JAMES BARLOW’S TOP PICKS OF 2021

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s that time of the year again! I having been pouring over my tasting notes to find the best wines that I’ve had the pleasure to partake of in 2021. You’ll notice that this list is heavily American skewed, but that is for obvious reasons as I am now the Fine Wine America buyer for Spec’s Wine Spirits and Finer Foods. I’ve had some amazing wines this year and I hope you’ll taste some of these as well for the holiday season! Go get them at your local Spec’s! Have a Great Holiday!

#2. Smith-Madrone Estate Riesling 2017

Spring Mountain, California

Cash Price $29.99

I brought Smith Madrone Winery into Texas earlier this year because I was absolutely stunned by the quality of their wines, especially the Riesling. Their Riesling is the best produced in the United States (in my humble opinion). The grapes come from the steep hillsides of Spring Mountain. This classic 100% Riesling is produced from the same vineyards, in the same way every year, yet the wines continually offer new characteristics every vintage. This Riesling has a light straw core with light legs. The nose offers wet rocks, white flowers, cream and whiffs of petrol. The palate has medium intensity with flavors of Granny Smith apples, orange blossoms, and Bosc pear that jump into medium plus acidity and tinges of grapefruit and honeysuckle.  The finish is balanced and lip smacking with touches of lime custard, minerals, and petrol. A classically beautiful Riesling. WOW! Barlow Score: 95 Points

#3. Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou Red Blend 2018

St. Julien, France

Cash Price $238.99

Bear Dalton (RIP) was the Fine Wine Buyer for Spec’s for over 20 years. He visited Bordeaux for 23 straight years. He noted before his passing that the 2018’s were the finest vintage that he had ever tasted. This iconic 2nd Growth is located in Saint Julien (one of my favorite areas for wine on Earth) and has a storied history of excellent pedigree. This wine is 85% Cabernet Sauvignon with 15% Merlot and was aged in 100% new French barrique for 18 months. This wine is extremely complex with waves of flavor showing through the entire palate. Baked black cherries begin the tidal wave with blackberry and cassis showing through medium plus intensity. Notes of dried herbs hit the next wave with a medley of graphite, exotic spice and tobacco leaf easing throughout the palate. The finish is classic with earthy minerality, violets, leather, and cedar. Sleek and integrated, this wine is drinking beautifully now, but will age for many years to come. Barlow Score: 99 Points

#4. Janzen Beckstoffer To Kalon Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Oakville, California

Cash Price $199.99

This wine comes from one of the most hallowed vineyards in the world. If Napa Valley had ‘Grand Cru’ vineyards, this would surely be at the top of the list. The site is well drained and has evening shadows that allow the grapes to retain acidity. Only a tiny amount of this wine (4 barrels) is made every year. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from the famous site in the heart of Oakville and was aged for 28 months in Taransaud French oak. Kirk Venge is the consulting winemaker to this stunning gem. Unabashedly brazen dark fruit explodes on the palate with a velvety thickness. The mid palate is luscious and giving while still offering medium plus intensity. Flavors of dark cherry, cassis and blackberry envelope the palate, caressing tannins lift the wine into layers of complexity. Notes of tobacco leaf and graphite tickle into whiffs of exotic spice, sandalwood and vanilla bean. The finish is nuanced with smidgeons of crushed rock and clove. This wine will aged for a good long time if you choose to cellar it. Barlow Score: 97 Points

#5. Caterwaul Regusci Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Stags Leap District, California

Cash Price $94.99

I’ve always had a fondness for Regusci Vineyard located in Stags Leap District. I’d never heard of this winery, but was open to trying since they were sourcing from this renowned vineyard. I was extremely pleased with the result. Famed winemaker Thomas Rivers Brown (Schrader, Rivers Marie) makes this wine for 6th generation Napa resident Matt Hardin. Brown has produced more than twenty 100 Point wines. This wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and was aged for 20 months in 85% new French oak. Opaque color leads into silky flavors of currant and cassis that combine with darker fruit. The mid palate shows blackberry with a hint of blueberry compote. Raspberry tea and candied violets waft into the finish with dark chocolate, coffee grinds, dusty earth and tobacco leaf laying on the palate for a good long time. Textured, Layered, Complex (TLC). Barlow Score: 96 Points

#6. Maritana La Riviere Chardonnay 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99 ON SALE FOR $44.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Donald Patz (Yes, that Donald Patz of Patz & Hall) has a new project called Maritana Vineyards. He has become renowned for producing highly rated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma. He has deep relationships with some of the best grape growers in California and has used them to get his hands of top notch fruit for his Maritana Vineyards. La Riviere is French for ‘The River’ and his Pinot Noir is called ‘Le Russe’ or Russian as these wines come from the Russian River AVA. The wine is 100% Chardonnay from Dutton Ranch, Ritchie, Martinelli and Sussana vineyards that are all sustainably farmed. The ensuing wine was 100% barrel fermented (10% New French oak) with 100% malolactic fermentation occurring in barrel with native yeasts. It was then aged for 9 months on sur lie. Ripe, yet refined flavors of yellow peach and apple are prevalent on the bouquet. The palate shows green apple and pear with a nice round mid palate that offers hints of lemon drop and citrus. The finish is pure and gives whiffs of salinity (which I look for in quality Chardonnay) that softens into hints of butterscotch and just a touch of oak. Beautiful. Barlow Score: 94 Points

#7. Domaine Jerome Castagnier Les Cazetiers Premier Cru Pinot Noir

Gevrey Chambertin, France

Cash Price $149.99

I tasted with Jerome at his home a couple of years ago while in Morey St. Denis. It was the last appointment on the trip and I was quite pleased to end it on such a high note. The wines were incredibly sexy and balanced. I’ve bought numerous bottles of his wines for my personal cellar (especially in magnum!). The wines of Gevrey Chambertin are typically a more masculine style of Pinot Noir. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir with a minimum 60% destemmed and was aged for 16 months in 40% new French oak. Bright, plush flavors of red cherry and raspberry dance delicately with violets and rose petals. The mid palate has a creamy core and a surprising ripeness. The finish is integrated and inviting with whiffs of graham cracker, baking spice and a dark minerality. Barlow Score: 97 Points

#8. Patrimony Cabernet Sauvignon by Daou Vineyards 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $266.69

Daou is committed to producing the highest quality wines that Paso Robles can offer. It’s rare that I would consider a wine of this price outside of Napa Valley, but Daou has hit a bullseye with this wine. It’s worth every penny. Located in Adelaida District, this 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for 30 months in new French oak. The wine is extremely concentrated with medium plus intensity. Almost opaque color leads into blackberry, currant and blueberry that sink deftly into the palate with licks of leather and tobacco showing on the mid palate. Hints of vanilla extract and dark mocha flow seamlessly into the creamy finish with just a whiff of savory and smoked oak. Barlow Score: 97 Points

#9. Patz and Hall Hyde Vineyard Pinot Noir 2018

Los Carneros, California

Cash Price $59.84

I’ve always had a fondness for Patz and Hall wines (as you probably noticed the Donald Patz new project, see wine #6). Hyde Vineyard is a special site in Carneros that can produce some of the best Pinot Noir in the United States. This gem was crafted by James Hall. Larry Hyde planted this vineyard in 1981 with a veritable who’s who of Pinot Noir clones. This wine was produced with new and older plantings of Hyde-Calera selection. The 2018 vintage was a spectacular year with many exceptional wines being produced. This wine is 100% Pinot Noir and was aged in 45% new French oak and bottled without filtration to preserve the wine’s aromas and aging potential. The wine is beautifully aromatic with whiffs of red roses and lavender on the nose. Flavors of bright cherry and raspberry flow into medium intensity and bright acidity. The mid palate offers notes of cola, dried rose petals and cardamom. The finish delivers a nice hint of earthiness with button mushroom and dusty cocoa. Barlow Score: 95 Points

#10. Calcareous Devil’s Canyon Syrah 2018

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $35.99

Paso Robles has hit new heights of quality and it’s showing in the wines. I’ve been an ardent fan of Calcareous wines for many years. I think they produce one of the higher quality Syrahs in California. Most of you know (See last year’s Top Pick) that I am a sucker for delicious Syrah. I’ve always wondered why the variety hasn’t caught on with the American palate. The grapes for this wine come from the warmest, steepest and driest part of Calcareous Estate. The wine is 90% Syrah with 10% Grenache added to lift aromatics. The wine was aged in 45% new French oak for 18 months. Rich and ripe flavors of blueberry and crushed blackberry jam into the palate with medium plus intensity. The mid palate is filled with herbs, cracked pepper and smoked meat. Notes of raspberry compote and violets are strewn throughout the finish with toasted hazelnuts and coffee beans. Barlow Score: 95 Points

#11. Snowden ‘Lost Vineyard’ Merlot 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $37.99

Merlot has had to overcome quite a stigma over the past decade, but the wineries that continued to produce quality Merlot are making some of the best in the world. I absolutely love Merlot as it can offer a supple freshness and velvet texture that Cabernet Sauvignon often cannot offer with its abundant tannin structure. Randy and Scott Snowden have been making stunning wines for decades that have flown under the radar. They had been selling their grapes until 1993 to the likes of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, Silver Oak, Caymus, Frank Family, Viader and Ramey. They decided to start making wine in 1993 and allowed Diana Snowden (Scott’s daughter) to take the helm of winemaking in 2005. She offers amazing pedigree (one of my favorite winemakers!) as she makes Napa Valley wines for Snowden, while living and helping produce Grand Cru Bourgogne wines at Domaine Dujac, and also consults in Provence at Domaine de Triennes (my favorite Rosé!). Lost Vineyard is a 2 acre block located on perlite and sand soils. The wine was hand harvested and fermented with native wild yeast and aged in 50% New French oak barrels for 14 months while being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine is 95% Merlot with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. She knocked this Merlot out of the park! It has beautiful structure and intensity while offering loads of fruit and velvet texture. Bright flavors of red cherry and currant pop into the palate with silky finesse and elegant balance. The mid palate is balanced with ripe red fruit while offering touches of spice and whiffs of earthy underbrush. Notes of plum, vanilla and cedar are prevalent with hints of tea leaf on the long, lingering finish. Barlow Score: 94 Points

#12. Baer Callisto Red Blend 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $34.99

Baer Winery is producing some absolute rocking Red Blends. I’ve had the Ursa blend over the years and jumped at the opportunity to bring these wines into our portfolio. Erica Orr is the winemaker for these single vineyard wines. She worked her first harvest with Cathy Corison! The wines are all single vineyard from Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman hills. The vineyard has quickly earned a reputation as one of Columbia Valley’s Top Vineyards. This was my favorite of their portfolio and officially one of my Top Picks of the Year.. The wine is 42% Cabernet Sauvignon/42% Syrah/16% Petit Verdot from Stillwater Creek Vineyard and was aged for 22 months in 50% New French Oak. The wine has a dark ruby core with medium plus intensity. Sleek flavors of blackberry, raspberry and salty ham sink deftly into the palate with licks of blueberry. The mid palate is silky and plush with hedonistic notes of currant, briar bushes and blueberry pie. The finish is richly textured with luscious notes of cedar and vanilla cream. Yum! Barlow Score: 94 Points

#13. Bonny Doon Le Cigare Volant Red Blend 2019

Monterey, California

Cash Price $14.99

I was pleasantly surprised when I tried this wine a couple of months ago. I didn’t have much expectation since Randall Grahm sold his winery to WarRoom Ventures last year. I did take note that Randall stayed on as the head winemaker and one can really tell as this wine smacks of being made by a Rhone Ranger Master! The wine is 56% Grenache/30% Cinsault/13% Syrah/1% Petite Sirah. In cooler years, Grenache shows wonderfully vibrant and aromatic. Randall dropped Mourvedre from the cepage and increased the Cinsault in the blend and the flavor profile is quite dramatic. The wine has medium intensity with flavors of raspberry and pomegranate on the front palate. The mid palate shows crushed rocks and rose petals wrapped up in juicy red cherries. The finish is long and perfumed with notes of bacon fat, tobacco and black pepper. Tasty! Barlow Score: 93 Points

JAMES BARLOW’S TOP PICK OF 2021

Sullivan Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Rutherford, California

Cash Price $79.79

I tasted this wine for the 1st time in over a decade earlier this year and immediately knew that this would be one of the best wines I tasted this year. It has the brilliance of Rutherford terroir exemplified. The wine was an instant classic for me. We brought them back into our portfolio soon after. I recently had breakfast with Jeff Cole, winemaker for Sullivan, and we talked about his wines and the winery’s history. Sullivan was founded by James O’Neil in 1972, but the land has been farmed since the early 1900’s. Jeff actually cut his wine making teeth producing wine for the famed sparkling estate, Schramsberg. This wine is 93% Cabernet Sauvignon with 7% Petit Verdot making up the rest of the cepage. The wine was aged in 70% new French oak for 20 months. The 2016 vintage saw ideal weather conditions to produce top notch Cabernet Sauvignon. Sullivan Cabernet has a medium ruby core with thick legs. The nose shows dark fruit and milk chocolate. The palate offers exquisite flavors of blackberry and dried black cherry that flow seamlessly throughout with hints of salinity and dusty cedar. The wine is richly textured with soft, chewy tannins that act as a velvet glove encompassing the palate. Notes of vanilla bean and exotic spice mingle into hints of graphite, milk chocolate, and lavender. The finish gives whiffs of blue fruit, dusty minerality, and crushed rocks. Tinges of blackberry linger lovingly on the palate with tobacco leaf and cigar box for a good long time. TLC (Textured, Layered, Complex) Barlow Score: 98 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR NOVEMBER 2021

Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of Grapefruit and citrus
  • Zesty, crisp acids with flavors of grapefruit, lemon grass, and jalapeno jelly
  • Pairs with white turkey breast

Muscador Sweet Sparkling Rose

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Light, bouncy bubbles with flavors of red cherry and sweet candied raspberries
  • Serve as an aperitif with the relatives

P Secco Brut Prosecco

Italy

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of citrus and white flowers
  • Crisp, clean bubbles with flavors of lemon, melon and white flowers
  • Pairs with family gossip

Imus Red Blend

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Intense aromas of red fruit
  • Medium intensity with flavors of wild strawberries, red cherry and pastires
  • Pairs with Honey Baked Ham

Blume Verdejo

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of tangerines, pineapple, and grapefruit
  • Pairs with Mom’s Turkey Day cooking

El Circo Cabernet Sauvignon

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Medium intensity with flavors of blackberry, violets, and olive
  • Pairs with any darker meat on the table

El Portillo Rose

Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit and roses
  • Flavors of strawberries, cherries, and jam
  • Pairs with Turkey and cranberry sauce

The Goose Chenin Blanc

South Africa

Cash Price $11.49

  • Aromas of white fruit
  • Flavors of quince, melon, and pear.
  • Pairs with White meat and mashed potatoes

Liberation de Paris Pinot Noir

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit and petals
  • Flavors of black cherry, plum and cola
  • Pair with the main course on Thanksgiving

LuLu Dry Rose

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of raspberry, pomegranate, and savory herbs
  • Serve as an aperitif

Perimeter Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruits
  • Flavors of pineapple, apricot and cream
  • Pairs with any lover of Chardonnay

Ca’Momi Napa Rosso Red Blend

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Jammy blackberry, blueberry, and spice
  • Pairs with deep fried turkey

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF NOVEMBER 2021

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Wow, Can you believe it’s November already? This year seems to have flown by. I apologize for not posting an October picks. I was extremely busy and time just ran out on me. I do have some great picks this month for you to select. Most will be Thanksgiving Feast friendly with a smattering of delicious wines that I’ve tasted lately. I hope you all have a wonderful holiday season catching up with friends and family! Enjoy!

Ken Wright ‘Bonnie Jean’ Pinot Noir 2015

Willamette Valley, California

Cash Price $59.84

Ken Wright has been an Icon in Willamette Valley for many years. His single vineyard offerings usually range between $75-$100 per bottle, but I was able to get a special deal on a limited quantity of library wines. Bonnie Jean Vineyard is located in Yamhill-Carlton. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir and was aged for 10 months in French oak. This stunning wine is drinking beautifully right now. Rich flavors of raspberry and violets flow elegantly into the palate with a core of jammy red fruits. The mid palate offers notes of raspberry tea and blueberry compote. The finish is long and balanced with whiffs of cola and toasted hazelnuts. Barlow Score: 96 Points

Lavinea Elton Vineyard Chardonnay 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $39.89

Winemaker Isabelle Meunier (Evening Land, Domaine Vougeraie and Felton Road) who apprenticed under famed Bourgogne winemaker Dominique Lafon produces this wine for Lavinea. The Elton vineyard (named Oregon’s Top Ten Best Vineyards) is located in the Eola-Amity Hills AVA which is a sub appellation in the Willamette Valley with elevation of about 500 feet and the well-known Jory soil that makes the region quite unique in profile. This vintage is a bit more linear than the 2015, but still offers amazing aromatics and flavor profile. The wine has medium intensity with notes of white peach and citrus racing through the palate with zesty acids. The mid palate offers quince and grapefruit with a soft, surprising roundness. The finish is beautifully textured with whiffs of white flower, sweet butter and orange blossom. Absolutely Gorgeous wine. Barlow Score: 95 Points

Andre Clouet Grand Reserve Brut N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $37.99

Andre Clouet is a Grand Cru Champagne producer from the region of Bouzy.  Grand Cru Champagne is produced from only the finest vineyards in the region.  Most of the BIG name producers that you buy from Champagne are NOT Grand Cru wines, but from many different sites throughout Champagne.  They may be of good quality, but only Grand Cru vineyards give you the best expressions of bubbles.  This Champagne exudes royalty from the first sup.  Flavors of green apple and citrus explode on the palate with deliciously tight bubbles.  Delightfully soft notes of bake apple pie and toasted Crème brulee flicker throughout the mid palate with a medley of fresh white flowers that sinew eloquently from start to finish.  The backbone of this exquisite bubbly has a chalky Belemnite minerality racing through the core that finishes with smashingly clean and lip smacking acidity.  This wine is impeccably made and one of my favorite value sparklers in the world!  Bubbles for Thanksgiving is ALWAYS a great idea! Barlow Score: 92

Baer Winery ‘Callisto’ Red Blend 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $34.99

Baer Winery is producing some absolute rocking Red Blends. This was my favorite of their portfolio. The wine is 42% Cabernet Sauvignon/42% Syrah/16% Petit Verdot from Stillwater Creek Vineyard. It was aged for 22 months in 50% New French Oak. The wine has a dark ruby core with medium plus intensity. Sleek flavors of blackberry, raspberry and salty ham sink deftly into the palate with licks of blueberry. The mid palate is silky and plush with hedonistic notes of currant, briar bushes and blueberry pie. The finish is richly textured with luscious notes of vanilla, cedar and vanilla cream. Yum! Barlow Score: 94 Points

Brooks Winery Estate Riesling 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $29.99

This winery’s wines are a perfect fit for Turkey Day. Every Damn One of Them. But, if I have to choose, then their Estate Riesling is a Must Have on your table this Thanksgiving. This Dry Riesling exudes brilliance from the first sup. The wine is 100% Organic and Biodynamic and wine maker Chris Williams allows the wines he produces to show the true essence of terroir. This energetic Riesling offers medium intensity with just a whiff of residual sugar to balance out the taut acidity. Ripe flavors of citrus blossom, guava and nectarines flow deliciously into the palate. The mid palate offers more citrus with licks of grapefruit and ripe green apple. The finish is clean and refreshing with notes of wet stone, white peach, just a whiff of white flower. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Blue Rock Baby Blue Pinot Noir 2019

Petaluma Gap, California

Cash Price $29.99

This is a new addition to Blue Rock. They purchased a Pinot Noir vineyard called Gapstone in the heart of Petaluma Gap and are now able to offer us this little gem. The vineyard is planted to Pommard, Swan and 115 Clones of Pinot Noir. This juicy 100% Pinot Noir is small production and ready to drink some the first ‘pop’ of the cork. The wine exudes flavors of red and black fruit with medium intensity. Notes of black cherry and raspberry jump into the palate with smidgeons of lavender in the core of the wine. The finish is lip-smackingly pleasing with hints of raspberry tea, clove, and vanilla pie crust. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Pazzo Red Blend 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $26.99

Pazzo Red blend is one of the more unique blends on the market because it is one of the very few that use Sangiovese as its primary variety.  Granted, the rest of the blend does have Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah that make its body and structure quite exquisite.  The juicy red fruits of cherry and raspberry burst into the palate with a richly textured balance that shows off the brilliance of the 2018 vintage in California.  The mid palate is fresh and delicious without all the encumbering oak.  Kirk Venge is the consulting wine maker here and its evident with its plush nature and vibrant flavors.  Touches spice and mocha tickle into a long, palate refreshing finish. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Republic of Pink Dry Rosé 2019

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $17.99

This delicious Dry Rosé has become my ‘Go To’ pink wine for food pairing. The winery only makes 1 wine. The wine is not done Saignee. These grapes were specifically chosen to be made into a Rosé. This Rhone style (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah) blend hails from the several single vineyards in the Central Coast. The color of this wine is pale salmon, much like the Rose’s of Provence. Ripe cherries and strawberries burst into the palate with a light creamy core on the mid palate. Taut acidity makes this a great food wine as the finish shows touches of candied watermelon and citrus zest. This wine is downright gulpable! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Vine and Supply Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $19.94

I’ve been searching for more value Pinot Noir and struck gold with this wine. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir and was aged in 30% new French oak for 12 months. Ripe red berries pop into the palate with flavors of bing cherry and plum. The mid palate shows medium intensity with a plushness that pleases the palate. The finish is long lasting showing hints of cedar, anise and rose petals that lay on a bed of spice and underbrush. Get this wine on your table this holiday season! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Tooth & Nail Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Paso Robles is a hot bed for great Value Cabernet Sauvignon right now. This brand new addition to our portfolio is a ‘no-brainer’ for Cabernet under $20. The grapes come from all sustainably farmed vineyards. The wine was aged for 14 months in 25% new French oak. Dark blue fruits explode on the palate with flavors of blueberry, blackberry and cassis. The mid palate shows medium intensity with an easy approach ability of black cherry and plum. The finish is supple with hints of dark chocolate and creamy vanilla cedar. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Brooks ‘Terue’ Dry Muscat 2019

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

I tried this wine a couple of months ago when searching for more dry white wines to add to our portfolio. We are starting to run short on Brooks Winery white wines as they did not produce a 2020 vintage due to smoke taint issues. This 100% Dry Muscat is bursting with flavor from Brooks Estate Vineyard and Muska Vineyard in Eola-Amity. The wine is expressive and elegant with flavors of citrus blossom and peach nectar. The mid palate has medium intensity with notes of cactus, kumquat, and lychee. The finish is pure and vibrant with hints of saline and melon. Great pairing for Turkey with all the fixings! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Oregon 99West Pinot Gris 2020

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $13.99

Oregon Pinot Gris is often lost in the white wine world due to the popularity of its Italian counterpart.  Pinot Gris from Oregon is slightly heavier with more viscosity and fleshier fruits than Italian Pinot Grigio.  This wine displays racy flavors of peach and apricot in a completely un-oaked atmosphere.  The wine has a round mouthfeel with medium acids that sink into notes of citrus and pear blossoms.  The finish is mouth watering with hints of tropical fruits and apple blossoms.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Shannon Ridge Zinfandel 2019

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

I love serving American Zinfandel for Thanksgiving. It’s always a uniquely American wine with a long history in California. This Lake County gem is consistently one of the best price/value Zinfandels in our portfolio. The wine is zesty and ripe. Flavors of blackberry and plum are offered on the palate with spices and dark fruit. The mid palate offers more juicy fruit notes of cherry and currant. The finish is integrated with soft vanilla and oak. This will go well with any darker meats you serve for Turkey Day. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR OCTOBER 2021

Girasole Charlie’s Blend Red

California

Cash Price $11.99 with a $1.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time

  • Ripe boysenberry and caramel
  • Flavors of raspberry, toasted marshmallow and vanilla
  • BBQ pork sliders

Heartcraft Sparkling White

California

Cash Price $11.99 with a $1.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time

  • Green apple and citrus
  • Tight bubbles, melon, pear and white flowers
  • Pairs with any Celebration!

Roblar Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry, plum and oak
  • Pairs with a cheeseburger and fries

Michel Schlumberger Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruits
  • Flavors of melon, pineapple and cream
  • Pairs with a Ladies night in

Perimeter Black Red Blend

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of juicy red fruit
  • Flavors of cherry, blueberry pie and toffee
  • Halloween candy!

Adorn Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.49

  • Aromas of vivacious red fruit
  • Flavors of red cherries and plum
  • Pairs with honey baked ham sandwich

Galochet Bordeaux Red

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of vibrant red fruit
  • 100% Merlot with red currant, plum and vanilla spice
  • Pairs with blood sausage and onions

Liberation de Paris Cabernet Sauvignon

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Big, bold red fruit
  • Flavors juicy black cherry, truffle and spice
  • Pairs with Mom’s meatloaf

Reserve Saint Marc Cabernet Sauvignon

France

Cash Price $7.99

  • Aromas of black fruit
  • Silky flavors of blackberry, black cherry and currant
  • Spicy beef fajitas

Radley & Finch Sauvignon Blanc

South Africa

Cash Price $8.99

  • Aromas of citrus
  • Flavors of grapefruit, lemon zest and tropical fruit
  • Pairs with a chicken BLT sandwich

Pratuccio Montepulciano

Italy

Cash Price $8.99

  • Aromas of dark, fleshy fruit
  • Flavors of dark plum, currant and pepper
  • Pairs with a T-Bone with all the fixings

Indomita Carmenere Grand Reserve

Chile

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of spicy peppers and dark fruit
  • Flavors of wild blackberry, violets, and green pepper
  • Pairs with smoked lamb shanks

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2021

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I Hope you all braved Hurricane Nicholas and came through okay. I apologize for the tardiness of this list, but its been an insanely busy month for me. Fortunately, this storm allowed me to sit down and pour through my notes to pick out the selections for this month. I’ve got a couple of Washington State wines on the list and couldn’t be happier with their quality. Give them or all of this list a whirl while you are hunkering down and staying dry. Cheers!

Maritana ‘Le Russe’ Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

Donald Patz (Yes, that Donald Patz of Patz & Hall) has a new project called Maritana Vineyards. He has become renowned for producing highly rated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma. He has deep relationships with some of the best grape growers in California and has used them to get his hands of top notch fruit for his Maritana Vineyards. ‘Le Russe’ (The Russian) is 100% Pinot Noir from Martealla, Brown and Martinelli River Road vineyards that are all sustainably farmed on Goldridge sandy loam soil. The wine was aged for 9 months in 33% new French oak. Bright and bursting flavors of ripe strawberry, bing cherry and lavender flow into medium intensity with a balanced core of vibrant acidity. The mid palate offers savory herbs that round into whiffs of cola and sassafras root. The finish is soft and intriguing with notes of vanilla, rose petals, and nutmeg. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Baer Ursa Red Blend 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington

Cash Price $39.89

I am super excited to bring this winery back into our portfolio. This wine was a daily drinker for me many years ago (I bought cases of the 2009). I was able to taste these wines a few months ago and started the work to get them back into Texas. The wine is 38% Cabernet Franc/38% Merlot/22% Cabernet Sauvignon/2% Malbec from a single vineyard (Stillwater Creek) and was aged for 21 months in 50% new French oak. The wine has a medium ruby core with long legs. Flavors of black cherry and plum show on the nose with just a tinge of graphite. The palate is plush and silky with flavors of currant and blackberry that flow into thick tannins. The mid palate offers savory notes with hints of black pepper and tea leaf. The finish is sleek and fulfilling with a creamy core of raspberry compote. Yum! Barlow Score: 92 Points

Calcareous ‘The Moose’ Syrah 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $35.99

Calcareous is one of my favorite producers in all of Paso Robles and their Syrah can be considered some of the best expressions of the varietal made in the United States.  Paso has become a hot bed for Rhone varietals and Syrah is leading that charge. I have often thought that is one of the better ‘under the radar’ gems in our Paso Robles portfolio. The wine is 78% Syrah/22% Petit Verdot and was aged for 18 months in 50% new French oak.  Sweet, jammy fruits of bluberry and blackberry sing into the palate with silky tannins and a rich, hedonistic core.  Notes of roasted fig and tar play through the mid palate and slowly molds into creamy milk chocolate.  The finish is vibrant with hints of scorched earth, black pepper and toasted oak. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Hanzell Sebella Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma Valley, California

Cash Price $27.99

Sebella is the entry level wine from one of the more Iconic Chardonnay producers in the United States, Hanzell. The wine is produced from the younger vines on the estate. It is fermented in stainless steel and used French oak, so as not to over burden the wine. They also did not allow malolactic fermentation as to preserve the vibrancy. Granny Smith apple delivers into the palate with tickles of guava and lemon citrus. The mid palate shows medium intensity with bright notes of white peach and pear that gives way to surprising weight. The finish is clean and fresh with hints of white flowers, crushed rocks and tickles of herbs. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Lucky Draw Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

California

Cash Price $21.84

This new edition to our portfolio has a fun label, but it’s the juice inside the bottle that will keep you coming back for more. This wine has fruit from Sonoma, Napa, Lodi and Paso Robles to make a user friendly Cabernet Sauvignon that is sure to be a hit at your next party. The wine is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon/8% Malbec and was aged for 12 months in 30% new French oak. Soft and easy, this wine offers flavors of blueberry and black cherry on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is plush with soft tannins that are encompassed by milk chocolate and graham crackers. The finish shows slight oak with cherry cola bursting throughout. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Chateau de Callac Prestige Rouge 2018

Graves (Bordeaux), France

Cash Price 21.84

The 2018 vintage was an absolute stunner throughout Bordeaux.  It is easy to find excellent quality in lower priced wines as one really didn’t have to work hard to produce spectacular wine.  This wine is from Graves and may be the best priced wine in our Bordeaux portfolio.  It is a blend of 85% Merlot/10% Cabernet Sauvignon/5% Cabernet Franc and aged for twelve months in French oak.  Flavors of ripe plums and currant flow easily through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows touches of earth and minerality with silky black cherry and black olive playing throughout the core.  The finish is fleshy and appealing with tinges of cedar, vanilla and red roses.  James Score: 90 Points

Jean Baptiste Adam Pinot Gris 2018

Alsace, France

Cash Price $19.94

I wrote an article for the Society of Wine Educators several years ago titled: Alsace, The Unheralded King of White Wines.  I am still a firm believer and, in fact, have become as staunch as ever on the subject.  This region makes some of the best white wines in the world!  I am stoked to be able to offer this winery at such a spectacular price.  This family just celebrated the 400th anniversary of their family being grape growers and winemakers in Alsace.  Pinot Gris from Alsace could not be more different than its Italian counterparts.  Alsatian Pinot Gris is much rounder, softer and typically has just a kiss of sweetness.  This wine is 100% Pinot Gris and was aged in stainless steel for 3 months.  Voluptuous flavors of fresh meadow flowers and jasmine waft hauntingly through medium acids.  The mid palate shows exotic stone fruits of peach and nectarine with tinges of orange blossom.  The finish is tickling with hints of stony minerality and licks of honeyed beeswax.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Salentein Malbec Reserva 2018

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $18.99

Nestled in the Andes Mountains, this winery has top notch facilities and make wine and purity and focus.  This offering shows flavors of thick red plums and perfectly ripened blackberry with touches of marmalade laced throughout.  The mid palate gives brawny tannins and medium acids with notes of black pepper and tobacco leaf.  The finish shows a youthful ripeness that almost gives the wine a sweet texture, but the tannins kick it back into focus for a long flavorful finish with hints of mocha, espresso and vanilla cream.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Le Monde Ribolla Gialla 2019

Friuli, Italy

Cash Price $16.99

This Ribolla Gialla has consistently been one of my favorite white wines in our entire portfolio.  Ribolla Gialla is a rarely seen grape from Northern Italy (typically in Friuli) that makes Pinot Grigio seems like watered down water.  The winery is located in one of the best places in Italy to produce white wine, Friuli Grave DOC, and follow organic, sustainable and biodynamic practices.  The wine is 100% Ribolla Gialla, completely un-oaked and bursting with energy!  Frenetic flavors of orange zest, papaya, and lemon citrus soften the backbone of acidity.  The mid palate offers a sweet tartness that tickles the taste buds with hints of wet rocks and flint.  The finish is delightfully clean with whiffs of wild meadow flowers and candied peaches.  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Twisted Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ line has become one of the better selling wine selections in Spec’s entire portfolio and Cabernet is the big driver.  They produce seamless wines with silky finesse.  Lush flavors of blackberry and currant flow through the palate with licks of milk chocolate and cedar.  The mid palate give medium intensity with integrated tannins.  The core offers creamy blueberry with notes of leather and cigar box.  The finish offers hints of graham cracker and toasted oak with smidgeons of vanilla and cinnamon.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Diver Brut N/V

California

Cash Price $14.99

I am always on the hunt for good value bubbles! This California sparkler is 80% Chardonnay/14% Sauvignon Blanc/6% Gewurztraminer sourced from Monterey and Mendocino made in Charmat method. The wine has pale straw color with loads of citrus on the palate. Notes of white flowers and lychee are prevalent on the nose. The palate offers green apples and pear with hints of biscuity goodness. The finish is clean and floral with a vibrant intensity. Fun and Fresh. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Zinphomaniac Old Vine Zinfandel 2019

Lodi, California

Cash Price $14.99

I recently tasted through most of the portfolio for Mendocino Wine Company and thought this wine stood out for an easy drinking daily red produced on Old Vines. The wine offers harmonious flavors of dark cherry and raspberry with medium intensity. The mid palate shows bramble and blueberry compote with a creamy core. The finish offers a zesty medley sweet oak, molasses and clove spice. Barlow Score: 88 Points

LULU Dry Rose 2020

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

I bought heavily on this wine as I think it’s a delicious no-brainer Rose for under $10. I am an advocate for Washington State wines as I think they offer excellent value for price and LULU knocked this Rose out of the park!. This Dry Rose is 73% Syrah/27% Tempranillo from Columbia Valley. Light and bright, this Rose is red fruit driven with flavors of bright cherry and pomegranate. The wines has medium intensity and offers dried cranberry and savory herbs on the mid palate. The finish is crisp and flavorful with loads of red fruit from start to end on the palate. Get this wine in your basket early and often! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR SEPTEMBER 2021

Ryan Patrick Red Head Red

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

  • Cabernet dominant with black fruit and cedar
  • Blackberry, cherry, chocolate covered raspberries, cedar, vanilla
  • Pairs with Provence herb crusted lamb shanks

Hayes Valley Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Green apples and creamsicle
  • Melon, pear, vanilla, lemon meringue, oak
  • Pairs with beer battered fish and chips

Chateau Lavagnac Rouge

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Merlot dominant with red fruit
  • Medium bodied notes of red plum, cherry, and vanilla
  • Pairs with sausage and brisket

Segura Viudas Extra Dry Sparkling NV

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $11.99

  • Ripe citrus fruits
  • Medium bodied notes of white peach, apple blossoms and baked pie crust
  • Pairs with butternut squash risotto

Perimeter Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Black and red fruit
  • Full bodied with notes of currant, black cherry and toasted oak
  • Pairs with pizza night

Quady Flore de Moscato sweet white

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Citrus and peaches
  • Light body with notes peach, mango, white flower, and honeycomb with a light spritz
  • Serve chilled with a ladies night out

Cuvée des 3 Messes Basses Rhone Rouge

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Grenache dominant with red fruits
  • Medium bodied with notes of red pomegranate, stewed fruit, cinnamon and black pepper
  • Pairs with bacon wrapped and cream cheese filled peppers

Roblar Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Ripe and succelent
  • Light bodied with notes of citrus, guava and grapefruit
  • Pairs with Texas in September

Bonnete Cabernet Sauvignon

France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Dark fruit
  • Medium plus bodied with notes of blackberry, currant and savory herbs
  • Pairs with Tex-Mex fajitas

Pigmentum Blanc

Gascogne, France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromatic with exotic fruits
  • Light bodied with notes of grapefruit, citrus and melon.
  • Serve chilled with buffalo chicken wings and celery

Le Versant Pinot Noir

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Red fruit and violets
  • Medium bodied with notes of red
  • raspberry, violets, red cherries and cream with a hint of oak
  • Pairs with a chicken BLT

Sonalto Vinho Verde

Portugal

Cash Price $6.99

  • Crisp citrus
  • Light bodied with notes of salty citrus, lime zest and lemon spritz
  • Pairs with briny oysters on the half shell

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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JAMES BARLOW’S 12 UNDER $12 FOR AUGUST 2021

LuLu Rose

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

A light, bright and refreshing dry Rosé that offers flavors of raspberry and pomegranate with hints of savory herbs on the finish. Pair with a hot day at the beach.

Girasole Sangiovese

California

Cash Price $12.99

But with a $1.00 Key for the month

This 100% Sangiovese offers ripe flavors of cherry and plum with just a hint of violets.  Licks of spice and huckleberry show with whiffs of black pepper and sage. 100% Organic and ready to drink. Pair with spaghetti and meatballs.

Castellblanc Semi Seco sparkling

Spain

Cash Price $8.99

Soft and citrusy from the first sip, this light sparkler flows easily into hints of buttered toast and sweet corn on the finish.  Use this party bubbles as an aperitif to kick the festivities into gear.

Verraco Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $11.99

There is something to be said for finding Value Cabernet Sauvignon when prices seem to be soaring. This everyday Cab exudes flavors of blackberry and currant with hints of vanilla and cedar. Pair with take-out steak Fajitas.

Ca’Momi Rosso Di Napa Red

California

Cash Price $9.99

Napa Valley wine for under $10? Yes Please! This red blend boasts flavors of boysenberry and plum with tickles of black cherry. Whiffs of oak show on the finish. Pair with pepperoni pizza tonight!

Ca’Momi Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $9.99

A perfect refresher for hot weather, this pleaser offers flavors of white peach and lychee with tropical fruit oozing from the palate. The crisp finish begs for some well-seasoned crab legs.

Fog Bank Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $9.99

This is an easy-drinking wine for Chardonnay lovers! Flavors of green apple and citrus combine into a bright profile with hints of toasted oak and a rich finish. Pair with shrimp scampi.

Perimeter Merlot

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

This tasty everyday Merlot offers cherry and plum with medium intensity. Unctuous notes of blackberry, vanilla and mocha flow seamlessly into a long finish.  Pair with Mom’s Tuesday night special.

Michel Schlumberger Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $10.99

A plush and pleasant Pinot Noir that offers flavors of black cherry and cola with tingles of exotic spice. Hints of pomegranate and raspberry show on the finish. Pair with a Caribbean Jerk chicken sandwich.

Hayes Valley Zinfandel

California

Cash Price $11.99

I love Value Zinfandel! Flavors of juicy red fruit zing into hints of pepper and sage. The finish shows whiffs of molasses and jammed plums.  Pair with jalapeno and cheddar sausages on the grill.

Breca Garnacha de Fuego

Spain

Cash Price $8.99

This 100% old vine Garnacha is delicious! Fuego is a fruit bomb that offers black cherry and blackberry with whiffs of roasted herbs and licorice. Pair with sloppy sauced baby back ribs.

Liberation de Paris Malbec

France

Cash Price $10.99

French Malbec is making a comeback!  Dark, thick flavors of blackberry and plum sink deftly into hints of black tea and pepper.  It’s a meal wine that would love a big ribeye with all the fixings.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF AUGUST 2021

Prime Solum Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

I find that this Napa Valley ‘Grand Cru’ is often overlooked in our portfolio. Famed grower Bill Hill owns this winery and farms the fruit from the well known Brokenrock Vineyard. The vineyard is named for its remarkably rocky soil perched on a steep, western facing slope on his 96 acre ranch. Winemakers such as Philippe Melka and Paul Hobbs purchase fruit from this esteemed vineyard. Patrick Mahaney is the winemaker for this wine and has excellent pedigree as he worked for Robert Mondavi Winery for 24 years. This wine comes mostly from Brokenrock (90%) and a little from the Cirle R vineyards (10%). This delicious Cabernet is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon with 2% Merlot/2% Petit Verdot/1% Cabernet Franc and was aged in 40% new French oak for 23 months. This Beefy Cabernet is built for the long haul and will continue to age beautifully for another decade. Flavors of dark cherry and black raspberries flow into medium plus intensity. Notes of black tea and tobacco encompass the mid palate with hints of graphite and licorice. The finish is balanced with smidgeons of vanilla and cedar showing well into a long lingering profile. Only 335 cases produced. Barlow Score: 95 Points

Maritana ‘La Riviere’ Chardonnay 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99 but with a $4.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time

ONLY $45.99

Donald Patz (Yes, that Donald Patz of Patz & Hall) has a new project called Maritana Vineyards. He has become renowned for producing highly rated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma. He has deep relationships with some of the best grape growers in California and has used them to get his hands of top notch fruit for his Maritana Vineyards. La Riviere is French for ‘The River’ and his Pinot Noir is called ‘Le Russe’ or Russian as these wines come from the Russian River AVA. The wine is 100% Chardonnay from Dutton Ranch, Ritchie, Martinelli and Sussana vineyards that are all sustainably farmed. The ensuing wine was 100% barrel fermented (10% New French oak) with 100% malolactic fermentation occurring in barrel with native yeasts. It was then aged for 9 months on sur lie. Ripe, yet refined flavors of yellow peach and apple are prevalent on the bouquet. The palate shows green apple and pear with a nice round mid palate that offers hints of lemon drop and citrus. The finish is pure and gives whiffs of salinity (which I look for in quality Chardonnay) that softens into hints of butterscotch and just a hint of oak. Beautiful. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Expression 38 Russian Camp Pinot Noir 2015

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

The Expression wines are another offering from the Famed William Hill. This wine hails from the 38th latitude and is sourced solely from the Russian Camp Vineyards that are dominated by ‘Swan’ Clones from the well known vineyards of Joseph Swan and located on clay and gravel soils. It is a low yield clone that is perfectly suited for the Russian River. This 100% Pinot Noir offers true vivacity in the glass with bouncing red fruits and zesty acids. Flavors of red cherry and pomegranate flow into hints of licorice and sandalwood. Notes of exotic spice tickle through the palate with whiffs of cola, fresh rain and crushed rocks. The finish is refreshing and clean with just a hint of blue fruit and vanilla creme. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Chablisienne ‘La Pierrelee’ Chardonnay 2018

Chablis, France

Cash Price $24.99

I love Chablis!  It is some of the most exquisite Chardonnay produced in my opinion.  Granted, I do enjoy higher acid wines so keep that in mind.  Chablis expresses true terroir in their wines.  You can actually taste the chalk and limestone.  This is a great introductory example of a Classic wine from this region.  Flavors of ripe green apples and citrus zing through the palate with medium plus acidity.  Touches of stone fruit show in the mid palate with linear complexity and hints of crushed rock and chalk.  The finish is clean with touches of cream and wild flowers.  A perfect pairing for these screaming hot August days! Barlow Score: 90 points

Tinazzi Ripasso Red Blend 2018

Veneto, Italy

Cash Price $22.99

Ripasso’s or aka baby Amarone are really becoming a hot topic in the wine world. The wines are wonderfully priced and offer some of the best red blends on the market. The wines are sumptuous and succulent, often WAY over achieving their price point.  The wine is quite delicious and has a deep complexity that is sure to perk up interest in your palate.  Flavors of ripe cherries and plum stick in the palate with good viscosity that allows for medium plus intensity.  The mid palate offers hints of spice with pepper and clove flowing into touches of fig and molasses.  The finish is full and inviting with tinges of mocha and cedar.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Miner Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Miner is a family owned winery located in the eastern hills of Oakville. They are best known for their red wines, but don’t miss out on their dynamic Sauvignon Blanc that is perfectly suited for this scorching weather. Winemaker Stacy Vogel uses a combination of old world techniques with modern wine making to reflect a balanced ‘terroir’ driven wine. She produces wines of elegance and balance. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is zesty and popping from the first taste. Flavors of grapefruit and fresh cut grass zing into medium intensity. Notes of lemon citrus and melon flow into hints of white flower that finish into a clean, lip smacking experience. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Alexander Valley Vineyards ‘Homestead’ Red Blend 2018

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $17.99

We have had a great relationship with Alexander Valley Vineyards for many years as it was cultivated by Bear and the Wetzel family. Their Cyrus Red Blend has won the Houston Rodeo Uncorked Wine Competition a record 4 times! This is their daily drinker called ‘Homestead’. The wine is mainly a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet but does have a dash of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah to add spiciness and aromatics. The wine was aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Flavors of black cherry and bramble sink into the palate with a whiff of pipe tobacco and gamey bacon fat. The wine has medium intensity with soft, chewy phenolics. The finish offers dark plum and blueberry pie with hints of vanilla spice and oak. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Chateau Croix Mouton 2018

Bordeaux Superior, France

Cash Price $17.99

Jean Philippe Janoueix, former assistant to Michel Rolland, has become a rock star of Right Bank wines with his production of such gems as La Confession in St. Emilion and La Croix St. Georges in Pomerol.  His every day endeavor is the production of Croix Mouton which seems to get better and better every vintage.  This delicious Merlot Blend is spectacular for under $20.  The 2018 vintage went down as the best Bear Dalton had tasted in his 24 years of visiting Bordeaux En Primeur. This 97% Merlot/2.5% Cabernet/.05% Petit Verdot offers flavors of blackberry and black currant play through dense, refined tannins and eloquent acids.  Notes of tobacco and pencil shavings weave through a core of minerality and earth.  Voluptuous fruits encompass the entire  mouth feel with smidgeons of cedar plank and just a touch of licorice.  Stunning Value! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Dante Robino Reserva Malbec 2018

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $17.99

Robino is 100% Malbec aged for 12 months in new and used French oak.  Bodega Dante Robino has become a gem in our portfolio from South America.  The wines are over achievers at a moderate price point.  This wine offers thick and robust flavors of plum and black cherry with medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows blackberry and currant with a silky mouth feel that starts to offer creamy vanilla.  The finish is delicious with notes of toasted graham crackers, exotic spice and cedar. Pair this with your meats on the grill this weekend! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cooper Hill Pinot Gris 2020

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $15.99

I love good Pinot Gris. It will typically have a little more flavor and complexity than its Italian counterparts (Grigio). Cooper Hill is a Certified Organic and Biodynamic winery that is really offering some quality selections from Oregon at a great value price point. Flavors of apple, pear and melon pop into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate offers hints of dried herbs, white peach and wild flowers that quaff quite beautifully. The finish is integrated with hints of papaya and citrus that tickle the corners of your mouth until it causes a smile on your face. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Broadside Merlot 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

Merlot is making a comeback in the American market due to the shift towards producing quality Merlot on sights where the variety thrives. Broadside is a single vineyard (Margarita vineyard) wine that really screams for the price point. The wine is 78% Merlot/22% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 11 months in neutral French barrels. The palate offers racy red fruit of plum, pomegranate and cassis with medium intensity. The wine is soft and plush with a creamy core that softens the intensely ripe fruit. The finish is balanced with notes of dark chocolate, toasted oak and whiffs of exotic spice. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Jean Baptiste Adam Sec Si 2019

Alsace, France

Cash Price $12.99

I LOVE finding a great VALUE white wine for the dog days of summer. This porch pounder is completely un-oaked and delicious from the 1st sip! The wine is a blend of 85% Sylvaner/15% Muscat that was grown on the soils of the famed Ammerschwihr vineyards. The vines are certified Organic and Biodynamic, so great lengths are kept to allow the grapes to show their true profile. Crisp and citrusy, flavors of white peach and lemon zest pop into the palate with a refreshing backbone of acidity that quenches your thirst. Tinges of melon and pear show through the mid palate. The finish is clean and enticing with notes of white flowers and just a whiff of tropical fruit. Yum! Barlow 91 Points

The Ned Rose of Pinot Noir 2020

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $11.99

This wine is a 2nd label of Marisco and has quickly become one of my favorite ‘inexpensive’ Roses.  You all know that I love Pinot Noir, so it just makes sense that I would love a Pinot Noir Rose.  New Zealand offers fresh and appealing wines that are very consistent in quality.  Bright flavors of wild red berries and watermelon sink into medium acidity with hints of jammed strawberry and cream.  The finish shows raspberry and red flowers with a gentle cream that lingers on the palate.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR JULY 2021

Michel Schlumberger Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $10.99

This beautifully layered and textured wine offers black currant and plum with smidgeons of cigar box and exotic spice. Buy this by the case for your daily drinker.

Cycles Gladiator Merlot

California

Cash Price $11.89

Merlot is on the comeback trail! Flavors of black cherry and blackberry flow into a plush softness on the palate. The finish offers cocoa powder, herbs and plum. Pair with a spicy meatball sub sandwich.

Foris Moscato

Oregon

Cash Price $9.99

We’ve got a new Moscato under $10! Foris offers ripe peaches and nectarines with a slight fizz. Notes of citrus and tropical fruit meld with a delightfully sweet finish. Pair with a nice chill and a straw!

Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah

California

Cash Price $12.99 but with a $1.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time

Ripe flavors of blackberry and black raspberry rush into the palate with medium intensity. Hints of black pepper and spice fill the mid palate with tickles of vanilla and cedar on the finish.

Fog Bank Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $10.89

American Pinot Noir often offers juicier texture with layers and complexity of wild berry and raspberry that flow into an elegant finish of rhubarb and cinnamon.  Pair with a fire roasted suckling pig.

Ryan Patrick Sauvignon Blanc

Washington

Cash Price $9.99

This zesty Blanc zips from the start. Flavors of lemon citrus and papaya pop into bright acidity. Notes of grass and apricot zingy into the finish with hints of white flower.  Pair with shrimp skewers.

Francois Thienpont Rouge

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

This Merlot based wine has a touch of Cabernet Franc in the mix.  Flavors of plum, blackberry, and blood oranges sink into a textured palate.  The finish shows a touch of spiciness.  Great BBQ wine!

Francois Thienpont Blanc

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

Refreshing citrus and green grass flow into the palate with pinpoint precision. The finish has bits of lemon lime and touches of cactus juice. Pair with a beach towel and sunglasses in your back yard.

Vina Cumbrero Crianza

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $10.99

The wine is delightfully crisp with fleshy flavors of tart cherry and red currant.  Notes of vanilla and cinnamon are prevalent on the finish with smidgeons of rose petal. Pair with a grilled pork ribs and seared vegetables.

McGuigan ‘The Plan’ Chardonnay

Australia

Cash Price $9.99

Vibrant and fruity, this wine offers rich stone fruit, lychee and citrus with just a whiff of vanilla and coconut. Pair with chicken marsala.

Fairhall Cliffs Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $8.99

Pool weather is here! Better stock up on this awesome Blanc. Fresh flavors of grapefruit and citrus blossom lift into bright notes of lemon and prickly pear. Pair with the pool on a nice, sunny day.

Perelada Brut Reserve

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $9.99

This diamond shows clean flavors of apple and pear.  Touches of bread pudding and confection show on the palate.  The finish is refreshing with hints of almond and white flowers.  Pair this with brie filled paté.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS FOR JULY 2021

Bougetz ‘Eminence’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley (Coombsville), California

Cash Price $59.84

I really take pride in finding smaller wineries that are ‘off the radar’ but making spectacular wine that drink above their price point. This wine is from one of the best vineyards in all of Coombsville. Caldwell vineyard is well noted for producing dynamic Cabernet Sauvignon. The wine is 90% Cabernet/7% Petit Verdot/3% Cabernet Franc and was aged for 22 months in 75% new French oak. Thomas Bougetz makes Eminence and only produces 150 cases. The wine has medium plus intensity with finely grained tannins that will give this wine a nice long life. Rich flavors of blackberry and cassis envelope the palate that shows balance and power from start to finish. Notes of cigar box and tobacco show on the mid palate. The finish is long with tinges of raspberry compote, vanillin, and cedar. Barlow Score: 95 Points.

Lagier Meredith Tribidrag (Zinfandel) 2017

Mt. Veeder, California

Cash Price $42.99

This winery is a new edition to our portfolio. It’s located high up on Mt. Veeder and is owned by Steve Lagier and Carole Meredith. Carole is the famed grape geneticist that discovered the origins of Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel, Chardonnay and others. Her Zinfandel uses the ancient name of the variety,Tribidrag, from the Dalmation Coast in Croatia. Steve worked for Mondavi for 14 years before he left to start Lagier-Meredith with Carole. The don’t produce a lot of wine, but what they do produce is absolutely stunning. This Zinfandel is deliciously perfumed from start to finish. Flavors of Lavender and blackberries sink easily into the palate with medium intensity. Hints of potpourri and baking spices waft through the mid palate. The finish is balanced and spicy with hints of licorice and blueberry compote. I really enjoyed this Tribidrag aka Zinfandel! Only 118 cases produced. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Manzoni Pinot Noir 2014

Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Cash Price $29.99 But only $24.99 with a $5.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time

Good aged Pinot Noir can be hauntingly delicious. Santa Lucia Highlands is a perfect micro climate for producing age worthy Pinot Noir. This 2014 is peaking right now! Black cherry and blackberry pop into the palate with finessed tannins. Hints of red plum and wild berries show in the mid palate with medium minus intensity that tickle touches of exotic spice. The finish is soft and refined with hints of vanilla, toasted oak and cola. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Devil’s Candy Red Blend 2017

California

Cash Price $29.99

This wine is a new edition to our portfolio. The blend is primary Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon with a smidge of Petite Sirah, Syrah and Charbono sourced mainly from Oakville and Calistoga. The wine is nearly opaque in the glass. Rich, hedonistic flavors of blueberry and bramble pound into the palate with medium intensity. Neon purple fruit round into the mid palate with hints of exotic spice. The finish is thick and rich with plenty of blackberry and touches of cedar and vanilla. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Snowden Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $28.49

Diana Snowden-Seyess is one of my absolute favorite wine makers. She and her brother Randy get this 100% Sauvignon Blanc from a small parcel called Sunninghill that is only 1 acre in size. The wine was fermented with wild yeast and aged on the lees for 6 months to offer a softer style of Sauvignon Blanc. Flavors of citrus, green apple skin and melon flow easily into the palate. The mid palate offers deliciously refreshing acidity that is slightly tamed by the lees aging to offer a softer roundness. The finish is clean and lip smacking with notes of white peach and apricot with just a whiff of papaya. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Brooks Winery ‘Sweet P’ Riesling 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $24.99

Brooks winery produces 21 Rieslings varying from bone dry to cloyingly sweet. The Sweet P is an estate wine that offers medium sweet texture, but has excellent acidity to keep it from being cloying. Delightfully fleshy flavors of white peach, quince and orange blossoms flow into medium intensity. Hints of beeswax and sweet tarts pop into the mid palate with whiffs of honeycombs. The finish is soft and supple with tinges of baking spices and the tell tale hints of petrol. Impressive. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Trig Point ‘Diamond Dust Vineyard’ Merlot 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

Nick Goldschmidt is one of my favorite wine makers.  He consistently crafts wines of high quality in different climates and even hemispheres.  His father was a land surveyor and a ‘Trig’ is used to establish boundary lines.  Goldschmidt’s Trig Point wines show the unique soils of the area he gets the grapes from, namely Alexander Valley.  The vineyard is located on the southern (and cooler) end of Alexander Valley which makes it prime territory for producing low yield, high quality Merlot.  This 100% Merlot offers flavors of intense black cherry and rhubarb that jump into easy acids and well rounded tannins.  Notes of strawberry and freshly picked plum meld into the core of the wine with touches of spice and smokey minerality.  The finish is deliciously long with 12 months of French oak aging in 25% new barrels and just a touch of new American oak which gives hints of creamy vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cedar.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.89

Ca’Momi is a Spec’s gem Napa Valley Cabernet for under $20.  This American winery with Italian roots produces excellent value wines across the board.  This 100% Cabernet is wonderfully complex with flavors of ripe cassis and black cherry.  The wine has been aged for 18 months in oak and it shows on the palate.  Notes of spice integrate through the balanced tannins and acids.  The finish offers plush hints of currant, cream and toasted oak.  Chocolate mocha sits on the palate for a good long time.  This is a great value Cabernet Sauvignon.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Borgo Magredo Prosecco Extra Dry NV

Prosecco DOC, Italy

Cash Price $18.99

I visited Borgo Magredo many years ago in Friuli. I was quite impressed with their attention to detail and the quality of their white wines. This Prosecco is Extra Dry (meaning more grams of sugar than a Brut) but the sugar in this wine does not equate to sweetness, but instead softens the acidity of the sparkling wine. Flavors of ripe lemon citrus pop into the palate with notes of green apple and grapefruit. The finish is light and refreshing with plenty of bubbles to cleanse the palate and leave you wanting more. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Summer Water Dry Rosé 2019

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $17.99

This Dry Rosé has become the blockbuster hit Pink of the summer. Sales have been like a wild fire. The wine is a Grenache and Syrah blend that offers vibrant flavors of citrus grapefruit, melon and white peach.  The mid palate offers mouthwatering acidity and absolutely no oak.  The finish gives zesty white flowers and crunchy watermelon. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Freelander Pinot Noir 2019

California

Cash Price $15.99

I was pleasantly surprised when I tried this Pinot Noir. The grape can often taste ‘artificial’ or ‘grapey’ in less expensive versions, but this one was quite exuberant and lively from start to finish. Ripe flavors of red and black fruit turn into loads of red raspberry. Cherry compote flows into the mid palate with whiffs of blueberry cream pie. There is no noticeable oak on the finish, but notes of raspberry tea and cola tickle the palate. Super Fresh. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $15.99

Momo (meaning ‘offspring’ in Maori) has sprung from the Seresin Estate.  Momo wines are meant to be fun, enjoyable and a party wine.  All of the grapes from these wines are sustainably grown and Vegan friendly.  The wine is completely un oaked and tantalizingly tasty, Momo expresses flavors of lemon citrus and grapefruit that are encompassed by guava and pineapples.  The mid palate offers medium plus acidity with plush passion fruit quaffing throughout.  The finish is clean and thirst quenching with hints of lemon meringue and apricot. This is a perfect scorching hot heat white wine.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

One Flock Chardonnay 2017

California

Cash Price $14.99

This quintessential California Chardonnay is ready for you to pour early and often on days that end with ‘Y’. Ripe tropical fruits of pineapple and melon flow into plush hints of mandarin with a soft intensity. Hints of baking spice are an underlying current throughout. The finish shows papaya and mango with whiffs of creamy vanilla. Barlow Score: 88 Points

James Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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