THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR JUNE 2019

Gryphus Chardonnay

Cash Price $11.99

What a treat we have for you in this Chardonnay. Succulent flavors of sweet pineapple, pear and peach flow into soft acids and hints of vanilla bean. Gryphus won’t be a myth when it’s poured in your glass.

Projection Cabernet Sauvignon

Cash Price $10.99

We have found your Cabernet for days that end with ‘Y’. Flavors of blackberry, cassis and toasted oak show off an easy plushness. This is no project. Just Pop, Pour, and enjoy!

Zonin Prosecco

Cash Price $9.99

Is there a better way to start a weekend than with a fresh, fruity and fun sparkling wine? Flavors of citrus, cream and hints of almond pop delightfully into every glass you pour. Make this your daily fizz fun!

Playtime Red Blend

Cash Price $9.99

This playful red blend is sure to be a hit at your dinner party. It is a Zinfandel heavy wine that offers flavors of blueberry, plum and vanilla with hints of exotic spice. Pair with Mesquite grilled meats with all the fixings.

Perimeter Riesling

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.

Francois Labet Beaujolais Villages

Cash Price $10.99

Gamay is making a comeback! Light and refined, flavors of bright cherry and cranberry leap into light acids and whiffs of raspberry cream pie. Give this wine a slight chill and it’ll tingle the taste buds on a hot summer day.

Chateau des Romains Rouge

Cash Price $10.99

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

Gouleyant Malbec

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.

Liberation de Paris Rose

Cash Price $9.99

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

Versant Pinot Noir

Cash Price $9.99

Versant should be a staple wine for Pinot Noir lovers. The wine offers aromatic red raspberry and violets with a soft, creamy core and touches of oak. Pair with walnut crusted Ahi tuna served on watermelon.

Beppe Rosso Red Blend

Cash Price $9.99

This tribute to ‘Giuseppe’ (Joseph) offers sweet, candied cherries and raspberry with touches of exotic spice and a soft, lush finish. Pair early and often with every friend you can find. I know that would make our Giuseppe happy. Ciao!

Sonalto Vinho Verde

Cash Price $6.59

Vinho Verde is the perfect wine to beat the hot summer heat. Salty, swift and spritzy, this wine is low alcohol and begging to be chilled by the case. Sonalto pairs best with briny oysters on the half shell but is probably best enjoyed poolside with a good chill and plenty of sun.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF JUNE 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Summer is in full swing! Let the good times roll! I have been trying a large amount of wine in my new role (and some Sake), so I have lots of options to offer you.  This month will offer a bevy of wines that are right in the wheel house for delicious summertime fun and festivities. Enjoy!

Calcareous Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $39.89

Owner Dana Brown visited Texas recently with her team and laid out her passion for Paso Robles showing quality in the bottle and embodying the mantra ‘let the soil speak’.  This York Mountain Cabernet vineyard is high elevation and located a scant 6 miles from the Pacific near the crest of the Santa Lucia mountain range. The spot is much cooler than the typical Paso Robles and well built for Cabernet Sauvignon. The 2017 vintage is a beautifully perfumed one and this wine offers flavors of plush currant and blackberry with a dense mid palate. The wine shows medium intensity with hints of bramble and minerals that flow into a finish of mushroom, dark mocha, and exotic spice.  Yum!  James Score: 93 Points

Alma Rosa ‘El Jabali’ Chardonnay 2014

Santa Rta Hills, California

Cash Price $29.99

The vineyards of Alma Rosa were planted by famous Sta. Rita Hills Icon Richard Sanford. His family has been producing classic wines from this area for over 40 years! The vines are sustainably farmed and kept as natural as the weather allows. Alma (Spanish for Essence) Rosa is aged in 50% stainless steel and 50% French Oak with 40% malolactic fermentation.  Racy flavors of lemon grass and Asian pear flow into a medium intensity.  The finish offers more pear, crisp green apple and hints of toasted caramel.  This wine is drinking perfectly today!  James Score: 93 Points

Domaine De La Laidiere ‘Cuvee Amazone’ Dry Rose 2018

Provence, France

Cash Price $18.99

Rose season is back in full swing with temperatures reaching the mid to upper 90’s throughout much of Texas. This wine has become a staple on the back porch of many Texans with its deliciously refreshing appeal.  The wine is a Mourvedre, Grenache, Cinsault blend that is delightfully DRY with flavors of bing cherry and tart raspberry.  The wine pops on the palate with lively acidity and extremely fresh fruit. Get this in your basket today!  James Score: 90 Points

Tinazzi Ripasso Red Blend 2016

Veneto, Italy

Cash Price $22.99

Ripasso’s or aka baby Amarone are really becoming a hot topic in the wine world. The wines are wonderfully priced and offer some of the best red blends on the market. The wines are sumptuous and succulent, often WAY over achieving their price point.  This new addition the Spec’s portfolio is a wine I specifically brought in for several reasons. One: It received a Double Gold at the Houston Rodeo Uncorked! Wine Competition. Two: The wine is quite delicious and has a deep complexity that is sure to perk up interest in your palate.  Flavors of ripe cherries and plum stick in the palate with good viscosity that allows for medium plus intensity.  The mid palate offers hints of spice with pepper and clove flowing into touches of fig and molasses.  The finish is full and inviting with tinges of mocha and cedar.  James Score: 91 Points

Daniel Dampt Chardonnay 2016

Chablis, France

Cash Price $24.99

I tasted this wine in Chablis last year as I walked through their vineyards.  The wines produced here are the antithesis of California Chardonnay.  The region is on the northern stretches of France and the area is quite cold, so the ensuing wines are typically more acid driven and often do not offer the buttery, oaky sensations offered in California.  Dampt wines are a family affair that farms 30 hectare in Chablis.  The 2016 vintage was warmer in Chablis, so you have more fruit forward notes.  Dampt is 100% Chardonnay aged on vines with 30 years of average age.  The wine is stainless steel fermented.  Refreshing flavors of green apple,lime citrus, and touches of pear combine with a crushed rocks minerality that sleeks into medium plus acidity.  The finish offers tinges of wild flowers, Bosque pear and almond that wisps easily through the palate.  James Score: 90 Points

Cru Winery ‘Monarch’ Red Blend 2015

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $24.69

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. James Score: 90 Points

Neal Sauvignon Blanc 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

This 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the foothills of Howell Mountain is spectacular! The wine is organically farmed which offers you the truest expression of the grape. Neal Family Blanc is completely un-oaked and offers ripe flavors of citrus and stone fruits that play into zesty acids that are softened by the sur lie aging that gives it a supple roundness. Notes of guava and pineapple sink into a clean, refreshing finish that offers hints of white flower and just a touch of creamy complexity. This is an Outstanding White that will WOW your palate! James Score: 91 Points

Twisted Paso Pinot Noir 2017

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $16.99

Twisted Paso is the everyday wine put out by Calcareous Vineyards. This line really exceeds and excels for under $20.  Ripe and floral flavors of wild raspberry and strawberry bounce playfully into the nose and through the palate.  Hints of citrus and cola play in the mid palate with a soft medium intensity.  The finish is long and eloquent with touches of rhubarb, roses and cherry.  Chill, Pop, and Enjoy!  James Score: 89 Points

Loscano Malbec 2017

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $14.99

This 100% Malbec hails from the best regions of Mendoza, located in Lujan de Cuyo and is aged for 8 months used French oak.  I was really happy with the balance of this Malbec as I have found many overly ripe wines coming out of Argentina lately.  Flavors of blackberry and blueberry sinew deftly into the palate with hints of lavender show the wine’s medium plus intensity.  The mid palate is easy and approachable with hints of minerality.  The finish is pure, offering hints of smoke, toasted oak and subtle hazelnuts.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Les Jouberts Blanc

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $12.59

This is Sauvignon Blanc season!  I often find some of the best value SB in the world come from Bordeaux.  The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc from the right bank in the region of Blaye.  Jouberts is aged in used French oak and offers flavors of candied citrus and orange blossoms with clean acidity and a linear backbone.  The finish is crisp and shows whiffs of white flowers that becomes a touch rounder on the palate. James Score: 88 Points

Chateau du Pegau ‘Maclura’ Red Blend 2015

Cotes Du Rhone, France

Cash Price $14.99

The Feraud’s of Chateau Pegau have been tending vines in Chateauneuf du Pape since the year 1670.  They are considered on of the premier ‘Elite’ producers in all of the Rhone Valley.  The yields of this CDR are kept at the ridiculously low standards of Chateauneuf du Pape, so the quality is EXTREMELY high for $14.99.  Laurence Feraud has become somewhat of a rock star winemaker with her wines garnering high praise and scores year after year.  ‘Maclura’ is a type of Osage orange tree found on the 100 acre, 50+ year old vines estate.  This 50% Grenache/25% Syrah/10%Mourvedre/5% Cinsault red blend screams pleasure from the first sup.  Striking flavors of cassis and blackberry form into thickly integrated medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows wild dark fruits with notes of sweet cherries and plum that sinew into freshly cracked black pepper and cured meats.  The finish is impressively expansive with touches of garrigue (thyme, fennel) and crushed rocks.  Silky, fun and fresh!  James Score: 89 Points

Scotto Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Lodi, California

Cash Price $14.99

The Scotto family is a 5th generation winemaking family based out of Lodi. They are focused on producing great value wines for consumers. The wine is aged for 18 months in used French oak.  Flavors of jammed blackbery and plum seep into the palate with medium plus intensity.  The mid palate offers whiffs of smoke, game, and stewed rhubarb.  The finish is approachable with hints of spice and milk chocolate.  James Score: 88 Points

Chateau Bourbon La Chapelle Red Blend 2016

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $12.99

The 2016 vintage was stunning in Bordeaux and one can find spectacular wines from all corners of the region.  This one hails from the northern Medoc and is 60% Cabernet and 40% Merlot.  The wine is the 2nd label of Chateau Castera and named after the Bourbon royalty and the chapel on the grounds.  Flavors of red currant and cherry sinew easily into medium intensity. The wine is chewy and begging for beef accompaniment. The finish offers notes of vanilla, cedar and hints of forest floor.  James Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR MAY 2019

 Ryan Patrick Redhead Red

Cash Price $9.99

This Redhead is a Cabernet heavy blend that offers blackberry and black cherry with a core of chocolate covered raspberries. Hints cedar and vanilla play on the finish. Pair with Provence herb crusted lamb shanks.
Leopard’s Leap Shiraz

Cash Price $10.99

South Africa continues to build momentum in the wine world. Shiraz is popping off the shelves because it offers flavors of black cherry and plum with undertones of pepper and spice. Pair with smoky, spicy chili.
Chateau Maroutine Bordeaux Red

Cash Price $9.99

Maroutine is a Merlot based blend that is silky smooth from start to finish. Flavors of red currant and wild red berries are rounded with whiffs of vanilla and toasted cedar. Pair with bone-in ribeye and sautéed mushrooms.
Segura Viudas Extra Dry Sparkling

Cash Price $10.99

Extra Dry actually means that this sparkler has a kiss of sweetness on the palate. Ripe and fruity flavors of citrus, white peach and apple blossoms flow into hints of baked pie crust. Pair with butternut squash risotto.
Liberation de Paris Cabernet Sauvignon

Cash Price $9.99

Liberation frees the palate with tantalizing flavors of black cherry and blackberry with hints of truffle and dark mocha. Pair with your favorite couch and sports team at the end of a long day.
Lockwood Cabernet Sauvignon

Cash Price $10.99

This vibrant wine offers fleshy flavors of plum and blackberry with just a smidgeon of toasted oak and vanilla on the finish. Pair with sticky BBQ beef ribs.

 

Michel-Schlumberger Chardonnay

Cash Price $10.99

Here we have a delicious Chardonnay for daily consumption. Bright flavors of melon and pineapple sink into a rich, creamy finish. Pair with Salmon fish cakes, butter and a mixed vegetable medley.

 

Fairhall Cliffs Sauvignon Blanc

Cash Price $8.49

Pool weather is coming! Better stock up on this awesome Blanc. Fresh flavors of grapefruit and citrus blossom lift into bright notes of lemon and prickly pear. Pair with the pool on a nice, sunny day.

 

KWV Classic Moscato

Cash Price $9.99

KWV is a delightfully floral wine with flavors of white peach, apricot and wild flowers that softly waft into hints of sweetness and beeswax. Pair with spicy beef Szechuan.

 

Trumpeter Malbec by Rutini

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.

 

Particular Old Vine Garnacha

Cash Price $8.99

Garnacha is one of the hottest grapes on the market. Try this beauty that offers flavors of zesty, ripe black cherry and bramble with touches of oak nuance and a powerfully long, juicy finish. Pair with bacon wrapped chicken skewers.

 

Reserve St. Marc Chardonnay

Cash Price $6.59

Sometimes a wine can just be perfectly fine and tasty while not breaking the bank. Flavors of green apples and pear pop into an un-oaked, refreshing finish of white flowers. Pair with your next big outdoor event.
James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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Sonoma County: A Diversity of wines with a farmer’s mentality (Seats still available!)

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

There are still seats available for this class!  Join me in a toast to our fallen heroes….and learn about one of the best regions for wine in the United States! 10 seats still available!

RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

I am pleased to offer my Second class of the year.  I focused on Napa Valley last tasting.  For this class, I’d like to walk you through one of the more diverse regions in California: Sonoma County.  Some California’s best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon come from this region.  Sonoma may not have the rock star mentality of Napa Valley as the folks tend to have a farmer’s mentality, but the wines are quietly some of the best produced in the United States.

In this class I will dive into the AVA’s within Sonoma County, showing wines from different areas and grapes showing what makes Sonoma such a hallowed ground for many of the best vineyards in the United States.  We will walk through the sub American Viticultural Areas within Sonoma learning about soil structure, grapes, vintages, wine-making techniques and much more.  We will taste wines from the regions to understand the unique differences of the areas.

This will be a wonderful experience as we will taste wines from all over Sonoma County with some single vineyard wines to help give a sense of place to each area.

I will have a selection of cheese and bread to nibble.

Seating is limited. Don’t miss out on this amazing tasting!

RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

What: Sonoma County: A diversity of wines with a farmer’s mentality hosted by James Barlow

When: Monday, May 27th from 6:30-8:00pm

Where: Prohibition Texas Bar in Old Town Spring: 26420 Preston Ave, Spring, TX 77373

Cost: $45 Per Person

Wines to be poured:

  1. Gloria Ferrer Brut N/V (Carneros)
  2. Dry Creek Fume Blanc (Dry Creek)
  3. Chalk Hill Chardonnay (Chalk Hill)
  4. Lucie Chardonnay (Russian River)
  5. En Route Pinot Noir (Russian River)
  6. Cherry Pie Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)
  7. Lancaster Red Blend (Alexander Valley)
  8. Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley)
  9. Ridge ‘Pagani Ranch’ Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley)

and maybe a few others depending on time….

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MAY 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

May has been welcoming us with some rather damp weather, yet it seems like this summer will be a scorcher. I must say that I cannot believe that it’s almost halfway through the year already.  This month I have chosen a excellent medley of wines that are focused on the mid-tier price point for the most part. I am constantly searching for that $20 bottle that tastes like $40….or that $40 which tastes like $75.  I think you all will enjoy these selections that are quite the over-achievers. I just found out as I was writing this that I will be traveling to Napa Valley in July to visit with the Napa Valley Vintners Association. Woot Woot! Enjoy!

Schild Estate Reserve Shiraz 2011

Barossa Valley, Australia

Cash Price $39.89

Good Shiraz can rival some of the best Syrah in the world.  Ben Schild Estate Reserve is a single vineyard, old vine Shiraz that absolutely stuns from start to finish. This winery makes high quality wines at all price points in the hills of the esteemed Barossa Valley with vines up to 160 years old.  The wine is deep, dark and inky with well formed legs. It shows medium plus intensity with flavors of dark plum and blueberry with tertiary notes of smoked meat, pepper, and dried tobacco leaf. The finish is well structured and enticingly long with hints of sandalwood, mocha and vanilla coffee beans.  James Score: 94 Points

Kenefick ‘Pickett Road’ Red Blend 2015

Calistoga, California

Cash Price $39.89

Kenefick has long been one of my favorite producers in Calistoga producing wines from sustainable farming using 100% estate grown fruit for over three decades. The wine is a blend of 44% Merlot/44% Petit Verdot/12% Cabernet Franc aged for 18 months in French oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine has a ruby core with medium plus intensity from the Petit Verdot. Flavors of black cherry and plum bounce into hints of juicy black raspberry and milk chocolate. The mid palate is silky smooth, yet firm with underlying notes of blackberry pie and just a kiss of creamy toffee. Yum!  James Score: 93 Points

Louis de Sacy Demi-Sec N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $29.99

I recently had the pleasure of taking Mr. Alain Sacy around to several locations throughout Houston to taste his dynamic products with our staff. He is a 12th generation grape grower and 4th generation wine maker. In other words….It’s 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, but he understands that the American palate tends to have a touch of a sweet tooth so he has produced this wine specifically for Spec’s to carry.  Demi-Sec Champagne can have from 32-50 grams of residual sugar (Coca-Cola has 40+ grams per can) which adds sweetness without it being dessert sweet.  Alain stayed on the drier side of the demi-sec category, so this wine has just a hint of perceptible sweetness.  The wine is richly aromatic with wild flowers and honeycombs with tight, clean bubbles. Hints of wild berry and citrus play on the palate with a whiff of mousse on the finish.  James Score: 90 Points

Salcis Tempranillo Crianza 2013

Ribera Del Duero, Spain

Cash Price $27.99

I recently traveled to Ribera Del Duero and while I did not visit this winery, I tasted the wine at a gathering and was quite impressed. The region had much beauty and delicious wine to show us. The main grape of this region is Tinta del Pais aka Tempranillo.  Wines from this region typically offer more French oak rather than the traditional American oak and the grape tends towards a more juicy and robust style than the classic Tempranillo of Rioja.  This offering was quite gracious with flavors of red cherries and plum with medium intensity.  The mid palate shows leather and sandalwood with hints of exotic spice. The finish is pure and expressive with notes of vanilla, cedar and toasted hazelnuts.  James Score: 89 Points

Freelander ‘District One’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

California

Cash Price $15.99

This new addition to our portfolio is built to be a user friendly, daily drinking Cabernet that doesn’t break the bank.  This Cabernet checks all the boxes in flavor profile.  Racy and deep flavors of blackberry and cassis flow easily into medium intensity.  Notes of black raspberry and vanilla offer a creamy core with hints of blueberry cobbler.  The finish is soft and plush with hints of toasted oak and graham crackers.  James Score: 90 Points

Manzoni Chardonnay 2014

Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Cash Price $26.99

The Santa Lucia Highlands is one of the hidden gem AVA’s for producing dynamite Chardonnay.  This wine comes from Vigna Monte Nero Vineyard on the cooler northern stretches of SLH. The vintage was exceptional and it followed through in the glass.  Vibrant flavors of pineapple, mango and orange blossoms are quite present on the palate with a rich creamy core on the mid palate.  There is a dense vivacity on the backbone that keeps this wine in focus and balanced.  The finish shows tinges of papaya and nectarines with a bit of exotic spice and vanilla. James Score: 91 Points

Chateau Bonnete Merlot 2016

Bordeaux, France 

Cash Price $14.99

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

Pink Pegau Dry Rose 2018

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $14.99

This Dry Rose is consistently one of my favorite wines for the blazingly hot summers of Houston.  It is an 80% Cinsault blend with bits of Grenache and Carignan sourced from the vineyards of Laurence Feraud in Sorgues (4 miles south of Chateauneuf du Pape).  Pegau doesn’t produce any wines short of spectacular. Period. Always know you have quality when you pop a bottle of Pegau.  Pink Pegau offers wild strawberries and watermelon that linger on medium plus acidity.  The mid palate hits with wild red berries and red cherry with just a hint of white pepper and red roses.  The finish shows tinges of minerality with a whiff of red apples and peach.  James Score: 91 Points

Malco Icon Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Curico Valley, Chile 

Cash Price $24.99

Chile is offering some of the best $20 Cabernet Sauvignons in the world. They have excellent structure and most have gotten rid of the ‘green’ flavors that hindered the wines of the past.  This 2017 offering is from the middle ranges of Chile where some of the finer Cabs in the area are found. The wine has a dark ruby, almost opaque, color with medium plus intensity.  Flavors of black cherry and currant lay on broad tannins with hints of licorice and dark chocolate.  The finish is layered, offering notes of vanilla, cigar box and toffee.  James Score: 91 Points

Hans Lang Riesling Kabinett 2014

Rheingau, Germany

Cash Price $17.99

Hans Lang is producing some of the best priced Riesling in the Rheingau.  The Domaine owns 18 hectare of Certified Organic property.  They are part of the prestigious Charta Association and the VDP.  The wines continue to shine and seem to get better every time I try them.  This off-dry Riesling offers flavors of crisp green apples and white flowers with a vivacious acidity that balances the soft sweetness of lanolin and beeswax. Hints of minerality show through the core with touches of Meyer lemon and jasmine. Yum!  James Score: 92 points

Rizzi Dolcetto D’Alba 2017

Piedmont, Italy

Cash Price $23.49

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

Salentein Pinot Noir 2016

Uco Valley, Argentina

Cash Price $18.99

I’ve been fortunate to visit this winery a couple of times over the past several years.  I have always been quite impressed with the quality produced from this winery for the price point.  The winery is completely state of the art with no expense spared and the wines show that quality.  This Pinot Noir has been one of my go-to Pinot’s for many years.  Delicious flavors of ripe strawberries and candied cherries.  Medium plus acids and medium tannins are well integrated with kisses of spice and cola.  The finish is silky and complex with hints of vanilla, cedar and hazelnuts.  James Score: 91 Points

Fontaleoni Sangiovese 2016

Chianti (Colli Senesi), Italy

Cash Price $12.49

Fontaleoni is a new offering from the iconic portfolio of Marc de Grazia. This wine is 100% Sangiovese from the prized region of Colli Senesi within the Chianti DOCG.   The wine is light ruby in color.  It is deliciously refreshing with flavors of red cherry and cranberry that pop into the palate with medium intensity.  Hints of balsamic notes and white pepper play on the clean, easy finish.  James Score 88 Points.

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

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Sonoma County: A diversity of wines with a farmer’s mentality hosted by James Barlow

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to offer my Second class of the year.  I focused on Napa Valley last tasting.  For this class, I’d like to walk you through one of the more diverse regions in California: Sonoma County.  Some California’s best Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Cabernet Sauvignon come from this region.  Sonoma may not have the rock star mentality of Napa Valley as the folks tend to have a farmer’s mentality, but the wines are quietly some of the best produced in the United States.

In this class I will dive into the AVA’s within Sonoma County, showing wines from different areas and grapes showing what makes Sonoma such a hallowed ground for many of the best vineyards in the United States.  We will walk through the sub American Viticultural Areas within Sonoma learning about soil structure, grapes, vintages, wine-making techniques and much more.  We will taste wines from the regions to understand the unique differences of the areas.

This will be a wonderful experience as we will taste wines from all over Sonoma County with some single vineyard wines to help give a sense of place to each area.

I will have a selection of cheese and bread to nibble.

Seating is limited. Don’t miss out on this amazing tasting!

RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

What: Sonoma County: A diversity of wines with a farmer’s mentality hosted by James Barlow

When: Monday, May 27th from 6:30-8:00pm

Where: Prohibition Texas Bar in Old Town Spring: 26420 Preston Ave, Spring, TX 77373

Cost: $45 Per Person

Wines to be poured:

  1. Gloria Ferrer Brut N/V (Carneros)
  2. Dry Creek Fume Blanc (Dry Creek)
  3. Chalk Hill Chardonnay (Chalk Hill)
  4. Lucie Chardonnay (Russian River)
  5. En Route Pinot Noir (Russian River)
  6. Cherry Pie Pinot Noir (Sonoma Coast)
  7. Lancaster Red Blend (Alexander Valley)
  8. Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon (Alexander Valley)
  9. Ridge ‘Pagani Ranch’ Zinfandel (Sonoma Valley)

and maybe a few others depending on time….

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF APRIL 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email. As you all know, I was recently in Spain and it took awhile to catch back up on things before I could get to this blog.  But here we are!  April is in full bloom and Easter is right around the corner. I have decided to make red blends a focus this month as I have tried numerous delightful wines lately that are based on blending grapes.  Enjoy!

Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

Blue Rock is an all estate produced winery that is located right next to Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley property.  The 2015 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 plus legs. The palate offers delicious flavors of blueberry and black cherry that sinew softly into medium intensity.  The wine is silky smooth with complex notes of cedar, vanilla and touches of spice.  The finish is rocking with blackberry cobbler and cigar box that sinks into a velvet finish.  Layered and lively.  James Score: 94 Points

Riglos Cabernet Franc 2016

Uco Valley, Argentina

Cash Price $29.99

Late last year, I had the marketing manager in town to host a consumer event in The Woodlands.  He tasted me through the entire portfolio.  I was highly impressed with the entire line, but (all you know I’m a sucker for good Cab Franc) the Cabernet Franc was particularly appealing to me.  The wine is 100% single varietal from a single vineyard.  Riglos offers dark blackberry and plum fruit with a spicy core of pepper and minerality.  It has medium intensity.  There is a creamy sensation prevalent on the mid palate that gives way to a wonderfully long finish that is chalked full of graham cracker, vanilla and toasted nuts.  James Score: 92 Points

Stewart Cellars Merlot 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

Michael Stewart has Houston roots from the oil industry, but has made California his home.  The 2014 vintage really shined on this Merlot from Brokenrock Ranch vineyard that was aged for 20 months in new French oak barrels. The wine shows dark red color with medium legs. The palate offers flavors of bright raspberries and candied red cherries pop freshly into medium intensity.  The wine is deliciously vibrant and showy.  The finish is silky fun with touches of plum, cocoa and toasted oak. Awesome Merlot! James Score: 93 Points

Summers Andrianna Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa/Sonoma, California

Cash Price $19.94

I have some unfortunate news from this winery.  Last year, Jim Summers surprisingly passed away.  His wife, Beth, has since decided to sell the winery.  Summers Andriana’s Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon has been one of the best sellers in our entire portfolio for years.  Now, it will be going away.  We were able to procure one last large shipment, so if you love this wine then it is time to STOCK UP! The wine shows dark red/purple color with medium legs.  The palate is deliciously smooth and approachable.  This magnificent Cabernet offers flavors of black cherry and currant with medium intensity.  Notes of cedar, vanilla and exotic spices tickle the long, seamless finish. Get it while you can! James Score: 90 Points

Block 807 Chardonnay 2017

Chalone, California

Cash Price $19.94

This newest installment of The Vineyard Block Estate Chardonnay was sourced from the cooler Chalone AVA in the Central Coast.  As you all know, the Block wines are always  solid wines at a value price.  This Chardonnay really excels for under $20.  The wine offers a cooler climate feel to its flavor profile without losing the distinct California notes.  Flavors Meyer lemon and melon flow through medium light intensity which is rounded out by just a hint of cream and nuts.   The wine has an underlying core of minerality of wet rocks and flint. The finish is pure and fresh with hints of tree fruit, vanilla and oak.  James Score: 90 Points

Vigneti Di Ettore Ripasso Classico Superiore Red Blend 2016

Valpolicella, Italy

Cash Price $26.99

This Veneto winery is brand new to our portfolio and I am SUPER stoked to be able to offer them to you.  Ettore was established in 1930 and is located in the hills of Negrar within the Valpolicella Classico zone at 250-400 meter in elevation. The wines are made with the traditional grapes of the region such as Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara. The winery is also practicing Organic vineyard management.  Stewed fruits of cherry pie and raspberry compote flow into medium plus intensity with plenty of alcohol on the palate. The mid palate offers a plethora of exotic spices with smidgeons of brown molasses and black pepper. The finish is easy and supple with blueberry cobbler and currant.  James Score: 90 Points

Albert Bichot Sparkling N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $18.99

Albert Bichot has become some of more consistently clean and delicious wines coming out of a negociant in Burgundy.  Recently, Christian Ciamos (commercial manager) of Bichot taught a class on terroir for the Spec’s employees.  We tasted through a good portion of their portfolio.  The Cremant specifically caught my eye as a little jewel that should be shared!  Persistently fine bubbles flowed from the glass with touches of gold highlights. White flowers popped into the palate with a citrus backbone.  The mid palate showed lees aging that offered hazelnut, cream and brioche. The finish was clean and appealing with touches of lime and minerals.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau D’Aussieres Red Blend 2016

Corbieres, France

Cash Price $26.99

Corbieres is a hidden gem for quality wine in France.  First Growth Bordeaux producer Lafite Rothschild purchased vineyards in this area with the intent of making ‘Grand Cru’ quality wine.  They have certainly achieved that feat with this wine.  The 2016 vintage smiled on the South of France with an exceptional harvest that has produced beautiful wines.  This wine is primarily Syrah based with Grenache and Mourvedre that has been aged for 16 months in oak and selected from only the finest plots in the vineyard.  Flavors of black cherry and black currant race through the palate with medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of toasted cedar and licorice sinew harmoniously through the mid palate with exquisite complexity.  The finish offers hints of gingerbread, vanilla, and clove.  D’Aussieres is a tremendously sleek wine from one of the best producers in the world!  James Score: 91 Points

Moccagatto Barbera D’Alba 2016

Piedmont, Italy

Cash Price $21.69

Barbera season is now as the temperature begins to rise and the Houston heat becomes the norm. Barbera is a perfect summer red with fresh fruit, good acidity and a pleasant sensibility.  Put a chill on this red and it pairs beautifully with many dishes.  Moccagatto is brand new to our portfolio and I was quite impressed with their 100% Barbera that was aged for 6 months in new barrique.  Deliciously fresh flavors of strawberry and bright red cherries zing into medium intensity.  The mid palate is fleshy and offers notes of wild flowers and rose petals with just a hint of spiced vanilla and white pepper.  Structured and lively.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Clarettes Rose 2017

Cotes de Provence, France

Cash Price  $18.99

Dry Rose wines are one of the hottest categories in the world right now with massive growth from year to year. Provence is the king when it comes to light Rose on the market.  The color is light pink with just a hint of gold and medium legs.   Flavors of supple raspberry and wild peaches flow through citrus with medium intensity.  The wine is clean and flavorful with a pleasantly pure finish that shows white fruit and just a kiss of red fruit.  It is versatile enough to pair with food or drink poolside.  James Score: 89 Points

L’Espigouette Vacqueyras Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $22.99

Vacqeyras has become a Sommelier darling region for it depth and complexity in the Rhone Valley.  It is a region in the Southern Rhone where most of the grapes grown are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  These are the main grapes in the blend with Grenache being the heavy favorite.  The wine is dark red in color with hints of purple.  The palate offers an explosion of flavor with black cherry, currant and blueberries with an almost jammed quality.  The wine is balanced but has massive mouthfeel.  The mid palate shows full intensity with notes of garrigue and exotic spices with a subtle cream on the core.  The finish is long and integrated with just a kiss of oak and sweet tannins.  James Score: 92 Points

Dead Zed Red Blend 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Paso Robles is blowing up as a region with Zinfandel and Rhone varieties showing excellent potential in the market. This is also a new wine to our portfolio.  The wine is a Grenache/Zinfandel/Syrah blend with plenty of alcohol (15.8%).  Wines with this magnitude and catchy labels aren’t usually my thing but I must admit….I really liked what was in the glass when I tried it.  The color shows good dark color and medium plus legs. The palate offered a delightful note of smokey tar and smoked meat from the start with plenty of dark bramble and blackberry.  The mid palate showed medium plus intensity with hints of bacon fat and toasty vanilla.  The finish was long and easy with more dark fruit, dark cocoa and hints of exotic spice.  James Score: 89 Points

Cru Viceroy Red Blend 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $14.99

Cru winery has been producing solid, affordable wines for quite awhile in our portfolio.  This is their new GSM red blend. The wine is 41%Grenache/41%Syrah/18%Mourvedre that is tailored to show off the versatility of the winemaker. The wine has medium red color and medium legs. It is aged for 16 months in 20% new French oak.  The palate offers juicy flavors of red cherry and raspberry with touch a touch of darker fruit with medium intensity. The finish shows notes of blueberry cobbler and just a smidgeon of black pepper that is rounded out by the richness.  Yum.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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