James Barlow’s ‘Steals of the Month’ for August 2013

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The world around us is swirling with crazy summer activities.  The Houston Heat is bearing down on our air conditioning units and we are all just trying to survive and enjoy what is left of this whacky summer.  I have picked a plethora of wines that will be sure to calm your nerves and keep your guests happy during this fun, yet trying month.  I have given you an ample amount of zesty whites to chose from due to the ridiculously hot weather outside, so enjoy and chill out with these delicious wines!


Beacon Hill ‘Leo’s Block’ Pinot Noir 2007
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Cash Price $41.79 BUT ONLY 
$29.79 WITH YOUR SPEC’S KEY!  This Gem is a STEAL!  Spec’s decided to buy the entire lot of this wine, so we were able to get an amazing price and decided to give the saving to you!  Leo’s Block Pinot is decidedly Burgundian in style with lively acids and light, elegant fruits.  Flavors of red cherries and wild raspberry sink into notes of cola and rose petals with just a hint of blackberry on the core.  The finish is eloquent with smidgeons of biscotti, cinnamon and forest floor.  This is a true Pinot Noir lovers wine with a flair of Burgundy. Enjoy!

Chateau Lanessan Red Blend 2000
Bordeaux, France
Cash Price $31.29

The 2000 Vintage was slated as the best vintage of the 21st century in Bordeaux.  The region had a picture perfect growing season which led to amazing quality and abundant harvests.  This Haut Medoc wine is drinking perfectly right now.  Lanessan is adjacent to the 4th growth of Chateau Beychevelle but at a fraction of the cost.  This Cabernet forward wine is drinking gorgeously right now!  Flavors of soft roasted plum and black currant fall into silky notes of chocolate mocha and sandalwood.  The tannins and acids have softened out perfectly to give this wine a classic Bordeaux feel but with a voluptuous amount of fruits and flavors.  Buy this diamond now and impress all your friends!  Only 4 cases available.

Andre Clouet ‘Grand Reserve’ Brut N/V
Champagne, France 
Cash Price $37.99

Clouet Grand Reserve brut was offered last year at $45.99, but we drove a hard bargain and are able to offer you this GRAND CRU Champagne from the region of Bouzy in the Montagne de Reims at an amazing price.  Most big name producers (I.E. Veuve Clicquot, Moet Chandon) are not Grand Cru Quality Champagne. This Pinot Noir heavy Champagne is absolutely to die for.  Flavors of red berries and wild red cherries play into an eloquent backbone of limestone minerality.  Notes of fresh lilacs and graham cracker linger into a rich outer crust of crème brulee and toasted hazelnut.  Candied strawberry licks the palate and finishes with tinges of creamy toast and just a smidgeon of rose petals.  This is a WOW Champagne.  Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 Points!

Etoilles De Salles Merlot 2010
Cash Price $22.99
The region of Pomerol makes the best Merlot on Earth.  The best wines of Pomerol cost upwards of $2,000 per bottle.  Lalande is a sub region that produces awesome quality at a fraction of the cost.  The 2010 harvest is considered a vintage of the ages in Bordeaux.  It was a perfect harvest that allowed the grapes to reach ripeness of California proportions.  This delightful buy offers rich, ripe fruits of blackberry and currant that lead into notes of sandalwood and cigar box.  Notes of pyrazine and tobacco flow into bits of black pepper and bell pepper.  The finish gives loads of vanilla and potpourri that lay into a bed of floral tones and mint.  This is a true expression of Merlot that will blow your mind! A Must Try!

Pierre Archambault Pouilly Fume 2011
Loire Valley, France 
Cash Price $18.99

Pouilly Fume is synonymous with Sauvignon Blanc.  It is one of the purest expressions of the grape known to man.  The Loire Valley produces some of the finest Sauvignon Blanc and is largely unknown due to the popularity of New Zealand.  Archambault offers decisive flavors of zesty lemon lime with wonderfully linear acids.  Notes of wet stone minerality seep into the core of the wine with hints of flint and smoke.  The finish gives bits of melon and green apple that play into grapefruit and spiced pear.  The wine is dry, expressive, and taylor made for this crazy summer heat!

Copain ‘Tous Ensemble’ Chardonnay 2010
Anderson Valley, California
Cash Price $23.99

I love that California has decided to allow Chardonnay to begin to express its true potential.  Typically, California Chardonnay is known for throwing in copious amounts of oak and cream that mask the true flavors that the region has to offer.  Wine makers are now showing the grape for its true glory and allow its deliciously full flavors to reach the forefront.  This dynamic wine offers glorious fruits of ripe pear and fresh apples that lead into notes of nectarine and orange blossom.  Crisp acids play through the backbone with smidgeons of tropical fruits and hints of honey that lick the palate with just a kiss of toasted oak.  The amazing fruits that encompass this wine make it well worth the price of admission!

99 West Pinot Noir 2010
Willamette Valley, Oregon
Cash Price $15.79
This Spec’s exclusive is a home run!  The Willamette Valley offer wines with the panache of California, but the complexity of Burgundy.  The region has longer amount of daylight that allow the grapes to reach full maturity, but still has the cooler temperatures which let the grapes retain the proper acidity to make the perfect Pinot Noir.  It is hard to find great Pinot Noir from Willamette Valley for under $20.  When I do, I feel compelled to let you all in on the secret!  Flavors of eloquent red cherry tickle into raspberry and just a smidgeon of pomegranate.  Notes of wild flowers play into hints of black pepper and potpourri with easy acids that sink into a smooth, playful finish.  An Awesome Value Pinot!

Neal Family Sauvignon Blanc 2012
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $16.89

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!

Domaine de Malaveille Charmille Rose 2012
Languedoc, France
Cash Price $13.49

This winery prides itself on its ability to produce excellent wines from organically grown grapes.  This fresh Rose is an homage to the beauty that the land can give its people.  Flavors of ripe bing cherry and citrus cling to fresh acids.  Slight hints of garrigue play into notes of cranberry and ripe, tart strawberry.  The great part of this wine is that it gives you all the characteristics of a flavorful red wine without all the robust tannins and yet retains lively acids to give a succulent mouth feel that will refresh your palate time and time again!

Acquaguista Red Blend 2009
Tuscany, Italy
Cash Price $14.99
This wine has been one of the top sellers in the entire Spec’s chain for two years running.  It is easily one of the more flavorful wines offered in our Italian portfolio.  It is a blend of almost equal parts Cabernet, Syrah, and Merlot. Fresh and vibrant, it is a blend that will be a perfect compliment to any summer occasion!  Delightful fruits of raspberry and strawberry sink into a lush notes of blueberry and bramble.  The mid palate has flavors of juicy fruits that radiate into bits of  grilled meat which meld into a cherry chocolate core which provides an exquisite mouth feel.  It is a perfectly proportioned medium bodied red that is built for the hot Texas heat.  Acquagiusta receives great ratings from the big boys on a yearly basis and I think this one will be quite comparable or even exceed it.

Domaine Princemelle 1694 Red Blend 2009
Rhone Valley, France
Cash Price $10.39
Princemelle is from Southern Rhone in the tiny town of St. Gervais which is known for producing higher quality than your every day Cotes Du Rhone.  I visited this quaint area last year and met with the growers of this delicious wine.  I was amazed at the care and precision put into producing the best quality grapes from the vine to the bottle.  This Grenache and Syrah blend is quite versatile.  Flavors of ripe blackberry and black cherry sink into the palate with tinges of roasted game and black pepper.  The mid palate is silky smooth with notes of wild berries and stewed fruits that lead into soft notes of garrigue.  The finish is long and tasty with bits of tar and coffee bean.  This wine completely over excels for the money.  Its a Great Everyday Treat!

Protea Chenin Blanc by Anthonij Rupert 2011
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cash Price $9.09

Chenin Blanc is a deliciously versatile grape.  In fact, it is easily one of my favorite white varietals.  It exudes ripe fruits with great acids and sometimes just a hint of sweetness which makes it a perfectly versatile food wine.  I visited this winery a couple of years ago and was amazingly impressed with their entire portfolio.  Chenin blanc is also called ‘Steen’ in South Africa.  This wine exudes an amazing array of flavors.  Ripe fruits of orange blossom and apricot explode on the palate with fresh chunks of papaya and peach seeping into the core with notes of freshly cut grass.  Crisp acids balance the wine and it finishes with supple and soft licks of honey dew, peach and beeswax.  Fresh and Exuberant!

Gourmandise Syrah 2010
Vin de Pays d’Oc, France
Cash Price $9.49

Anytime I am on the hunt for a bargain, I typically end up in the South of France.  The wines from the Languedoc-Roussillion are the best value in the world in my opinion.  This tasty treat gives homage to the American palate and offers a fresh, exuberant wine with loads of fruits and oak.  Flavors of black cherry and black currant dance easily through soft acids and silky tannins that lead into a rich, voluptuous vanilla bean core.  The finish is long and integrated with smidgeons of cedar and spice.  Gourmandise is a nice compliment to any meaty dish or can easily stand alone as a great value drinker.

Thank You,
James C. Barlow
Certified Sommelier
Certified Specialist of Wine

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