JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF JANUARY 2014

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Happy New Year! I would like to welcome you all to my new blog website, thewineepicure.com. It is roughly the same format as the YahooGroups version, but much easier to navigate and direct. Thank You to all of the people that have made the switch to this new blog as you are the true wine lovers that want expand your palate with new and interesting wines. I am pleased to announce that I recently passed the Certified Wine Educator exam, which is the highest level of recognition given by the esteemed Society of Wine Educators (only 350 in the world)! This certification gives me new opportunities to help you all with guidance and education in the world of wine. I look forward expanding your palate and mind this year!

Chateau Cambon La Pelouse Red Blend 2010
Haut Medoc, France
Cash Price $28.49

The 2010 in Bordeaux has become a ‘lightning in a bottle’ vintage. It was a perfect season that led to wonderfully ripe fruit with excellent tannin and acid structure. The subsequent vintages have been sub par which gives the 2010 vintage even more creed. If you are looking to see what all the fuss is about in Bordeaux, then this is the vintage that you need to dip your beak into. I always find great value in the Haut Medoc. Many times the ‘Growth’ wines of Bordeaux, albeit excellent, are out of my price range, so I am on a continual search for the best priced Bordeaux available which often lands me in the Haut Medoc. Cambon is a work of art for under $30. It is located just outside of Margaux in Macau and is a ‘Cru Bourgeois’ winery, which gives it a higher quality ranking. It is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, and Cabernet Franc. The wine is ripe and well balanced in the mouth with flavors of red berry and black cherry. The mid palate gives supple tannins and zesty acids that lead into hints of kirsch and raspberry jam. The finish is wonderfully complex with notes of toasted oak with hints of caramel and smoked toffee. Wine Spectator gave this wine 90 Points. I would give it 92 Points.

O. Fournier ‘B Crux’ Red Blend 2009
Mendoza Valley, Argentina
Cash Price $21.84

The Uco Valley is producing some of the highest quality wines coming out of the entire Mendoza region. This Malbec, Tempranillo blend is grown at 3,600 feet in the mountains to give an optimal amount of sunshine for the grapes to ripen. The wine was aged mostly in French oak, but just a bit of American oak which gives it a soft, creamy feel vanilla mouth feel. Robust red fruits of cherry and pomegranate sink into silky tannins. The wine has just a hint of high alcohol, but that is off set by the smoothly integrated tannins and approachable acids. This wine has amazing depth and grip while holding the fruits in focus. This wine is a gem for the price.

Domaine De La Garenne Blanc 2011
Bandol, France
Cash Price $23.69

This is one of my favorite wineries in all of South France. The quality produced from this winery rivals the whites of Bordeaux, Burgundy, and the Loire Valley. The white varietals of this region are Clairette, Grenache Blanc, and a slew others. This delightful white exudes deliciously clean flavors of citrus, green apple and papaya. No oak has touched this wine so the acids sits beautifully on the palate. The finish offers notes of candied melon, white flowers, and lychee. This is a stunning wine that is completely over looked by the regular consumer. Buy this wine to show off your knowledge to your most coveted friends. Everyone calls this a wine geek wine.

Rudy Zindfandel 2012
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $18.49

This second label wine from one of my favorite producers is extraordinary. Flavors of blackberry and currant sink into notes of brown sugar and sweet peppers. Hints of dusted earth sink into gracious amounts of creamy vanilla that fall into tinges of black pepper and potpourri. I am typically not a big Zinfandel fan, but this treat is delicious on the palate. Enjoy!

Chateau la Croix des Moines 2010
Pomerol, France
Cash Price $18.89

Pomerol is easily my favorite region on earth to find great Merlot. I often dismissed Merlot as a boring grape until I found the Merlot’s grown in Pomerol. This region offers true terrior driven wines that give expressions of the varietal that the rest of the world is unable to duplicate. Given the amazing terrior and the stunning vintage of 2010, this wine is a guaranteed winner at your table. Flavors of blackberry and currant smash into vibrant tannins and eloquent acids. Notes of toasted tobacco and fig sink into tinges roasted pecans and oak. This wine is drinking well now, but will only get better with time!

Sheldrake Point Riesling 2011
Finger Lakes, New York
Cash Price $16.99

This wine received one of the highest accolades in the Houston Uncorked Wine Competition this year. I was fortunate enough to judge on the panels that picked the winner of the entire competition. I was also happy to be able to pick this wine as one of the best whites in the competition(blind) and it be from New York. The Finger Lakes is an up and coming region that everyone should keep on the radar for amazing whites and reds. This slightly sweet white showed notes of fresh honey-comb and scented jasmine. The wine is completely un oaked and offered mid palate flavors of white flowers and just licks of honeyed sweetness. The finish is pure, soft, and encompasses the palate in a way that leaves it begging for another sup! Get Ready for Great Finger Lakes Wines!

Lockwood ‘Liquid Velvet’ Red Blend 2011
Monterey, California
Cash Price $17.99

Lockwood Vineyards was recently purchased by the Boisset family, whom has amazing pedigree in the wine world. This wine is meant to drink deliciously smooth from the first sup, a pop and go. It is a Merlot and Cabernet blend that is amazingly easy to drink. Flavors of rich, red cherries tickle the taste buds from the start and ramp into notes of red berry and strawberry. The mid palate is soft and mouth coating. The finish offers flavors of vanilla, milk chocolate, and just a hint of cinnamon spice. This soft and voluptuous wine is a sure fire hit at your next dinner party!

Ghost Signs Petite Sirah
Paso Robles, California
Cash Price $14.29

I have always found Petite Sirah to be a hidden gem in the wine world. I find its dark, brooding flavors and massively structured tannins to be a treat for my palate. This beauty is a great introductory into what this amazing varietal can offer. Thick and concentrated, Ghost signs offers flavors of dark black cherry and currant which weave through the full bodied mid palate with ripe, juicy tannins. Notes of toasted caramel, vanilla bean, and smidgeons of roasted coffee waft through the finish that sits on the palate for a hauntingly long time. This is a MUST TRY!

Losen Bockstanz Spatburgunder 2011
Mosel, Germany
Cash Price $13.99

Pinot Noir is called Spatburgunder in Germany. If you have not had the pleasure of trying German Pinot Noir, then I implore you to put it on your list of things ‘To Do’ in 2014. Spatburgunder is fresh, lively, and delightfully light. The nose is wonderfully floral with a bouquet of red roses and meadow flowers. The palate offers flavors of freshly picked red cherries, cranberry, and rose petals. The acids are pure and clean which only enhances the flavor profile. The oak is non existent, leading me to believe it was aged in either stainless steel or a large neutral barrel. The finish is light, flavorful and refreshing. I love the purity of this wine. It is an absolute steal for any Pinot Noir lover.

Anthonij Rupert ‘Protea’ Shiraz
Western Cape, South Africa
Cash Price $14.99

This meaty, dark wine is taylor made for cold weather. I had dinner with the larger than life Anthonij Rupert when I was in South Africa several years back. We were quite impressed with the wines and now carry many of them. Protea Shiraz has a Northern Rhone feel to it. Flavors of roasted game and grissled fat form on the palate and sinew through flavors of plum, framboise, and cherry. The mid palate offers notes of tobacco and tea with hints of pepper and spice. The finish is long, lingering and packed full of jammy fruit. Protea really offers a lot on the palate at such a nominal price point.

Cross Springs Red Blend 2011
Lake County, California
Cash Price $13.99

Cross Springs is a kitchen sink blend of mostly Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, and Cabernet. I have found that this winery is quite the over achiever in the under $15 price range. Soft and velvety, this wine is ready to drink from the first sup. Flavors of black cherry and plum burst onto the palate with hints of red flowers and candied strawberry. Smidgeons of spice play throughout the mid palate with tinges of dark coffee grinds and mocha. The finish is long and flavorful with notes of currant that lay on soft, plush tannins. This is a daily red drinker that you can hang your hat on!

Domaine de Gournier Chardonnay 2010
Vin de Pays des Cevennes, France
Cash Price $10.19

Gournier is a Robert Kacher selection, which is one of the highest esteemed importers in the wine business. They focus on low yield, high quality wines at a value price point. Gournier Chardonnay is planted on calcareous rock which allows for the terroir to show in the wine. It was aged in oak and stainless steel and left on its lees for six months. Rich flavors of ripe pear and apple seep into the palate and are enveloped by a creamy butter complexity that sinews through the core of the wine. The finish gives depth of oak with notes of vanilla and butterscotch. This wine is a Chardonnay lovers dream!

Penelope Sanchez Red Blend 2011
Campo de Borja, Spain
Cash Price $10.99

I really enjoy this wine. It is a Grenache/Syrah blend that is completely un-oaked. The wine is fresh and fun on the palate. Flavors of strawberry and red cherries fling into the palate with reckless abandon. Hints of spice play through the outer palate, but this wine focuses on giving you alluring, jammy fruits from start to finish. Succulent and satisfying, this wine goes a long way for such a little price!

Thank You,

James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator
Certified Sommelier

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