JAMES BARLOW BACK IN STORE FOR A LIMITED TIME AND ‘STEALS OF THE MONTH’ FOR NOVEMBER 2017

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have Great News!  Next Tuesday and Wednesday the 21st and 22nd of November, I will be on the floor at Spec’s Rayford/Sawdust to aid you all with your Thanksgiving Day choices.  So make sure to come in, say HI!, and catch up with me while we walk through the best wine selections in the Great State of Texas!

Email me if you would like to set up an appointment

***I also plan to be at that location EVERY Wednesday and Thursday throughout December, so come ask for me to make sure you maximize your beverage selections!***

Perelada Reserva Especial Sparkling Brut N/V

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $11.99

Want bubbles that drinks like $40, but at a fraction of the price?  Look no further!  Citrus, melon and pear flavors are whipped on top of 27 months of lees aging (9 months is the law) that shows toasty brioche, creamy confection with hints of almonds and buttered bread. WOW!  James Score: 90 Points

Pins des Dunes Rose 2016

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $9.99

Rose is a perfect Gobbler Pairing wine!  Pins offers flavors of bubblegum dust, strawberry, and juicy fruit with medium plus acidity.  The mid palate shows crushed rocks and sweet jam.  The finish is packed full of jolly rancher and watermelon.  James Score: 90 Points

Peter Nicolay Piesporter Michelsberg Riesling Kabinett 2016

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $9.99

German Riesling is often overlooked for pairing.  This wine is off-dry (lightly sweet) but with plenty of acidity to liven up the sweetness.  Flavors of apple, lemon blossom and  white flowers are licked by whiffs of honeycomb and sweet tart.  No oak.  James Score: 87 Points

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS

Advertisements
Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS FOR THANKSGIVING 2017

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to run full force into the holidays.  It’s time to celebrate the important things in life with such a tumultuous year we have all endured.  I am ready to break bread with family and friends with all the fixings!  Thanksgiving is my personal favorite holiday of the year because of my wine and food background.  If you want to really impress the people at your table this Thanksgiving this year, take this list down to your local Spec’s and pick up a bottle or two or thirteen of my selections and you’ll be sure to shine with family and the food!

On a personal note, THANK YOU to everyone that supported the LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS Hurricane Harvey Fundraising event that we held at Pallotta’s last month.  We raised $20,235.00 (our goal was $10,000) for the Montgomery County Crisis Assistance Center!!!!!!!  All the money stays right here in this county to help our neighbors in need.

Michel Mailliard ‘Cuvee Alexia’ Brut Rose Premier Cru N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $49.99

Located in the famous sparkling town of Vertus in the Cote de Blancs, Michel Mailliard is a fourth generation Premier Cru producer.  ‘Cuvee Alexia’ is lovingly named after his daughter.  This Bubbly is a veritable fruit cocktail with clean, delicious sparkles from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir that is quite dry on the palate.  Flavors of strawberry, raspberry and bing cherries explode in the palate.  The mid palate shows fleshy citrus fruits that are encompassed by a rich, creamy complexity that mellows into touches of dark chocolate and rose petals.  The finish sings with gracefully tight bubbles that dance melodically  with hints of chocolate mousse, cherry pie and all things delicious!  This Premier Cru Champagne is a must for the WOW! factor at your Turkey Day table.  James Score 94+ Points

Alma Rosa Pinot Noir 2014

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $34.99

I was able to try through this winery’s portfolio a couple of months ago and immediately I knew I would review one of their Pinot Noir’s for Thanksgiving.  The vineyards of Alma Rosa were planted by famous Sta. Rita Hills Icon Richard Sanford.  His family has been producing classic Pinot 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 for 16 months in oak in 20% New French Oak.  This 100% Pinot Noir exudes essences of silky smooth blackberries and plum with supple tannins and acids.  The mid palate gives ample amounts of exotic spices with smidgeons of cracked cinnamon sticks, graham crackers and brown sugar.  Touches of minerality and herbs flow through the finish with hints of vanilla, dried cranberry, cocoa and just a whiff of cedar.  Beautiful!  James Score: 93 Points

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

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $36.99

I think that Barbera is the perfect red wine for the state of Texas.  This ‘under the radar’ grape is a dynamic pairing for beast or fowl.  It is extremely flavorful with higher acidity to quench your thirst while showing minimal dry tannins.  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.  This is that OMG wine that will surely impress the family!   James Score: 94 Points

Monticello Vineyards Chardonnay 2014

Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $26.99

I have been an ardent fan of this balanced California Chardonnay for years.  I am often put off by the ‘Over The Top’ Chardonnays that are meal in your mouth wines.  I like my Chardonnay to pair with my food, not be the food!  The Corley family has been producing Napa Valley wines since 1969.  The vineyards are sustainably farmed and the fruit used in this wine is all estate and fermented in French Oak.  This wine is distinctly California Chardonnay, but has a classic Burgundian elegance.  The 100% Chardonnay shows vibrant flavors of green apples and pear that meld gorgeously into medium acids.  The mid palate shows touches of butterscotch, cream and truffles that touch just a hint of tannin.  The body is expressive and opulent without being overly weighty.  The finish shows kisses of vanilla bean, cedar and roasted nuts.  James Score: 90 Points

Le Monde Ribolla Gialla 2016

Friuli Venizia Giulia, Italy

Cash Price $17.89

This white has secretly become one of my favorite wines in our entire portfolio.  I would’ve written it up in previous vintages, but we received such a small allocation that I couldn’t justify it.  Fortunately, we now have a larger allocation so I can share this wine with you all!  Ribolla Gialla is a rarely seen grape from Northern Italy (typically in Friuli) that makes Pinot Grigio seems like watered down water.  The winery is located in one of the best places in Italy to produce white wine, Friuli Grave DOC, and follow organic, sustainable and biodynamic practices.  The wine is completely un-oaked and bursting with energy!  Frenetic flavors of orange zest, papaya, and lemon citrus soften the backbone of acidity.  The mid palate offers a sweet tartness that tickles the taste buds with hints of wet rocks and flint.  The finish is delightfully clean with whiffs of wild meadow flowers and candied peaches.  I am truly in love with this wine!  *This is a re post, but I felt that this wine would be an amazing fit at your family gathering this year.  James Score: 93 Points

Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc 2014

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $18.99

I am in love with Cabernet Franc.  Little think of the grape with pairings, but I find it to be amazingly versatile.  Dr. Konstantin Frank was extremely influential in the growing of the Vitis Vinifera vine species in the Northeast.  He is credited with being the first to successfully produce vinifera wines in New York.  The American vine species dominated the vineyards until he was able to master the art of Vinifera.  Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite varietals (father of Cabernet Sauvignon) on earth.  The grape can produce spectacular wines with bursting flavor and complexity.  The wine is lighter in style, so it will pair wonderfully with ham or fried turkey with big sloppings of mashed potatoes and gravy.  Cabernet Franc from cooler regions are well suited to be drunk in warmer climates because of the higher acid content and brighter fruits.  Flavors of vibrant black cherry, cranberry and wild red berries zing through medium plus acidity and medium tannins.  The mid palate is refreshing with complex acids and touches of leather and sun dried tomatoes.  The finish shows 18 months of European and American oak aging with hints of cedar, smoked tar, and black pepper.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Tour Leognan Blanc 2016

Pessac Leognan, France

Cash Price $23.99

Most people think of New Zealand when conjuring up images of Sauvignon Blanc.  I challenge you to fall in love with one of the best regions for Sauvignon Blanc in the world: Bordeaux, France.  Chateau Tour Leognan is the 2nd label of famed Chateau Carbonnieux in Pessac Leognan which happens to be one of my favorite white wine producers on earth.  This winery is owned by the Perrin family and consistently makes my favorite white Bordeaux.  Tour Leognan may be a second label, but has a first label quality.  The wine is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon with a small amount of French oak aging which I only noticed on the nose.  Vibrant flavors of grapefruit, citrus and cactus are encompassed by medium plus acidity and just a whiff of tannin.  The mid palate offers a distinct minerality of cracked stones that leads into meadow flowers.  The finish offers tinges of vanilla with a clean, refreshing mouth feel.  This wine will be a spectacular match for white meats on your table.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Pegau ‘Maclura’ Cotes du Rhone Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, 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

Dubost Gamay 2015

Beaujolais Villages, France

Cash Price $14.99

Beaujolais is finally shrugging off the stigmatism that they only produce cheap Nouveau wine that you only buy once a year to put on the table for Thanksgiving Day festivities.  This region is producing stunningly elegant and refreshing red wines that are complex and age worthy. Gone are the Nouveau days….Enter the new age of high quality Cru and Beaulojais-Villages wines!   Vibrant flavors of red cherries and cranberry burst into the palate with tinges of freshly picked strawberry and boysenberry.  The wine offers medium plus acids with medium minus tannins and minimal oak influence. Dubost is all about offering refreshing red fruits with deliciously thirst quenching acidity.  Pick up the REAL Beaujolais this holiday and get prepared to be blown away! YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Frey Sohler Pinot Blanc Reserve 2015

Alsace, France

Cash Price $14.99

Alsatian wines are the best food pairing wines on earth.  The 2015 was picture perfect throughout most of France and the vintage will go down in history as one of the finest in the century.  Frey Sohler wines have always been solid, but this particular vintage is really something special.  Alsace is quite warm, so you can get some of the juiciest, rich white wines in all of France from this small region nestled right by the German border.  This 100% Pinot Blanc is elegant yet surprisingly expressive.  Flavors of citrus, lychee and gardenias fall into a perfectly balanced medium plus acidity that wraps around the wine like a snuggly fleece.  The mid palate shows rounded melon and pear while still offering a floral component with a citrus backbone.  The finish is pure and lip-smacking!  This wine is a dark horse winner, so make sure it’s on your table this holiday season!  James Score: 91 Points

Pierre Archambault Chenin Blanc 2016

Vouvray, France

Cash Price $11.99

Chenin Blanc from Vouvray is one of my ‘go to’ whites for Thanksgiving.  The wines are vinified slightly sweet (Demi-Sec), but with good acidity to give balance.  Pierre Archambault has become a tradition for our pre Thanksgiving festivities.  My wife, her sisters, and mother all enjoy sipping this gem while preparing the feast.  Deliciously un-oaked, this wine offers stone fruits with loads of lychee and apricot.  The wine has licks of sweetness throughout but isn’t overly sweet by any means.  The acidity is medium and has beautiful precision in the wine to balance the residual sugars.  Loads of white flowers, quince and touches of minerality quaff through the mid palate.  The finish is light and refreshing with hints of almond and citrus.  Archambault is a wine that will surely be the monster hit with the pre meal festivities as it is a great aperitif!  James Score: 88 Points

Domaine Cabasse ‘Le Rose de Marie’ Rose 2016

Seguret, France

Cash Price $13.99

Dry Rose is my drink of choice during the time leading up to the un-belt buckling feast.  Anne et Benoit Baudry of Domaine Cabasse has consistently put out one of my favorite Dry Rose’s year after year.  The wine is outstanding every vintage and a staple in my cellar.  It is a Grenache based wine with loads of character from other grapes such as Syrah, Carignan and Counoise.  Flavors of freshly picked strawberries and raspberries zing into zesty acids with tinges of citrus and white pepper.  The mid palate offers notes of red roses and wild meadow flowers.  The finish is clean and thirst quenching with smidgeons of pomegranate and wild red berries.  Be ready make Rose a daily drinker after trying this Thanksgiving Stunner!  James Score: 90 Points

Dr. Pauly ‘Noble House’ Dornfelder Sweet Red 2016

Rheinhessen, Germany

Cash Price $9.99

The odds are there is a member of your family that will absolutely not drink dry wine, but would still like a glass…or two.  Fear not!  Dornfelder is perfect with turkey and offers touches of sweetness throughout the core of the wine.  The wine has low tannins and just a hint of sweetness that will keep your family member happy while still being deliciously quaffable for the rest of the family as well.  Dr. Pauly offers red cherries and raspberries with lively acidity that melds easily with the juicy fruit character of the wine.  This wine is unpretentious, yet still has plenty of character.  This is a great wine to open for the pre feast activities because of its low alcohol content and slurpability!  James Score: 87 Points

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

RIEDEL CONSUMER TASTING: ONLY 10 SEATS LEFT!

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I ONLY HAVE 10 SPOTS LEFT FOR THIS EVENT IN THE WOODLANDS!  IF YOU CAN’T MAKE IT THIS THURSDAY, WE WILL BE OFFERING THE SAME CLASS AT OUR FLAGSHIP SMITH STREET LOCATION ON FRIDAY, NOVEMBER 10TH FROM 6:30-8:00PM. RSVP TO RSVP_HOUSTON@SPECSONLINE.COM OR RSVP_WOODLANDS@SPECSONLINE.COM TO CONFIRM YOUR SEAT! DON’T MISS OUT ON THIS AMAZING EVENT!

I have the extreme pleasure of offering the VERY FIRST Spec’s Riedel Consumer Event here in The Woodlands! We have a rare opportunity for you all to truly understand how important glassware is to the flavor profile of wine. This tasting will be a ‘light bulb’ experience on what glassware you should have in your house to get the maximum flavor profile from the wine in your glass. The tasting will be held at the Oak Ridge North Location. You will be rewarded for attending by keep the 4 glasses in the tasting. (A value of $120!, need I say more?!?!)

ONLY $50 GETS YOU A SEAT IN TO THIS SPECTACULAR EVENT!

RSVP TO RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com or Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

What: Riedel Glassware Expert Tasting hosted by Riedel Expert Chris Hillin

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge Location

When: Thursday, November 9th from 6:30-8PM

Glassware to be used:

Each participant with receive a Veritas Tasting set ($120 value) and taste through 4 SPECtacular wines.

1- Veritas Zinfandel/Riesling Glass

1- Veritas Oaked Chardonnay Glass

1- Veritas Old World Pinot Noir Glass

1- Veritas Cabernet Sauvignon Glass

Developed and fine-tuned in sensory workshops, together with the world’s top experts, each glass will enhance the enjoyment of great wines by expressing the finest most delicate flavors.

See you there!

James C. Barlow,CWE,CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

Special Holiday Riedel Consumer Appreciation Event

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have the extreme pleasure of offering the VERY FIRST Spec’s Riedel Consumer Event here in The Woodlands! We have a rare opportunity for you all to truly understand how important glassware is to the flavor profile of wine. This tasting will be a ‘light bulb’ experience on what glassware you should have in your house to get the maximum flavor profile from the wine in your glass. The tasting will be held at the Oak Ridge North Location. You will be rewarded for attending by keep the 4 glasses in the tasting. (A value of $120!, need I say more?!?!)

ONLY $50 GETS YOU A SEAT IN TO THIS SPECTACULAR EVENT!

RSVP TO RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com or Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

What: Riedel Glassware Expert Tasting hosted by Riedel Expert Chris Hillin

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge Location

When: Thursday, November 9th from 6:30-8PM

Glassware to be used:

Each participant with receive a Veritas Tasting set ($120 value) and taste through 5 SPECtacular wines.

1- Veritas Zinfandel/Riesling Glass

1- Veritas Oaked Chardonnay Glass

1- Veritas Old World Pinot Noir Glass

1- Veritas Cabernet Sauvignon Glass

Developed and fine-tuned in sensory workshops, together with the world’s top experts, each glass will enhance the enjoyment of great wines by expressing the finest most delicate flavors.

See you there!

James C. Barlow,CWE,CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS WINE AND BITES BENEFIT THIS THURSDAY

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join me this upcoming Thursday, October 26th from 6:30-9:00pm to help give back to the Hurricane Harvey victims of our community.  All Proceeds of this event will be donated to CAC (Montgomery County Crisis Assistance Center).  The evening will consist of 6 local restaurants and 2 bakeries serving their best bites while I have picked delicious bubbles, Rose, Red and White wines to pair.  We have a rare treat by hosting, Kenny Kahn, Winemaker and owner of Blue Rock Vineyards who will be signing bottles and talking to you! There will be plenty of food and wine all evening while you have an opportunity to bid on 40+ silent auction items from an outside oven, specialty wines, glassware, gift baskets with hotel stays and gift cards.  This will be an event to remember that will help bring relief to the less fortunate in our community.  Tickets are $75 per person and may be purchased by going to youcaring.com/harveyrelieffund-954053 and donating $75 per person to the website.  I will then email you entry ticket/s.  We really want to sell out this event so, please donate or tell your friends, family, whoever.  You may also just donate to the cause if you are moved to do so.  See you There!  Texas Strong!Locals Supporting Locals Flyer-2

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS FUNDRAISING BENEFIT WILL HOST OWNER AND WINEMAKER OF BLUE ROCK VINEYARDS: KENNY KAHN

I am extremely excited to announce that this benefit will be hosting Kenny Kahn of Blue Rock Vineyards (Next door neighbor to Silver Oak in Alexander Valley)!  He will be signing bottles and mingling with you throughout the evening!  Don’t miss out on your chance to join us for this special event!

Please join me for the LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS Fundraising Benefit for victims of Hurricane Harvey on Thursday, October 26th.  I have put together this event for victims in our area.  Local restaurants are serving bites while I will be choosing and pouring the wine!  There will be a silent auction with some amazing wines and other items such as an outdoor grill, artwork, gift cards and hotel getaways.

To purchase a $75.00 ticket:

Just go to youcaring.com/harveyrelieffund-954053 and donate $75 per person to the fundraiser and a ticket will be emailed to you

Locals Supporting Locals Flyer-2

KENNY KAHN AND BLUE ROCK VINEYARDS BIO:

Dating back to 1880, the 100-acre Blue Rock estate tells the story of how European winemaking came to Sonoma County’s Alexander Valley. Italian immigrants brought with them olive trees, vine cuttings, and knowledge of grape growing. The region’s undulating golden hills and idyllic vistas even look reminiscent of Tuscany itself.

Blue Rock Winery was first settled by Italians who worked at the Italian-Swiss Colony winery just down the road. The original stone house was once Villa Maria winery, which closed its doors during the Prohibition Era. Acquired by Kenny and Cheryl Kahn in 1987, the Estate maintains much of its old world character. It even maintains its original olive trees that are now over 140 years old.

“In the United States, especially in California, there is so little remaining
of our past. Everything is a modern version of things that existed
before, but Blue Rock Winery is the real thing. We preserved the Estate’s old-
world style because it is a gift to our culture where so little history
remains.” – Kenny Kahn

Adding onto the property, Cheryl and Kenny imported additional olive tree cuttings from Luca, Italy
where some of the world’s best oil is produced. You’ll also discover organic vegetable gardens, a
130-year-old bocce ball court, and surrounding hillsides that offer incredible vistas. The hills are
also inhabited by wild turkeys, feral pigs, and abundant wildlife.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF OCTOBER 2017

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The HOLIDAYS are upon us.  The weather is graciously beginning to cool and this truthfully enhances my mood.  I am ready for some fun after the unfortunate events of the past several months.  So, Join me in making this 2017 Holiday season one to remember!

I am Hosting a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fundraiser on October 26th at Pallotta’s Italian Grill from 6:30-9:00PM

LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS BITES AND WINE FUNDRAISING BENEFIT is geared to give the victims of Hurricane Harvey some relief and help them rebuild their lives.  Our goal is raise $10,000 and donate 100% of the money to CAC (Montgomery County Crisis Assistance Center).  The evening will include bites from 6 local restaurants and 2 bakeries.  I will be picking and pouring the wine for the event, so you know it’ll be great!  Tickets to the event are a $75 donation to youcaring.com/harveyrelieffund-954053.  We will be holding a silent auction for numerous specialty items such as eclectic wines, an outdoor oven, and numerous gift baskets and cards from the area.  Contact me at jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com for more information or just go to the link and donate!  HOUSTON STRONG!

 

Michele Castellani ‘Colle Christi’ Amarone 2010 DOCG

Valpolicella, Italy

Cash Price $59.69

I recently re-tasted this wine and was extremely happy with the progression it has had in the bottle.  It is lush and beautiful.  I believe this is the peak time to drink this wine.  The Amarone is a blend of 70% Corvina Veronese and Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara.  After harvest, the grapes are air- dried for 4 months which concentrates the sugars and takes out the extra water and then crushed.  The resulting wine is aged in large oak barrels and French barriques for 3 years before release.  This makes a wine of pure richness that is balanced with loads of fruit and structure.  Colle Cristi roughly translates into the ‘hills of Christ’ and I could not agree more.  Divine wines are made here.  Robust flavors of raisined Moreno cherries and dried fig sinew into nuanced notes of stewed plum, brown sugar and cured meat.  The mid palate is rich to the core with marzipan and mocha with medium plus tannins and medium plus acidity.  The finish has a touch of candied fruits, truffles and traditional Christmas spices which linger longingly on the palate for an intensely long time. James Score: 97 Points

Amiral De Beychevelle 2012

St. Julien, France

Cash Price $39.89

I am always on the hunt for value Bordeaux.  I have a true love for the Cabernet produced in the commune of St. Julien.  Chateau Beychevelle is a 4th growth on the left side of the Gironde known for producing sleek, yet full bodied Cabernet based blends.  Amiral de Beychevelle is the 2nd wine from this Chateau.  I have always found very high quality in the 2nd labels of Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classe Chateaus.  The 2012 vintage was hit and miss in Bordeaux, but this wine is an absolute hit!  Dense flavors of black currant and black cherries sinew through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate has a raw depth that really engulfs the palate with notes of cigar box, graphite, and charred oak that are wrapped around a thick richness of dark fruits.  The finish offers cinnamon, leather and touches of vanilla bean that linger on the palate for a graciously long time.  James Score: 91 Points

Castelnau N/V Brut Reserve Sparkling Wine

Champagne, France

Cash Price $36.99

Castelnau 1998 Vintage Magnums were poured at one of my wine dinners last year and it reminded just how amazing this sparkling wine shows.  I recently re-tasted the n/v 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!  James Score: 94 Points

The Highwayman Red Blend 2014

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $25.99

I have always been a fan of this line and I think this is the best of what they produce. Paul Giusto and Michael Sebastiani have really outdone themselves with the 2014’s.  This blend is a Cabernet Franc heavy wine, which is probably why I really enjoy it.  Flavors of black cherry and plum sink through the palate with balanced focus.  This wine is not a rambler, it has medium plus tannins and medium acids that are well integrated.  The mid palate shows blackberry and bramble with whiffs of cedar, toasted vanilla bean and just a hint of pencil shavings.  James Score: 92 Points

Studert Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling 2014

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $25.64

The vineyards of Wehlener Sonnenuhr are considered some of the finest in all the Mosel.  Studert Prum is a winery steeped in history and fine wine making.  Quality Auslese is always lightly sweet on the palate but acidity is the great equalizer on the palate so the wine does not actually taste cloyingly sweet.  Eloquent flavors of white peach and apricot roam freely through medium plus acidity that is surrounded by a field of fresh white flowers.  The mid palate is rounder with notes of candle wax and bees wax.  The finish is chalked full of delicious minerality, citrus and lemon blossoms. Great age ability.  This wine is hauntingly good every vintage.  Make sure you try this one!  James Score: 94 Points

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico  2014

Chianti Classico, Italy

Cash Price $24.99

Castello Di Ama is one of the finest estates in Chianti.  Their Sangiovese based wines are considered some of the finest quality in all of Tuscany.  Ama offers flavors of vibrant red cherries and wild red berries that lead into zesty acids and medium tannins.  Notes of fleshy plum and cranberry waft through the mid palate with hints of earth and  spice. The finish is smooth and harmonious with touches of candied raspberry and marmalade. This wine is perfectly balanced and would cellar well for 5-7 years.  Pair this gem with a thin crust, oven roasted pizza with peppers and sausage!  James Score: 92 Points

Eberle ‘Vineyard Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.69

Gary Eberle was one of the Pioneers of Paso Robles.  This region is garnering much recognition for producing moderately priced Cabernet that can rival the quality of Napa Valley.  I am happy every time I purchase a bottle of Paso Cabernet.  Deliciously rich flavors of blackberry jam, plum and black cherry race through this slightly hedonistic wine.  The mid palate offer medium tannins and acids with a healthy dollop of delicious fruit.  Notes of currant and tobacco sleek through the mid palate.  The finish offers tones of black chocolate, toffee, and cedar with smidgeons of vanilla and hazelnuts.  James Score: 90 Points

Poggio Bello Pinot Grigio 2015

Friuli, Italy

Cash Price $17.79

The area of Colli Orientali inside of the region of Friuli is widely known to produce the best Pinot Grigio in the world.  There is a purity of flavor and terroir that is often missed in other regions that produce this varietal.  Poggio Bello shows a sleek complexity of balance, elegance and fragrance.  Flavors of citrus lemon-lime flow into the palate with smidgeons of melon and acacia.  Notes of lemon curd continue through the mid palate without any nuances of oak.  The finish is clean with continuing aromatics and hints of white flowers.  Utterly delicious for the price point.  James Score: 91 Points 

La Tercera Reserva Red 2010

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $18.99

Rioja can be hit and miss.  Tercera hit a home run with this Reserva wine.  Tempranillo is the main varietal with graciano and garnacha making up the difference.  The 2010 vintage was good to Rioja and to find an under $20 Reserva in this vintage is a no brainer.  Silky smooth red cherries and raspberry flow into medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers touches of pepper and cedar.  The finish is chalked full of minerality, dill and vanilla.  James Score: 92 Points

Marramiero ‘Dama’ Montepulciano 2014

Abruzzo, Italy

Cash Price $14.99

Marramiero is a darling winery that produces extremely high quality Montepulciano at value prices. Located between the Adriatic Sea and The Gran Sasso Mountains on the hills around Pescara, the Marramiero family has grown vines since the beginning of last century.  Dama is the daily drinker release that really exceeds expectations.  I akin the Montepulciano as somewhat similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine offers flavors of ripe red cherries and framboise with medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers hints of roasted tomato and iron that burst into red berries and red roses.  The finish is long and lingering with scant oak but plenty of fruit.  James Score: 89 Points

Dante Robino Malbec 2016

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $12.29

I am very excited to have this value Malbec in our portfolio.  It truly exceeds the price points and is a quintessential BBQ and meat wine.  This 100% Malbec is plush and delicious from the first sup.  The grapes are grown at 900 meters above sea level and aged in American oak for 4 months.  Ripe flavors of fleshy plum and black cherry sinew through medium tannins and acids.  Extremely approachable, the mid palate offers secondary flavors of black olives, cola and touches of cured meat.  The finish is silky smooth with whiffs of cedar and vanilla bean.  Must Try!  James Score: 90 Points

Novecento Sparkling Extra Brut N/V

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $12.29

I love deliciously dry bubbles.  This time of the year, I am in a fervent search for my ‘party sparkler’ to bring to all the fun festivities that the holidays entail.  I have found an absolute gem this year at a rock bottom price!  The wine is a 50/50 blend of Ugni Blanc and Chenin Blanc.  It is delightfully dry and clean from the get go.  Nuances of citrus and apple blossoms flow gracefully through a Teton of bubbles.  The mid palate shows touches of cream and mousse while still offering nice acidity on the backbone.  The finish is clean and refreshing with hints of wild flowers.  Yum!  James Score: 89 Points

Perelada ‘3 Fincas’ Red Blend 2013

Emporda, Spain

Cash Price $10.39

I fell in love with this fun red blend while visiting wineries in the Barcelona area last year.  I am a value hunter and this wine smacks of it from top to bottom.  It is a blend of primarily Carignan, Garnacha and Syrah.  Fresh and fruit driven this wine exudes flavors of black cherry and blackberry from the start with medium tannins and acids.  Dangerously approachable, this is almost a gulpable wine.  The finish shows crushed rocks, hints of earth and smoky cedar.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments