James Barlow’s ‘The Thirteen’ Picks of July 2013

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Happy 4th of July everyone!  The boiling summer heat is in full swing this year.  The scorching weather gives us reasons to search out lighter wines, whether it be red or white, that will give us some relief.  This month I have chosen a slew of delightfully refreshing wines that will quench your summer thirst for vino.  This eclectic mix of wines will be surefire hit for your table or any summer party.  Enjoy!  I am teaching a class at Crescent Moon Wine Bar on Wednesday, July 24th from 7-10pm titled ‘Dry Rose, The Perfect Summer Wine’.  Space is limited.  RSVP to 281-364-9463.  See you there!

Poggio Antico Rosso di Montalcino 2009
Tuscany, Italy
Cash Price $34.89

I poured this delicious gem at my last class and it was a huge success.  Poggio Antico does not have any Rosso di Montalcino vineyards, so they delimit some of their Brunello wines to produce this dynamic wine.  In effect, you are drinking ‘baby Brunello’ every time you pop the cork on this wine.  The biggest difference is aging.  Brunello must be aged for five years before it is released while the Rosso must only be aged for one year upon its release.  Sangiovese is the driving force of this wine.  Italy has had several outstanding vintages in a row due to the warmer weather which allows Sangiovese to become a lush, supple wine with plenty of fruit and complexity.  Antico offers bursting flavors of red cherries and raspberry that dance playfully on the palate with tinges of bruised tomato and light herbs of sage and thyme.  Notes of French oak and vanilla are prevalent on the long, tantalizing finish that lingers for a rich, voluptuous mouth feel.  This wine is a classic in the making from a truly classic producer.

Summers Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Knights Valley, California
Cash Price $32.99

Knights Valley is an AVA in Sonoma that is known for producing some of the regions best Cabernet.  It is one of the hotter regions in Sonoma which makes it ideal for ripening the thick skinned Cabernet Sauvignon.  Massive flavors of blackberry and black cherry sink into the core of amazingly structured wine.  The tannins are beautifully integrated and the acids meld easily into the delicious fruits.  Notes of allspice and cinnamon reach into the palate and give excellent depth on a finish that offers smidgeons of clove, vanilla, and mocha.  This is a can’t miss Cabernet!

Mulderbosch Chardonnay 2011
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cash Price $18.99
This Chardonnay has a unique appeal.  It has the minerality and acidity of Burgundy, but is able to combine it with ripe tropical fruits that are surrounded by licks of oak.  Mulderbosch is all about balance in this wine.  Flavors of ripe apricot meddle into quince and green apple.  Notes of melon and guava tickle the mid palate and slowly sinew into rich roundness of toasted almonds and sauteed butter.  The acidity is able to carry this Chardonnay and keep it from falling flat.  The end result is a gorgeously balanced wine has layers of fruit that lay on a depth of complex secondary flavors.  A Must Try for all of the True Chardonnay Lovers!

Chateau La Tour L’Aspic Red Blend 2008
Pauillac, France
Cash Price $27.99

I often find that great value in the second label offering of the Grand Cru Classe Chateau’s.  This eponymous wine is the second label of the Fifth Growth Chateau Haut Batailley.  This impressive estate is run by the famed Borie Family that produces some of the world’s best wines. L’Aspic is a Cabernet, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc blend from a region inside Bordeaux that is known for producing massively structured wines.  Intense flavors of black currant and blackberry sinew deftly into rustic, yet vibrant tannins.  Notes of dusted earth and vanilla bean combine into a smooth, complex mouth feel.  It is a wine of divine elegance with a finish that leaves the palate entranced until the next sup.  This wine is drinking gorgeously now, but will only get better with some age.

Tobias Chardonnay 2010
North Coast, California
Cash Price $14.99

Producers of California Chardonnay are slowly, but surely changing the way they make this versatile varietal.  Gone are they days of heavy handed oak and 100% malolactic fermentation that make fat, flabby wines without structure or acidity.  Wine makers are now toning back the oak and cream and allowing the varietal to show its delicious fruit and character.  This style of Chardonnay is quickly becoming the norm for production of this varietal.  Tobias ages this 100% Chardonnay for 12 months in new and used French oak barrels and only allows 30% malolactic fermentation.  This gives the wine just a kiss of oak characteristics and just a whiff of butter and nuts throughout the palate.  Delicious flavors of ripe green apple and pineapple dance delightfully into notes of melon and toasted coconut.  The wine has mouth watering acidity that clings easily on the ripe fruits.  What a Well Balanced White!

Gran Viu Red Blend 2007
Carinena, Spain
Cash Price $24.89

I have written up this wine in past vintages and recently tasted the new release.  I was astounded at the quality that encompassed my palate.  This Garnacha, Tempranillo, Cabernet Blend exudes flavors of stewed red fruits and ripe cherry that lead into a charred mocha and toasted oak.  The tannins are well integrated with easy, supple acids that quench the palate.  The finish gives notes of black pepper, sage, and black slate.  Gran Viu would pair perfectly with a hearty pork loin smothered in brown gravy and mushrooms.  Great Dinner Red!

Block 303 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010
Rutherford Valley, California
Cash Price $19.94

Most of you know the amazing quality that the Block Series has produced over the years.  These wines have become iconic for offering great quality wines under $20.  The Rutherford Valley has become renowned for growing terroir-driven Cabernet that has a distinct ‘Rutherford Dust’ flavor in the wines produced from this region.  Block 303 is brilliantly concentrated with divine flavors of blackberry, cassis and black raspberry that reach into voluptuous tannins which envelope the palate with hints of dusty, alluvial soil.  Notes of rich mocha chocolate and vanilla fall into ripe acids that give depth and complexity to the mouth feel.  The finish is long and tantalizing with smooth notes of clove and cedar that linger on the palate for a wonderfully long time.  Don’t miss out on this cult classic Cabernet!

Commanderie Bargemone Rose 2012
Provence, France
Cash Price $14.29

Rose is a classic wine for hot weather.  Provence is right on the Mediterranean coast, which is a hotbed for Rose because of the sweltering hot summer heat.  It is amazingly versatile and pairs quite well with lighter foods. Provence produces the best Rose in the world. It is a region in southern France that has made its livelihood off of this eloquent blush for centuries. They produce a dry style of Rose without much or any residual sugar, so you get pure and clean fruits without the sweetness. This winery was founded by the Knights Templar in the 13th century.  Bargemone is a blend of Syrah, Grenache, Cinsault and Cabernet that offers flavors of wild strawberries and vibrant red cherries.  Succulent acids race through the core of this wine with smidgeons of meadow flowers and red berries.  The finish is clean and with a lip smacking appeal that keeps the palate begging for more.  Dry Rose is the PERFECT compliment to the Hot Houston Heat!

Cacciagrande Cortiglione Syrah/Petite Verdot Blend 2010
Tuscany, Italy
Cash Price $16.79

Tuscan blends from the IGT delimitation are typically whacky blends from International varietals instead of indigenous grapes.  This Syrah blend is booming with flavor from start to finish.  Big Fruits of red currant and red berries zing on the palate with zesty acids that seep through the core of the wine.  Notes of black pepper and roasted meats are prevalent on the mid palate.  The finish softens into a creamy dream with hints of vanilla bean and kitchen spices.  Cortiglione is a great BBQ wine!

Butera Insolia 2011
Sicily, Italy
Cash Price $12.99

This 100% indigenous varietal is great poolside wine.  It offers harmonious flavors of nectarine and lemon lime zest that sing into soft notes of almond and jasmine.  Insolia has a wonderful floral aromatic profile that gives notes of gardenia, peach, and melon.  The finish is clean and pure with just a slight candied texture.  This wine does not touch oak and is a pure expression of a wonderful varietal that is rarely supped.  Try this delicious wine that is outside the box of the normal white wine varietals and shows amazing character!

Leonce Bocquet Pinot Noir 2011
Burgundy, France
Cash Price $13.99
You all know that I am constantly on the hunt for Pinot Bargains!  I have found that the Bocquet portfolio typically overachieves for the money.  This daily PInot is awesome!  Flavors of bing cherry and raspberry lay on a bed of red roses.  Brilliant acids refresh the palate and lead into tinges of cola and cranberry.  The tannins are minimal and integrate nicely into the background.  The finish is supple and smooth with just a kiss of oak that lingers on the palate for a wonderfully long time.  Great Value!

Grand Bateau Blanc 2011
Bordeaux, France
Cash Price $10.99

This wine is a new project from the famed Fourth Growth Estate of Beychevelle in Saint Julien.  The wine comes from Entre-Deux-Mers and is a 80% Sauvignon Blanc/20% Semillion Blend.  The wine is aged in French oak barrels which gives it a unique difference from the typical Sauvignon’s from around the world.  Flavors of green apple and kiwi give way to a supple, rounded mouth feel with smidgeons of grapefruit and citrus lemon peel.  Hints of toasted vanilla play into clean acids and a superb minerality with brilliant focus.  Bateau Blanc is definitely a WOW! white from an amazing producer.
Ashwood Grove Cabernet 2009
Victoria, Australia
Cash Price $7.99

Australia has become synonymous with good, inexpensive wines that are quaffable to almost any palate.  This approachable Cabernet exudes flavors of blackberry and black cherry with smooth, easy tannins that integrate easily into the un oaked finish.  Great daily red!

Thank You,

James C. Barlow
Certified Sommelier
Certified Specialist of Wine

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2 Responses to James Barlow’s ‘The Thirteen’ Picks of July 2013

  1. peter gasteiger says:

    James, I love your insights. How long do you think the 2010 Block 303 Cab can be cellared, or should we drink up in the next couple years?

    • 2010 is a good vintage and Rutherford can age well. That being said, I would not cellar any Block wines for more than 5-7 years. The wines are meant to be drunk. Thank You for your kind words!

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