The 12 under $12 for September 2022

Imus Red Blend

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Intense aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of wild strawberries, red cherry and pastries
  • Pairs with Honey Baked Ham

Radio Boka Rose

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aroma citrus and red fruit
  • Flavors of red raspberry and cherry
  • Pairs with the dog days of summer

El Portillo Pinot Noir

Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of light red fruit
  • Flavors of bright red cherry and spice
  • Pairs with a roast beef au jus

Gryphus Sauvignon Blanc

Chile

Cash Price $8.99

  • Aromas of zesty citrus
  • Flavors of grapefruit and meadow flower
  • Pairs with spicy crawfish by the pound

Sonalto Vinho Verde White

Portugal

Cash Price $7.59

  • Aroma of citrus
  • Flavors of salty citrus, lime zest and lemon spritz
  • Pairs with briny oysters on the half shell

Casa Ceccato Pinot Grigio

Italy

Cash Price $7.59

  • Aromas light citrus
  • Flavors of tropical fruit and flowers
  • Pairs with friends and festivities

Carrione Chianti

Italy

Cash Price $8.54

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of light red cherry and cranberry
  • Pairs with menudo

KWV Chenin Blanc

South Africa

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of melon and guava
  • Pairs with a chicken BLT

Liberation de Paris Cabernet Sauvignon

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry and cassis
  • Pairs with sloppy joe sliders

Fog Bank Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of plum, cassis, and caramel
  • Pairs with herb crusted lamb shanks

Simply Cabernet Sauvignon

Washington State

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry, currant, and cream
  • Pairs with pulled pork sliders

Dado Red Blend

California

Cash Price $8.99 but with a $3.00 Spec’s Key ONLY $5.99

  • Aromas of jammy red fruit
  • Flavors of brambly boysenberry and spice
  • Pairs with spicy chorizo shrimp stacks
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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2022

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Now that school is back in session and most of you are trying to rebound from summer trips, I have decided to offer you all some value wines in this set of reviews. I am also focusing on some Organic wineries as I know we are all trying to be a bit more healthy in 2022 after the last two years of craziness. Have fun with these selections and make sure you take advantage of our Pick 6 special pricing! Enjoy!

Baer ‘Arctos’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $39.89

Baer Winery is producing some absolute rocking Red wines. Erica Orr is the winemaker for these single vineyard wines. She worked her first harvest with Cathy Corison! The wines are all single vineyard from Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman hills. The vineyard has quickly earned a reputation as one of Columbia Valley’s Top Vineyards. This wine is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon/9% Petit Verdot and was aged for 21 months in 50% new French oak. Flavors of blackberry and currant show on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate gives hints of minerality with crushed rocks and graphite. Touches of red fruit sink into sleek dark notes of blueberry. The finish is long and gratifying with tobacco, cigar box and cedar dust encompassing a plush core of fruit. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Riglos Gran Corte Red Blend 2017

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $39.89

Riglos is a wine that has made it to the United States because famed winemaker Paul Hobbs (who consults there) has taken this winery under his wings to show America what an amazing winery this is.  The wine is a Malbec/Cabernet/Franc blend that is lush and layered from start to finish.  Delicious flavors of blackberry and plum flow easily into a medium plus intensity.  Notes of lavender and cinnamon show with hints of toasted nuts, vanilla and graham crackers on the finish. Fall in love with this wine tonight!  Barlow score: 93 Points

Auctioneer Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

The Auctioneer is affectionately named after Michael Broadbent, the 24th Master of Wine, whose career is steeped in tradition and history. He partnered with Robert Mondavi in 1981 to start the Napa Valley wine auction. It is becoming increasingly hard to find $30 Napa Cabernet on the shelves, so it’s a pleasure to be able to offer this one with such history behind it. The wine offers medium intensity with flavors of cassis and blackberry flowing from the start. Notes of juicy plum and black cherry show in the mid palate with easy tannins. The finish is gracious with whiffs of graham cracker, vanillin, and toasted cedar that becomes long and alluring. Auctioneer was aged in 60% new French oak for 15 months. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Casa Gran del Siurana ‘Cruor’ Red Blend 2017

Priorat, Spain

Cash Price $25.99

The wine is a 31% Samso (Carignan)/60% Garnatxa (Garnacha)/9% Syrah blend and aged for 14 months in new and used French oak.  Cruor is a power bomb from start to finish.  Intense flavors of black berry and currant smash into medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows black cherry and plum with a smoky aroma that leads to hints of roasted meat and black pepper.  The finish is thick and robust with notes of dark chocolate, tea leaf, and coffee grounds.  Always a favorite!   Barlow Score: 92 Points

Brooks Rosé of Pinot Noir 2021

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $22.99

I’m quite excited to have this gem Dry Rosé back in stock. Brooks did not produce a 2020 vintage due to smoke taint issues in the Willamette Valley. This 100% Pinot Noir Rosé is wonderfully alluring from the start with medium intensity and vibrant acidity. Flavors of white raspberry and strawberries pop into the palate with an undertone of juicy watermelon. The mid palate shows hints of citrus with bing cherry flowing throughout. The finish is clean and refreshing with tinges of rhubarb, white flowers, and fresh herbs. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Paul Dolan Organic Zinfandel 2020

Mendocino County, California

Cash Price $19.94

Paul Dolan is a pioneer in the rise of organic farming. As you all know, I try to give wineries that have good farming practices a little more attention. The winery is Certified Organic and Vegan. This Zinandel has a delicious richness that runs throughout the core with a purity of fruit. Flavors of ripe red berries and plum show on the palate with medium intensity. The finish is soft and alluring with hints of tobacco and exotic spice. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Milbrandt Family Merlot 2019

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $16.99

I’ve become an advocate of Washington State wines and have decided that Texas should start enjoying some of the best crafted wines made in the United States. They have a penchant for producing high quality Merlot and this is a great one to hedge your bets on. The grapes come from King Fuji and Katherine Leon vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The wine offers bright flavors of bing cherry and pomegranate on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate shows a juicy vibrancy with more red fruit and silky tannins. The finish is balanced with hints of dark chocolate, cedar and plum. 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

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

Freelander Pinot Noir 2019

California

Cash Price $16.99

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

Chateau Bonette Merlot Bordeaux Rouge 2016

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $14.99

The 2016 vintage will go down in the books as one of the greatest vintages of our lifetime in Bordeaux.  Snatch up all you can get your hands on, especially the value wines that are of extremely high quality for the price. Bonette is behind the Liberation de Paris wines and has produced an exceptional wine in this banner vintage.  Flavors of fleshy currant and black cherry pop into the palate with medium intensity.  There is a juicy core to this wine that gives it a gulp-able appeal, but has the structure to pair easily with food.  The finish offers touches of cinnamon, potpourri, and oak.  James Score: 89 Points

Pam’s Unoaked Chardonnay 2020

California

Cash Price $13.99

The wine is 100% Chardonnay and completely un-oaked. Pam’s Chardonnay was aged in stainless steel and drinks deliciously refreshing from start to finish. It’s a delightfully fruit forward wine with flavors of creamy pineapple and mango bursting at the seams. The mid palate has medium intensity with balanced acidity while showing notes of melon and green apple. The finish offers whiffs of cream and banana. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Girasole Charlie’s Blend Red 2019

Mendocino County, California

Cash Price $13.99

Girasole has become one of our more popular Organic wineries and this rocking little red just received 92 Points from Wine & Spirits with a nod as one of the best 100 wines for under $20! The wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah grown on the three Certified Organic vineyard sites. Ripe, juicy flavors of boysenberry and dark plum burst into the palate with medium intensity. Hints of caramel and vanilla show on the mid palate with darker fruit. The finish is plush and easy with notes of toasted marshmallow and black pepper. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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BARLOW IN BORDEAUX: THE 2021 VINTAGE

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I traveled to Bordeaux to attend En Primeur Union des Grand Crus in April of this year to taste through the 2021 vintage. It’s the first time Spec’s has attended without Bear Dalton in over 25 years. I went with our new Bordeaux buyer, Alan Dennis, and our Central Texas Trainer, Evan Davis. I must admit, it was a little weird tasting through a Bordeaux vintage without the expertise of Bear Dalton to lean on but I think we came out with a very good understanding of the vintage and quality level. Here are my notes on the vintage. Enjoy!

THE VINTAGE

If I were to sum up this vintage in a word, it would be: Vintage.

Yes. Vintage, but not as in the 2021 vintage. I mean ‘Vintage’ as in this harvest is a return to the Vintage style of wine making that Bordeaux has been known for with less alcohol and fresh, restrained fruits. It was the epitomy of a wine maker’s vintage where the vigneron had lots of variable weather and issues. One common theme that I noticed is this: Chateaux that decided to take what the vintage gave them, typically made good or very good wine, while the Chateaux that decided to continue to make their ‘style’ of wine had issues with quality and consistency. FOR ME, This was a vintage that was a RETURN to the CLASSIC style of Bordeaux with less alcohol and more finesse rather than the sumptuous vintages of late in the region. In short, I LOVE this vintage, but you must not go into these wines thinking of vintages like 2016, 2018, 2019, or 2020. I personally prefer the ‘Classic’ style of wines that are more elegant, lower alcohol, and show more structure so this vintage is an easy ‘Yes’ for me, but customers need to be aware that it is definitely a vintage that you will have to pay more attention to purchases and prices. The vintage is quite ‘FRESH’ and drinkable now, but will definitely age VERY WELL. Also, don’t skip out on the white wines of 2021. They are absolutely PHENOMENAL!

Issues with Merlot caused most of the tough decision making this vintage with a late storm giving vignerons headaches as to whether to pick a little early or wait and have possible rot on their grapes. Most Chateaux (all that I talked to except one which was Lafite Rothschild) decided to wait and hope for better phenolic ripeness. Those that did wait, were rewarded as the rainfalls did not come to fruition as forecasted. Lafite Rothschild picked early, but it was of no consequence as the grapes were at the perfect condition that the Chateau wanted anyways.

WEATHER

The winter of 2020 was relatively mild, although quite wet. March brought warmer and drier weather with flowering typically between March 15th – March 30th on both the Right and Left Bank. Spring was marked by frequent frost that hit especially hard on April 6-8th which devastated much of the Sauternes vineyards. May and June recorded quite a bit of rainfall, so vignerons had to be quite mindful of disease and mildew. Mildew from all the rains wreaked havoc in the vineyards, Especially with Merlot. The Right Bank growers had to heavily rely on Cabernet Franc (Angelus used more Cabernet Franc than ever in their history) to balance their cepages. Budbreak occurred typically the last week of May into the first week of June. Fruit set was good throughout for the most part. July was also rainy, but then the weather dried up through most of August and September. Veraison was normal and occurred in mid July. Harvest for white grapes occurred in mostly in September with reds being picked mid September through early October. A massive storm was predicted to hit Bordeaux on October 2nd and 3rd, which made the vigneron quite anxious deciding whether to harvest early (many without fully mature Cabernet Sauvignon grapes) or wait through the storm and hope for perfect phenolic ripeness. Most Chateau did, in fact, wait and were rewarded as the predicted storms never materialized. This gave the vignerons a couple more weeks of sun to get the grapes into the ‘comfort zone’ that most wanted to pick in. Overall, Merlot took the biggest hit of the vintage with most leaving it in small percentages or none at all in the cepage. The grape is more susceptible to mildew and frost, which happens a lot in wetter/cooler vintages. Ducru Beaucaillou’s 2021 wine is 98% Cabernet Sauvignon (the highest percentage in their history). One would think that the Right Bank probably would not produce high quality in a decidedly UN-Merlot vintage, but that is not true at all. Vignerons typically added more Cabernet Franc to the Cepage or only picked the highest quality bunches which led to extremely low yield, but HIGH QUALITY Merlot. St. Emilion and Pomerol both made some fabulous wines (This was the BEST Clinet that I have ever tasted).

THE REMODELING OF BORDEAUX

Many Chateaux took the two years where no one was traveling to Bordeaux during Covid to revamp or build brand new state of the art cellars. I must admit that I was definitely ‘WOW’ed by Haut Bailly’s new facilities and blown away by what Troplong Mondot has done in a short amount of time. I’m excited to try the new Michelin Star restaurant that they’ve opened. Chateau Figeac also completed their new cellars which had a very natural feel to it, maybe they opened just in time to be elevated in the ranking system? Others like Chateau Lynch Bages created an almost warehouse feel in village de Bages although we did have an excellent lunch at Cafe Lavinal right beside the facility. Overall, Bordeaux has seen quite the face lift since I had traveled there three years prior. I hear that others are in the works already (Branaire Ducru), so Bordeaux is planning for the long haul at some of it’s most prestigious Chateaux!

PRICING CONCERNS

One of the biggest issues of the vintage will inevitably be that it is priced similar to the previous three vintages, yet it couldn’t be more different of a vintage. That said, pricing that has been released is not sticker shocking as it seems the Chateaux are understanding of the vintage at hand, but also cognizant (as are we all) of the very real issue of inflation that has been caused by the pandemic. I think that those who decide to buy futures will be getting some great wines that will age well. If you are planning to flip the wines, then this may not be the vintage for you, but if you are a true Francophile and lover of Bordeaux then this vintage will be truly rewarding as it’s a return to the classic style of Bordeaux.

VARIATION PER REGION

I found that there seemed to be a lot of variation per region in this vintage with Pauillac being the most variable from Chateau to Chateau. Margaux was the most consistent with St. Julien being a close second. The wines of St. Estephe were some of the best I’ve ever tasted out of the region, so I’d seek out Chateau like Calon Segur for great value. The right bank had better consistency from region to region with Pomerol leading the pack.

BRILLIANT WHITE WINES FROM PESSAC LEOGNAN

The white wines from Pessac across the board were stunning with Haut Brion Blanc being the wine of the vintage for me. Find the whites early and often as I didn’t taste a bad one in the entire area.

BARLOW’S TOP WINES OF THE VINTAGE

  1. Chateau Haut Brion Blanc 2021 55% Semillon/45% Sauvignon Blanc

Pessac Leognan

The wine is light pale straw in color. On the nose there is a beautiful concentration of cream, citrus, orange Popsicle. On the palate there is a wonderful array of white flowers and gardenia with med ium plus acidity that is integrated into a soft mid palate. The wine has an absolute blindingly delicious acid core wrapped into dense layers of flavor. Notes of Lemon grass, cream, citrus, guava apple blossom, pear blossom, lemon zest, orange blossom all burst through the seams of the layered glove. So much going on here. The finish offers touches of minerals, wet stone, pistachio pudding. Long finish. Barlow Score 100 Points. THIS IS THE ONLY PERFECTLY RATED WINE FOR ME IN THIS VINTAGE.

2. Chateau Latour 2021 96% Cabernet Sauvignon/4% Merlot

Pauillac

Almost opaque color with medium plus intensity. Chalky limestone on the nose. Dark cherry, berry on the palate with currant throughout the mid palate with thick, chewy tannins that are beautifully integrated. Notes of tobacco, tea leaf, violets, and rose underbrush. The finish is tightly wound with hints of coffee beans and graphite. This is a wine that will age a century. Barlow Score: 98-99

3. Chateau Le Pin 2021 100% Merlot

Pomerol

The wine has medium plus ruby color with medium plus intensity. Violets and rose petals on the nose. The palate shows silky red fruit with plush raspberry, strawberry, and bramble that creams out on the mid palate. The wine has an absolutely seamless palate with beautifully integrated tannins. The finish gives long lingering notes of exotic spice, vanilla, plum, hazelnuts, and tea leaf. TLC. Barlow Score: 98-99

4. Chateau Lafite Rotschild 2021 96% Cabernet Sauvignon/ 3% Merlot/ 1% Petit Verdot

Pauillac

The wine has medium plus ruby color with medium plus intensity. Violets and minerals on the nose. The palate offers more framboise, white stones, potpourri turns into darker fruits on the mid palate. The tannins are quite fine and integrated. This wine is absolutely seamless. Currant flows into a fresh and vibrant core with a super energetic, bouncy backbone to this wine. The finish offers hints of lavender, salinity, and creamy red fruit with just a whiff of coffee beans. Barlow Score: 97-98

5. Chateau Ducru Beaucaillou 2021 98% Cabernet Sauvignon/2% Merlot

Saint Julien

This wine is dark, dense and powerful. Medium plus ruby color with full intensity. Gleaming neon black cherry flows into the palate with full, brooding tannins. The mid palate is nervy and full of dark fruit. The finish offers tea leaf, tobacco, pencil shavings, and savory herbs. Not the typical Ducru Beaucaillou style, but extremely well made. This wine has a very long life ahead of it. Barlow Score: 97-98

6. Chateau Figeac 2021 40% Cabernet Sauvignon/31% Cabernet Franc/29% Merlot

Saint Emilion

Medium ruby core with medium intensity. Dark, plummy nose. Crunchy dark fruit on the plush palate that is sleek and silky throughout. Notes of plum, bramble, and raspberry tea flow into silky suede. Softer style with spicy aromatics, tobacco, and new oak. Long finish that shows white rocks and graphite. Barlow Score: 97-98

7. Chateau Branaire Ducru 2021 66% Cabernet Sauvignon/22% Merlot/5.5% Petit Verdot/6.5% Cabernet Franc

Saint Julien

The wine has medium plus color and medium plus intensity. Rose petals and red fruit on the nose. The palate has a silky mouthfeel that is plush and round. Flavors of red currant, black cherry, and plum flow through the mid palate with rich dark chocolate. Framboise kisses through the undercurrents of the wine with dark mocha, sweet tobacco, chalky minerality, and graphite on the finish. TLC! YUM! Barlow Score: 97-98

8. Vieux Chateau Certan 2021 77% Merlot/20% Cabernet Franc/3% Cabernet Sauvignon

Pomerol

The wine has a medium ruby color with medium intensity. The nose offers hints of blood orange and minerals. The palate has crunchy red fruit, iron, red plum, and apple skins. The mid palate shows plenty of minerality, layered complexity with red roses, violets, and neon red fruit that is beautifully enveloping. The finish offers hazelnuts, cream and a touch of gravelly minerals. Barlow Score: 97-98

9. Chateau Margaux 2021 87% Cabernet Sauvignon/8% Merlot/3% Cabernet Franc/2% Petit Verdot

Margaux

The wine has medium plus ruby color with medium plus intensity. Ripe red fruits pop on the nose. The palate offers black cherry, berry and crunchy dark fruit. The mid palate shows vanilla and violets with extremely fine tannins. The finish has exotic spice and sweet tobacco that accentuates the neon fruit. Barlow Score: 96-98

10. Smith Haut Lafitte Blanc 2021 90% Sauvignon Blanc/5% Sauvignon Gris/5% Semillon

Pessac Leognan

Easily the 2nd best white wine tasted En Primeur. Pale Straw color with medium intensity. Nose offers white flowers, citrus, and exotic fruit. Flavors of Poached pear, grapefruit, and honeysuckle. Hints of pineapple and quince give zesty notes with white pepper and salinity. The finish shows bits of cream, oak and orchard fruit. Barlow Score: 96-97

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF AUGUST 2022

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

This may be the hottest summer I can remember in the twenty years that I’ve been here and it’s just now hitting August! I have had the unfortunate onus of catching Covid in both June and July, so I am quite ready for this summer to move right along….and I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m ready for pumpkin spice in my coffee! This month I’ve put together a good medley of wines, some new, some oldies but goodies. Let me know what you think! As many of you have seen, I am starting up live classes again. I have found a good place downtown as a venue, so you will see me hosting more classes in Houston, but I’ll definitely try to keep some up in our area too! Enjoy!

Maritana ‘Le Russe’ Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99 BUT WITH $5.00 SPEC’S KEY

ONLY $44.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME!

Donald Patz (Yes, that Donald Patz of Patz & Hall) has a new project called Maritana Vineyards. He has become renowned for producing highly rated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma. He has deep relationships with some of the best grape growers in California and has used them to get his hands of top notch fruit for his Maritana Vineyards. ‘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

Recoltant Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

This delicious Napa Valley Cabernet is new to our portfolio. I brought it in because it had amazing depth and balanced for a $40 Cabernet Sauvignon as Napa prices continue to skyrocket. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and was made by rising star winemaker Britt Nichols. Flavors of dark raspberry, cassis, and black cherry flow evenly on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is beautifully restrained with whiffs of red fruit lingering in tea leaf and tobacco. The finish is long and lingering with lilacs, mocha, and toasted vanilla. Barlow Score: 93 Points

JN Haton Sparkling Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, France

Cash Price $36.99

We’ve found an amazing value Champagne in a time when bubbles are tough to come by! This sparkler is 30% Chardonny/30% Pinot Noir/35% Pinot Meunier with an average age of 50 years for the vines. The grapes are hand harvested and aged for a minimum 3 years on the lees. Haton is delicately delicious with flavors of white peach, citrus and orange blossoms. Whiffs of yeasty complexity, hazelnuts, and exotic spice tingle throughout the palate with tantalizing efficiency. The finish is long and crisp with that lip smacking smile sure to cross your face. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Barlow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

El Dorado, California

Cash Price $29.99

Barlow Vineyards is making some killer Cabernet Sauvignon and they offered me this little gem that I just couldn’t pass up for the price! El Dorado is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills towards the center of California. Some of the oldest vines in California are located in this area. One doesn’t see much Cabernet coming from here, so I was slightly skeptical but that changed rather quickly as I tasted it. The wine is soft and supple, more of an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon than the smack you in the mouth style that much of Napa is known for. Bright red fruits flow freely with cherry, currant, and raspberry being the leaders in the soft mid palate. Barlow Cabernet is well rounded and pleasing from the get go. The finish is easy and relaxed with good structure of cedar, violets, and mocha graham crackers. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Pazzo Red Blend 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $26.99

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

Rizzi Dolcetto D’Alba 2019

Piedmont, Italy

Cash Price $23.49

Dolcetto is an oft overlooked grape from Piedmont.  It is a very nice food wine with supple tannins and light acids. I tasted through this line up not long ago with the wine maker Enrico Dellapiana. He produces clean and ‘pretty’ wines that are approachable in their youth, but age accordingly. The winery is sustainable and the vineyards were planted starting in 1967 on marl clay and sand.  This 100% Dolcetto is un-oaked and lively from the start with ruby color. Flavors of blackberry and black cherry sinew gracefully through medium intensity.  Hints of wild red berries flow throughout the core with touches of almonds. The finish offers depth with hints of tar and spice.  James Score: 89 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

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

Brooks Riesling 2019

Willamette Valley

Cash Price $18.99

Dry Riesling is a perfect pairing for the dog days of summer.  This Riesling offers fresh fruit flavors of melon and cantaloupe that seep into exemplary acidity which softly lays on a bed of gardenia and honeysuckle.  Hints of orange blossom and lemon pie waft hauntingly into a long finish that shows whiffs of petrol, wet rocks and mouth watering spice. Get Riesling in your glass Today!  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Chateau Croix Mouton 2019

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

Domaine de Cabasse Cuvee Garnacho Red Blend 2018

Rhone Villages, France

Cash Price $14.99

My favorite daily reds inevitably come from the Rhone Valley.  The wine is Grenache based and a true representation of the high quality coming from this region.  The Cabasse name has Italian roots that goes back to the time when the Pope resided in Avignon in the 14th century.  Avignon is the center for the famed wines of Chateauneuf du Pape.  Flavors of ripe boysenberry and black currant are rounded out with medium acids and tannins that are silky throughout the core.  Notes of fig and touches of bacon fat sink into rich vanilla beans and garrigue.   The finish offers hints of sage, thyme, and peppercorn which lays on the palate for quite awhile.  Cabasse is a perfect BBQ wine!  Barlow score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Wrangler Red’ Red Blend 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

Lake County is continuing to build momentum and garner praise for rock solid reds in the region north of Napa Valley.  Shannon Ridge was awarded the ‘Top Winery’ at Houston’s Uncorked Wine Competition in 2015 and their sales have exploded ever since.  This winery is releasing a stellar red blend based on Zinfandel and Rhone Varietals.  Wrangler Red is a silky smooth Zindandel, Syrah blend that screams fruit from the onset.  The wine has been aged in French and American oak for 18 months.  Intense flavors of black cherry and black raspberry seep through the full blackberry with medium tannins and acids.  Notes of graham cracker and cinnamon are prevalent on the mid palate with touches of sweet tobacco and milk chocolate.  The finish is creamy and velvety with smooth lingering tones of rich fruit and spice.  Best Daily drinker that money can buy!  Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Ned Dry Rose 2021

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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CAYMUS VINEYARDS PORTFOLIO TASTING ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3RD FROM 6:30-8PM

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join us for the Spec tacular wines of Caymus Vineyards! It’s great to finally be able to offer these classes again, so we decided to give you a REALLY GREAT one to kick it back off! This event will take place at the Spec’s Oak Ridge location (address below). RSVP to Jamesbarlow@specsonline.com or Jennifer.Clark@RNDC-USA.com

See you there!

Wines to be poured:

  1. Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
  3. Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc
  4. Sea Sun Pinot Noir
  5. Conundrum White Blend
  6. Conundrum Red Blend

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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An Evening with Sullivan Winery on Tuesday, August 9th from 6:30-8PM

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these due to Covid, but I’m ready to jump back in the saddle! Join me on Tuesday, August 9th from 6:30PM – 8PM (and after) as we will taste the Iconic wines of Sullivan Winery, one that is full of rich history and tradition in the area.

The Event will be held at Vault & Vino (2512 Genesee Street) which is not far from our Smith Street location. We will be opening six wines that range from $80 all the way up to $300 with the James O’Neal collection.

Price will be $55 per person and I will have Hors d’oeuvre available such as bread, cheese, crackers and fruit.

If you would like to join me for this spectacular event please RSVP to

Jamesbarlow@specsonline.com

Payment Options: Cash, Check, Venmo, Paypal

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR JULY 2022

Simply Cabernet Sauvignon

Washington State

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry and currant
  • Pairs with pulled pork sliders

Chemin de Provence Rose

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Light flavors of raspberry and rose petals
  • Pairs with July!

Adorn Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.49

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

Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of citrus fruit
  • Flavors of grapefruit and lemon grass
  • Pairs with rosemary chicken breast

Fog Bank Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruits and cream
  • Flavors of green apple and toasted oak
  • Pairs with shrimp scampi

Happy Camper Merlot

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry and plum
  • Pairs with Tuesday night

Ca’Momi Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of white peach and lychee
  • Pairs with well-seasoned crab legs

Gressina Red Bordeaux

France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aroma dark fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry and plum
  • Pairs with steak fajitas

Brumes de Gascogne Blanc

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of tree fruits
  • Flavors of grapefruit and melon
  • Pairs with buffalo chicken wings

Versant Pinot Noir

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruits and violets
  • Flavors raspberry, cherry, and cream
  • Pairs with a chicken BLT

Dibon Brut Rose N/V

Spain

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit and pastries
  • Flavors raspberry and citrus
  • Pairs with spicy crawfish

Andrew & Vito Pinotage

South Africa

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of plum and red berries
  • Pairs with a nice chill on the patio

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR JUNE 2022

Raywood Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of lime citrus
  • Flavors of zingy grass and spring flowers
  • Pairs with hot summer days!

Martenot Red Blend

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of juicy red fruit
  • Flavors of bright red cherry and berries
  • Pairs with a light chill and friends!

Dr. Pauly Noble House Rose

Germany

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red and white fruit
  • Flavors of grapefruit, red berries, and slate
  • Pairs with shrimp ceviche

Ch. Les Confreries Red Blend

France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of ripe dark fruit
  • Flavors of cherry and black currant with spices
  • Pairs with greasy street tacos

Rifugio Del Vescovo Chianti

Italy

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of dark red fruit
  • Flavors of cherry, plum and herbs
  • Pairs with veal ravioli

Perelada Dulce Sweet Sparkling

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of honeyed sweetness
  • Flavors of elderflower and honeycombs
  • Pairs with ice and a glass

Encore Cabernet

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry cobbler and spice
  • Pairs with brisket slathered in BBQ sauce

Girasole Dry Rose

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of red fruits
  • Flavors of strawberries and rose petals
  • Pairs with cedar plank salmon

Encore Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $7.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of pineapple, melon, and cream
  • Pairs with a ladies night in

Lockwood Unoaked Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of tree fruit
  • Flavors of green apple and lilacs
  • Pairs with baked chicken and saffron rice

Perimeter Red Blend

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of baked red berries and cherry
  • Pairs with spicy pulled pork sandwiches

Ryan Patrick Pinot Grigio

Washington State

Cash Price $10.44

  • Aromas of key lime citrus
  • Flavors of mango, nectarine, and white flowers
  • Pairs with oyster shooters

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2019 vintage Houston event on June 23rd

Howdy!

It’s been far too long since we have been able to host our annual Bordeaux preview tasting – an event conceived long before my time by our friend and my mentor, the incomparable Bear Dalton.

After a prolonged hiatus, however, I am thrilled to announce that we are once again hosting a preview of the newly released 2019 vintage!

The 2019 vintage was easily the most challenging of my nascent career. One week I was planning to travel to Bordeaux with my associate, James; the next, a set of indefinite travel restrictions threw not only our plans into flux, but the entire En Primeur campaign for 2020. Producers scrambled to find solutions that would allow members of the trade access to their wines. I was fortunate to have the relationships Bear built over the years with so many great partners who shipped me as many samples as they could. Unfortunately, although many showed up in decent shape, just as many got held up in warehouses long enough to arrive spoiled.

For that reason, I am chomping at the bit to finally taste these wines. This 2019 vintage preview will be just as much of a learning experience for me as it will be to you all. Attached is a list of producers who will be represented at the event. This is a larger group than has been here for previous shows – close to 100 producers will be represented. From Pavie Macquin (referred to by Vinous as “one of the most exotic Saint Emilions of the year”) to Leoville Barton (which Wine Enthusiast said had “all the hallmarks of one of the stars of this vintage”) to Pichon Baron (rated 97-100 in barrel by Wine Advocate!), this lineup has tremendous pedigree.

If you are interested in attending, please email me (adennis@specsonline.com) with your contact info as well as the number of attendees in your group, and I will arrange for payment.

Let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you there!

CHATEAUX TO BE POURED:

Property Appellation
Château de Chantegrive Graves
Château Bouscaut Pessac – Léognan
Château Carbonnieux Pessac – Léognan
Château Les Carmes Haut – Brion Pessac – Léognan
Domaine de Chevalier Pessac – Léognan
Château de Fieuzal Pessac – Léognan
Château de France Pessac – Léognan
Château Haut – Bailly Pessac – Léognan
Château Haut – Bergey Pessac – Léognan
Château Larrivet Haut – Brion Pessac – Léognan
Château Latour – Martillac Pessac – Léognan
Château La Louvière Pessac – Léognan
Château Malartic – Lagravière Pessac – Léognan
Château Olivier Pessac – Léognan
Château Pape Clément Pessac – Léognan
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac – Léognan
Château Beau – Séjour Bécot Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Canon Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Canon – La – Gaffelière Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Dominique Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Clos Fourtet Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Franc Mayne Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Gaffelière Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Couspaude Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Larcis Ducasse Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Pavie Macquin Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Tour Figeac Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Troplong Mondot Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Valandraud Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Villemaurine Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Beauregard Pomerol
Château Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol
Château La Cabanne Pomerol
Château Clinet Pomerol
Château Gazin Pomerol
Château La Pointe Pomerol
Château Clarke Listrac – Médoc
Château Fonréaud Listrac – Médoc
Château Fourcas Dupré Listrac – Médoc
Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac – Médoc
Château Chasse – Spleen Moulis – en – Médoc
Château Maucaillou Moulis – en – Médoc
Château Poujeaux Moulis – en – Médoc
Château Beaumont Haut – Médoc
Château Belgrave Haut – Médoc
Château de Camensac Haut – Médoc
Château Citran Haut – Médoc
Château Coufran Haut – Médoc
Château La Tour Carnet Haut – Médoc
Château Cantenac Brown Margaux
Château Dauzac Margaux
Château Giscours Margaux
Château Kirwan Margaux
Château Lascombes Margaux
Château Malescot Saint – Exupéry Margaux
Château Prieuré – Lichine Margaux
Château Rauzan – Gassies Margaux
Château Rauzan – Ségla Margaux
Château Siran Margaux
Château du Tertre Margaux
Château Beychevelle Saint – Julien
Château Branaire – Ducru Saint – Julien
Château Gloria Saint – Julien
Château Gruaud Larose Saint – Julien
Château Lagrange Saint – Julien
Château Langoa Barton Saint – Julien
Château Léoville Barton Saint – Julien
Château Léoville Poyferré Saint – Julien
Château Saint – Pierre Saint – Julien
Château Talbot Saint – Julien
Château d’ Armailhac Pauillac
Château Batailley Pauillac
Château Clerc Milon Pauillac
Château Croizet – Bages Pauillac
Château Duhart – Milon Pauillac
Château Grand – Puy Ducasse Pauillac
Château Grand – Puy – Lacoste Pauillac
Château Lynch – Bages Pauillac
Château Lynch – Moussas Pauillac
Château Pichon Baron Pauillac
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac
Château Cos Labory Saint – Estèphe
Château Lafon – Rochet Saint – Estèphe
Château Ormes De Pez Saint – Estèphe
Château de Pez Saint – Estèphe
Château Phélan Ségur Saint – Estèphe
Château Bastor – Lamontagne Sauternes
Château Doisy Daëne Barsac
Clos Haut – Peyraguey Sauternes
Château Suduiraut Sauternes
Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF JUNE 2022

Brooks ‘Concho’ Pinot Noir 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $44.99 but ONLY

$34.99 with a $10.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time!

This wine was produced for Country rock star singer Clay Walker. He’s a Cabernet Sauvignon fan, but fell in love with Brooks winery so they decided to collaborate on a red and white wine. This 100% Pinot Noir is made in a ‘beefier’ style to mold to Clay’s palate. The wine has medium intensity with bright cherry compote and exotic spice on the nose. The palate offers fresh pomegranate, lavender and dark cherries with whiffs of dark chocolate and cola. The finish is deliciously appealing with hints of minerality, rose petals and just a kiss of oak. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Baer Cabernet Franc 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $34.99

Baer Winery is producing some absolute rocking Red wines. Erica Orr is the winemaker for these single vineyard wines. She worked her first harvest with Cathy Corison! The wines are all single vineyard from Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman hills. The vineyard has quickly earned a reputation as one of Columbia Valley’s Top Vineyards. Their Cabernet Franc is easily one of the best that they make in my opinion as that variety is one of absolute favorites produced in Washington State. The wine is 92% Cabernet Franc with 8% Merlot and 21 months aging in French Oak. It has medium plus intensity with flavors of black cherry, plum, and mulberry on the palate. The mid palate is plush and inviting with hints of roasted herbs and cracked pepper. The finish is long and integrated with whiffs of cream, gravel and tea leaf. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Snowden ‘Lost Vineyard’ Merlot 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $37.99

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. 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

Altruria Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $25.99

This is a new addition our portfolio and should be a smashing success! The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. The 2019 vintage was gorgeous for Alexander Valley and the ensuing wine really shows it. This small production Cabernet was aged for 18 months in new and used French oak. Ripe flavors of dark cherries, cassis, and blackberry pop into the palate with medium plus intensity. Notes of soft cocoa, smoked game, and violets sink through the mid palate. The finish is long and enticing with whiffs of black tea, tobacco and cedar. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Slate Pinot Noir 2019

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $24.99

The Slate wines are a newer addition to our portfolio. This 100% Pinot Noir is unfined, unfiltered and was aged in 40% new French oak for 12 months. The wine has medium intensity with poised structure. Flavors of juicy pomegranate, bursting red cherries and raspberry tea round into vibrant acidity. Hints of tea leaf and cola waft through notes of lavender on the finish with tinges of minerarlity. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Peachy Canyon ‘Westside’ Zinfandel 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $24.99

We are extremely excited to have Peachy Canyon back in the fold of our portfolio. This winery has been producing high quality Zinfandel since 1988. Paso Robles is offering exciting wines for good value and Zinfandel has been a staple variety in the region since its infancy.  This is Peachy Canyon’s flagship Zinfandel. The wine is 77% Zinfandel with a smattering of Primitivo, Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah making up the difference. It was aged for 18 months in 30% new French, Hungarian and American oak. Powerful notes of strawberry rhubarb and boysenberry pop in the palate with medium structure. Notes of white pepper, leather and tobacco hit the mid palate with whiffs of licorice and cassis.  The finish is integrated with notes of raspberry pie, vanilla and red currant. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Chateau Pontac Phenix Red Blend 2014

Haut Medoc, France

Cash Price $19.94

Phenix is the 2nd wine of Pontac Lynch and the vineyards used are in the Haut Medoc and Margaux, not far from 1st Growth Chateau Margaux. The 2014 vintage is a great value vintage where one can find awesomely delicious and affordable wines. This vintage is drinking perfectly right now! Flavors of red cherry and kirsch lay on a medley of sweet spices and medium intensity.  This wine is deliciously ripe and ready to drink.  The acids are tantalizing with dense notes of toasted oak  and roasted coffee bean.  The finish is persistent and well rounded.  Yum! A true gem!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Red Phoenix Red Blend 2018

Lodi, California

Cash Price $19.94

This Red Blend is a new addition to our portfolio. I decided to buy this wine due to it’s inherent approach ability and easy drinking nature. The wine is 57% Zinfandel with smidgeons of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon making up the rest of the blend. Red Phoenix has medium intensity with plush notes of blackberry and cherry flowing into a silky mid palate. Hints of subtle spice waft enticingly throughout the mid palate. The finish is creamy with whiffs of milk chocolate and toasted oak. Joseph Smith is the wine maker and he also makes Experience Cabernet which has become quite a sensation in our portfolio. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Brooks ‘Amycas’ White Blend 2021

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $17.99

Amycas is an Alsatian style white blend with 30% Pinot Gris/24% Pinot Blanc/16% Muscat/15% Riesling/15% Gewurztraminer as the components of the wine. This wine absolutely explodes with flavor on the palate. Ripe, textured flavors of white peach, papaya, and Honeycrisp apple pop into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate shows licks of white flowers and more tropical fruit. The finish is clean and refreshing with whiffs of lychee, mandarin, apricot, and exotic spice. What a perfect Summer white wine! Barlow Score: 92 Points

Cru Montage Chardonnay 2018

Monterey, California

Cash Price $18.99

I recently tasted through this winery’s white portfolio.  I am a fan of Monterey because there are so many micro climates that one can find a large variance in styles of wines produced.  This wine has beautiful restraint while keeping true to the expression of ‘traditional’ California Chardonnay.  Flavors of pineapple and pear flow seamlessly through hints of fresh flowers and ripe green apples.  The mid palate shows focus with tropical flavors and medium acidity.  The finish offers notes of hazelnuts, vanilla custard and smidgeons of oaky complexity.  James Score: 88 Points

Triennes Dry Rose 2021

Mediterranee, France

Cash Price $17.99

Triennes is consistently one of my favorite Rose’s year in and year out.  As the heat starts to rise, I quickly begin to gravitate towards higher acid, lower tannin wines.  Rose wines are a perfect medium to combat the Hot Houston Heat.  Deliciously dry, this Cinsault based Rose has expressive and compelling aromatics.  Flavors of bright red cherries and red roses zing into medium plus acidity that quenches the palate.  Notes of wild meadow flowers play into the mid palate with touches of cranberry and red berries.  The finish is clean and pure with touches of salinity and wet rocks.  Fall in Love with Dry Rose this summer!  James Score: 92 Points

Etesian Brut Sparkling NV

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $15.89

Etesian is a new sparkling wine for us from an extremely reputable winery (It’s a secret!) that we’ve been able to procure at a great price point. Coming from a bubble head, I’ll tell you that these sparklers are absolutely delicious! This sparkler comes from Carneros on the Sonoma side. The cepage is 57% Pinot Noir and 43% Chardonnay produced Methode Champenoise and aged for 2 years on the lees. The ensuing bubbly has clean, tight bubbles with lively flavors of tangerine, lemon and Asian pear. The finish is clean and enticing with hints of biscuity brioche and white flowers. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Lockwood Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $13.99

Lockwood has been a staple in the Spec’s portfolio for many years, however it was purchased by the Boisset family a couple of years ago and they have changed the flavor profile of the wines a bit.  The wines are still all estate grown on calcareous soil and spends time in French oak.  Flavors of cherry and cassis flow into hints of chocolate and tobacco. Framboise is prevalenton the mid palate with soft, lush tannins and accessible acids.  The finish give hints of oak and cocoa.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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