JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS FOR OCTOBER 2018

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Can you believe the holidays have arrived already?!? I just put up my Halloween decorations this past weekend. It’s time to start anticipating cooler weather and bigger wines.  This month’s medley of wines are a mix of quality and value.  Enjoy!  I will be in Champagne and Burgundy all next week visiting Domaines, so I’ll make sure to give you an update on the wines I am tasting and the vintage as a whole.

Janzen Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

Winemaker to the stars wine Kirk Venge molded this wine and really showed his handprint throughout.  The 2014 vintage has produced full, meaty wines. He 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 flavors of black cherry and cassis sink deftly into silky tannins and a creamy core.  The mid palate offers loads of dark chocolate, black pepper and hazelnut with smidgeons of graham crackers.  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 leaf. Janzen is a Cabernet that you open when you really want to impress your guest.  James Score: 93 Points

Decimus Chardonnay 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $34.99

Decimus is a Napa Valley wine company created by Houstonians Stephen and Allison Lewis. The lead winemaker for the company is the award winning vintner, Steve Reynolds.  He is easily one of the more talented winemakers in all of Napa Valley.  The fruit is sourced from The Corotto Vineyard in the Los Carneros region of Napa Valley. Los Carneros is blessed by the fog and cool breezes of the San Pablo Bay making the climate cooler and more moderate than the wine regions further north in Napa Valley and Sonoma. The wine is delightfully delicate and balanced with flavors of apricot and lemon citrus that are encompassed by a soft, plush core of cream and nutty complexity.  Medium acids are delightfully rounded by the notes of caramel, butterscotch, and whiffs of vanilla bean.  The finish is pure and focused with a more tropical feel of pineapple and ripe green apple.  Yum!  James Score: 93 Points

Chateau Clarke Baron de Rothschild 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $27.49

The 2015 vintage was absolutely Spectacular in Bordeaux.  The wines are delightfully fresh and approachable in their youth.  I am drinking 2015’s right now.  The wine is a 70% Merlot/30% Cabernet Sauvignon blend and aged 16 months in 30% new oak.  Ripe and accessible, this wine offers blackberry and black cherry off the front with well structured tannins. The mid palate offers touches of bramble and currant that leads into tinges of black pepper and tobacco leaf.  The finish is integrated and long with hints of vanilla and kitchen spices.  James Score: 90 Points

Ampelos Pinot Noir 2015

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $23.99

Ampelos quality comes from the amazing care that is given to the vines.  Starting with the proper care of the soil, which leads to strong vines that work hard and struggle beautifully, which leads to amazingly concentrated grapes. The wines are Certified Sustainable In Practice, Certified Biodynamic, and also USDA Organic Certified.  Ampelos is about as ‘GREEN’ as they come!  This puts them on the upper echelon of quality wines….and a quiet gem to be sought out!  Ampelos is situated near the Highly Esteemed Sea Smoke Vineyards at which Peter’s son, Don, is the current wine-maker.  Kris Curran (former Sea Smoke wine-maker) was a consulting wine-maker with Ampelos.  So, these guys have some history with making some of the best Pinot Noir in the world!  Ampelos has been one of my favorite California producers for many years.  The grapes were hand harvested and allowed to start a natural fermentation.  The wine is un-fined, unfiltered, and 100%  Pinot Noir.  Flavors of dark cherries and raspberry sing into a rich cola and brown molasses core.  Notes of wild red berries meld  with medium acids and minimal tannins.  The finish offers hints of Asian spice and Moreno cherries with a touch of butterscotch and vanilla from French oak aging.  James Score: 91 Points

Chateau Breze Sparkling Rose Brut N/V

Loire Valley, France

Cash Price $22.39

My continuing affinity for the Loire Valley grows daily when I have the joy of tasting jewels like this wine.  100% Cabernet Franc from Saumur, this summer stunner knocked my socks off for the price.  Breze is considered one of the best organic and biodynamic vineyards in all Saumur and their sparkling Cremants (pronounced Kray-Mawn) are some of the best that they offer.  Flavors of citrus and rose petals zip into the palate with mouth watering intensity.  Hints of wild flowers and raspberry tickle the mid palate with bits of quince.  The finish offers minerality and a touch of salinity with red currant and crisp acidity.  James Score: 90 Points

Altamira Malbec 2013

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $21.84

This single vineyard selection is located in the Uco Valley.  Altamira has gained complexity and flavor with some bottle aging.  Flavors of blackberry and cassis are followed by full bodied structure of tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers a silkier mouth-feel with plum and fig with secondary notes of molasses and tea leaf.  The finish is creamy and easy with 14 months of French oak aging that gives the wine notes of cedar, vanilla and tinges of mocha.  James Score: 90 Points

Marramiero ‘Incanto’ Montepulciano 2014

Abruzzo, Italy

Cash Price $19.94

Marramiero is a darling winery that produces extremely high quality Montepulciano at value prices. Located between the Adriatic Sea and The Gran Sasso Mountains on the hills around Pescara, the Marramiero family has grown vines since the beginning of last century.  This wine is the un-oaked version of ‘Inferi’.  Montepulciano has the structure of Cabernet Sauvignon but offers softer fruit flavors.  Aromas of wild red berries and plum seep into the palate with hints of sage and red flowers.  The mid palate shows medium intensity with good structure.  The finish is easy and food friendly with notes of fig, pomegranate and black pepper. Great Spaghetti and meatball wine!  James Score: 89 Points

Domaine Pegau ‘Setier’ Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $17.99

Chateau Pegau has always been one of my favorite Chateauneuf Du Pape producers.  They started making this wine several years ago as an entry level Rhone Village made just a smidge south of CDP but still implements low yield, hand harvesting and strict pruning criteria.  The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre.  Setier offers flavors brambly blackberry and currant that flow seamlessly into medium tannins and acids.  Notes of garrigue and black pepper knock into hints of smoked tar and jammy blueberries.  This wine really over delivers!  James Score: 91 Points

Ca’Momi Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

Ca’Momi is one Spec’s gem Cabernet’s 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.  James Score: 89 Points

Trig Point Merlot 2015

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $16.99

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 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 graphite and dusty minerality.  The finish is deliciously long with 12 months of French oak aging in 20% new barrels and just a touch of new American oak which gives hints of creamy vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cedar.  The finish smacks of blueberry pie!  James Score: 90 Points

Vignerons de Buxy Chardonnay 2015

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $14.99

The Caves des Vignerons in the area of Buxy is located in Cote Chalonnaise, just south of the Cote de Nuits.  There is a collection of 120 growers that pour their heart and soul into producing excellent value wine.  The 2015 vintage offered some delicious wines in France.  This 100% Chardonnay is un-oaked and deliciously refreshing from start to finish.  Flavors of lemon citrus ease into the palate with touches of green apple and white flowers.  The mid palate shows medium acidity with a touch of cream in the core.  The finish is pure and zesty with hints of acacia and lemon meringue.  James Score: 89 Points

Felix Solis Arnegui Rioja Reserva 2012

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $16.99

The region of Rioja has been making wine for over 2,000 years.  Rioja is one of the finest regions in all of Spain and produces the most classic expressions of Tempranillo.  The wine offers flavors of ripe red fruit of cherry and raspberry.  The mid palate gives medium intensity with structured tannins that are surrounded by leather and tobacco.  Their is a distinct vanilla bean note on the finish with tinges of cedar, mushroom and spice.  James Score: 91 Points

Tenuta Curezza ‘Prine’ Red Blend 2014

Puglia, Italy

Cash Price $12.99

The region of Salento in the southern stretches of Italy offers some excellent value with red blends made with Primitivo and Negroamaro.  Primitivo is Italy’s version of Zinfandel and has the same jammy, fruit forward characterists as its American counterpart.  The wine is completely un-oaked and exceedingly fruit forward with flavors of plum, currant and red cherries.  The mid palate offers hints of cream and spice.  The finish is easy and approachable with notes of wild violets and raspberry.  This is a great Tuesday wine.  James Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS

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THE ‘TWELVE UNDER TWELVE’ FOR OCTOBER 2018

TWELVE UNDER TWELVE FOR OCTOBER 2018     

Ca’Momi ‘Heartcraft’ Brut Rose N/V

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $10.99

Deliciously soft on the palate, flavors of ripe strawberries and sweet red cherries burst into millions of bubbles.  A creamy core offers hints of cherry cobbler crust and citrus.  The finish gives hints of bread crumbs and confection. Pair with your main squeeze on the couch.

Lockwood Chardonnay 2016

Monterey, California

Cash Price $10.99

This wine is completely un-oaked and aged on its lees.  Flavors of crisp green apple and citrus show easy acids with touches of pineapple and melon.  The finish is clean with hints of lemon cream pie, honeysuckle and hazelnuts. Pair with chicken risotto.

Indomita Gran Reserva Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Maipo Valley, Chile

Cash Price $11.99

Indomita offers flavors of sweet cassis and smoky, dark fruit. Smidgeons of tobacco and green spice are bolstered by mature red fruits and tannins. The finish offers vanilla and cedar that lingers. Pair with a big, meaty pot roast.

Liberation de Paris Rose 2016

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $9.99

This Liberatingly Dry Rose gives flavors of wild red berries and strawberries. Fresh, pure acids give way to rose petals and citrus.  Pair with arugula and tomato topped flatbread.

Leopard’s Leap Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Western Cape, South Africa

Cash Price $10.99

South African Blanc’s are becoming some of my favorites! Refreshing flavors of citrus, grapefruit and grass melds into zesty acids with hints of white flowers.  Pair with lemon-pepper halibut.

Chateau Segonzac ‘Cuvee Tradition’ Red Blend 2014

Cotes de Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

Value Bordeaux is easy to be had in this vintage. Merlot driven flavors of red currant and cassis offer a full-bodied treat with structure and ripeness. Enjoy with a Steak Diane.

 

Pierre Rougon Red Blend 2014

Cotes du Rhone Villages, France

Cash Price $9.49

This wine is a Grenache/Syrah blend that really exceeds its price point.  Flavors of wild red berries and raspberry flow into garrigue and spice.  Fresh, vibrant and approachable!  Pair with spicy buffalo pork wings.

Tenuta Sant’Anna Pinot Grigio 2017

Venezia, Italy

Cash Price $11.99

A Classic style of Pinot Grigio with light flavors of citrus, lemon peel and pear. Un-oaked and fleshy, notes of green apple roll into easy acids.  Pair with grapefruit topped crab salad.

Arnegui Crianza 2013

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $9.99

Smooth and supple from start to finish, this wine offers flavors of sweet cherries and violets. Medium bodied notes of plum and oak flow into a lingering finish.  Classic.  Pair with tender lamb cutlets and asparagus.

El Portillo Malbec 2017

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash price $9.99

Fruit forward flavors of plum and red berries touch into medium tannins and acids.  The finish offers hints of clove and cinnamon with the robust Malbec mouth feel. Pair with Sloppy Joe sandwiches.

Perimeter Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

California

Cash Price $9.99

An Expressive Cabernet with notes of plum and black cherries.  Medium to full bodied with a touch of spice and toasted oak on the finish.  Big, Bold and Beautiful. Pair with days that end with ‘Y’.

Beppe Pinot Noir 2014

Italy

Cash Price $7.29

Beppe is deliciously smooth with flavors of freshly picked red cherries and raspberries.  The wine has light acidity and a juicy fruit finish with touches of spice. Pair with an armchair and a baseball game.

 Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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CUSTOMER APPRECIATION OKTOBER-FEST BEER EXTRAVAGANZA THIS SATURDAY!

Hello All!

I am excited to offer all of you beer lovers, cigar lovers and meat lovers an excellent opportunity to learn about beer, cigars, meat and try some as well!  Join me at this FREE CUSTOMER APPRECIATION EVENT!  See you there!

We will be offering Oktober-Fest Beers!

We will also be offering meats from Prasek’s (they will be here!)

We will also be offering free cigars with a cigar expert to talk to you!

Goodie Bags will be had and a great deal of delightful fun!

RSVP to RSVP_WOODLANDS@SPECSONLINE.COM

What: Oktoberfest Beer Extravagnza!

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

When: 1pm starts the festivities with a Beer class taught by our in house beer expert, Joey Williams.  Tastings will last till 8pm!  He will sample you on several local Oktoberfest beers from local producers Southern Star, Karbach, and Shiner Brewing

Who: Southern Star, Karbach, Shiner, Prasek’s, and more!

COME ONE COME ALL!

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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TWO CUSTOMER APPRECIATION EVENTS NEXT WEEK

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the pleasure of offering two FREE customer appreciation events next week.  See you there!

EVENT #1

What: Catena Wine Tasting featuring Jorge Liloy and Andrea Nunez

When: Wednesday, September 19th from 6:30-8:00pm

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

RSVP: RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com

Wines:

  1. Catena Alta Chardonnay
  2. Catena Alta Malbec
  3. Catena Argentino Malbec
  4. Catena La Consutla Malbec
  5. Catena Agrelo Cabernet
  6. Catena Nicassia
  7. Catena NCZ

EVENT #2

WHAT: Neil Ellis South African Tasting

When: Thursday, September 20th for 6:30-8pm

Where: Spec’s Flagship Store at 2410 Smith Street

RSVP: RSVP_Houston@specsonline.com

Neil Ellis has long been considered an innovator whose vision changed the course of the South African wine industry. He has journeyed from pioneering négociant beginnings in the early 1980’s, seeking out parcels of interesting vines to make exceptional wines under his own name, to a well-established family enterprise with a local and international reputation for exceptional elegance and quality.

Today the journey of Neil Ellis Wines is not only about Neil Ellis. After 40 years of making wine, the next stage of the journey has begun with Neil’s son, Warren Ellis.  At a young age, Warren was helping his father in the winery. Like many around the wine world who grow up surrounded by vineyards and winemaking, Warren developed the passion to be a winemaker. He holds both a BSc and MSc Agric in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Stellenbosch. He has travelled the European wine world learning viticulture and cellar practices. Since 2006, Warren has been part of the Neil Ellis wine team as winemaker with viticultural responsibilities.

Wines:

2017 Neil Ellis Groenekloef Sauvignon Blanc

2014 Neil Ellis Stellenbosch Cabernet Sauvignon

2016 Neil Ellis Whitehall Chardonnay

2017 Neil Ellis Sincerely Sauvignon Blanc

2017 Neil Ellis Sincerely Chardonnay

2014 The Left Bank Red Blend

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

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THE TWELVE UNDER TWELVE FOR SEPTEMBER 2018

Vina Cumbrero Crianza 2010

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $10.99

Female winemaker Maria Martinez has produced a gem from the Rioja Alta with this 100% Tempranillo.  The wine is delightfully crisp with fleshy flavors of tart cherry and red currant are filled by its medium body.  Notes of vanilla and cinnamon are prevalent on the finish with smidgeons of rose petal. Pair with a grilled pork ribs and seared vegetables.

Marramiero ‘Dama’ Cerasuolo Rose 2017

Abruzzo, Italy

Cash Price $11.79

Dama is a sneaky good Dry Rose. ‘Cerasuolo’ translates to cherry red as this wine is darker hued than many other Roses.  Flavors of ripe cherry and raspberry pop into the palate with medium acidity.  The finish offers violets and rose petals.  Pair with a lightly seared Ahi Tuna steak.

Pierre Archambault Vouvray 2017

Loire Valley, France

Cash Price $11.99

Chenin Blanc in Vouvray is vinified slightly sweet (Demi-Sec), but with good acidity to give balance.  Unpretentiously un-oaked, this wine offers stone fruits with loads of lychee and apricot. The finish is light and refreshing with hints of almond, citrus and white flowers. Pair this with Kung Pao chicken.

Ca’Momi Rosso Red Blend 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $8.99

This rosso is truly built for spicy, slathered brisket with Zinfandel being a primary varietal of this blend.  Flavors of dark jammy blueberry and blackberry zing through a medley of spices and soft tannins.  The finish offers a nice dollop of alcohol.

Castillo Perelada Sparkling Cava N/V

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $9.99

The region of Cava is producing some of the best value sparklers in the world. This diamond shows clean citrus notes and plenty of apple and pear.  The mid palate shows touches of bread pudding and confection.  The finish is refreshing with touches of almond and white flowers.  Pair this with gruyere or brie filled pate.

Francois Labet ‘Ile de Beaute’ Pinot Noir 2016

Corsica, France

Cash Price $9.99

Labet Pinot Noir absolutely over achieves for the price point.  Flavors of red cherries and wild red berries flow through a silky mid palate.  Touches of cream and vanilla play through the finish with just a touch of toasted oak and spice. Yum! Pair this summer stunner with friends at the lake. Stash it in the cooler!

Neil Ellis ‘Sincerely’ Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Coastal Region, South Africa

Cash Price $11.99

This sustainably farmed, unoaked 100% Sauvignon Blanc has a zesty approachability from the first sup. Flavors of citrus, grapefruit and melon sing through focused and precise acidity. Hints of wet rock minerality and herbs flow lightly over tinges of cactus and grassiness. Pair with a shrimp and avocado salad.

Chateau Lavagnac Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux Superieur, France

Cash Price $10.99

This Merlot based wine offers another delightfully delicious wine from a stellar vintage in Bordeaux. Flavors of plum and violets lead into a fuller bodied structure.  The mid palate shows jammy red fruits and the finish gives vanilla and clove.  Pair this with BBQ pulled pork sandwiches.

Felipe Rutini ‘Trumpeter’ Malbec 2017

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

This dense and inky wine offers flavors of blackberry and currant with a medium body. The mid palate shows sweet spices and tinges of dark chocolate.  The finish gives supple and smooth notes of vanillin and cinnamon with a touch of graham crackers.  Pair with sweet and spicy chicken wings.

Muirwood Chardonnay 2016

Arroyo Seco, California

Cash Price $11.39

This is an ode to the rich, creamy Chardonnay lovers of the world. Notes of pineapple and melon flow easily into hints of butterscotch and hazelnuts.  The finish offers notes of vanilla bean and cedar.  Pair this with a creamy chicken alfredo pasta sans the spice.

Astrid Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

California

Cash Price $8.99

Astrid is a silky Cabernet that has become an instant hit!  Soft, supple with red fruits and plush tannins.  It has a round, smooth finish with hints of cedar and vanilla.  Pair this with your cart and take it up to register to enjoy tonight!

Pierre Rougon Red Blend 2013

Ventoux, France

Cash Price $5.99

This wine is built for days that end with ‘Y’.  It is an everyday, pairs with anything or nothing kind of wine that offers flavors of red cherries and currant with touches of cocoa and spice.  Predominantly Grenache based with a bit of body building Syrah. Show this wine blind to impress your friends!

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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BURGUNDY ‘IN FOCUS’ MASTERCLASS: FOCUS ON MACONNAIS

   

Hello all,

I still have seats available for this event.  Don’t miss out on this ‘LIGHT BULB’ experience with Chardonnay!  RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com  See you there!

The best, and most expensive, Chardonnay in the world comes from the prestigious Burgundy region in France.  As you all know if you read this blog, I became a Bourgogne Wine Ambassador earlier this year.  I am excited to give you a ‘light bulb’ experience with Chardonnay.  In this class we will focus on VALUE Chardonnay’s in the Southern region of Burgundy called the Macon.  Many of you have drunk of Pouilly-Fuisse, yes?  If so, you have supped of a wine in the Maconnais.  So please join me as I guide you through this amazingly diverse region with a Focus on Chardonnay.  Did you know that the Maconnais has a town called Chardonnay?!?!?

RSVP TO Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com or www.bit.ly/GWopentable or 832- 934-2675 (CORK)

What: Burgundy Master Class: Focus Maconnais

When: Thursday, September 6th from 6:30-8:00pm

Where: GenuWine Tasting Room

6503 FM 1488 #401 Magnolia, TX, 77354

Wines:

  1. Bret Bros Macon-Villages ‘Terrior du Maconnaise’ 2016
  2. Hertieres Lafon Macon-Chardonnay ‘Clos de la Crochette’ 2016
  3.  Hertieres Lafon Vire-Clesse 2015
  4.  Olivier Merlin St. Veran 2014
  5. Olivier Merlin Pouilly-Fuisse 2014
  6. Bret Bros Pouilly-Fuisse ‘Carementrant’ 2014

Cost: Only $30 per person/$25 for Wine Club Members

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Bourgogne Wine Ambassador

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2018

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The kids are back in school. Vacations are mostly over. But here comes Labor Day!  I know that we have all had to penny pinch for the last couple of months, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still drink some delicious wines!  I’ve compiled a list this month that is more value friendly for you to have on your dinner table.  Enjoy!

Result of the Crush Red Blend 2012

Walla Walla, Washington

Cash Price $39.29

This wine is one of those geeky wines of limited production that I highly recommend scooping up as quickly as possible.  The wine is produced by the sisters of legendary cult winemaker Matt Reynvaan (who is the consulting winemaker for this wine).  He produces some of the more iconic Reds in all of Washington state.  Result of the Crush is their limited release ‘Fun’ wine that they produce at a great price (usually his wines exceed $100).  The wine is a blend of mostly Syrah (Reynvaan’s claim to fame) with a dollop of this and a smidgeon of that.  I immediately fell in love with this wine.  It has a richness of fruit and texture but with a core of minerality and complexity that Syrah can often show.  Flavors of dark cherries and pomegranate burst on the palate with a hedonistic richness.  The mid palate offers a creamy vanilla bean core with touches of plum and briar.  The wine has medium tannins and acids.  The finish continues giving with notes of black pepper, smoked meat and just a kiss of candied maple.  James Score: 93 Points

Chateau Daugay Red Blend 2015

St. Emilion, France

Cash Price $36.59

Daugay is consistently drinking better than its price point.  It turns out that Angelus is a part owner of this old 14 acre estate that is dedicated to producing exemplary Merlot based wines.  This wine is 70% Merlot and 30% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Beautifully pure red fruit and supple tannins are offered on the palate which is indicative of this dynamite vintage.  Flavors of red currant and raspberry show off the palate with silky, integrated tannins.  The core of this wines offers creaminess with vanilla bean and light herbs.  The wine is polished and quite pleasurable.  James Score: 93 Points

Domaine Jessiaume ‘Clos du Genet’ Pinot Noir 2015

Santenay, France

Cash Price $33.49

My mentor mentioned this Domaine and while I have tried their entry level wines, I had never tasted their next tier wines.  So, of course, I ran to Spec’s and bought a bottle of this delight.  Nestled in the lovely (and well priced) region of Santenay, this Domaine offers excellent value in a wonderfully fruit forward vintage. The wine is aged in 25% new French oak for fifteen months and left un-fined and unfiltered. Flavors of plush red cherries and pomegranate flow into energetic acids and tannins.  The mid palate offers edgy minerality with hints of salinity and crushed rocks.  The finish is pure and ripe with a soft, creamy texture that melds into touches of darker fruit.  James Score: 91 Points

Clarendelle Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon Blend 2016

Bordeaux, France

Cash with a $1.00 Key Price $18.94

Clarendelle is the value brand owned by the Clarence Dillon family of Chateau Haut Brion fame.  This Chateau has some of the best pedigree and vines in all of Bordeaux. I am excited to see Bordeaux Blanc beginning to gain traction in this market as it is some of the best Sauvignon Blanc based wines produced in the world.  This is a 47% Sauvignon Blanc/42% Semillon/11% Muscadelle blend that offers a beautifully floral nose of white flowers.  The palate shows tropical notes of white peach, prickly pear and citrus lemon.  The finish is clean and gives minerals of wet rocks and touches of salinity.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau de Haut Serre Grand Vin Seigneur Malbec 2014

Cahors, France

Cash Price $20.89

Chateau Haut Serre is owned by arguably the best producer in Cahors, Georges Vigouroux.  The wine is 90% Malbec with smidgeons of Merlot and Tannat and aged for twelve months in 30% New French oak.  This powerhouse black wine is thick and meaty from start to finish.  Flavors of black currant and blackberry sink into brooding tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows herbs and spice with touches of dark cherry and tar.  The finish is full of clove, cinnamon and vanilla with tinges of leather and mushrooms.  James Score: 90 Points

Maison Champy Chardonnay 2015

Bourgogne, France

Cash Price $18.99

I was lucky enough to have dinner with the winemaker for Maison Champy, Dimitri Bazas while in Burgundy this past May.  He extolled the virtues of producing natural wine throughout the dinner with focus on sustainability.  Maison Champy Chardonnay is a perfect wine to understand what Bourgogne can offer without spending an arm and a leg.  Champy’s rising recognition is starting to garner attention as they seem to be ahead of the curve with vineyard practices and pricing.  These grapes were grown near Meursault and Puligny-Montrachet, so the ensuing wine offers a high quality product that belies the price.  Flavors of green apples and citrus zing through the palate with fleshy, refreshing acids.  Notes of butterscotch and hazelnuts hit the mid palate with tinges of minerality.  The finish gives a bit of tropical feel with mango and lychee. James Score: 89 Points

Brutocao ‘Contento Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $19.94

Brutocao is a 4th generation family of grape growers that are now producing some splendid wines up in Mendocino AVA.  I enjoy their Cabernet because it is a softer, more refined style of wine.  It offers depth and character without sacrificing fruit or bowling you over with alcohol.  The Contento Vineyard is a beautiful hillside exposure that allows for excellent ripeness in good terroir.  Flavors of blackberry and black raspberry smack into the palate with structured, yet giving tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers dark mocha and jammed blueberry with hints of black pepper and leather.  The finish gives a nice cigar box spice with smidgeons of creamy vanilla and graham crackers.  James Score: 90 Points

Dubost ‘Ballofiere’ Gamay 2016

Morgon, France

Cash Price $19.94

Cru Beaujolais is taking our market by storm!  The Ten Cru’s of Beaujolais are considered the ‘Grand Cru’ of the region and produce the finest Gamay in the land on granite soils.  The wines of Beaujolais are perfect for the dog days of summer in Texas.  Light and food friendly, Dubost Morgon is produced biodynamically with indigenous yeast and fermented in used oak casks without fining or filtration.  Vibrant flavors of red cherries and cranberry burst into the palate with tinges of freshly picked strawberry and boysenberry.  The wine offers medium plus acids with medium tannins. Dubost is all about offering refreshing red fruits with deliciously thirst quenching acidity.  Yum!  James Score: 89 Points

Becker Landgraf Dry Riesling 2017

Rheinhessen, Germany

Cash Price $15.99

I have been on a hunt for deliciously Dry German Riesling and am super excited to announce this wine in our portfolio.  Minimalists at heart, Johannes Landgraf’s family own and operate a winery in the Rheingau.  He married Julia and began running his wife’s estate in the Rheinhessen.  They dry farm and only use organic fertilizer and allow the soil and nature to dictate the flavor of their wines.  This delightfully complex 100% Riesling is grown on limestone in the Gau-Odernheimer.  Racy flavors of white peach and orchard apples bounce into the palate with zesty acidity and hints of petrol.  Notes of white flowers, pear, and a touch of yellow fruit flow through the mid palate.  The finish has a nice minerality with wet rocks and whiffs of salinity encompassed by stone fruits.  Super Yummy!  James Score: 90 Points

La Garenne ‘Mont Caume’ Dry Rose 2017

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $14.99

We are in the throws of Dry Rose season and this is a must try by one of the more dynamic producers in the southern France region of Bandol.  It is a blend of Cinsault, Carignan, and Grenache that is delicious and bone dry.  Flavors of wild strawberries and bing cherries flow freely through medium plus acids.  Notes of red roses and cranberry play through the mid palate with just a touch of garrigue.  The finish is cleansing and leaves the palate begging for more.  Garenne is a serious Rose at a phenomenal price!  James Score: 88 Points

Taft Street Winery Merlot 2016

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Taft Street story began in the 1970’s, when John Tierney & friend Mike Martini began making wine in Mike Tierney’s garage on Taft Street. The reputation of the “garagistes” wines (referring to small lots of cult wines produced by Bordeaux winemakers in garages) spread, and family and friends bonded Taft Street Winery on April Fool’s Day, 1982, in the Russian River Valley town of Forestville. Today Taft Street focuses on making wines from the Russian River Valley and Sonoma Coast appellations, as well as from nearby vineyards in Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley.  This Merlot offers black cherry and plum that sink into easy acidity and tannins.  The mid palate offers fleshy raspberry with hints of cream and mocha.  The finish is smooth and flavorful with notes of vanilla and spice.  James Score: 88 Points

Grignano Chianti 2015

Rufina, Italy

Cash Price $13.99

In the heart of Tuscany’s lush hills the Grignano estate is located to the east of Florence, at the confluence of the rivers Sieve and Arno, where the Rùfina Chianti DOCG is located.  Grignano vineyards were planted with the main objective to produce high quality grapes, with a minimum density of 5,000 plants per hectare. Special attention is paid to the choice of rootstock. The ampelography is characterized by the traditional grape varieties such as Sangiovese.  This classic 80% Sangiovese Chianti is fresh and friendly from the get go.  Flavors of cranberry and raspberry zing off the front palate with medium plus acidity.  It is aged for 12 months in used French oak which gives the wine a soft roundness.  The finish shows touches of sage and herbs with just a smidge of cream and tomato paste.  Great Spaghetti wine!  James Score: 88 Points

Shannon Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

Clay Shannon was just in town and I was reminded about how delicious and value priced his Cabernet Sauvignon is.  They are located in the steep mountain slopes of Lake County and are dedicated to producing high quality, sustainably farmed wines at a great price.  This high elevation Cabernet is dangerously approachable from the first pop of the cork.  Supple flavors of black cherries and dark berries are encompassed by smooth, easy tannins and well balanced acids. The core offers notes of raspberry, plum and tobacco.  The finish is silky with touches of vanilla, all spice and licks of cedar.  Spectacular wine under $15.  James Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

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