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

Blue Rock Estate Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $42.99

Blue Rock is an all estate produced winery that is located right next to Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley property.  The 2017 vintage was absolutely stunning with excellent depth and concentration.  The winery  is focused on showing the quality of terroir and offering balanced wines that  reflect the soil.  Blue Rock shows dark purple color with medium intensity. The palate offers voluptuous flavors of blueberry and black cherry that sink into a plush core of currant .  The wine is silky smooth and bright with complex notes of cedar, vanilla and baking spices on the mid palate.  The finish is rocking with blackberry cobbler and cigar box wrapped into a velvet finish.  Layered and lively.  James Score: 94 Points

Castelnau Brut Reserve N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $38.94

I recently re-tasted their non vintage sparkler and was very happy with the ensuing results. Castelnau offers a higher percentage of Pinot Meunier (42%) than most Champagne producers.  Pinot Meunier adds a youthful exuberance to the wines with lively structure and fruit.  This Cooperative Manipulant exudes flavors of crispy green and red apples fly into medium plus acidity that is wrapped around a core of red cherry and rose petals.  The mid palate is spectacular with notes of brioche, almonds and licks of vanilla cream.  The finish is silky with tinges of toasted cocoa beans, confection and delicious goodness!  Barlow Score: 94 Points

Smith-Madrone Chardonnay 2017

Spring Mountain, California

Cash Price $39.89

This artisanal 100% Chardonnay come from all dry farmed Estate mountain vineyards high on top of Spring Mountain. The wine was 100% Barrel fermented for 9 months in 80% new French oak. It has a pale-yellow core with medium legs. The nose lifts into hazelnuts, cedar and Meyer lemon. The palate has beautiful weight to it with flavors of melon, apricot, and lemon zest. The mid palate offers a certain viscosity that lets you know that this is a serious wine while retaining the nice acidity. Notes of pistachio, vanilla custard and almonds waft through hints of butterscotch and cream. The finish is rich and aromatic with notes of white peach and fig that finish into toasted oak and citrus. Big without being heady. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Chateau Beau-Site Cabernet Based Red Blend 2016

Saint Estephe (Bordeaux), France

Cash Price $39.89

Chateau Beau-Site (Beautiful Site) is located in St. Estephe, right up the hill from famed 3rd Growth Calon Segur. I’ve always loved these wines as St. Estephe stony terroir gives Cabernet Sauvignon a certain grip and texture that you don’t find as you travel south through the others Appellations. The 2016 vintage is considered one of the top of the century by any vigneron you ask. A plentiful harvest and nearly perfect growing season led to spectacular wines that have lots of structure, but will drink beautifully early and often. This Cabernet based red is full of black currant with medium plus intensity on the palate. The mid palate offers savory texture with hints of sage and tobacco that meld into a dark cherry profile. The finish is long and integrated with hints of pipe smoke, cedar and crush rocks. It’s always a pleasure pairing this wine with a dinner. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Block 718 Red Blend 2018

Stag’s Leap District, California

Cash Price $24.99

This newest Block edition hails from the famed Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot that was aged in French oak for 12 months. Sumptuous and ready to drink from the pop of the cork, this wine offers flavors of hedonistic black raspberry and cherries that heap into medium intensity. Notes of blackberry fill the mid palate with plush tannins that waft into hints of baking spices, milk chocolate and anise on the finish. Sleek and inviting, get this in your basket! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Donati Paicines Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $19.94

I must admit, I didn’t have much of a gauge on these wines before I tried them. I had no idea where Paicines was or much background with Donati wines. I left my meeting with them shaking my head in approval at the wines they are producing. There aren’t many wineries in Paicines, formerly known as ‘Tres Pinos’ and is located around 700 ft in San Benito County. The wines is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon with other Bordeaux varietals to finish the cepage and was aged for 18 months in 15% new American oak, along with a tinge of new French and Russian oak. The wine was bright and plentiful with flavors of black cherry and blackberry on the palate with medium intensity. The oak showed more than expected (although I am sensitive to American oak) with notes of cedar, dark chocolate and a vanilla core on the finish. Solid $20 Cabernet! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cru Montage Pinot Noir 2018

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $18.99

Santa Lucia Highlands is nestled in the Central Coast of California with a perfect micro climate for growing very high quality Pinot Noir.  Winemaker Ken Post has hit gold with this wine.  The 2018 vintage was picture perfect for California with abundant harvests and perfectly ripe fruit.  Flavors of pomegranate and wild strawberries sinew effortlessly into a core of cherry cola.  This 100% Pinot Noir shows an elegance while really driving the delicious fruit flavors through the palate.  Notes of rhubarb and brown sugar play softly into the 9 months of French oak aging.  Hints of blueberry pie and crust play into the finish with bits of vanilla bean and herbs.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Brooks ‘Concho’ White Blend 2018 (Clay Walker)

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

Houston Native and famous country singer, Clay Walker visited this winery a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love. So much so, that he decided he wanted to make some wines with Brooks. They came up with the Concho label for him and the rest is history. This is his white blend produced in an Alsatian field style with Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer making up the blend. It is completely un-oaked and produced in a dry fashion. This wine is the perfect porch pounder for the hot hot Texas heat. It is refreshingly dry with a medley of white flowers flowing from the palate with flavors of white peach blossom, Meyer lemon and passion fruit. The mid palate has a medium intensity with lively acidity and notes of freshly squeezed nectarines and apricot. The finish is lip smackingly delicious with zippy tinges of dripping wet pineapple and peach nectar. Get this in your cart! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Republic of Pink Dry Rose 2019

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $16.99

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

Perelada Stars Brut Nature NV

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $13.99

I love Good inexpensive bubbles. That is why I go to Cava early and often as my daily bubbles of choice. I knew this wine would be a regular in my glass when I visited them several years ago and found this Stars bursting in my glass. The bubbly is made of up 45% Xarel-Lo, 30% Parellada, and 25% Macabeu and aged for 9 months before disgorging in the traditional method. Racy, dry flavors of bright lemon citrus and white flowers pop into brilliantly small bubbles. The mid palate offers whiffs of confection and macadamia that are encompassed. The finish is clean and fresh with hints of brioche and nuts. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi Chardonnay 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $12.99

Ca’Momi is rooted in Italian heritage, but with Napa panache.  Ca (Pronounced ‘ka’) Momi roughly translates to ‘The House of Momi’ after Momi dea Bionda, who was notoriously obsessive and protective of his property and vineyards in Veneto, Italy.  This winery puts its heart and soul into the vineyards with meticulous care.  This Chardonnay exudes ripe flavors of pineapple and pear with medium acidity.  The mid palate offers mandarin orange that turns slowly into a cream vanilla core.  The finish gives licks of almond and hazelnuts on lightly toasted oak.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

One Flock Red Blend 2017

California

Cash Price $14.99

I recently tasted the new vintage of this everyday slurper and came up with quite similar notes for you value shoppers!  The wine is a kitchen sink blend with Zinfandel and Cabernet making up the lion’s share. The wine was aged in both French and American oak.  Flock is deliciously supple with flavors of red plum and wild berries that sinks into soft tannins.  Whiffs of blackberry pie, cinnamon and nutmeg flow through the finish with tinges of pipe tobacco and sweet clove.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Girasole Organic Zinfandel 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

Girasole continues it’s march toward the top of our ‘Organic’ sales category. This Italian roots winery has been farming the right way every since planting roots in Mendocino county. Zinfandel has a lot of opportunity for growth and I believe this dynamic Zin can really get your palate thinking of Zinfandel more often. Bright and juicy, the wine offers quick popping bursts of blackberry and plum into medium intensity on the palate. The mid palate flows seamlessly into hints of black pepper and touches of exotic spice with a continued darker flavor profile. The finish is easy and punchy with ripe notes of boysenberry and fig. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR MARCH 2021

Girasole Organic Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $12.99 ($1.00 Key) Only $11.99 for this month

Organically fresh flavors of lemon lime citrus, green apples and honeyed almonds. The finish shows a creamy note with whiffs of oak and vanilla. Pair with a freshly chopped fruit and kale salad.

Hayes Meritage

California

Cash Price $11.99

This new addition to our portfolio is a Merlot driven blend that offers flavors of black cherry and plum with hints of baking spice and vanilla on the finish. Pair with grilled meats as you start to fire up the grill.

Muscador Sweet White Moscato

France

Cash Price $9.99

This sweet white sparkling wine will be a perfect pair with Sunday brunch.  The sweet bubbles offer flavors of citrus and peach that flow into white flowers and drizzling honey.

McGuigan ‘The Plan’ Shiraz

Australia

Cash Price $9.99

This delightful red is filled to the brim with flavors of plum, blackberry and cherry while showing hints of spice on the finish. Pair with Momma’s everyday cooking.

Encore Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $11.99

Looking for deliciously ripe and opulent Cabernet? Try this plush wine that offers plum, stewed fruits and blackberry pie with supple and inviting tannins. The finish is jammy with hints of cobbler and spice.  Pair with brisket slathered in BBQ sauce.

Perimeter Riesling

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

Riesling continues to be one of the most versatile white grapes in the world.  Perimeter offer flavors of apricot and nectarines with hints of honeyed wax and wildflowers.  Pair with sweet and sour grilled shrimp.

Ca’Momi Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $8.99

This crisp Sauvignon Blanc offers fruity flavors of mango and lychee with zesty acids and hints of honeysuckle on the finish. Pair with the fresh spring air on a sunny day.

Roblar Merlot

California

Cash Price $9.99

Merlot is making a comeback!  Bright flavors of red raspberry, currant and rhubarb flow into a dollop of creamy vanilla that lingers on the finish.  Pair with a honey baked ham sandwich and baked beans.

Dado Red Blend

California

Cash Price $8.99

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

Long Barn Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.99

Long Barn is a refreshingly light 100% Pinot Noir at a great price.  Flavors of black cherry and touches of framboise and hints of plum combine with medium acids and low tannins.

Liberation de Paris Sauvignon Blanc

France

Cash Price $10.99

Sauvignon Blanc is perfect as the heat starts to return. This wine offers notes of fresh apple, pear, and orange blossoms with a fresh, easy acidity.

Ken Forrester Petite Chenin Blanc

South Africa

Cash Price $9.99

This wine is one of my favorite white wines under $10 period.  Un-oaked and deliciously refreshing with notes of pear, melon drop, and honey dew that sinks into lychee and whiffs of grapefruit.  Pair with a chair on the back porch!

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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

Hello all,

I hope everyone survived the last couple of weeks without too many issues. I have been tasting a fair amount of solid wines (mostly from California) lately. As the weather begins to (thankfully!) warm up, I’ve put together a mix of wines that will be sure to help you enjoy the springtime festivities! Cheers!

Barlow ‘Barrouge’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Calistoga, California

Cash Price $44.99

Located in a sweet spot in Southeastern Calistoga, Barlow’s Estate Vineyard is at the base of Dutch Henry Canyon and near Duckhorn’s Iconic 3 Palms Vineyard. Over thousands of years, the sediment has washed down from the hillsides of the Vaca Mountains, creating notoriously complex soils, ideally suited for Bordeaux varietals. This wine is drinking delightfully well right now. It is 81% Cabernet balanced with a blend of Merlot, and Petit Verdot and aged for 21 months in French oak. Silky flavors of blackberry, currant and black cherry flow into a velvet mid palate. Notes of blueberry gives way to a medium intensity and creamy French vanilla. The finish is refined and lasting with notes of salty ham, tobacco, and whiffs of graphite. Well Balanced and Tasty! Barlow Score: 93 Points

Daou Chardonnay Reserve 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $49.99

Daou has become a winery that is making Paso Robles a destination location and a mainstay on the tables of Texans. They may be best known for their Cabernet Sauvignons, but don’t miss out on their stellar selection of white wines! Daou Reserve Chardonnay comes from the Willow Creek District in Paso Robles. This powerfully rich wine is a white wine for red wine drinkers. Toasted oak and citrus offer layers of aromas. Flavors of succulent pineapple, ripe apple and melon flow gracefully into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is warm and enticing with notes of pear, honey and almonds. The finish is easy, yet thoughtful with hints of nutmeg, vanilla custard and exotic spice. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Chateau D’Aiguilhe Bordeaux Blanc 2016

Cotes de Castillon, France

Cash Price $42.99

The 2016 vintage will go down in records as one of the finest vintages of the century. Chateau D’Aiguilhe is owned by Stephan Von Neipperg of La Mondotte St. Emilion fame. This project has turned into an absolute gem for him. The wines coming from the value Bordeaux region of Castillon are stunning! This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is made in a Loire style and produced without oak. The ensuing wines offers delicioius flavors of gooseberry and lemon citrus with medium intensity. Notes of nectarine and orange blossoms flow through the mid palate. The finish is pure and fresh with hints of crushed rocks, lilacs and energetic acidity. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Macauley Old Vine Zinfandel 2016

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $44.99

The vines for this wine primary hail from old vineyards in St. Helena and Calistoga. Kirk Venge is the wine maker and produces extremely expressive Zinfandel. Racy flavors of blackberry jam and strawberry compote jump into the palate with medium intensity. Notes of cherry cobbler enhance the exotic spices and dark fruit on the palate. The finish is bright and juicy with hints of black pepper, maple and licorice. This is a Zinfandel that will surely impress. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Calcareous ZSM Red Blend 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $35.99

Dana Brown is quietly producing some of the better wines coming out of Paso Robles. Her wines got rave reviews (2 Double Gold and Class Champion) at the Houston Uncorked! Wine Competition. This is one of her newer wines and I couldn’t be happier to offer it. The wine is mostly Zinfandel with a hint of Syrah and Merlot.  The grapes are all estate fruit and aged for 17 months in French oak and American oak.  Rich, ripe flavors of blackberry and cocoa flow easily into the palate with tinges of bramble. The mid palate gives medium structure with ample tannins and easy acids. Notes of black pepper and cocoa butter linger on the finish with whiffs of vanilla and cedar. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Experience Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $24.99

This new addition to our portfolio has exploded in sales from the start. It’s quality Napa Valley wine at a Killer price! Catherine and Travis Vale own an 8 acre estate in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley and have recently used their ‘experience’ to start this Experience. This softer style Cabernet is incredibly open and inviting from start to finish. Flavors of dark cassis and blackberry flow from the palate into a medium intensity. The richly textured mid palate offers black cherry and currant which sinks into hints of dark chocolate and black tea. The finish shows soft oaky flavors of cedar and vanilla with twinges of tobacco and allspice. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Dusty Nabor ‘NSO’ Pinot Noir 2019

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $19.94

Dusty Nabor (pronounced NAY-Boar) is an up and comer in the Central Coast who is producing quite exciting wines. This 100% Pinot Noir is from 50% Pommard/ 50% 667 clones and aged for 9 months in 50% new French oak. The grapes are hand harvested from Sta. Rita Hills and bottled unfined/unfiltered. The wine offers super juicy aromas of red fruit and flowers. Vibrant flavors of candied raspberry and pomegranate flow into medium intensity. The mid palate offers bright cherry and cola. The finish is soft and sexy with hints of rhubarb, lavender and exotic spice. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Prados Garnacha 2018

Calatayud, Spain

Cash Price $22.99

I have long expected Spanish Garnacha to begin to make a big splash in the American market. The wines are dangerously delicious and typically dirt cheap. The quality from Campo de Borja is at an all-time high and wineries are making very clean and food friendly wines. Pagos del Moncayo is an artisanal and sustainable winery located at the foothills of the Sierra del Moncayo, in the heart of the Iberian mountain range as it passes through Aragon. They only hand-pick their grapes and tread the grapes in house to produce at Prados. This Garnacha (Grenache) exudes fleshy red fruits and spice on the nose. The palate offers juicy red cherries and plum that lead into a medium intensity. Notes of garrigue and tampenade show through brambly fruit that seep into hints of black pepper and freshly picked raspberries. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Brooks Oak Ridge Vineyard Dry Gewurztraminer 2019

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

I’m quite excited to offer this low production (only 170 cases produced), single vineyard Gewurztraminer. This wine offers delightful aromas of fresh meadow flowers and stone fruits. The palate shows medium intensity with flavors of candied apricot, melon and citrus without being encumbered by oak nuances. The mid palate shows notes of honeysuckle and beeswax with hints of ginger and lychee. There is an underlying tone of minerality and salinity that finishes with crushed wet rocks and beautifully balanced acidity. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Dr. Frank Semi Dry Riesling 2019

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $14.99

Konstantin Frank is producing some of the best wines in New York and were, in fact, the first to successfully implement vitis vinifera into New York.  Riesling is a specialty for this winery and their semi dry version is absolutely stunning!  This lightly off dry wine offers flavors orange blossom, green apples with tinges of ripe pear that balance effortlessly through the palate.  The wine is un-oaked and has medium plus acidity that is tamed by the licks of sweetness.  The finish offers notes of honeysuckle and wild meadow flowers combined with hints of wet rock minerality.  Riesling is one of the more versatile wines to pair with food and the hint of sweetness will make it a favorite at the table! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Cross Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $14.39

Located in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County, Clay Shannon is producing extremely high quality wines at an unbelievably affordable price.  His vineyards are located some 1,400 feet above sea level and are naturally sustainable due to the elevation being well above the fog line.  The wine is full bodied and textured with flavors of black cherry and currant seeping through its core. The mid palate offers blackberry and wild berry with hints of sage and tobacco wafting throughout integrated tannins and acids. The finish is plush and long with tinges of smoke and lavender.  James Score: 90 Points

Aria Brut Sparkling NV

Penedes, Spain

Cash Price $14.99

Segura Viudas is the producer for this great sparkling brand.  This house is considered one of the finest in Cava and was given the high accolade of ‘Value Brand of the Year’ in 2013 by Wine & Spirits magazine.  I have figured out what the best time to have bubbles. Any time, anywhere is the answer.  Cava offers great value as it is produced the same way as Champagne, but at a margin of the price.  Crisp and clean, this sparkler exudes flavors of citrus and green apple with tight, refreshing bubbles.  The mid palate gives hints of jasmine and white flowers with touches of pear and almond.  The finish is vibrant and inviting with tinges of fresh dough and confection.  Bubbles are for all occasions! James Score: 88 Points

Girasole ORGANIC Hybrid Red Blend 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

We are extremely pleased to add this ORGANIC value winery to our 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

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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The 12 under $12 for February 2021

Heartcraft sparkling Rose

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $12.99 but $1.00 Key Only $11.99

Deliciously soft on the palate, flavors of ripe strawberries and sweet red cherries burst into millions of bubbles with creamy cherry cobbler crust and confection on the finish. 

Hayes Valley Cabernet

California

Cash Price $11.99

This flavorful daily Cabernet offers red cherry and cassis that envelope the palate with smooth tannins and cream vanilla. Pair with dark chocolate, a blanket, and your favorite movie.

Encore Heritage Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $9.99 but $2.00 Key only $7.99

A staple Chardonnay that over delivers for the price. Flavors of ripe pineapple and melon plunk into smooth hints of cream and hazelnuts. This after work delight is sure to please.

Michel Schlumberger Maison Rouge Red

California

Cash Price $10.99

This red blend offers tantalizing flavors of cherry and raspberry, with tinges of spice and pepper on the finish. Pair with grilled or smoked meat as the weather starts to warm up.

Nica Pinot Grigio

California

Cash Price $8.99

Nica is apologetically fresh and easy. Flavors of white peach and lemon citrus follow light intensity.  Whiffs of jasmine and pear ease into the finish. Light and fun, pair with a glass and corkscrew.

Roblar Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.99

Rich and fruity, this pleasure offers flavors of crushed strawberries and pomegranate with tinges of vanilla, cola and cream. Pair with a seafood salad from your favorite take out seafood joint.

Chateau Des Romains Rouge

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

Romains is a gem that is deliciously fruit forward.  Flavors of red cherry and currant flow into hints of toasted oak and just a tease of tobacco leaf. Pair this with fatty spiced brisket and fried okra.

Cave La Comtadine Rouge

Cotes du Rhone, France

Cash Price $7.99

Cotes du Rhone offers great value, daily drinking wines. This red blend is soft and plush with wild berries and blackberry racing into hints of spice. Pair with steak fajitas and corn tortillas.

Liberation de Paris Chardonnay

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $10.99

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

Solo Amore Lambrusco

Italy

Cash Price $7.59

A perfect Valentine’s treat, this lightly spritzy red wine offers fresh red cherry and strawberry with a delicious fizz to cleanse your palate. Chill it down and serve with your main squeeze.

Sweet Bitch Moscato

Italy

Cash Price $9.99

This lightly sparkling sweet wine offers flavors of fresh white peach, melon, and sweet apples that will dance melodically on your palate. A perfectly sweet tongue in cheek wine for your sweet.

Rico Suave Moscato

Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

Moscato is a wonderful wine to share with your ‘honey’. Flavors of candied lemon, guava and mango pop into honeyed sweetness. Pair with a box of chocolate and a teddy bear for your Valentine.

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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

Barlow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Calistoga (Napa Valley), California

Cash Price $49.99

Yep. You read that right. Barlow Vineyards. Now mind you, this winery does have my last name, but I have no affiliation or lineage to this winery (Wish I did!). The winery has been on my radar for years, when I first tried it side by side with Diamond Creek and thought that the wine held up well against one of the more iconic wineries in the United States. They are located in Calistoga (northern most AVA in Napa) and I have actually driven by their vineyards, but never stopped into the winery. This age worthy Cabernet Sauvignon boasts incredibly smooth, yet refined tannins and a well rounded structure. Flavors of Cassis and black cherry flow into the palate with medium intensity and a nice dollop of vanilla seeping into the mid palate. Notes of currant, cigar box and tobacco leaf tickle into the finish with smidgeons of nutmeg and cedar. This wine really sticks the landing with a long lasting flavor profile that continually lingers on for a minute or so. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Nuiton Beaunoy Pinot Noir 2015

Gevrey Chambertin (Burgundy), France

Cash Price $46.99

Finding Gevrey-Chambertin under $50 is always a goal of mine. I’ve found a gem for ya’ll with this one. The 2015 vintage showed a warm streak in Burgundy that led to ripe, juicy wines that are ready to drink now.  Gevrey-Chambertin is one of the most hallowed places on earth to grow Pinot Noir and one of the original regions for Grand Cru wines.  Bourgogne vignerons have made a united decision to farm in more natural ways whether it be sustainable, organic, biodynamic or all three.  The ensuing wines have a depth and purity of flavors that are unbeatable in comparison to any other place in the world that is producing Pinot Noir.  This wine offers vibrant red cherries that sing from the palate that carries into a delightful candied framboise.  The body offers medium intensity with a purity on the palate that screams for food pairings.  The finish is pure and expressive with hints of tea leaf, cola, and dark fruit with just a whiff of cedar and vanilla.  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Wonderful Wine Co. Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

California

Cash Price $19.94

Are you searching for a clean and healthy wine for the New Year? Then this Organic, Vegan friendly, sustainably farmed, low sulfite wine is right up your alley! The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and organically farmed in the Ukiah Valley without addition of pesticides or added sugars. The wine is bright and fresh with flavors of blackberry and black cherry that sink to a medium intensity. Hints of pomegranate seep into the finish that doesn’t show a hint of oak. Clean, Fresh and Lively! Barlow Score: 88 Points

Cougar Crest Viognier 2016

Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Cash Price $19.94

I am continually surprised that Texans don’t buy wines from Washington State. They are producing top quality wine, yet the wines seem to sit on shelf.  Viognier (Pronounced Vee Oh N’Yay) is a grape that is exuberantly fruit forward and perfect for the hot Texas heat.  Popping flavors of melon, peach and citrus lay across a medium intensity that offers quite a rich mouthfeel. Tropical notes of pineapple and guava sift through light acids and hints of citrus.  The backbone of this wine has a delicious floral note that wafts haunting through the palate.  Yum!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Trig Point Zinfandel 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Nick Goldschmidt is the master mind behind some of the best wines produced in Alexander Valley.  He is from New Zealand, but has a penchant for finding the best vineyards in Sonoma and making wines of outstanding value, typically without breaking bank.  Railyard Vineyard sits just north of Geyserville (Ridge Winery fame) and is planted on pre Phylloxera vines that are organically farmed.  The wine is 88% Zinfandel with 12% Petite Sirah and aged in 15% New French oak for 16 months.  Decadent fruit flavors of bright blueberry and bramble leap into palate with exotic spices playing throughout the core.  Black cherry and raspberry sink into the mid palate with notes of toasted nuts and vanilla.  The finish is silky with soft tannins and lightly sweet blackberry cobbler pie.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Cru Winery ‘Monarch’ Red Blend 2015

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $27.99 but only $24.99 with your Spec’s Key for a limited time

I have been tasting through a fair amount of Paso Robles wine lately.  As Napa prices continue to rise, buyers are looking into more value driven areas such as Paso Robles.  Cru winery consistently offers exceedingly good value wine and this red blend is knocking it out of the park.  The wine is a mix of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties with the bulk being Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Monarch offers a balanced richness with flavors of currant and cassis with a silky medium intensity. The finish shows a balance of oak and spice that sits on the palate for a nice, long time. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Klinker Brick ‘Brickmason’ Zinfandel Red Blend 2016

Lodi, California

Cash Price $16.99

Klinker Brick is an oldie, but goodie that has come back to our portfolio.  The winery was founded in 1883 and has been family owned by the Fulton’s now for 5 generations.  The winery is sustainably farmed.  This wine is a blend of 80% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet, and 5% Petite Sirah that has been hand harvested with estate fruit then aged for 16 months in once used French oak.  The wine has a lighter ruby core with long legs. The palate offers flavors of rich red fruit leading into darker cherries and bramble with medium intensity.  Hints of raspberry compote and blackberry pie flow into whiffs of dusted cedar, creamy berry sauce and graham crackers.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Freelander District One Chardonnay 2017

California

Cash Price $15.99

I recently expanded the Freelander line after the Cabernet Sauvignon was such a hit. I was pleasantly surprised with this 100% Chardonnay. It wasn’t overly oaked or hedonistic. It showed wonderful restraint with flavors of pineapple and pear meddling into medium intensity. The mid palate flowed freely with tinges of green apples and melon. The finish was soft and appealing with whiffs of vanilla spice and just a kiss of oak. Really pleasant for the price. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi Pinot Noir 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

It’s hard to find good Napa Valley Pinot Noir for under $20. I think Ca’Momi has always been one of our better ‘Value’ Brands out of Napa Valley. This 100% Pinot Noir is light and vibrant. Flavors of wild blueberry and dark cherries explode on the palate with medium intensity and easy acids. Notes of cedar and vanillin show on the finish with tinges of raspberry that lay into a silky smooth finish. Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Diver Brut Sparkling Rose N/V

California

Cash Price $17.99

This is a newer addition to our portfolio that will be a wonderful bubbly to pop for your Valentine. I’ve been looking to grow our American sparkling portfolio and this was an easy ‘Yes’. The wine is 80%/20% Pinot Noir/Chardonnay traditional blend made in the Charmat method (Think Prosecco) with 1.1% Residual Sugar which is not really perceptible on the palate, but does soften the mouth feel. This delightful bubbly offers a beautiful salmon color and zips into the palate with flavors of bing cherry, strawberry and whiffs of citrus. Diver plunges into deliciously ripe, crunchy red fruit from start to finish. This would be a great bubbly for your Valentine! Barlow Score: 90 Points

K Vintners PopUp Brut Sparkling NV

Washington State

Cash Price $14.99

I have been scouring the US for delicious bubbles to add to our portfolio that really over deliver for the price. I have found it in this bubbling beauty! This sparkler is 100% Chardonnay and 100% single vineyard (Evergreen) at a killer price. Light and clean bubbles pop into zesty lemon citrus and honeysuckle. The mid palate is lip smacking and offers notes of orange blossom, peach and pie crust. The finish is easy and quaffable with tinges of white flowers and lemon tart. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Rivera Red Blend 2016

Salice Salento, Italy

Cash Price $13.99

I visited this estate many years ago and was impressed with their attention to detail and the delicious wines and olive oil that were poured at the table.  The flatlands of Salice Salentino have quietly made a cult following of their inexpensive Negroamaro blends. The wines are deliciously ripe and inviting with plenty of dark fruit.  This wine is 90% Negroamaro with 10% Malvasia Nero and aged for 3-4 months in small, aged oak casks.  Flavors of stewed blackberry and dates jump into surprisingly vibrant acidity.  The mid palate shows ripe fruits of plum and morello cherry with a dense finish.  This wine will definitely surprise you for the price!  Get it in your basket.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Girasole Organic Sangiovese

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

Girasole has been an absolute hit in our portfolio. I have been slowly expanding our organic wine footprint and this winery has been a feather in our cap when it comes to deliciously approachable organic wine. The winery has roots from Italy, so it makes complete sense that they would produce Sangiovese, which is the work horse grape in Chianti and most of Tuscany. This 100% Sangiovese offers ripe flavors of cherry and plum with just a hint of violets. The mid palate offers medium intensity with licks of spice and huckleberry. The finish is clean and pure with whiffs of black pepper and sage. 100% Organic and ready to drink. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Barlow’s Bubbles for New Year’s Eve

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I cannot believe we are already past Christmas! I hope everyone enjoyed the festivities this year. I say we send 2020 off with a pop (and fizz) and thank the good Lord above that 2021 is coming! This year has been quite a year. Many people had to change their lives quite dramatically, whether it be work (I’ve been working from home since March), child care (Jay’s finally back to live schooling!), or social distancing. This is been a year of learning, growing, and hopefully becoming closer to loved ones. Let’s try to take to positives of 2020 and implement them into a stellar 2021! So Let’s Celebrate with some awesome Bubbles!!!!!!!! See you in the New Year!

Caraccioli Brut Cuvée Vintage 2013

Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Cash Price $33.69 but only $31.99 for a limited time with your Spec’s Key

I heard through the grapevine that this winery was producing some of the finest bubbles in America, so I searched them out to see if all the hype was true. Well folks, It is. Their sparkling wines are legit. The Brut Cuvée is from their Santa Lucia Highlands Escolle Estate Vineyard and is composed of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir. The wine is produced in the traditional method (Methode Champenoise) and aged for 4 years on the lees, then was disgorged in March of 2018. Michel Salgues, former head winemaker at Roederer Estate, is the winemaker for this brilliant bubbly and has shown the excellent opportunity for sparkling wines in the micro climate of the Santa Lucia Highlands. The wine has a light pale core with millions of bubbles cascading throughout the glass. Aromatics of brioche, lemon cream, and crisp honey apples waft into the nose. The palate has pinpoint precision with exceptional notes of white flowers, lychee, and lemon slices bursting into the scene with rounded notes of confection and donut dough. The finish has a deliciously racy minerality with excellent acidity to keep focus and twinges of hazelnut and cream. Barlow Score: 95 Points

Louis de Sacy Grand Cru Champagne N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $38.29

I recently had the pleasure of tasting this wine with the French/American Chamber of Commerce. It was drinking wonderfully!  He is a 12th generation grape grower and 4th generation wine maker.  In other words….Its in his blood.  He grew up in the vineyards forgoing school to focus his attention on his true love, grapes.  His son and daughter have decided to become the 13th generation and the legacy of this boutique Champagne house continues.  Alain is a minimalist in producing his sparkling wine, allowing the grapes to speak from his Grand Cru vineyards in the quaint town of Verzy.  Grand Cru vineyards are considered the finest in all Champagne.  It is rare to find Grand Cru at such an affordable price!  Pure, zesty flavors of citrus lemon lay on the edgy backbone of deliciously refreshing acidity.  He adds minimal dosage (6 grams) and allows fruits of bright red cherry and rose petals to flow seamlessly through the palate.  The finish offers hints of brioche and wild flowers with an undertone of wet rock minerality.  Yum!  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Ca’Momi ‘Heartcraft’ Brut Rose N/V

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $12.99 but only $9.99 for a limited time with your Spec’s Key!

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. Make this your starter for all the New Year’s Eve festivities!  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 TOP PICKS OF 2020

CA’MOMI Heartcraft Sparkling N/V

California

Cash Price $12.99

but only $10.99 with a $2.00 Spec’s Key discount thru the end of the year

Sparkling wine crafted from the heart, this bubbly pops on the palate with tart green apple and citrus that are persistent with hints of melon, pear and white flowers. Pair with ANY Celebration!

Tiziano Pinot Grigio

Italy

Cash Price $10.99

Pinot Grigio weather is here! This refreshing white offers lively acidity and tropical fruits with a perfectly crisp, clean finish. Pair with warm weather and an ice-cold glass.

Marques Concordia Tempranillo

Spain

Cash Price $10.99

This Tempranillo is gushing with flavor.  The wine offers flavors of red cherry and currant with good balance and just a whiff of new oak on the finish. Pair with food truck enchiladas and empanadas.

Shannon Ridge Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $12.99

But only $11.99 with a $1.00 Spec’s Key discount through the end of the year

This is my daily Cabernet at the house. Supple and inviting flavors of blackberry and dried cherries flow into a lengthy finish of toasted oak and juicy fruit.  Pair with every day!

Playtime Red

California

Cash Price $9.99

This playful red blend is sure to be a hit at your dinner table.  It is a Zinfandel heavy wine that offers flavors of blueberry, plum and vanilla with hints of exotic spice.  Pair with a grill and meat while wearing your favorite apron and cooking for the family.

Gouleyant Malbec

France

Cash Price $9.99

Gouleyant is a delicate and seductive Malbec that shies away from Argentina to offer uniquely French flavors of cassis and black cherry with hints of pepper and spice. Pair with baked ziti and sausage.

Maturo Sangiovese

Italy

Cash Price $7.49

Sangiovese is deliciously friendly with flavors of dried strawberries, plum and violets that give the wine a robust, yet smooth profile. Pair with a margherita pizza.

Trumpeter Malbec

Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

Trumpeter is a full-bodied Malbec that offers inky color and flavors of currant and blackberry with touches of exotic spice on the finish. Pair with blue cheese burger and salty fries.

Ca’Momi Rosso

California

Cash Price $8.99

But only $8.24 with a $.75 Spec’s Key discount through the end of the year

This rosso is truly built for BBQ 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.

Gryphus Sauvignon Blanc

Chile

Cash Price $11.99

This is one of my favorite white wines. Zesty acids are whipped into shape with flavors of citrus and grapefruit with kisses of grass and meadow flowers.  Pound with the spicy crawfish.

Reserve Saint Marc Chardonnay

France

Cash Price $7.29

Fun, Fresh, Fruity and un-oaked….This is perfect porch pounding Chardonnay.  Flavors of fresh green apples and pear touch through easy acids.  Hints of nuts and cream touch the finish.  Great party or every day drinker to indulge without worrying about the price. 

Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah

California

Cash Price $12.99

But only $11.99 with a $1.00 Spec’s Key discount through the end of the year

My ‘go-to’ daily winery offers this juicy Petite Sirah. Ripe flavors of blackberry and black raspberry jump into vanilla, spice and cedar on the finish. Pair with Lasagna and meatballs.

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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