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

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope everyone is getting into the swing of the new year.  I typically find that January is a lost month for me because I am always trying to get all my ducks in a row for the rest of the year.  This year, it is not the case.  I am in full swing with an abundance of delicious new wines for you all to sup.  I do have several picks dedicated to the holiday of the heart.  Impress your significant other this year with a deliciously flavorful bottle of silky smooth Barbera or lightly sweet Gamay bubbles!

Aldo Conterno Barbera D’Alba ‘Conca Tre Pile’ 2005

Alba, Italy

Cash Price $35.89

I find Barbera to be the ‘lost’ grape of the wine world.  Barbera is deliciously expressive with minimal tannins and bright, vibrant acids.  The fruit is king with this varietal.  Aldo Conterno is considered a ‘Traditionalist’ in the wine making world of Piedmonte.  The ‘Traditionalist’ style is of minimal human interference in preference of letting the wine speak for itself.  This wine is vinified in stainless steel barrels and aged for 12 months in new oak in the hilly areas of one of the best areas in Piedmonte, called Bussia.  The acids are still rocking in this 9 year old wine.  The fruits pops in the palate with bing cherry and stewed raspberries sink into soft hints of rose petals and cranberry.  The finish is supple and lingering with a generous finish of cedar, tar, and just a whiff of smoked plum.  This wine ROCKS at its price point and would be an amazing treat for your loved one on Valentines Day!

Summers Cabernet 2011

Calistoga, California

Cash Price $27.99

I have found that Summers is one of the more consistent Cabernet producers.  Their Calistoga offering is always a value for under $30, even in a challenging vintage such as 2011.  Black cherries zing into the palate with bits of blackberry and currant.  A thick creamy texture takes over the mid palate that smacks of vanilla bean and graham cracker.  The finish is long with integrated tannins, fine acids and notes of cinnamon, leather and herbs.  Stunning Cabernet!

Boniface ‘Caprice des Rocailles’ Red Sparkling N/V

Savoie, France

Cash Price $15.99

This delicious and softly sweet bubbly is the perfect Valentine’s Day wine!  Boniface is a Gamay based wine.  Gamay is better known as the red grape of Beaujolais.  The grape displays light and fresh fruits with soft tannins and zesty acids.  This heavenly bubbly exudes strawberries and raspberry from the beginning.  Tight and friendly bubbles dance through the glass with licks of sweetness that balance the fresh fruit flavors.  The finish offers just a smidge of brioche nestled into a bed of freshly picked rose petals.  Quite a Valentine’s Delight!

Dauvergne Ranvier Red Blend 2010

Vacqueyras, France

Cash Price 28.99

Vacqueyras has become the darling of the Rhone Valley in the past several vintages.  People are starting to search out this quality Village.  The wines are comprised mostly of Grenache, but may have a dollop of Syrah and Mourvedre.  Ranvier offers flavors of stewed plums and ripe red cherries.  Supple tannins and soft acids play through a core of red flowers and savory herbs.  The finish gives notes of graphite, hints of smoked tar, and just a touch of jammed pomegranate.  This wine really shows what the Rhone Valley can offer in a great vintage!

Domaine Herve Seguin Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Pouilly Fume, France

Cash Price $23.99

Pouilly Fume is one of the more serious expressions of Sauvignon Blanc in the entire world.  Seguin is a 6th generation family of growers with vineyards in the town of Pouilly-Sur-Loire.  The wines they produce have excellent acidity and pure driven minerality. Seguin offers bursting flavors of citrus lime and grapefruit that sing through focused acids. Licks of limestone minerals tingle through the mid palate with hints of flint. The finish offers a tinge of smoke that is encompassed by white flowers without any oak.  Try this complex expression of Sauvignon from one of its best regions!

Twisted Sister ‘Main Squeeze’ Red Blend 2011

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $18.99

The Calcareous ‘Twisted Sister’ line has become one of the best sellers in all of Spec’s portfolio.  The Main Squeeze is a silky red blend of Syrah, Zinfandel, and Cabernet.  Red fruits of ripe red cherries and wild berries are prevalent from the start.  The mid palate turns into cream cherry pie with velvet tannins and lush acids.  The finish offers hints of toasted oak and caramel that sink into a gracious amounts of dark chocolate and truffles.  This is a Valentine’s Day wine that Your ‘main squeeze’ will love!

Vallobera Tempranillo Crianza 2010

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $16.99

Rioja is experiencing a revival in wine making.  The traditional Rioja wine tended to be dark, with mild fruit and a huge helping of American oak.  The new wines of Rioja are plush with vibrant fruit and sometimes infusing the American oak with French oak.  The results are astoundingly great wines!  Vallobera is quite expressive from the front with flavors of black cherry and plum.  The mid palate offers smooth tannins that come from the grapes and oak.  The wine is aged for 14 month in French and American oak.  The finish gives notes of vanilla and dill that linger on the palate and reach into hints of clove and blackberry.  Explore Vibrant Rioja!

Caronne Ste. Gemme Red Blend 2011

Haut Medoc, France

Cash Price $18.99

I have found that this winery is one of the best values in all of Bordeaux!  I have tried numerous vintages and have enjoyed every single one.  The winery adjoins the famous region of Saint Julien in the confines of St. Laurent and is a blend of Cabernet and Merlot.  This wine has excellent structure and purity.  Flavors of blackberry and currant sift through brawny tannins and fresh acids.  The mid palate offers notes of leather and tobacco which fall into hints of graphite and clove.  The finish is supple and long with smidgeons of cedar, vanilla and spice.  Great Value Bordeaux!

Morande Gran Reserva Chardonnay 2008

Casablanca Valley, Chile

Cash Price $14.29

The Casablanca region is producing some of the best white wines in all of Chile.  The region is perfect for growing white grapes such as Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.  This wine is drinking perfectly right now.  Tropical flavors of melon and papaya fling effortlessly through the palate into hints  of ripe guava and pineapple.  Notes of toasted caramel and hazelnut are prevalent in the mid palate.  The finish offers smidgeons of oak and vanilla bean. Add this treat to your daily Chardonnay repertoire.

JRE Red Blend 2011

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $14.99

This Red blend is a favorite of Spec’s Main Wine Buyer Bear Dalton.  It is a Zinfandel, Petite Sirah blend that really over achieves for the price point.  The Zinfandel offers flavors of ripe black cherries, candied raspberry and bramble while the Petite Sirah gives brawny tannins and dark currant to the wine.  The mid palate shows a jammy complexity with hints of clove and black pepper.  The finish shows 22 months of oak aging with vanilla bean, cinnamon and cedar that lay on a bed of stewed fruits for a wonderfully long time.  Perfect Pizza Wine for this cold weather!

Primo Amore Riesling N/V

Pavia, Italy

Cash Price $12.99

Primo Amore (First Love) is the perfect white wine to give your Valentine this year!  The wine is slightly sweet with flavors of honeyed melon and caramel green apples.  The backbone has a soft core of acidity that balances out the medium sweetness.  Notes of ripe pear and nectarine dance melodically through notes of jasmine and honey suckle.  The finish is soft, tantalizing and without oak.  Buy this wine for Your Amore!

Enseduna Red Blend 2008

Languedoc, France

Cash Price $11.99

I visited the Languedoc a couple of years ago and was lucky enough to have dinner with the head vineyard manager of this winery.  He is a big fan of the indigenous grape Marselan and made his case to me that this varietal would become the signature grape of the region.  He may be onto something!  Enseduna is a blend of Marselan, Syrah, and Merlot.  Juicy flavors of plum and framboise are prevalent from the start with a thick mouth feel.  Notes of candied strawberry sink into the mid palate with soft, elegant tannins and still zesty acids.  The finish offers hints of spice and soft cream.  Pair this wine with nice thick steak with all the fixings.

Urban Cabernet 2011

Maule, Chile

Cash Price $11.99

The Urban line is a part of the prestigious Jorge Ordonez portfolio and produced by the iconic O. Fournier winery.  I have always found that Ordonez finds some of the best quality value wines on earth.  This 100% Cabernet is surprising tasty for the money.  It is approachable from the start with flavors of black currant and black cherries that play into soft, eloquent tannins and easy acids.  The finish offers notes of black raspberry and toasted nutmeg with smidgeons of spice.  Awesome Daily Red!

Thank You,

James C. Barlow

Certified Wine Educator

Certified Sommelier

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