium intensity.  The wine is silky smooth with complex notes of cedar, vanilla and touches of spice.  The finish is rocking with blackberry cobbler and cigar box that sinks into a velvet finish.  Layered and lively.  James Score: 94 Points

Riglos Cabernet Franc 2016

Uco Valley, Argentina

Cash Price $29.99

Late last year, I had the marketing manager in town to host a consumer event in The Woodlands.  He tasted me through the entire portfolio.  I was highly impressed with the entire line, but (all you know I’m a sucker for good Cab Franc) the Cabernet Franc was particularly appealing to me.  The wine is 100% single varietal from a single vineyard.  Riglos offers dark blackberry and plum fruit with a spicy core of pepper and minerality.  It has medium intensity.  There is a creamy sensation prevalent on the mid palate that gives way to a wonderfully long finish that is chalked full of graham cracker, vanilla and toasted nuts.  James Score: 92 Points

Stewart Cellars Merlot 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

Michael Stewart has Houston roots from the oil industry, but has made California his home.  The 2014 vintage really shined on this Merlot from Brokenrock Ranch vineyard that was aged for 20 months in new French oak barrels. The wine shows dark red color with medium legs. The palate offers flavors of bright raspberries and candied red cherries pop freshly into medium intensity.  The wine is deliciously vibrant and showy.  The finish is silky fun with touches of plum, cocoa and toasted oak. Awesome Merlot! James Score: 93 Points

Summers Andrianna Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa/Sonoma, California

Cash Price $19.94

I have some unfortunate news from this winery.  Last year, Jim Summers surprisingly passed away.  His wife, Beth, has since decided to sell the winery.  Summers Andriana’s Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon has been one of the best sellers in our entire portfolio for years.  Now, it will be going away.  We were able to procure one last large shipment, so if you love this wine then it is time to STOCK UP! The wine shows dark red/purple color with medium legs.  The palate is deliciously smooth and approachable.  This magnificent Cabernet offers flavors of black cherry and currant with medium intensity.  Notes of cedar, vanilla and exotic spices tickle the long, seamless finish. Get it while you can! James Score: 90 Points

Block 807 Chardonnay 2017

Chalone, California

Cash Price $19.94

This newest installment of The Vineyard Block Estate Chardonnay was sourced from the cooler Chalone AVA in the Central Coast.  As you all know, the Block wines are always  solid wines at a value price.  This Chardonnay really excels for under $20.  The wine offers a cooler climate feel to its flavor profile without losing the distinct California notes.  Flavors Meyer lemon and melon flow through medium light intensity which is rounded out by just a hint of cream and nuts.   The wine has an underlying core of minerality of wet rocks and flint. The finish is pure and fresh with hints of tree fruit, vanilla and oak.  James Score: 90 Points

Vigneti Di Ettore Ripasso Classico Superiore Red Blend 2016

Valpolicella, Italy

Cash Price $26.99

This Veneto winery is brand new to our portfolio and I am SUPER stoked to be able to offer them to you.  Ettore was established in 1930 and is located in the hills of Negrar within the Valpolicella Classico zone at 250-400 meter in elevation. The wines are made with the traditional grapes of the region such as Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara. The winery is also practicing Organic vineyard management.  Stewed fruits of cherry pie and raspberry compote flow into medium plus intensity with plenty of alcohol on the palate. The mid palate offers a plethora of exotic spices with smidgeons of brown molasses and black pepper. The finish is easy and supple with blueberry cobbler and currant.  James Score: 90 Points

Albert Bichot Sparkling N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $18.99

Albert Bichot has become some of more consistently clean and delicious wines coming out of a negociant in Burgundy.  Recently, Christian Ciamos (commercial manager) of Bichot taught a class on terroir for the Spec’s employees.  We tasted through a good portion of their portfolio.  The Cremant specifically caught my eye as a little jewel that should be shared!  Persistently fine bubbles flowed from the glass with touches of gold highlights. White flowers popped into the palate with a citrus backbone.  The mid palate showed lees aging that offered hazelnut, cream and brioche. The finish was clean and appealing with touches of lime and minerals.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau D’Aussieres Red Blend 2016

Corbieres, France

Cash Price $26.99

Corbieres is a hidden gem for quality wine in France.  First Growth Bordeaux producer Lafite Rothschild purchased vineyards in this area with the intent of making ‘Grand Cru’ quality wine.  They have certainly achieved that feat with this wine.  The 2016 vintage smiled on the South of France with an exceptional harvest that has produced beautiful wines.  This wine is primarily Syrah based with Grenache and Mourvedre that has been aged for 16 months in oak and selected from only the finest plots in the vineyard.  Flavors of black cherry and black currant race through the palate with medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of toasted cedar and licorice sinew harmoniously through the mid palate with exquisite complexity.  The finish offers hints of gingerbread, vanilla, and clove.  D’Aussieres is a tremendously sleek wine from one of the best producers in the world!  James Score: 91 Points

Moccagatto Barbera D’Alba 2016

Piedmont, Italy

Cash Price $21.69

Barbera season is now as the temperature begins to rise and the Houston heat becomes the norm. Barbera is a perfect summer red with fresh fruit, good acidity and a pleasant sensibility.  Put a chill on this red and it pairs beautifully with many dishes.  Moccagatto is brand new to our portfolio and I was quite impressed with their 100% Barbera that was aged for 6 months in new barrique.  Deliciously fresh flavors of strawberry and bright red cherries zing into medium intensity.  The mid palate is fleshy and offers notes of wild flowers and rose petals with just a hint of spiced vanilla and white pepper.  Structured and lively.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Clarettes Rose 2017

Cotes de Provence, France

Cash Price  $18.99

Dry Rose wines are one of the hottest categories in the world right now with massive growth from year to year. Provence is the king when it comes to light Rose on the market.  The color is light pink with just a hint of gold and medium legs.   Flavors of supple raspberry and wild peaches flow through citrus with medium intensity.  The wine is clean and flavorful with a pleasantly pure finish that shows white fruit and just a kiss of red fruit.  It is versatile enough to pair with food or drink poolside.  James Score: 89 Points

L’Espigouette Vacqueyras Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $22.99

Vacqeyras has become a Sommelier darling region for it depth and complexity in the Rhone Valley.  It is a region in the Southern Rhone where most of the grapes grown are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  These are the main grapes in the blend with Grenache being the heavy favorite.  The wine is dark red in color with hints of purple.  The palate offers an explosion of flavor with black cherry, currant and blueberries with an almost jammed quality.  The wine is balanced but has massive mouthfeel.  The mid palate shows full intensity with notes of garrigue and exotic spices with a subtle cream on the core.  The finish is long and integrated with just a kiss of oak and sweet tannins.  James Score: 92 Points

Dead Zed Red Blend 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Paso Robles is blowing up as a region with Zinfandel and Rhone varieties showing excellent potential in the market. This is also a new wine to our portfolio.  The wine is a Grenache/Zinfandel/Syrah blend with plenty of alcohol (15.8%).  Wines with this magnitude and catchy labels aren’t usually my thing but I must admit….I really liked what was in the glass when I tried it.  The color shows good dark color and medium plus legs. The palate offered a delightful note of smokey tar and smoked meat from the start with plenty of dark bramble and blackberry.  The mid palate showed medium plus intensity with hints of bacon fat and toasty vanilla.  The finish was long and easy with more dark fruit, dark cocoa and hints of exotic spice.  James Score: 89 Points

Cru Viceroy Red Blend 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $14.99

Cru winery has been producing solid, affordable wines for quite awhile in our portfolio.  This is their new GSM red blend. The wine is 41%Grenache/41%Syrah/18%Mourvedre that is tailored to show off the versatility of the winemaker. The wine has medium red color and medium legs. It is aged for 16 months in 20% new French oak.  The palate offers juicy flavors of red cherry and raspberry with touch a touch of darker fruit with medium intensity. The finish shows notes of blueberry cobbler and just a smidgeon of black pepper that is rounded out by the richness.  Yum.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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The Twelve under $12 for April 2019

 

Anselme ‘La Fiole’ Red Blend

Cotes du Rhone, France

Cash Price $9.99

This wine is consistently one of my favorites to pair with meals. It is extremely versatile with flavors of plum, stewed black cherry and spice.  My favorite pair is with spicy pulled pork sliders.

Leopard’s Leap Merlot

South Africa

Cash Price $10.99

The South African wine renaissance is in full swing. Great value abounds here! Flavors of black cherry and blackberry show medium intensity and a hint of dark spice.  Pair with a sloppy, fresh off the grill hamburger.

Castellblanc Brut Reserva N/V

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $8.99

A crisp, fresh daily sparkler is here for the warmer weather. Flavors of citrus, melon, peach and a touch of baking bread flow into the palate. Pair with a warm sunny day and a glass or with OJ and friends.

Dado Red blend

California

Cash Price $8.99

Dado is becoming wildly popular as this Zinfandel blend zings into the palate with bramble, boysenberry and hints of spice. A fruit explosion!  Pair with spicy chorizo shrimp stacks.

Flore de Moscato

California

Cash Price $11.99

Salt of the Earth Moscato offers citrus and peaches with hints of white flowers and honeycomb. The natural spritz adds a lively zest. Pair with your next Ladies night out.

Chateau Nicot Red Blend

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $9.99

This Cabernet/Merlot blend is a classic daily red with nice complexity, but easy drinkability. Flavors of red cherry and currant flow into medium intensity, cinnamon, and spice. Pair with dark beef stew.

Impero Pinot Grigio/Trebbiano

Italy

Cash Price $8.49

A New Hot Item in our portfolio is this wine. Impero offers light fresh citrus notes with hints of tree fruit and white flowers. Un-oaked and quite refreshing, pair with your next crawfish boil!

El Conde Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon

Chile

Cash Price $10.99

Chile continues to offer great quality vs price ratio. This Cab offers ripe cherry and red berries with hints of smoked meat and toasted oak.  Pair with Chacarero Chileno.

Steffen Riesling Spatlese

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $7.99

I love Riesling! This yummy wine shows a delicate sweetness ensconced by white grapefruit, apples and wild meadow flowers. Refreshing and delicious.  Pair with chicken fajitas and cilantro.

KWV Chardonnay

South Africa

Cash Price $9.99

A return from the ashes. This wine’s new look and feel is definitely one to try.  Flavors of pineapple and orange blossom show with a touch of lime and minerals. The finish is lush and creamy. Pair with shrimp scampi pasta.

El Circo ‘volatinero’ Tempranillo

Spain

$9.99

Juicy and fun, this wine offers bright plums and blackberry with medium intensity.  The finish offers whiffs of spice and dark chocolate.  Unoaked. Pair with Banderillas Tapas on the patio with a slight chill.

Origium Garnacha Tinto

Spain

$5.99

What a fun wine! Fleshy flavors of strawberry and wild cherries give way to raspberry compote. The finish shows floral notes and white pepper. Pair with pan fried trout with pecans and brown butter.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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The 12 under $12 for March 2019

Perelada Brut Rose N/V

Cash Price $9.99

People are figuring out the Rose season is year-round here in Texas. This Grenache based Dry Rose offers citrus peel with hints of cherry lollipops and rose petals. Pair with today, early and often.

 Ca’Momi Bianco

Cash Price $8.99

This refreshing white blend is a perfect picnic accompaniment. Flavors of pears and green apples show soft acidity and fresh flowers. Pair with a beautiful day and some chips n dip.

Chateau Trocard Bordeaux Red

Cash Price $11.49

A consistently approachable table wine, Trocard is Merlot based, unoaked and offers good concentration with soft red fruits and hints of crushed rocks. Pair with a hearty beef stew.

D’Aigueville Cotes Du Rhone Villages

Cash Price $11.99

Great daily wines come from the Southern Rhone. This Grenache heavy red offers plum and dark berry with hints of cocoa and spice.  Pair with a rack of ribs and some sweet/spicy BBQ sauce. Yum!

Michel Cazevieille Red Blend

Cash Price $8.99

This winery has long produced my favorite Under $10 Red wine. The wine is 85% Grenache/15% Syrah with notes red raspberry and pomegranate with touches of spice and red flowers. Pair with Chicken Cacciatore.

Liberation de Paris Chardonnay

Cash Price $9.99

A good wine for a good cause, as a portion of the proceeds for this wine’s sales goes straight to a Houston Veterans Hospital. Flavor of apple, melon and honeysuckle offer supple acidity and brightness.  Pair with lemon-buttered shrimp.

Losen Bockstanz Wittlicher Lay Riesling

Cash Price $11.99

One of my favorite go-to Rieslings offers flavors of white peach, apple sauce and just a kiss of honeyed sweetness. Pair with Coq Au Riesling.  Look it up, you’ll be happy you did!

Tiziano Chianti

Cash Price $9.49

Easy weather and Chianti are made for each other. This easy drinker offers flavors of red berries and violets without any oak. Silky smooth. Pair with braised veal shank or in a Chianti Sangria!

Due Leoni Pinot Grigio

Cash Price $8.99

This is a daily Pinot Grigio that is light, fresh, and super clean. Flavors of citrus lemon and lime surf into bright acidity and hints of wild flowers. Pair with a friend and an extra bottle!

Conde de Velazquez Reserva Malbec

Cash Price $11.99

A Chilean Malbec? Whaaat? Yes, this structured Malbec comes from the riverbanks of the Aconcagua River. Flavors of dark berry, leather and spice show with hints of oak.  Pair with a Salisbury Steak.

El Portillo Cabernet Sauvignon

Cash Price $9.99

Good value Cabernet is offered throughout Argentina. Situated in the Uco Valley, this medium-bodied red is unoaked and offers flavors of blackberry and currant.  Pair with a Mongolian beef recipe.

Arnegui Crianza Pagos Del Rey

Cash Price $9.99

The wine is sourced from selected vineyards in La Rioja Alta. The wine offers intense sweet cherries and plum with hints of orange peel.  Soft and supple, Arnegui would pair well roasted stuffed peppers.

 

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MARCH 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email. I have been extremely busy.  March is upon us and the warm weather has joined us. I am starting to taste wines that are geared more toward refreshing the palate as the temperatures rise.  The ‘R’ de Rieussec is one of the better whites that I have tasted in quite awhile, so make sure you try this limited supply wine while you can! Enjoy!

PS I will be traveling through Spain next month, so this blog may possibly be late again next month.

R de Rieussec by Lafite Rothschild Dry White 2017

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $29.99

R de Rieussec is 54% Semillon/46% Sauvignon Blanc and located in Sauternes.  This wine has a nose to get lost in.  It’s paradise.  Flavors of pineapple, mango and lemon drop are surrounded by divinely placed acidity.  Notes of grapefruit and tree fruit are exquisite on the mid palate.  The finish offers a plethora of flavors like white peach, apricot and creamy banana.  Absolutely Stunning for the price!  James Score: 95-96 Points

Rizzi Nebbiolo 2015

Barbaresco, Italy

Cash Price $37.99

I tasted through this line up last week with the wine maker Enrico Dellapiana.  He produces clean and ‘pretty’ wines that are approachable in their youth, but age accordingly.  The winery is sustainable and the vineyard was planted in 1967 on marl clay and sand.  Flavors of strawberry and violets flow easily into the palate with medium plus acidity. The wine is fresh and clean with a plush mid palate that is somewhat surprising considering the wine is 100% Nebbiolo.  Notes of tea leaf are prevalent throughout the finish with touches of spice. James Score: 91 Points

Ballade de La Pointe Red Blend 2015

Pomerol, France

Cash Price $31.99

The 2015 vintage offered affordable pricing for an exceptional vintage.  The 2nd label wines are of exceedingly great value for the money.  ‘Ballade’ is the 2nd label of acclaimed Pomerol Chateau, La Pointe.  The wine is 89% Merlot/11% Cabernet Franc that has been aged in used barrique for 12 months. The wine has brilliant color and offers flavors of crushed strawberries and currant with medium intensity.  It has a beautifully creamy mid palate with hints of blueberry.  Notes of cigar box and tobacco leaf are prevalent on the finish that is long and integrated. James Score: 90 Points

Windvane Pinot Noir 2015

Carneros, California

Cash Price $49.99

I recently poured this at a tasting and was again quite impressed.  The 2015 vintage is one of several stunning years that California has produced although it was one of the earliest harvests due to heat and drought.  This allowed for extremely concentrated grapes which followed into the bottle.  The wine was aged in 46% new French oak for 9 months.  This 100% Pinot Noir offers dense notes of blackberry and black cherry that flows eloquently into notes of cola and subtle spice.  Although the wine has high alcohol for a Pinot Noir, it does not feel hot on the palate.  The wine has structured acidity and light tannins.  The mid palate shows blueberry pie with hints of caramel and cream.  The finish gives more oaky complexity with smidgeons of vanillin and cedar.  James Score: 94 Points

O. Fournier Spiga Red Blend 2012

Ribera Del Duero, Spain

Cash Price $27.99

O. Fournier is an unheralded winery that continues to garner high ratings from critics and praise from Sommeliers. I tasted this wine recently as I am trying to freshen up my palate for wine from Ribera Del Duero since I will be traveling there in a couple of weeks.  This wine is peaking now.  Spiga is 100% Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) and aged in 50% new oak.  Flavors of blackberry and dark cherries pounce into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is silky with touches of smoke and game that mold into tinges of graphite.  The finish is easy and pleasurable with nuances of oak and baking spices.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Du Santenay ‘Clos de la Chaise Dieu’ Chardonnay 2014

Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune, France

Cash Price $19.94

The 2014 vintage was a hard one for the region of Beaune due to a hailstorm that ripped through the vineyards on June 28th.  This hailstorm caused many farmers to lose half (if not more) of their crop.  So the vintage is quite low yielding, but extremely high quality.  The Hautes Cotes de Beaune is located in the higher elevations and was mostly spared of the hailstorm.  This vineyard called ‘The Seat of God’ is set in the hills next to St. Aubin.  Flavors of fleshy green apples and ripe pear flow into the palate with medium plus acidity.  The mid palate offers hints of white flowers with notes of citrus.  The finish is light and accommodating with hints of chalk, salinity and just a kiss of lemon butter.  James Score: 89 Points

Thread Count Red Blend 2016

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $18.99

This newest addition of Copper Cane is made by famed Caymus producer Joseph Wagner, son of Chuck Wagner.  He chose Sonoma County Zinfandel as the main component of this red blend.  Flavors of black raspberry and strawberry compote zing into the palate with medium plus intensity.  The mid palate is quite juicy with hints of black pepper and bacon jam.  The finish is easy and fun with a moderate finish.  James Score: 89 Points

Bodegas Borbore Aya Syrah 2014

San Juan, Argentina

Cash Price $16.99

As you all know, I am a sucker for good Syrah.  This Argentine version is quite delicious and wonderfully affordable.  The wine offer a dark violet color with flavors of fresh red cherries and raspberry with medium intensity.  The mid palate offers smoked game with tinges of jerky and wild berries.  The finish is full of crunchy tannins, spice, and minerals.  This wine is begging for Rodeo BBQ!  James Score: 90 Points

Pull Chardonnay 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

This wine comes from the Broken Earth Winery and is built for early and often consumption.  This Chardonnay was constructed as a food wine with balance.  Flavors of pineapple, melon and citrus show nicely on the palate with medium intensity.  There is subtle oak aging from American Hogshead that gives the wine a creamy core with touches of vanilla bean.  The finish offers hazelnuts and butterscotch.  James Score: 88 Points

Dubost Gamay 2017

Beaujolais Villages, France

Cash Price $15.99

Beaujolais is finally shrugging off the stigmatism that they only produce cheap Nouveau wine that you only buy once a year to put on the table for Thanksgiving Day festivities.  This region is producing stunningly elegant and refreshing red wines that are complex and age worthy. Gone are the Nouveau days….Enter the new age of high quality Cru and Beaulojais-Villages wines!   Vibrant flavors of red cherries and cranberry burst into the palate with tinges of freshly picked strawberry and boysenberry.  The wine offers medium plus acids with medium minus tannins and minimal oak influence. Dubost is all about offering refreshing red fruits with deliciously thirst quenching acidity.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Schild Estate GMS Red Blend 2015

Barossa Valley, Australia

Cash Price $14.99

Schild winery’s fame has grown in the last several years because of the high scores (Top 10 in Wine Spectator) they have garnered with their entry level Shiraz.  This winery makes high quality wines at all price points in the hills of the esteemed Barossa Valley with vines up to 160 years old.  The wine is a blend of 45% Grenache/28% Mourvedre/27% Shiraz and produced in a southern Rhone style.  Juicy flavors of black cherry and blackberry scream into the palate with medium intensity  Notes of plum  are prevalent on a plush, integrated mid palate.  The finish is fleshy, offering notes of rhubarb and spice.  James Score: 89 Points

Liberation de Paris Brut N/V

France

Cash Price $14.99

This French made, American owned wine is the newest addition to the portfolio of this winery.  They made a huge splash last year by offering affordable French wines and donating a portion of the proceeds to a Houston Veterans Hospital as the owner (Jean-Francois Bonnete) lives right here in Houston.  The wine is 100% Chardonnay and offers flavors of citrus, green apples and melon with kisses of nuts and creamy hazel.  The finish is fresh and clean with fine, persistent bubbles. James Score: 88 Points

L’espigouette Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash price $12.99

The Rhone Valley has long produced some of the best value table wines on Earth.  I implore you to start diving into the insanely complex wine in the mid tier ($13-30) of the Rhone Valley.  This wine hails from the southern Rhone and is mostly Grenache (80%) with a little Syrah and Mourvedre sprinkled in.   Flavors of Stewed cherry cobbler races through the palate with raspberry compote.  The wine is thick and brooding with a viscous mouth feel.  Notes of sweet spice and oregano flow deftly into the mid palate with medium tannins and acids.  The 2015’s in France have yet fail me.  Everything I have had from almost every region has been spectacular.  James Score:  90 Points

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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Free Exclusive Italian Class with Enrico Dellapiani of Cascina Rizzi at Spec’s Oak Ridge

Please join me for a Free Italian wine tasting with Piemontese winemaker Enrico Dellapiani of Cascina Rizzi.  These wines are seriously delicious, so don’t miss this opportunity to fall in love with this amazing Italian producer!

RSVP to RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com

What: Rizzi Taste & Buy event

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge

Date:  Saturday, March 2, 2019

When:  3:00pm to 5:00pm

Winery: Cascina Rizzi

Who:  Enrico Dellapiana, Winemaker.

Biographical Information about the Winery and Winemaker:

Enrico’s father, Ernesto Dellapiana, left the city of Turin and his career as an entrepreneur in the 1970’s to return to the lands that have always belonged to the family in Treiso.  Treiso, a small village in the Bassa Langa located at the meeting point of five hills, including Rizzi Hill, is in the heart of Barbaresco and Langhe area, home to some of the most famous vineyards in the world.  Ernesto faced a myriad of challenges, but his passion and dream of creating something important perservered and in 1974, the first vintage from Cascina Rizzi was produced. Since then, Ernesto has acquired more prime vineyard lands—Cascina Rizzi’s holdings now comprise 44 hectares.

Ernesto’s son, Enrico, following his older sister Jole, joined the estate after completing his studies in Viticulture and Oenology in 2004.  Enrico strives to make wines that are “alive”; clean, pure and not oaky. His creative passions shine through in both his winemaking and artistic sensibilities. As talented a painter as he is a winemaker, Enrico both designs the Barbaresco Rizzi Riserva Boito labels for each vintage and also hand paints each individual label for the limited magnum production of this special wine. 

Wines to be poured:

RIZZI BARBERA D’ALBA 2015

RIZZI NEBBIOLO LANGHE 2015

RIZZI DOLCETTO 16/17

RIZZI BARBARESCO 2014

RIZZI BARBARESCO NERVO (6/CS) 2014

RIZZI BARBARESCO PAJORE 2014

RIZZI BARBARESCO BOITO RISERVA 2013

RIZZI MOSCATO D’ASTI 2017

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

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THE TWELVE UNDER $12 FOR FEBRUARY 2019

Dibon Sparkling Rose N/V

Cash Price $10.99

This Garnacha sparkling Rose has beautiful pink color with flavors of raspberry and cherries that are enveloped by fresh, popping bubbles. Pair with your Valentine!

Conde de Velazquez ‘Don Raphael’ Moscato Rose

Cash Price $8.99

This sweet Rose offers candied raspberries with supple notes of red fruit pastries. The finish shows a hint of confection and floral expression.  Pair with flowers for your special one.

Ryan Patrick Unoaked Chardonnay

Cash Price $9.99

Ryan Patrick’s Chardonnay is fresh, fruity and completely un-oaked! This Chardonnay offers flavors of citrus and honeydew melon with hints of apricot and pear. Pair with a quinoa and walnut salad.

Perimeter Black Red Blend

Cash Price $10.99

This juicy red blend jumps into the palate with flavors of cherry, blueberry pie and touches of crème brulee. The finish offers hints of cedar, creamy vanilla and toffee. Yum!

Menuts Red Blend

Cash Price $10.99

The wine is a Merlot based red blend that is wonderfully accessible with notes of blackberry and currant. Smidgeons of all spice and cedar flow into the finish.  Pair with a hearty Sheperd’s pie.

Labet Rhone Red Blend

Cash Price $9.99

The wine is a yummy Grenache based red blend that offers flavors of strawberry and bramble with just a whiff of pepper and spice. Pair with a sweet BBQ sauce and spicy meat.

El Circo ‘Bailarina’ Merlot

Cash Price $9.99

This 100% Merlot shows flavors of fresh raspberry and smoked herbs with hints of rhubarb. The wine is completely unoaked. Pair with spicy chorizo tacos.

Finca Copete Tempranillo

Cash Price $9.99

Copete is ready to drink right now. Flavors of blackberry and currant flow into a plush medium body and just a hint of oak. Pair with a thick crust ‘works’ pizza.

Alandra White Blend

Cash Price $8.99

Portuguese dry wines are becoming quite popular. This dry white is fresh and zingy with notes of lemon zest and white peach. The wine is unoaked with good acidity.  Pair with ceviche or sushi.

Dr. Pauly Dornfelder Sweet Red

Cash Price $9.99

Dr. Pauly offers red cherries and violets with lively acidity that melds easily with a juicy fruit character. Hints of sweetness play into the floral notes. Pair this with your main squeeze and chocolate.

Roblar Cabernet Sauvignon

Cash Price $9.99

This easy drinker has a creamy smooth sensibility with notes of plum and black cherry. The finish offers touches of oak, vanilla and graham crackers.  Pair this with 11 other bottles to make a full case in your home.

Particular Garnacha

Cash Price $6.99

Particular is a super ripe, fruit forward wine that offers harmonious flavors of red cherry and pomegranate with silky, integrated tannins. Pair with fried catfish and hushpuppies.

James C. Barlow,CWE,CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF FEBRUARY 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

February is upon us and it already feels like Summer is right around the corner.  As always, I took January off from writing this blog so I hope you didn’t miss my selection too badly.  I have a delightful list prepared for my Birthday month that are great wines with great value.  You will see that most picks this month are under $20 as I have been tasting some amazing inexpensive wines lately.  I also have a couple of Valentine’s Day picks for the special ones in your life that love wine and chocolate….Enjoy!

Bodegas La Horra ‘Corimbo’ Tempranillo 2013

Ribera Del Duero, Spain

Cash Price $41.79

I recently tasted through the portfolio of the Iconic Rioja producer, Roda. This winery owns a property in Ribera Del Duero called La Horra which is named after the town in which it presides.  The wines are a definition of the newer style of ripe wine-making that is taking Spain by storm.  The wines were all of very good quality.  The Corimbo is produced in their La Horra estate and is 100% Tinta Del Pais (Tempranillo). The vines are an average of 25 years old on limestone/chalk soils in the towns of La Horra and Roa.  The wine is fermented in large oak and stainless steel then aged for 12 months in 80% French/20% American oak with 20% of that being new oak. The color of the wine is pristine with little to no signs of aging which shows that this wine will have a long life if you so choose.  The wine offers delicious flavors of black cherry and cassis are enveloped with medium plus tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers a soft, approachable plushness that sinks into a long, lingering finish with kisses of vanilla, cedar and spice.  James Score: 93 Points

Domaine Thibert Chardonnay 2015

Pouilly Fuisse, Burgundy

Cash Price $29.99

I have continued to be impressed with the Chardonnay coming from this southern Burgundy producer.  I visited this Domaine last year while touring with the BIVB becoming a Bourgogne Wine Ambassador.  Pouilly Fuisse is offering some of the better Chardonnay in all of Southern Burgundy.  Wonderfully aromatic flavors of lemon citrus flow into medium acidity with just hints hazelnuts.  Notes of creamy vanilla and almonds dance through the mid palate with licks of minerality.  The finish is fresh and offers hints of key lime zest and touches of brioche.  James Score: 91 Points

Domaine de Cabasse ‘Cuvee Jucunditas’ Red Blend 2016

Gigondas, France

Cash Price $23.69

I recently had the pleasure of taking Benoit Baudry, owner of Domaine de Cabasse, around our beautiful city showing his fantastic Rhone Valley wines.  His eyes lit up like birthday candles when he talked about this wine, boasting that it was one of the best wines he has ever produced. The wine is a blend of 70% Grenache/15% Syrah/15% Mourvedre grown at 1,300 feet above sea level.  The wine is supple and inviting from the 1st taste.  Flavors of ripe plum and roasted dates fling effortlessly into the palate with medium intensity followed by candied cherries.  Notes of licorice and black raspberry flow into hints of cracked black pepper with touches of garrigue.  Get this wine while you can!  James Score: 94 Points

Casa de Uco Malbec Single Vineyard 2014

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $19.94

This Uco Valley wine is an expression of everything that is going right with $20 Malbec.  The wine is a classic Malbec with flavors of plum and blackberry with hints of violet throughout a medium intensity. Notes of wild herbs and hints of game are prevalent on the mid palate.  The finish is packed full of cedar, clove and just a whiff of minerality.  James Score: 91 Points

Block 807 Reserve Chardonnay 2017

Chalone, California

Cash Price $19.94

The Block wines are a staple of consistency typically at right under $20.  Chalone AVA is an under rated region that is best known for Chardonnay.  Flavors of tropical pineapple and nectarines flow into a medium intensity.  Notes of ripe lemon and hazelnuts are prevalent with touches of vanilla and cream.  The finish offers hints of wet rock minerality and a citrus zest.  James Score: 90 Points

Goldbelly Syrah 2016

Sierra Foothills, California

Cash Price $24.99

but only $19.99 with your Spec’s Key for a limited time

I love California Syrah, unfortunately it often takes a backburner to Cabernet Sauvignon.  I have spent years tasting as much Syrah as possible and I must say that I am infatuated with American Syrah.  This Syrah is sourced primarily from a single vineyard located 2,200 ft. above sea level in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountain range.  There is a purity of fruit in good Syrah that is hard to duplicate. Racy, textured flavors of boysenberry and blackberry fling sensuously into medium tannins and acids. The mid palate shows a touch of sweetly jammed black cherry and plum that flows into touches of smoked meat, tar and mocha.  The finish is chalked full of spices with flashes of sweet tobacco that sink into licks of vanilla and toasted oak.  James Score: 91 Points

Osso Anna Merlot 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Osso Anna is a label created by the Buoncristiani Family Winery. Jay Buoncristiani, winemaker of the critically acclaimed wines that bear his name, makes the Osso Anna wines with fruit from Napa Valley.  I have long been a fan of the wines produced by Buoncristiani and am ecstatic that they are making wine for an every day price point. This juicy Merlot offers flavors of plum and black raspberry with notes of milk chocolate and exotic spice. The wine has medium intensity and a easy approachability that begs to become your daily red.  The finish is fleshy and smooth with hints of cedar and vanilla.  James Score: 89 Points  

Taft Street Medallion Red Blend 2016

Lodi, California

Cash Price $18.99

This wine is a Zinfandel/Petite Sirah blend made from grapes sourced from Lodi.  The wine was aged in French and American oak for 18 months.  Medallion explodes on the palate with unctuous flavors of blueberry pie and roasted plums with smidgeons of blackberry and bramble.  The wine has medium plus intensity with a good dollop of alcohol.  The finish offers cinnamon, vanilla and graham crackers.  James Score: 89 Points

Chenin de Mercues Blanc 2014

Cotes du Lot, France

Cash Price $16.99

This wine comes from the famed Cahors producer Georges Vigouroux.  Only red wines based on Malbec are allowed to be labeled Cahors, but he has produced an amazing Chenin Blanc under the Cotes du Lot IGP label.  As most of you know, I LOVE Chenin Blanc!  This wine offers delicious fruits of citrus and pear with whiffs of white flowers and beeswax.  The mid palate shows a pure intensity with medium plus acidity that is encompassed by licks of honeyed jasmine and ripe green apples.  The finish is beautifully integrated with hints of toasted nuts and crushed rocks.  James Score: 89 Points

Francois Labet Cremant Rose N/V

Bourgogne, France

Cash Price $16.99

Francois Labet, owner of Ch. de la Tour, has been producing one of my favorite Cremants for several years now.  Cremant is a term used for sparkling wine produced outside of Champagne like, in this case, Burgundy.  This 100% Pinot Noir is fresh and delightfully bubbly.  Flavors of red cherry, roses and raspberry sing into the palate with nice, tight bubbles.  The wine has medium intensity with a weight in the palate leading to hints of brioche and yeasty complexity.  Perfect Valentine Sparkler! James Score: 89 Points

Scotto Family ‘Old Vine’ Zinfandel 2014

Lodi, California

Cash Price $14.99

The Scotto family is a 5th generation winemaking family based out of Lodi.  They are focused on producing great value wines for consumers.  This jammy Zinfandel offers flavors of dark cherries, plum and stewed blueberry pie.  Silky smooth, this wine offers medium intensity with a softer mouth feel than expected. Great BBQ wine!  James Score: 88 Points

Chateau Camino Salva Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $14.99

You all know that I have been extremely impressed with the 2015 vintage and its early approachability.  I have found excellent value in the mid tier wines, as you don’t have to spend over $20 in this vintage to drink great wine.  Camino Salva offer a medium intensity with crunchy red cherries and currant that show lively acidity.  Smidgeons of licorice and spice show through the long, flavorful finish.  Excellent food wine.

Gemtree ‘Dragon Blood’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

McLaren Vale, Australia

Cash Price $12.29

McLaren Vale is considered one of the finest regions in all of Australia and the area is best known for their red blends.  Gemtree garners very high praise from critics on a regular basis.  They have become famous with their organic and biodynamic vineyard practices.  Truthfully, the wines are quite impressive at excellent price points.  This is truly a Daily Cab drinkers Cabernet.  Fruit forward and approachable, Dragon’s Blood offers flavors of black cherry and cassis with accessible tannins and acids.  The mid palate is rich and enticing with notes of black pepper, plum and currant.  The finish is loaded full of cobbler and exotic spices.  James Score: 89 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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