Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email, but I have been extremely busy as of late.  I recently took on the role of managing the world’s finest varietal specific glassware, Riedel.  I just returned from a Riedel seminar led by none other than Mr. Georg Riedel himself.  We tried through numerous wines and glassware.  Every time, no matter Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, or Tequila the beverage always tasted better in the correct glass.  It was astounding!  If you want to make your wine taste better, you MUST have it in a Riedel Glass!  Email me if you have any questions.

Alexandre Bonnet Grande Reserve Brut N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $39.89 BUT ONLY

$35.89 with your Spec’s Key for a $4.00 SAVINGS!

I was able to taste this sparkling gem last week.  It is from the region of ‘Les Riceys’ in the Cote de Bar in Champagne.  This part of Champagne is not considered one of the ‘finer’ regions so its price point is more user friendly than its counterparts in Montagne de Reims.  This beauty is 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay that is 100% hand harvested in the Cote de Bar.  Bonnet explodes on the palate with deliciously sexy notes of red roses and cherries that lay on a bed of fresh meadow flowers.  Lilacs lick the mid-mouthfeel with touches of citrus and key lime that are integrated into tightly woven bubbles.  The finish is clean and lingering with whiffs of brioche and hazelnuts.  Yummy!  James Score: 94 Points

La Meridiana ‘Terre Il Cielo’ Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2011

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $36.99

I think that Barbera is the perfect summer red for the state of Texas.  It is extremely flavorful with higher acidity to quench your thirst without beating up your palate with tons of tannin that Cabernet Sauvignon often offers.  This 100% Barbera is one of the best I have tried in quite awhile.  Juicy and thirst quenching, Meridiana is like a TNT fruit bomb on your palate.  Flavors of blackberry and blueberry flow thickly on the palate with medium acidity and tannins that encompass the mouth feel.  Notes of wild berries and pomegranate flow through a medley of sweet spices like gingerbread and clove.  The finish is rich and voluptuous with notes of vanilla bean and hints of cedar.  James Score: 94 Points

Henri de Villamont ‘Les Champs-Claude’ Pinot Noir 2013

Santenay, France

Cash Price $29.99
Santenay is quickly becoming my ‘go to’ Pinot Noir region for great quality Burgundy without the crazy price points.  The Pinot’s from here are gorgeous with excellent balance and purity.  Henri Villamont’s wines can be often overlooked, but I have found consistency across the board with this Domaine.  The wine is 100% Pinot Noir and aged for 10 months in French oak.  Flavors of ripe red cherries and raspberries burst into the palate with medium plus acids and minimal tannins.  The mid palate offers silky complexity with just a hint of cream.  The finish is fresh and vibrant with kisses of minerality and cedar.  James Score: 91 Points

Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chardonnay 2015

Chablis, France

Cash Price $19.94

I find that there is nothing finer in my glass on a scorching summer day than a refreshing Chablis.  Chardonnay from the upper reaches of Burgundy is some of the best expressions of terroir driven wine in the world.  The kimmeridgeon limestone in the area shines through in the wine with minimal use of oak.  Jean-Francois Bordet produces this gem that is perfect for the dog days of summer in Texas.  Flavors of lush green apple and citrus zing into medium plus acids with touches of chalky minerality.  Notes of ripe melon and lemon zest play through the mid palate with hints of butter and hazelnut.  The finish offers hints of cream laced with smidgeons of flint and wet stones.  This is definitely a riper style of Chablis, but does retain the acidity and minerality throughout.  James Score: 91 Points

Bacio Divino ‘Pazzo’ Red Blend 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $25.99

I have had this wine for numerous vintages and have always been happy with the result.  I prefer this vintage (2014) more than any recent that I have tasted.  It is a Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend that is richly textured and firm from the start.  Consulting Wine Maker Kirk Venge is known for producing extracted wines with tons of fruit.  The crazy one (Pazzo) is jam packed full of sweet red fruits and hints of blueberry.  The acidity of Sangiovese is quite vibrant on the backbone with silky smooth tannins.  The finish is delivers a slew of complex flavors like black pepper, coffee bean, and mocha. This fruit forward offering is a perfect red that does not need to be paired with food to enjoy.  James Score: 92 Points

Ampelos Rose of Syrah 2016

Santa Ynez Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

This winery was the first in the United States to become certified Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable in Practice which makes them one of the purest wineries in the New World.  I have always been an advocate of this amazing winery.  Their Rose is one of my favorite New World Rose’s on the market.  This 80% Syrah/20% Grenache/5% Riesling Rose offers a decadent nose of perfumed red roses and wild white flowers.  The palate flows elegantly with ripe strawberry and candied cherries with medium acidity.  The mid palate offers rounded notes of peaches and cream that waft through the rich red fruits.  The finish is round and full with touches of cream and sweet red berries.  James Score: 90 Points

Jenner Pinot Noir 2013

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $24.99

This is the 2nd wine of Fritz Cellars.  I typically look for Sonoma Coast Pinot’s when drinking California Pinot Noir due to their more elegant nature.  The 2013 vintage was a rather lush vintage with plenty of sunshine and ripeness of grapes.  Jenner shows the restraint of body, but allows for all the curves to show in the wine.  Sexy flavors of bing cherries and red raspberries flow seamlessly into the palate with medium acidity and light tannins.  The mid palate gives notes of molasses and cola with hints of sassafras that are encompassed into a cream smooth core.  The finish is light and delightful with a lingering sentiment.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Filet Red Blend 2013

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $16.99

The 2013 vintage was considered a ‘miss’ in Bordeaux.  That said,  I think you can find excellent value with these elegant wines.  The prices are moderately priced to move and the quality can often surprise.  This deliciously dry red blend is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Elegant flavors of black cherries and currant mold into medium tannins and medium plus acids.  The mid palate gives a touch of cream that is enveloped by an earthy minerality of graphite and green tea.  The finish is pure and balanced with notes of cedar, vanilla and clove.  James Score: 90 Points

Hart and McGarry Chardonnay 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $15.99

It is not easy these days to find Napa Valley juice at this price point.  The price for grapes has been sky-rocketing most producers out of the market.  This wine continues its consistent price and value for Napa Valley year in and year out.  Flavors of juicy melons and pear lick into medium acidity.  Notes of pineapple and guava lay smoothly on a creamy core of vanilla and butter.  The finish is persistent and velvety.  James Score: 89 Points.

Hilt and Blade Red Blend 2013

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Hilt and Blade sifts through the riff raff of California and finds quality micro climates to produce deliciously fruit forward styles of wine.  This Cabernet Sauvignon blend is jam packed full of red currant and cherries throughout the palate.  The mid mouth feel offers a soft jammy profile of raspberry cream pie with medium tannins and acids.  The finish is chalked full of oak with notes of cedar, vanilla, clove and spice.  James Score: 88 Points

Beppe Moscato d’Asti 2016

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $14.99

Moscato is a perfect white wine for the screaming heat in Texas.  It is light & refreshing with touches of sparkle and sweetness.  This wine is unpretentious and begs to be enjoyed poolside or for summer parties.  Flavors of green apples and honey suckle flow through the palate with just a touch of effervescence that clean the palate.  Notes of white peach and nectarines frolic through the mid palate with hints of white flowers and sweet candied stone fruits.  The wine is lower in alcohol and meant to be a refreshingly fun wine.  James Score: 88 Points

Piattelli Malbec 2014

Luyan de Cuyo, Argentina

Cash Price $14.99

This Argentine winery is dedicated to quality and organic practices.  They avoid chemical fertilization and pesticides and strive for sustainability.  Located in the rocky soils of Tupungato in the lush Mendoza Valley, the Piattelli family immigrated here from Tuscany.  This 100% Malbec is rock solid.  Luyan de Cuyo produces some of the best Malbec in all Argentina.  Piattelli is a high altitude wine grown at 3,152 feet in elevation.  Robust flavors of black currant and blueberry hit the palate with all the beefy brawn that the variety often offers.  The structure is medium with silky tannins and easy acids that are surrounded by a core of dark chocolate and spice.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau La Tour De Beraud White Blend 2015

Costieries de Nimes, France

Cash Price $11.99

As the heat rises, I start to seek out refreshing whites that over deliver for the price.  Beraud Blanc is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne that exudes tropical fruits of peach, orange blossoms and pineapple that play over a soft acidity.  The wine is un-oaked and packed full of deliciously refreshing fruit flavors.  The finish is persistent with kisses of grapefruit and honeysuckle.  James Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS










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Liberation de Paris Free Consumer Tasting at Spec’s Oak Ridge North

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have a real treat for you tomorrow!  I apologize about the short notice, but Jean Francois Bonnete’s wines are delicious, French, and inexpensive!  He is an absolute character who is passionate about these wines and has an amazing story about WWII.  A portion of the proceeds of these wines goes directly to a veterans hospital right here in Houston!

RSVP to jamesbarlow25@specsonline.com

What: Free Customer Appreciation Tasting on the Liberation de Paris wines hosted by Jean Francois Bonnete

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

When: TOMORROW! Wednesday, May 3rd from 5PM-8PM. (I doubt it’ll last that long!)

How much: ABSOLUTELY FREE!  All these wines are in the $10-12 price range and will be available to purchase upon request.

Wines to be poured:

Liberation de Paris Rose 2015

Liberation de Paris Pinot Noir 2015

Liberation de Paris Cabernet 2015

Liberation de Paris Cotes du Rhone 2015

Liberation de Paris Bordeaux 2015

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I need a minimum 5 more RSVP’s to hold the class!  Tell friends, share it on Facebook, Twitter….. See you all there!  RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com!





Palma Carola ‘Spinsanti’ Malbec Reserva 2014

Luyan de Cuyo, Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

Spinsanti is a label that offers value wine by Pulenta Estates and Paul Hobbs.  The wine is firm, fruity and approachable.  Plum, spice, black cherry show into medium acids and tannins. Succelent! James Score: 89 Points

Liberation de Paris Rose 2015

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $9.99

I just had lunch with Jean Francois Bonnete, owner of this label, and was really pleased with this dry Rose.  Fifth generation Burgundy growers.  Zesty wild berries, cherry and strawberry with medium acids and  refreshing finish.  James Score: 89 Points

Ken Forrester ‘Petit’ Chenin Blanc 2015

Western Cape, South Africa

Cash Price $9.99

This wine is one of my favorite white wines under $10 period.  Un-oaked and deliciously refreshing, this wine offers medium acidity with pears, melon drop, dew that sinks into lychee and just a whiff of grapefruit.  Yummy!  James Score: 90 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

What a beautiful month March turned out to be.  I hope we have more wonderful weather to follow in April.  I have picked a medley of wines for you to chose from that will ease your Easter family meal pairing anxiety as well as some rocking picks that I have had the joy to partake of.  Please join me for my next Wine Tasting and Pairing: Bordeaux 101, hosted at Pallotta’s Italian Grill in the Woodlands.  Please see the previous blog for instructions.  RSVP to jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com.  Enjoy!

Kapcsandy ‘Endre’ Red Blend 2009

Napa Valley, California

Usually Cash Price $74.99  but on sale for a limited time

Cash Price $54.97 (only 1 case left!)

I recently re-tasted after I had bought this vintage heavily.  I was giddy to find it drinking to its maximum potential right now.  I was wowed by the complexity of this Bordeaux style blend.  Every vintage has beautiful integrity with subtle, intricate differences that showed the stylistic growing seasons of the wines.  Endre is a Cabernet, Merlot blend that is built to please, but will become even more gorgeous with cellar aging.  This wine exudes brilliance of meticulous wine making by Lou Kapcsandy with the help of Denis Malbec of 1st Growth Chateau Latour fame.  Flavors of black currant and black cherry lay in a bed of red flowers that slowly melds into dark mocha and milk chocolate.  Divine notes of rustic earth and terrior slither gracefully through dried leather and tobacco with a core of toasted vanilla and spices that place perfectly on the palate for an immensely long time.  The acids are booming with amazingly integrated tannins that lick the outer palate and give a focused precision to the wine.  This wine is an absolutely stellar wine which shows that California is capable of producing age-worthy Bordeaux style wines.  James Score: 95 Points

Vincent Latour ‘Clos Des Magny’ Chardonnay 2014

Meursault, France

Cash Price $49.99

I just re-tasted Magny this weekend and gave it a higher score than last tasted.  Vincent Latour is new to our portfolio, focusing on high quality Chardonnay from one of the more iconic regions on Earth to produce the grape.  The wine is 100% Chardonnay from the area of Clos Des Magny, nestled at the foot of the town of Meursault.  Latour is aged on its lees for 12 months.  This gorgeous Chardonnay exudes flavors of lime, honeysuckle and green apples.  The mid palate is rich and complex with subtle hints of vanilla, cedar, and hazelnuts with medium plus acidity.  The finish is chalked full of minerality, fresh white flowers, and peach.  This is a Chardonnay lover delight!  James Score: 96 Points

Chateau Daugay Red Blend 2014

St. Emilion, France

Cash Price $28.39

I visited the quaint little Chateau named Daugay last year while touring through Bordeaux.  We had just passed the famed Chateau Angelus, some of the most prized vineyards in all of Bordeaux, and stopped on a hill overlooking the vines of Angelus.  Lo and behold, we were in the vineyards of Daugay.  It turns out that Angelus is a part owner of this old 14 acre estate that is dedicated to producing exemplary Merlot based wines.  This wine is 70% Merlot & 30% Cabernet.  Flavors of ripe wild red berries and cherry envelope the palate with integrated licks of vanilla bean, cream, and currant.  The mid palate shows off polished tannins and elegant acids that give this wine a great age ability. The finish offers hints of cedar, cinnamon, and blooming roses.  Beautiful wine.  James Score: 93 Points

Ulrich Langguth ‘GG’ Dry Riesling 2015

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $26.29

Dry Riesling done well can be absolutely haunting.  These grapes were grown on the very slate strewn, deep soils of Goldtropfchen, which is considered some of the finest vineyard sites in all of Germany.  Most wines from this area are slightly sweet, but this wine is deliciously dry.  Amazing flavors of crisp green apple and pear tickle into medium plus acidity.  The mid palate offers notes of beeswax and a stony minerality that sinks into the core.  The finish is flush with wild meadow and white flowers that waft sensuously throughout the palate.  The ‘GG’ wines of the region are considered of the utmost quality and some of the finest in all the land.  It is rare to get this quality at such a great price point.  James Score: 94 Points

Pascal Lachoux Pinot Noir 2012

Bourgogne, France

Cash Price $26.59

The winery was formerly called Arnoux-Lachaux, but owner Pascal Lachaux, who has been producing the wine for twenty years, recently decided to put his final stamp on the wine with the transition to his name.  I have had this wine several times over the past couple of years and have been consistently impressed with its vibrancy and elegance in the glass.  He calls this wine Pinot Fin instead of Pinot Noir because this strain of Pinot Noir is of particularly high quality, so he wants to make sure the consumer understands its purity of character.  Flavors of dark cherry and raspberry pop into the palate with medium plus acids and soft, plush tannins.  The mid palate offers light earthy tones with hints of rhubarb and pepper.  The finish is flavorful, yet elegant with just enough curves to give the body character.  James Score: 90 Points

Catena ‘La Consulta’ Malbec 2014

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $24.89

I recently hosted a Chile vs. Argentina tasting.  I poured this wine and although Argentina lost the overall war, they completely won a battle with La Consutla.  Everyone was amazed at the silky complexity in the glass.  Catena is one of the highest quality producers in all of Mendoza.  They are known for making Malbec from higher elevation and having making wine in Mendoza since 1902.  Laura Catena is now at the helm of the winery and has continued the tradition of quality wines with wine maker Alejandro Vigil.  This wine is 100% Malbec produced at an elevation of 3,600 feet. The elevation gives the wine a concentration that can be lost at lower elevations.  Flavors of dark raspberry and black cherry bounce playfully through medium tannins and acids.  Notes of black pepper and pot pourri spices are noticed on the mid palate through the thickly concentrated blueberry and plum.  The finish offers hints of toasted nuts, caramel and vanilla bean with 12 months of French oak aging.  James Score: 92 Points

Bricco di Guazzi Gavi di Gavi 2015

Gavi, Italy

Cash Price $19.59

Bricco di Guazzi lies in the hills of Monferrato in the region of Piedmont.  Nebbiolo is king here for red wines, but the king of white is the grape, Cortese, used in the wines of Gavi.  Often overlooked, this style of wine shows more interesting flavors than most Pinot Grigios.  This 100% Cortese offers deliciously refreshing flavors of lemon lime citrus with zero oak.  Notes of melon and tinges of grapefruit zing through medium plus acidity and just a touch of wet stone.  The finish is clean and tantalizingly pure.  James Score: 89 Points

Le Monde Cabernet Franc 2013

Friuli Grave, Italy

Cash Price $17.89

The region of Friuli Grave offers some of the more terroir driven wines in all of Italy.  I have been consistently happy with the white wines offered from this winery, but had never tried the reds.  Most of you know that I am enamored with Cabernet Franc, so when this was offered I immediately went into wine geek mode.  It did not disappoint!  Light and elegant, yet with structure to hold, this wine is a great red to enjoy during the hot days of summer.  The wine offers flavors of bright strawberry and raspberry that waft into a core of medium plus acidity and a medley of curiously enticing spices.  Le Monde’s tannins never over step their boundaries, but in fact, enhance the acids and overall structure of the wine.  The finish offers whiffs of red roses and herbs without being encumbered by the heaviness of oak.  James Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

Ca’Momi is one Spec’s gem Cabernet’s for under $20.  This American winery with Italian roots produces excellent value wines across the board.  This 100% Cabernet is wonderfully complex with flavors of ripe plum and bing cherry.  The wine has been aged for 18 months in oak and it shows on the palate with a creamy vanilla core.  Notes of spice integrate through the balanced tannins and acids.  The finish offers plush hints of currant, cassis and toasted oak.  Chocolate mocha sits on the palate for a good long time.  James Score: 90 Points

Beppe Blue Prosecco N/V

Veneto, Italy

Cash Price $14.99

Beppe Blue has thrown down the gauntlet for deliciously refreshing every day bubbles for days that end with ‘Y’.  This wine is Glera based and meant to be fun and fresh.  Flavors of citrus and pear bounce gleefully through the palate with tinges of white flowers.  The finish offers just a tickle of tropical and stone fruits that leaves a pleasurably flavorful end to the party in your mouth.  James Score: 87 Points

Cantine di Ora ‘Amicone’ Red Blend 2013

Veneto, Italy

Cash Price $15.89

Have you ever tried Amarone?  If so, then you know how pricey those wines can get!  This little gem uses the same base grape, Corvina, but instead of being hung from the rafters like Amarone, these grapes are allowed to dry and ripen for longer amounts of time on the vine.  The wine is then fermented and aged in French oak for eight months.  The ensuing wine offers intensely ripe fruit flavors of black cherry and stewed plums that are enveloped by jammy hints of fig and dates.  The mid palate offers medium tannins and acids that give complexity to the delightful fruit bomb in the glass.  The finish shows hints of brown sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.  James Score: 89 Points

Mourgues du Gres Red Blend 2012

Costieres de Nimes, France

Cash Price $13.99

The Rhone Valley is one of the best ‘value’ wine regions on earth. This Syrah/Grenache red blend is rock solid at a killer price point.  Located on the galet soils deposited by the Rhone River this wine shows excellent fruit, structure and minerality.  The wine is un-oaked and aged in concrete tanks for a year to offer maximum fruit and approachability.  Flavors of blackberry and bramble lead into sweet red berries.  The mid palate offers touches of garrigue and black pepper with medium tannins and acids.  The finish is lush and flavorful with silky fruit and hints of spice that lingers quite nicely.  James Score: 88 Points

Yalumba ‘Y series’ Viognier 2016

South Australia

Cash Price $9.99

This white is consistently one of my ‘go to’ inexpensive wines as the days begin to heat up.  The wine is a veritable fruit cocktail in the mouth.  Flavors of citrus are rounded out by guava and melon.  Hints of honeysuckle and fresh meadow flowers are layered with medium acids.  The wine sees no oak and explodes on the palate from start to finish.  James Score: 88 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE


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Bordeaux 101 Tasting and Pairing


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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The King Cabernet: One Grape To Rule Them All tasting and pairing at Pallotta’s Italian Grill is coming up next Wednesday from 6-8pm.  Don’t miss out on this Spectacular event as I walk you through the world’s most noble variety, Cabernet Sauvignon.  We will taste through 5 different Cabernet Sauvignon’s from around the globe with food paired by Pallotta’s owner, Phil Nicosia.  Cost is $60 per person.  Sign up today!  RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com


Vieux Manoir Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $9.99

The 2015’s are slowly starting to arrive from across the pond.  This vintage is one of the finest I have ever tasted.  A Merlot/Cabernet blend, Manoir is the perfect wine for days that end with ‘Y’.  Supple red fruits combine with medium body and a smooth, creamy finish.  James Score: 90 Points

Aquilo Chardonnay 2014


Cash Price $8.99

Soft and plush, this California Chardonnay offers tropical notes of pineapple and melon with easy acids and cream.  The finish offers touches of honey and buttered peaches.  James Score: 88 Points

Mia Tempranillo by Freixenet N/V


Cash Price $8.49

This 100% Tempranillo is fresh and fruity from start to finish.  Flavors of plum and red berries seep through soft tannins and acids.  Mia is perfectly suited for rodeo weather!  James Score: 87 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE

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Ladies and Gentlemen,

I need 5 more RSVP’s for this tasting.  It will be an amazing tasting with delicious food made by Phil, owner of Pallotta’s Italian Grill.  Make sure to come and find YOUR favorite Cabernet Sauvignon!  RSVP TO JAMESBARLOW25@HOTMAIL.COM


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