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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James Barlow’s 12 under $12 for June 2021

Girasole Organic Rose

California

Cash Price $12.99 but with a $1.00 Spec’s Key This Month

A Pinot Noir and Zinfandel blend that equals juicy deliciousness in a dry Rose. Strawberries, white peach, and citrus dance lightly in the palate with a crisp and refreshing finish.  Pair with Summer fun!

Ca’Momi Merlot

California

Cash Price $13.99 but with a $2.00 Spec’s Key this month

A classic Merlot for a grape that is on the rise again. Red cherries and plum flow easily into hints of fig and bramble. The finish offers licks of toasted oak and vanilla. Pair with peppercorn lamb shanks.

Ca’Momi Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $12.99 but with a $1.00 Spec’s Key this month

This Chardonnay exudes ripe flavors of pineapple and pear flowing into mandarin orange that turns slowly into vanilla cream. The finish gives licks of hazelnuts on lightly toasted oak.  Pair with shrimp scampi pasta.

Epic Run Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand

Cash Price $9.99

Bursting with flavor and energy, Epic zings into flavors of lime, peach and grapefruit with a crispy clean finish.  Pair with a zesty pesto pasta salad.

Castellblanc Brut Extra Sparkling

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 Sunday brunch, OJ,  and friends.

Fog Bank Cabernet

California

Cash Price $9.99

A California Cabernet extraordinaire with ripe flavors of plum and cassis that are enveloped by hints of caramel and vanilla spice with a medium body. Pair with a jalapeno jam bacon cheeseburger.

Perimeter Red Blend

California

Cash Price $9.99

Perimeter is a friendly red with notes of baked red berries and cherry that play into medium intensity. Touches of nuts and vanilla flow into a nice, dry finish.  Pair with spicy pulled pork sandwiches.

Ryan Patrick Pinot Grigio

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

This 100% Pinot Grigio offers key lime citrus on the palate with whiffs of mango and nectarine.  The finish gives touches of minerals and white flowers. Pair with oyster shooters.

Cycles Gladiator Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $11.89

This 100% Pinot Noir shows vibrant flavors of pomegranate and black cherry with lush notes of toasted oak and lavender. The finish is light and tasty!  Pair with your friends on a beach with a nice chill.

Michel Schlumberger Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $10.99

This zingy and fresh wine pops into the palate with flavors of green grass, lemon citrus and whiffs of tropical fruit surrounded by an easy acidity and no oak. Pair with a chilled chicken salad sandwich.

Francois Labet Cotes du Rhone Red blend

France

Cash Price $10.99

Rhone is one of the best pairing wines for food in the world. This yummy Grenache based red blend offers flavors of strawberry and bramble with just a whiff of pepper and spice.  Pair with a honey baked ham.

Reserve Saint Marc Rose

France

Cash Price $6.99

This fun, easy drinking Rose offers delightful flavors of strawberry and raspberry with tinges of white pepper. The wine is brimming with freshness. Pair with the upcoming hot summer heat and a sunbrella.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope you have been braving the crazy rain this past month. Hopefully June will bring some sunny days! I have a nice medley of wines picked out for you all this month. I’ve decided to go ‘Value’ this month with many of the picks being under $20. The picks are American heavy because, well, that’s what I taste mostly these days. Go support your local Spec’s and pick up a case of these wines! Enjoy!

Once & Future Oakley Road Zinfandel 2017

Contra Costa, California

Cash Price $49.99

Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame is the lightning rod for this project. He found some extremely old vines in Contra Costa and decided to produce some of the finest damn Zinfandel in California with them. Oakley Road Vineyard has extremely sandy soils which is key to the survival of the 100+ year old vines that live there. This 100% Zinfandel was aged in 30% French oak for 12 months. Peterson practices organic farming in this vineyard. The wine has neon color with medium legs. Bright red raspberry and bramble pops into the palate with hints pipe tobacco. The mid palate offers a supple creamy texture with nice acidity to balance the big fruits. The wine is silky and aromatic from start to finish. Notes of black pepper and licorice play into the finish with tinges of black cherry and dried leaves that lingers on the palate for a delightfully long time. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Parched Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $29.99

This single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast is catching fire in our portfolio.  The Pinot Noir grapes are 777 clone and sourced from two blocks in the Gold Coast Vineyard, fermented 100% whole berry then aged for 10 months in 30% new French oak. Rich flavors of black cherry and pomegranate meld with soft acidity and tannins. Hints of cola and rhubarb tingle throughout the palate with whiffs of exotic spice.  The finish is layered and textured with notes of vanilla and raspberry compote. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Domaine du Pré Semelé Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sancerre, France

Cash Price $28.99

Pré Semelé has become one of my singular favorite wineries in all of the Loire Valley. This has been my ‘go to’ 100% Sauvignon Blanc for several years now. The vineyards are planted on Calcareous clay and limestone, so this wine exudes that chalky zest that makes Sauvignon Blanc from Loire some of the most unique and sought after white wines in the world. Explosive flavors of lemon lime citrus and gooseberry zing into medium plus acidity. The mid palate offers a surprising softness that give ripe notes of tree fruit. The finish becomes quite linear again with hints of crushed rocks after a fresh rain and minerals. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Expression 38 ‘Russian Camp’ Chardonnay 2018

Russian River, California

Cash Price $22.99

Iconic wine trailblazer Bill Hill is behind this line.  He has long standing relationships with farmers in some of the best vineyards in the United States. This wine is from the Russian Camp Vineyard that is nestled in heart of the Russian River Valley.  The wine is beautifully layered with flavors of baked apples, melon and ripe pear.  The mid palate offers a core of acidity that is rounded out by a creamy plushness of pineapple, vanilla and butterscotch.  The finish is light and persistent with hints of roasted nuts, cedar and graham crackers.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Home Ranch’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Lake County, California

Cash Price $19.94

Clay Shannon is making some of the best VALUE Cabernet in California. He owns a bunch of acres 2,000+ feet up in the Red Hills of Lake County. Cabernet up here gets plenty of sunshine to allow for optimal ripeness as you’ll see when you look at the alcohol content on the label (usually pushing 15%). This wine was aged for 24 months in 35% new 3/4 French and 1/4 American oak. Powerful and intense flavors of dark cassis and cherry barrel into the palate with medium plus intensity. The mid palate offers juicy blackberry with caramel notes. The finish is balanced showing vanilla, cream and tobacco leaf with just a smidgeon of graham cracker and allspice. Barlow Score: 91

Dusty Nabor ‘NSO’ Syrah 2018

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $18.99

I love good value Syrah. Dusty Nabor is rocking this beauty for under $20. The wine is from the cool climate of Sta. Rita Hills and fermented 30% whole cluster in large foudre barrels for two years. The wine is quite energetic and bursting with nervy fruit. Flavors of pomegranate and raspberry pump into the palate with licks of blue fruit enticing the palate. The mid palate offers classic Syrah notes of peppercorn and spice that stick to the bones of the wine while letting the fruit flow freely throughout. The finish tapers a bit while showing whiffs of lavender and wild flowers. He doesn’t make a lot, so make sure to get this in your basket early and often! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cru ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2018

Monterrey, California

Cash Price $17.99

Cru Winery has produced a pure expression of Chardonnay with this wine.  It is completely unoaked, being aged in 100% stainless steel while blocking malolactic fermentation to give this blank slate a nicely balanced and pure shape.  Flavors of bright green apples and mango flow into medium intensity.  The mid palate is refreshing with honeysuckle and melon gushing into whiffs of white peach and lychee. The finish is clean and soft with a natural zing of citrus. Day Drinking Chardonnay right here!  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Brooks Winery Pinot Blanc 2019

Eola-Amity, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

This winery is fully sustainable with most being organic or biodynamic. The wines offer purity and finesse that make it one of the top producers in the United States. They have an Old World feel with New World panache. They are also one of the first wineries in the United States to partner with 1% for the Earth. One Percent of all their sales goes straight back into making our Earth a better place. Pinot Blanc is making a big comeback in the Texas Market! This is one of the best expressions that I’ve had in the New World. Beautifully bright flavors of lemon citrus and pear pop into the palate with delicious refreshing acidity. The mid palate offers apricot, cantaloupe and white flowers that lay on a clean minerality of wet rocks. The finish is pure and flavorful with whiffs of beeswax and white peach. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

Paso Robles is still making some great Value Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s really hard to go wrong with anything from the 2018 vintage. This single vineyard Cabernet offers flavors of black cherry and currant that flow easily into the palate with nuances of tobacco leaf and subtle smoke. The wine has medium intensity with a plush mid palate. The finish is inviting with hints of exotic spice, vanilla bean and cedar. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Cru Winery Jose’s Dry Rosé 2019

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $14.99

This Rosé is quite unique being that its main variety is Albarino! Albarino is an exotic grape found mostly in Spain. It’s an expressive grape that offers lots of stone fruits, which shows through in this wine. The wine is 64% Albarino/24% Chardonnay/12% Pinot Noir aged in 100% stainless steel. Named after it’s winemaker Jose ‘Jefe’ Reyes, this wine pops into the palate with loads of freshly picked strawberries and candied pineapple. Hints of citrus flow through the backbone of the wine with hints of guava and banana. The finish is crisp and refreshing with hints of white pepper and bing cherry. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Pine Ridge Sparkling Chenin/Viognier N/V

California

Cash Price $14.99

I’ve been a fan of the still version of this wine for many years, so it doesn’t surprise me that the sparkling version of this is a home run in my book. It’s brand new to market, so make sure you get this in your cart for the impending summer heat! Dazzling flavors of lemon citrus, lanolin and lychee pop into the palate with lively bubbles. The mid palate shows orange blossoms and pear. The finish is flavorful and pleasing with whiffs of white meadow flowers and tinges of quince. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Nine Hats (Longshadows) Pinot Gris 2018

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $12.99

Washington State is offering some impressive Pinot Gris/Grigio that seems to fall under the radar of most customers. The wines are lively and energetic with deliciously appealing fruit. This wine is the 2nd wine of famed Longshadows winery. Nine Hats is 100% Pinot Gris from Columbia Valley. Lime citrus and white peach jump into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate shows apricot and pear with pleasantly pure acidity. The finish is clean and quaffable with more peach tingling throughout. Barlow score: 88 Points

Girasole Organic Charlie’s Red Blend 2019

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

Charlie’s Blend has taken the place of Hybrid Red in Girasole’s portfolio.  It is rare to get organic wine at such a great price point.  This every day red blend is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel from a little Italian family that has been farming in Mendocino forever. Ripe, crunchy red fruits pop into the palate offering flavors of dark cherry and plum with medium intensity. Notes of blackberry lift into black pepper, cinnamon and coffee beans.  The finish is easy and lingering.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Can you believe we are already in the month of May!?! Happy Mother’s Day to all the ladies on this blog! The weather is absolutely gorgeous (and we deserve it!) right now, but I can feel that heat index already creeping up. This month will have a few more white wines on the list as we start getting ramped up for summer. I’d highly recommend picking up a bottle (or case!) of the Smith-Madrone Riesling. It’s a stunningly beautiful DRY Riesling that is perfect for the upcoming heat. Enjoy!

Smith-Madrone Estate Riesling 2016

Spring Mountain, California

Cash Price $29.99

The wine is 100% Riesling and 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 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

Janzen Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $44.99

Winemaker to the stars Kirk Venge molded this wine and really showed his handprint throughout.  The 2018 vintage has produced full, meaty wines with quite an abundance of fruit and flavor. Kyle Janzen let me in on a secret as well. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wine has a portion of the hallowed To-Kalon vineyard fruit in it.  He has combined mountain fruit with the finesse of Oakville and Rutherford.  Thick hedonistic flavors of blackberry and cassis sink deftly into silky tannins and a creamy core.  The mid palate offers loads of currant, dark chocolate, and hazelnut with smidgeons of sandalwood.  The finish is dangerously smooth with toasted cedar and vanilla from new and used French barrels and a long, lingering mouth feel that offers a whiff of tobacco pipe. Janzen is a Cabernet that you open when you really want to impress your guest.  TLC (Texutured, Layered, Complex). James Score: 94 Points

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

Lavinea ‘Lazy River Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $34.99

I recently had the pleasure of bringing in this wine to our portfolio. Willamette Valley Chardonnay is quickly becoming my ‘go to’ area for Spectacular Chardonnay! Lavinea is making some of my favorite New World Chardonnays. The winemaker is Isabelle Meunier (Evening Land, Domaine Vougeraie and Felton Road) who apprenticed under famed Bourgogne winemaker Dominique Lafon. In other words, she has excellent pedigree! The wine is 100% Chardonnay from Lazy River Vineyard located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA perched at the foothills of the Coast Range on a south facing slope with red iron volcanic Jory soils. The wine was aged in 20% new French oak. This Chardonnay is sneaky good. Flavors of ripe apple and lemon citrus hit the palate with medium intensity. The wine is linear, yet plush with hints of dried white flowers wafting throughout the palate with a backbone of minerality. The finish is light and fresh with hints of grilled nuts, crushed wet rocks, and just a whiff of exotic spice. Yum! Barlow Score: 95 Points

Ratio ‘Retina’ Pinot Noir 2016

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $34.99

Ratio is a newer winery to our portfolio. The wine is named Retina due to his wife’s degenerative vision disorder. Anthony King donates 10% of the revenues to a foundation fighting blindness. The grapes come from the Organically Farmed Jesse James Vineyard in Eola-Amity, Vidon Vineyard in Chehalem and Three Carriages vineyard high up in the hills south of Portland. The wine is produced with 15% whole cluster and aged for 16 months in 21% new French oak. This Pinot is harmonious from start to finish. Flavors of red cherry and pomegranate flow into medium intensity. Hints of cranberry and raspberry tea sit on the mid palate with touches of cola and lavender. The finish is soft, yet nervy with hints of under brush and exotic spice. Only 138 cases produced! Barlow Score: 92 Points

Blue Rock ‘Baby Blue’ Red Blend 2018

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

Blue Rock winery has gained a reputation for producing silky smooth reds from their 100 acre estate in the famed AVA of Alexander Valley.  The 2018 vintage was a spectacular vintage, which turned out to be fortuitous due to the next couple of vintages.   This wine is a 41% Cabernet Sauvignon/32% Merlot/14% Syrah/3% Malbec/8% Petit Verdot/2% Cabernet Franc blend that is aged for 12 months in French oak and dangerously approachable from the pop of the cork.  Flavors of blackberry and currant run into the silky smooth palate that offers a core of milk chocolate.  The tannins are elegant and integrated with easy acids that play into the gracious amount of fruit.  Notes of toasted oak and vanilla sink into hints of violet and granola.  The finish is soft and plush with a plethora of fruit and oak.  By the way, this winery is next door to Silver Oak! This wine is sure to impress the family!  James Score: 91 Points

Parched Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $24.99

Parched Chardonnay is a single vineyard Chardonnay originating from the Gold Coast Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA.  The wine has seen full malolactic fermentation in barrel, yet has a delicate, lively acidity that belies this fact.  It was aged in 50% new French oak for 10 months on the lees. Plush and gushing, Parched offers flavors of bright green apple, apricot and melon that flow through medium intensity. Whiffs of creamy brioche and butter sail into tingles of vanilla creme, marshmallow and toasted oak on the finish. Yum! Barlow Score: 91 Points

22 Pirates Red Blend 2016

California

Cash Price $22.79

Ready for a fun, accessible red blend for the holidays?  Look no further!  This Syrah/Petite Sirah blend is thick and unctuous with flavors of blackberry and blueberry racing through the palate with a creamy core of cobbler and pie.  Black cherry and currant flow easily through the mid palate with soft, plush tannins and acids.  The finish offers darker notes of jammy blackberry pie with licks of cinnamon, vanilla and cedar.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Dusty Nabor NSO Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Dusty Nabor (pronounced NAY Boar) is an emerging wine maker from the Central Coast who is making some of the best ‘under the radar’ wines you can buy. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is from a single vineyard in the El Pomar District in Paso Robles. It was aged for 18 months in French oak. NSO stands for ‘No Special Occasion’ and the price offers just that, but the quality inside the bottle makes it not quite so, as the wines are extremely well made. The wines offers a medium ruby core. Flavors of black cherry and currant sink into a medium intensity with licks of blackberry on the outer core. The mid palate offers more black fruit with hints of dark cocoa. The finish is alluring with soft tannins, notes of pencil shavings and tobacco yet with lively acidity bouncing throughout the mouth feel. Solid! He doesn’t make a lot of wine, so I recommend you get this in your basket early and often. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Brooks ‘Oak Ridge Vineyard’ Dry Gewurztraminer 2019

Columbia Gorge, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

Gewurztraminer is a very fickle grape for me. If the ensuing wine doesn’t have enough acidity, then the wine becomes too floral and flabby for my taste. This wine DOES NOT have that issue. It hits the mark right on the head. The Gewurztraminer is from a single vineyard site on the Oregon side of the Columbia Gorge called Oak Ridge. The wine is not overly floral, offering extremely expressive flavors of white peach, honeysuckle and apricot on the palate with medium acidity that keeps the wine light, tight and bright. Stone fruits tickle through the middle palate with hints of peach teach, candied ginger and pear flowing freely throughout. The finish is clean and lip smacking with tinges of sweet lemon. This is a true delight for the upcoming Texas heat! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Twisted Paso ‘Main Squeeze’ Red Blend 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Calcareous Vineyard’s ‘Twisted Paso’ line has become one of the best sellers in all of Spec’s portfolio.  The Main Squeeze is a silky red blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  Dark fruits of ripe blackberry and boysenberry are prevalent from the start.  The mid palate turns into creamy blackberry pie with velvet tannins and lush acids.  The finish offers hints of toasted oak and caramel that sink into a gracious amounts of dark chocolate and mild spices.  The wine is aged in 15% New American Oak and 75% Neutral French Oak for eighteen months.   Barlow Score: 88 Points

Blason de Bourgogne Cremant Sparkling Rose N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $16.99

Some of the best value bubbles in the world are coming from the Bourgogne region. The wines are made Methode Champenoise and can often rival that of its neighbors to the north but without the price tag.  This Pinot Noir based bubbly is vibrant and refreshing from first POP of the cork.  Deliciously fresh notes of strawberry and raspberry tart zing into the palate with hints of biscuity goodness that are wrapped up in rose petals and wild flowers.  The finish is clean and crisp with tinges of cherry pie and melon. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Girasole Pinot Blanc 2019

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

This ORGANIC value winery has been a lightning rod in our portfolio. It is rare to get organic wine at such a great price point. Pinot Blanc is a white variety in the Pinot family.  It is arguably one of the purest expressions of the variety.  The wine is pale straw in color and offers flavors of freshly squeezed lemons and fresh cut melon with medium intensity.  The mid palate shows nectarines and honeysuckle with just a whiff of wet rocks.  The finish is lovely with tinges of white flowers and tree fruit.  Perfect summer white!  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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