JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF APRIL 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Wow. What a March! I believe that we are now in a new month…April? I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. I have been working from home and still Covid-19 free as far as I know. Family is healthy too.  Please stay home as much as possible for everyone’s safety as we continue to flatten the curve. Spec’s offers Curbside pick up or we have just launched a new Spec’s App that helps you pick out selections from the comfort of your own home. We are using Instacart and Drizly for methods of transportation, so please download the app or get on our website (specsonline.com) to order from home.  We can get it delivered to you! Package stores (Alcohol) have been deemed ‘essential’ so don’t worry about your friendly neighborhood liquor store not being open, but please if you do venture out, be cautious and smart. We will all get through this together….with a little help from the wine! Enjoy!

Lavinea ‘Elton Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2015

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $39.89

I recently had the pleasure of bringing in this wine to our portfolio.  Willamette Valley Chardonnay is quickly becoming my ‘go to’ area for Spectacular Chardonnay! This wine is EASILY one of the best Chardonnays that I’ve had in recent memory and quite possibly one of the best I’ve tasted from the New World.  The winemaker is Isabelle Meunier (Evening Land, Domaine Vougeraie and Felton Road) whom apprenticed under famed Bourgogne winemaker Dominique Lafon.  In other words, she has excellent pedigree!  The Elton vineyard (named Oregon’s Top Ten Best Vineyards) is located in the Eola-Amity Sub AVA of Willamette Valley with elevation of about 500 feet and the well known Jory soil that makes Willamette Valley unique in profile. This silky smooth and beautifully textured wine offers harmonious flavors of white peach, granny smith apple, and whiffs of quince that dance melodically through deliciously refreshing acidity. Hints of butterscotch and cotton candy lay into a clean mineral component.  The finish offers a clean zest of key lime pie and just a kiss of vanilla. Absolutely stunning. Barlow Score: 96 Points

Parched (Bougetz) Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

Want a $70 Cabernet for $40? This is your choice!  2017 was an amazing vintage for Napa Valley. The fruit for this wine was sourced from carefully selected vineyards in the mountains and valley floor to give it excellent structure, balance and complexity.  The wine was aged for 20 months in 50% New French oak and 50% once used French oak.  Firm and Structured, this wine offers thick flavors of blackberry and black cherry with a silky core of tannins and acids that keep the fruit taught and fresh.  Notes of cassis and tobacco tingle into the mid palate with whiffs of pipe smoke.  The finish is layered and textured with hints of toasted vanilla bean, cedar and cigar box. Yum! Only 385 cases produced.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Anthill Farms Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $39.89

I have the opportunity in my job to seek out little geeky wineries that are making fabulous ‘under the radar’ wines and work on giving them their niche in the Texas retail market. This is one such producer.  The winery is known for producing minimal ecological impact (biodynamic) wines made by Anthony Filiberti.  This stunning Pinot Noir is picked from 40 year old vines with 30% whole cluster implemented then aged in 30% New French oak for 12 months.  Silky and plush, this mighty ant marches up the hill with flavors of candied raspberry and strawberry with medium intensity.  Notes of rhubarb and cola are prevalent on the mid palate with whiffs of vanilla, toast and a delightfully rich whipping cream on the finish.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Cru Winery ‘Monarch’ Red Blend 2015

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $27.99

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

Jean Baptiste Adam Reserve Riesling 2017

Alsace, France

Cash Price $17.99

Dry Riesling is one of my absolute favorite wines.  It is such a versatile grape that it can pair with darn near everything or be perfectly fine by itself.   Alsace produces some of the best DRY white wines in the world and this vintage is one of the best I have ever tasted!  This family has a history of over 400 years of being grape growers and winemakers in Alsace.  Flavors of zesty citrus and orange blossoms flow into medium plus acidity without any encumbering oak.  Touches of apricot and grapefruit sinew cleanly through hints of wet rocks.  The finish is amazingly complex with apple blossoms, wild white flowers and lychee.  This is a WOW wine.  James Score: 91 Points

Chateau Callac Prestige Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $21.84

The 2015 vintage was an absolute stunner throughout Bordeaux.  It is easy to find excellent quality in lower priced wines as one really didn’t have to work hard to produce spectacular wine.  This wine is from Graves and may be the best priced wine in our Bordeaux portfolio.  It is a blend of 60% Merlot/25% Cabernet Sauvignon/15% Cabernet Franc and aged for twelve months in French oak.  Flavors of ripe plums and currant flow easily through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows touches of earth and minerality with silky black cherry and black olive playing throughout the core.  The finish is fleshy and appealing with tinges of cedar, vanilla and red roses.  James Score: 90 Points

Portlandia Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $17.99

This fun and fresh 100% Pinot Noir  from Willamette Valley was aged in 60% French oak for 11 months and is an absolute bargain under $20.  Bright red cherries dance into the palate with bits of crunchy raspberry that meld into medium intensity.  The mid palate offers hints of creamy wild berries and cranberry with just a touch of rhubarb and underbrush on the finish. This is a no brainer value Pinot Noir. Barlow Score 88 Points

Klinker Brick ‘Brickmason’ (Zinfandel) Red Blend 2016

Lodi, California

Cash Price $16.99

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

Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ Chardonnay 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

Twisted Paso has become one of my favorite ‘Every Day’ wines that over delivers for the price point. Paso Robles continues to produce exciting wines that don’t carry the price burden of its wineries to the North (Napa Valley).  This soft and plush Chard offers flavors of pineapple and melon sinew easily into medium acids that are ensconced by hints of hazelnut, vanilla cream and orchard fruit. The finish is balanced and mellow with smidgeons of caramel and toffee. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Chateau de Haut Serre Grand Vin Seigneur Malbec 2015

Cahors, France

Cash Price $21.84

Chateau Haut Serre is owned by arguably the best producer in Cahors, Georges Vigouroux.  The wine is 90% Malbec with smidgeons of Merlot and Tannat and aged for twelve months in 30% New French oak.  This powerhouse black wine is thick and meaty from start to finish.  Flavors of black currant and blackberry sink into brooding tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows herbs and spice with touches of dark cherry and tar.  The finish is full of clove, cinnamon and vanilla with tinges of leather and mushrooms.  James Score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘High Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Lake County, California

Cash Price $15.99

Clay Shannon is producing some of the best Cabernet grapes, sustainably farmed, that are still affordable in the region of Lake County at an average elevation of 2,000 ft.  This delicious mountain Cabernet was sourced from one of his favorite blocks, (so much so that he named it after his mother) Betsy’s vineyard. Thick Mountain fruit flavors of blackberry and dark cherry explode into a fruit driven freight train that is kept on the tracks by excellent acids and tannins to hold it in balance. French oak gives this mountain fruit some texture and notes of exotic spice and vanilla.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Girasole Organic ‘Hybrid’ Red Blend 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

We are extremely pleased to add this ORGANIC value winery to our portfolio.  It is rare to get organic wine at such a great price point.  This every day red blend is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel from a little Italian family that has been farming in Mendocino forever. Ripe, crunchy red fruits pop into the palate offering flavors of dark cherry and plum with medium intensity. Notes of blackberry lift into black pepper, cinnamon and coffee beans.  The finish is easy and lingering.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Domaine de Pegau ‘Pink Pegau’ Dry Rose 2018

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $14.99 BUT ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME!

ONLY $10.97!

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

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The 12 under $12 for April 2020

McGuigan Red Blend

Australia

Cash Price $9.99

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

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $11.89

Cycles rides into ripe flavors of blackberry and black cherry with hints of dried herbs and cedar that linger into a deliciously long finish. Pair with beef fajitas from your favorite take out Mexican restaurant.

Michel Schlumberger Chardonnay

California

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 your back porch and some quiet time!

Hayes Merlot

California

Cash Price $11.99

Dark cherries and blueberry pop into an intensely fruit forward palate. Bright strawberries flow into whiffs of vanilla and offers a creamy texture on the finish.  Pair with meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Playtime Red

California

Cash Price $9.99

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

Roblar Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.99

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

Perimeter Riesling

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

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

Trocard Blanc

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $9.99

Trocard is a Sauvignon Blanc based blend.  Flavors of lemon lime citrus flows into clean, fresh acids with a touch of tropical fruit to round out the finish. Pair with the rays of sunshine while social distancing on this beautiful April day.

Pigmentum Malbec

Cahors, France

Cash Price $9.99

This French Malbec is a wine critic darling.  It offers flavors of blackberry and currant with soft tannins and a long, lingering finish.  Pair with beef tacos from your favorite taco truck.

Fontaleoni Chianti

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $11.99

Fresh and perfumed, this Sangiovese explodes with floral red roses and crunchy red cherries on the palate with excellent balance throughout the finish. Pair with Pappa’s spaghetti and meatball extravaganza.

La Gondola Pinot Grigio

Tre Venezia, Italy

Cash Price $6.99

Its porch pounding Pinot Grigio weather!  Gondola offers light flavors of lemon citrus and hints of white fruit.  Pair with yard work and a case of this in a big iced cooler.

Liberation de Paris Rose

VDP, France

Cash Price $10.99

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.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments

JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MARCH 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

March is roaring in and just like that a third of the year is gone, but great goodness almighty! What a year it has already been!  I plan to travel to Bordeaux to taste the 2019’s in a couple of weeks and I’ll make sure to give you all an in-depth look at the vintage. This month’s list is American heavy as I have been tasting much more American wine as of late, with a sprinkling of other wines from around the world. Pick a bottle or 6 (Pick 6 discount!) and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Bougetz ‘Amaryllis’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Spring Mountain (Napa), California

Cash Price $59.84

I was in Napa Valley last year with Napa Valley Vintners and had the pleasure of really sinking my teeth into all that Napa Valley has to offer. I tasted this wine amongst probably a hundred other wines and found myself gravitating back to their booth to taste through the rest of the line. This wine showed a purity and concentration that put it head and shoulders above the rest at the tasting. The wine is 92% Cabernet with 4% Merlot and Cabernet Franc from 1,000 ft. above the valley in Spring Mountain. It 100% whole berry crushed and fermented then aged for 22 months in 75% new oak. Bright flavors of thick black fruits of currant and cassis load into the palate with nice viscosity. The mid palate is full with good tannin and acid structure that are ensconced by layers of cherry vanilla, cedar and exotic spice.  Get this in your home! Wow! Barlow Score: 95 Points

Calcareous ‘ZSM’ Red Blend 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $35.99

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

Parched Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $29.99

This single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast is a new addition to our portfolio.  The Pinot Noir grapes are 777 clone and sourced from two blocks in the Gold Coast Vineyard, fermented 100% whole berry then aged for 10 months in 30% new French oak. Rich flavors of black cherry and pomegranate meld with soft acidity and tannins. Hints of cola and rhubarb tingle throughout the palate with whiffs of exotic spice.  The finish is layered and textured with notes of vanilla and raspberry compote. Barlow Score: 92 Points
Ulrich Langguth Spatlese Gunterslay Riesling 2017

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $22.99

Riesling season is coming back with the warm weather!  Riesling is so deliciously versatile to pair with food or to share with friends at the pool.  This 100% Riesling from the Piesporter Gunterslay vineyard is intensely ripe with flavors of white peach and oozing fleshy melon.  Sunshine citrus flows through a backbone of fresh acidity with hints of crushed white rocks. Whiffs of apricot and pear combine with fresh wild flowers on the finish. Utterly delicious!  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Chateau de Castera Red Blend 2010

Haut Medoc (Bordeaux), France

Cash Price $19.94

Castera is a Cru Bourgeois winery that is held to higher standards than the regular AOP wines of the area.  The 2010 vintage was one to behold in Bordeaux.  Bright, sunny days and cool nights helped the grapes reach full potential ripeness while retaining acidity and structure.  The wine is Merlot based with a heavy dollop of Cabernet and touches of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  Ripe flavors of strawberry and black cherry sing through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of currant are displayed through hints of cinnamon and clove.  The finish offers sweet spices with licks of vanilla and a smidgeon of roasted meat and freshly brewed coffee.  Awesome wine from a vintage that is sure to dazzle.  This wine is drinking beautifully Right Now! Barlow  Score: 90 Points

Peachy Canyon ‘Westside’ Zinfandel 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $24.99

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

Trig Point ‘Diamond Dust Vineyard’ Merlot 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

Nick Goldschmidt is one of my favorite wine makers.  He consistently crafts wines of high quality in different climates and even hemispheres.  His father was a land surveyor and a ‘Trig’ is used to establish boundary lines.  Goldschmidt’s Trig Point wines show the unique soils of the area he gets the grapes from, namely Alexander Valley.  The vineyard is located on the southern (and cooler) end of Alexander Valley which makes it prime territory for producing low yield, high quality Merlot.  This 100% Merlot offers flavors of intense black cherry and rhubarb that jump into easy acids and well rounded tannins.  Notes of strawberry and freshly picked plum meld into the core of the wine with touches of spice and smokey minerality.  The finish is deliciously long with 12 months of French oak aging in 25% new barrels and just a touch of new American oak which gives hints of creamy vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cedar.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Twisted Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ (formerly Twisted Sister) line has become one of the best selling wine selections in Spec’s entire portfolio.  They produce a wine with silky smooth approachability that is heaven on the palate.  Lush flavors of blackberry and currant flow seamlessly through the palate with licks of milk chocolate and cedar.  The mid palate give medium tannins and acids that are soft and integrated.  The core offers creamy blueberry with notes of leather and cigar box.  The finish offers hints of graham cracker and toasted oak with smidgeons of vanilla and cinnamon.  James Score: 89 Points

Blason de Bourgogne Cremant Sparkling Rose N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $15.69

Some of the best value bubbles in the world are coming from the Bourgogne region. The wines are made Methode Champenoise and can often rival that of its neighbors to the north but without the price tag.  This Pinot Noir based bubbly is vibrant and refreshing from first POP of the cork.  Deliciously fresh notes of strawberry and raspberry tart zing into the palate with hints of biscuity goodness that are wrapped up in rose petals and wild flowers.  The finish is clean and crisp with tinges of cherry pie and melon. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

One Flock Red Blend 17

California

Cash Price $14.99

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

Girasole ORGANIC Chardonnay 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

This Brand New addition to our portfolio is 100% Certified Organic!  We have been on the hunt for value Organic wine and have hit pay dirt with this Mendocino winery that has been farming organically from the start.  Fresh flavors of lemon lime citrus and tree fruits flow easily into the palate with light intensity.  The mid palate is elegant and shows a creamy note that is surrounded by whiffs of green apple,honeyed almonds and vanilla. The finish is light and compelling with bit of toasted oak.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

Shannon Ridge has become my ‘go-to’ daily winery with exceedingly high quality in the bottle for such a marginal cost. This juicy Petite Sirah has become a staple of their winery with its extremely approachable mentality.  The wine gets consistently high scores from critics (#64 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines of 2019) year after year.  Ripe flavors of blackberry and black raspberry rush into the palate with medium intensity. Hints of black pepper and spice fill the mid palate with tickles of vanilla and cedar on the finish. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $12.99

Kono is one of the more consistent selling Sauvignon Blanc’s in Spec’s portfolio.  It is the 2nd label of Tohu winery and has absolutely caught fire in the market the past couple of years.  Completely unoaked, this Sauvignon is juicy and vivacious from start to finish.  Flavors of citrus lemon-lime zest zing through medium plus acids.  Notes of ripe and dripping grapefruit are prevalent on the palate with smidgeons of jalapeño jam and finely chopped herbs.  Perfect summer party wine that would pair insanely with oysters on the half shell! Barlow Score: 89 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

 

 

 

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

K VINTNER’S EVENT IS ON 3-11-20

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I just realized I neglected to put date of the event…..it’s this Wednesday!

Please RSVP to RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com

WHAT: K Vintners Free Customer Appreciation Event

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

When: MARCH 11TH FROM 6:30-8:00PM

Wines to be poured:

  1.  Popup Sparkling N/V
  2.  Charles Smith ‘Vino’ Pinot Grigio
  3. Charles Smith ‘Vino’ Rosso Red Blend
  4.  Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon (91 Points, Wine Spectator #49 Top 100)
  5. K Vintnters Motor City Kitty Syrah (96 Points)
  6.  K Vintners King Coal Cab/Syrah (98 Points)

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

FREE K VINTNERS ‘DRINK WASHINGTON STATE’ CUSTOMER APPRECIATON EVENT

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the late notice, but I’ve been able to put together a great tasting of Washington State wines from Washington ICON K Vintners.  At this event,  you will be able to taste through some excellent day values (TOP 100 WINE SPECTATOR, Wines of Substance Cabernet) as well as some of their upper end wines that will show the excellence that Washington State has to offer.  See you there!

Please RSVP to RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com

WHAT: K Vintners Free Customer Appreciation Event

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

When: 6:30-8:00PM

Wines to be poured:

  1.  Popup Sparkling N/V
  2.  Charles Smith ‘Vino’ Pinot Grigio
  3. Charles Smith ‘Vino’ Rosso Red Blend
  4.  Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon (91 Points, Wine Spectator #49 Top 100)
  5. K Vintnters Motor City Kitty Syrah (96 Points)
  6.  K Vintners King Coal Cab/Syrah (98 Points)

Let me know if you have any questions.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

The Twelve Under $12 for February 2020

Ca’Momi Sparkling Rose

Napa Valley

$11.99/$10.79 Case Price

Deliciously soft on the palate, flavors of ripe strawberries and sweet red cherries burst into millions of bubbles.  A creamy core offers hints of cherry cobbler crust and citrus in a seamless finish. Pair with chocolates and your Valentine.

Schlumberger Cabernet

California

$10.99/$9.78 Case Price

This beautifully layered and textured wine offers black currant and plum with smidgeons of cigar box and exotic spice. Buy this by the case for your daily drinker.

Perimeter Chardonnay

California

$9.99/$8.79 Case Price

A staple house-style chardonnay with easy tropical fruits of pineapple and apricot with tinges of butterscotch and oak on the finish. This wine is Chardonn-Yay!

Roblar Merlot

California

$9.99/8.79 Case Price

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

Fog Bank Pinot Noir

California

$10.69/9.41 Case Price

American Pinot Noir often offers juicier texture with layers and complexity of wild berry and raspberry that flow into an elegant finish of rhubarb and cinnamon.  Pair with a fire roasted suckling pig.

Trocard Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France

$11.49/10.34 Case Price

Trocard is Merlot based, unoaked and offers good concentration with soft red fruits and hints of crushed rocks. It is a consistently reliable table wine.  Pair with a hearty beef stew.

Chateau La Fleur de Haut Serre Malbec

Cahors, France

$11.99/10.79 Case Price

Dark and lush, this wine offers black currant and blackberry with tinges of leather and slate.  Pair with a roast beef au jus sandwich.

Reserve Saint Marc Sauvignon Blanc

Languedoc, France

$6.99/6.29 Case Price

What a stunner for under $10. Fresh and crisp flavors of ripe citrus fruits flow into zesty acids and hints of grapefruit. Zip, Zap, Zoom this into your glass.

Liberation de Paris Chardonnay

France

$9.99/8.99 Cash Price

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

Radley & Finch Cabernet Sauvignon

South Africa

$8.99/8.09 Case Price

Value Cabernet is found in South Africa. This easy drinker offers flavors of red cherry and dark berries with hints of herbs that sink into an easy approachability.  Pair with chicken fried steak.

Impero Pinot Grigio

Delle Venezie, Italy

$8.49/7.47 Case Price

Pinot Grigio sales continue to soar.  Impero offers light fresh citrus notes with hints of tree fruit and white flowers. Un-oaked and quite refreshing, pair with your upcoming crawfish boil!

Marques Concordia Tempranillo

Rioja, Spain

$10.99/9.89 Case Price

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

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

James Barlow’s ‘The Thirteen’ Picks of February 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am back in the saddle with this blog after taking January off. I was recently in California on a Saké trip, being that I am also the new Saké buyer for Spec’s. When I was there I had a couple of delicious red blends (I Know, I know….I was on a Saké excursion) and it has lead me to the theme for this month’s list. I have several other wines on this list, but the main focus of this blog is Red Blends from around the world and the many grapes that comprise a delicious red blend. Blends are typically the winemaker’s best opportunity to show off their skills with the grapes involved to make a balanced expression of what what they would put on their dinner table to drink. Get some of these in your basket and let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Monticello ‘Jefferson Cuvee’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $32.99

“Good wine is necessity of life” were the words from one of our Forefathers, Thomas Jefferson. The Corley family pays homage to the great man with their Jefferson’s Cuvee selections.  The winery 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.  I had the opportunity to dine with Stephen Corley last year and tasted through his whole line up.  These are beautifully crafted wines done right! Monticello exudes flavors of lush blackberry and black cherry that weave easily throughout balanced tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows touches of plum and anise that flow into a textured mouth feel.  The finish is long and entertaining with notes of lightly toasted oak, dark mocha and whiffs of vanilla.  Touches of spice linger delightfully on the palate.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Saddleback Cellars ‘Rancher Red’ Red Blend 2015

Napa Valley (Oakville), California

Cash Price $29.99

I am super excited to be able to offer this wine made by the LEGENDARY Winemaker Nils Venge.  He was the very first 100 Point winemaker in California with his 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  He has since purchased a 14 acre Oakville estate and offers extremely reasonable prices from the (arguably) best AVA in Napa Valley.  The Rancher Red is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a smidgeon of Petite Sirah and Syrah to finish the blend.  It is a small production, high quality wine that is sure to knock your socks off!  Silky flavors of black cherry and currant flow into velvet tannins and acids. Hints of blackberry and blueberries sink into light touches of cedar, vanilla, and toast.  The finish is long and balanced.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Cougar Crest ‘Dedication Eleven’ Red Blend 2013

Walla Walla, Washington

Cash Price $19.94

As most of you know, I have become an advocate of Washington State wines over the past couple of years and love showing a wine with a touch of age on it.  This gives the consumer an opportunity to see how well Washington wines can age.  Dedication is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Syrah, 25% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot.  I am increasing happy with most of the wines coming out of Washington, but am REALLY excited about the blends from Walla Walla.  Dedication offers flavors of silky black cherries and blackberries that encompass velvety tannins and soft acids.  The mid palate shows a harmonious display of plum, mocha and baking spices that envelope the palate into a delightfully full, lush finish.  The wine does have a ‘sense of place’ on the palate that makes it distinctly different from some New World wines. The wine is peaking and drinking perfectly NOW, so go get yours!   Barlow Score: 91 Points

Trig Point ‘The Railyard’ Zinfandel 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

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

Pontac Phenix Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $19.94

Phenix is the 2nd wine of Pontac Lynch and the vineyards used are in the Haut Medoc and Margaux, not far from 1st Growth Chateau Margaux.  It is hard to find a wine in the 2015 vintage that isn’t amazing quality, but this one is a true diamond for under $20.  Flavors of red cherry and kirsch lay on a medley of sweet spices and medium tannins.  This wine is deliciously ripe and ready to drink.  The acids are tantalizing with dense notes of toasted oak  and roasted coffee bean.  The finish is persistent and well rounded.  Yum! A true gem!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

L’Espigouette Red Blend 2016

Rasteau, France

Cash Price 20.89

The Rhone Valley has long produced some of the best value table wines on Earth, yet people often overlook the $15-$30 price point in Rhone.  The are either buying CDR (Cotes du Rhone) at $10 or CDP (Chateauneuf du Pape) at $40, and the middle price point is often lost.  I implore you to start diving into the insanely complex wine in the mid tier of the Rhone Valley.  This wine hails from the village of Rasteau which is best known for producing VDN (Vin du Naturel is a lightly fortified sweet wine) but can produce distinctly intense red wines. This wine is mostly Grenache (80%) with a little Syrah and Mourvedre sprinkled in.   Flavors of Stewed cherry cobbler races through the palate with raspberry compote.  The wine is thick and brooding with a viscous mouth feel.  Notes of sweet spice and oregano flow deftly into the mid palate with medium tannins and acids.  The 2016’s in France have yet fail me.  Everything I have had from almost every region has been spectacular.  Barlow Score:  91 Points

La Motte ‘Millenium’  Red Blend 2017

South Africa

Cash Price $17.99

This winery is a direct result of the immense care given by the famed Anton Rupert.  He planted noble grapes and provided excellent viticulture to build a winery with dynamic wines of repute.  This Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend was aged for 12 months in used oak.  Bright flavors of raspberry and currant sing into hints of herbacious underbrush and black tea.  Notes of blueberry bounce into a finish of toffee, cinnamon and wild flowers. This is a food wine for sure, but is sure to please on many range of palates.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Chablisienne Sauvignon Blanc 2017

St. Bris, France

Cash Price $12.99

This wine comes from one of the best Co/ops in all of France. Chablisienne sourced these grapes southwest of Chablis in the quaint region of St. Bris.  This region is the only one in Burgundy that highlights Sauvignon Blanc!  I am absolutely enamored by the wines of St. Bris. They offer textural and flavor differences from most of versions of SB in the entire world.  This daily stunner shows flavors of citrus apple with a layered, textured mouthfeel. Hints of melon and peach tingle into delightfully fresh acidity that is unencumbered by oak.  The finish is classically fresh and built for the hot Houston heat.  Super Yummy!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Domaine Haut Gleon Red Blend 2015

Valee Du Paradis, France

Cash Price $14.99

I’ve found your Crawfish Boil Red Wine for the upcoming season!  Look no further than Haut Gleon Rouge.  It is a blend of 60% Grenache/25% Syrah/15% Carignan from old vines and aged in neutral French oak.  The wine is fruit forward and spicy from the start.  Flavors of pomegranate and framboise explode from the palate with medium acidity and tannins.  The mid palate shows a juicy starburst core with exotic spices throughout.  The finish is soft and mellow with touches of coffee beans and salty roasted meats and nuts.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Rivera Red Blend 2016

Salice Salentino, Italy

Cash Price $13.99

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

Shannon Ridge ‘Wrangler Red’ Red Blend 2017

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

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

Ca’Momi Chardonnay 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $12.99

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

Muscador ‘Ice’ Sparkling N/V

France

Cash Price $9.99

Muscador is a delightfully medium sweet white sparkling wine that will be a perfect pair with your Valentine.  Made in the traditional method with Muscat (Moscato) grapes, this sweet bubbly offers flavors of citrus zest that flows into white flowers and drizzling honey. These light bubbles will give your Valentine a sparkle in their eyes.  Pair with a heart shaped box of chocolates!  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment