Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I find that April is one of my favorite months of the year.  Spring is upon us and Houston gets some of its best days of the year.  The warm weather is slowly creeping back into the scene which means that I am in search of new delicious whites, light reds and Roses for the impending summer.  I have found a medley of spectacular wines for you all to enjoy throughout this wonderful time of the year.  Please join me at Crescent Moon Wine Bar on Wednesday, April 23rd from 7-9pm for my next class entitled ‘The Art of Blind Tasting’.  RSVP to 281-364-9463.  Enjoy!

Storybook Mountains Cabernet 2009

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.39

Storybook is one of those hidden gem wineries.  It doesn’t get the press or popularity of say Caymus or Silver Oak, but has quietly become rated among the Top 100 wineries in the world!  Even Robert Parker has noted the winery is ”representing the pinnacle of wine quality in California”.  The wine explodes on the palate with firm, yet ripe cherry and currant.  The mid palate is eloquent with supple tannins and steady acids that are surrounded by plump notes of cassis and bramble.  The finish is laced with textured oak and subtle nuances of milk chocolate and creamy vanilla.  This dynamite Cab may be off most of your radars, but will ‘WOW’ you from the first pop of the cork!

Ampelos ‘Lambda’ Pinot Noir 2009

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $29.99

Ampelos (greek word for vine) is one of my favorite wineries in California.  They produce high quality Pinot Noir and Rhone varietals.  The winery is certified organic, biodynamic, and sustainable in practice.  This makes them one of the purest vineyards in the United States.  All this combined shows through in the purity and quality of the wine in the glass.  This Pinot is a richer style with opulent flavors of bing cherry and raspberry.  Notes of cola and spice dance throughout the mouth feel with hints of boysenberry enveloping the palate.  The finish offers a supple, creamy texture that gives bits of vanilla and soft clove that round into a touch of blueberry.  Stunning!

Farella ‘La Luce’ Sauvignon Blanc 2012

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $21.49

The newest AVA in Napa Valley is Coombsville.  This winery is situated in the Vaca Mountains with elevations between 300-500 feet.  It is the elevation makes it prime for zesty Sauvignon Blanc.  Farella estate only produces around 1,200 cases total.  Most of their grapes are sold to the likes of Far Niente, Honig, Keenan, Lail, Pahlmeyer, and Realm.  Farella, obviously, produces some of highest quality wines coming out of Napa Valley.  This Sauvignon is amazingly fresh and lively!  Flavors of citrus and grapefruit zing into the palate without any infusion of oak.  Notes of melon and jasmine waft through mid palate with just a touch of minerality.  The finish is delicate and clean with hints of fresh cut grass and wet pebbles.   A great wine for the impending heat of summer!

Waterford ‘Kevin Arnold’ Shiraz 2009

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $29.99

I recently poured this at a tasting and absolutely stunned the people.  They couldn’t believe how good this South African wine tasted.  I find South Africa to be a hidden gem in the wine world.  Their wines typically offer an abundance of fruit, yet give true essence of terroir.  This wine offers immense fruit from the start.  Powerful flavors of red currants and red cherries enrich the palate with stewed fruits.  The mid palate is seamless with integrated tannins and acids that play into notes of savory meat and garrigue.  The finish is full bodied with 26 months of French oak aging that show hints of sage, clove and cedar with just a dollop of vanilla.  Impressive!

Strub ‘Niersteiner Paterberg’ Riesling Kabinett 2007

Rheinhessen, Germany

Cash Price $19.94

I love aged Riesling.  I believe that cellared Riesling can be some of the finest white wine in the world.  The best vineyard sites in the Rheinhessen are from the Niersteiner area.  Strub apprenticed at the acclaimed Donnhoff winery.  This low alcohol, off dry wine is succulent.  Flavors of honeyed melon and baked green apples quaff into elegant, yet racy acids.  Notes of quince and white flowers sway softly through the mid palate.  The finish gives hints of slate and crushed rocks with a touch of spice and bruised peach.  This wine is aging beautifully and will only get better!

Chateau Bernadotte Red Blend 2006

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $25.99

I often find hidden gems in the over-looked 2006 vintage in Bordeaux.  The 2005 vintage won such accolades that the ensuing vintage was considered lackluster, although most Sommeliers would agree that it is the perfect vintage to find great value.  Chateau Bernadotte’s wines are made by the same team as the highly acclaimed 2nd Growth Chateau Pichon Lalande.  This Cabernet, Merlot blend is starting to peak and drinking perfectly right now.  Full bodied flavors of black currant and black cherry open up into softening, yet still firm tannins and lively acids.  The mid palate offers ample roundness in the mouth feel with notes of framboise, plum and savory spices.  The finish is packed full of integrated French oak that offers smoked cedar and vanilla bean.  It lingers for a beautifully long time.  Great Value Bordeaux!

Salentein Malbec Reserve 2012

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $18.99

I visited Salentein’s winery several years ago and have been an avid fan since.  Their winery is state of the art with no expense spared to produce top quality wines.  This 100% Malbec is dynamite!  Flavors of ripe plum and black berries sink into brawny tannins and supple acids.  Notes of currant and chewy phenolics are prevalent on the mid palate with juicy red fruits.  The finish offers oak complexity with smidgeon of cedar, vanilla and clove spice.  The wine is wonderfully balanced and in proportion.  Salentein Malbec begs for a hearty steak with all the fixings!

Poggio Bello Pinot Grigio 2012

Friuli, Italy

Cash Price $17.79

The area of Colli Orientali inside of the region of Friuli is widely known to produce the best Pinot Grigio in the world.  There is a purity of flavor and terroir that is often missed in other regions that produce this varietal.  Poggio Bello shows a sleek complexity of balance, elegance and fragrance.  Flavors of citrus lemon-lime flow into the palate with smidgeons of melon and acacia.  Notes of lemon curd continue through the mid palate without any nuances of oak.  The finish is clean with continuing aromatics and hints of white flowers.  A perfect pool side wine!

Fuentespina Tempranillo Crianza 2010

Ribera del Duero, Spain

Cash Price $17.99

Many people are often confused by Spanish wine labels.  Crianza is not a grape.  It is an aging requirement.  Crianza wines in Ribera del Duero must be aged for two years with a minimum of six months in oak.  The red grape of the region is Tempranillo.  This wine is 100% Tempranillo from fifty year old vines.  It is aged in French and American Oak for twelve month.  Flavors of dark cherry and plum with bits of roasted almonds seep into the voluptuous tannins and acids.  Notes of licorice and savory meat are prevalent on the mid palate which softens into a cream complexity.  The finish is sinewed with rich vanilla, dill and hints of spice.  Fuentespina is amazingly complex for such a nominal price.  A Must Try!

Butera Nero d’Avola 2010

Sicily, Italy

Cash Price $12.99

Nero d’Avola is an indigenous varietal of Sicily that has become a darling in the Sommelier community.  It is grown on the slopes of Sicily with ample sunlight which gives the grape a slightly roasted profile.  Flavors of dark plum and roasted cranberries flow into a medley of stewed fruits.  The wine is medium bodied with smooth tannins that offer notes of licorice, tea leaf, and just a hint of bacon fat.  The finish is long and enticing with hints of cinnamon and raspberry mocha.  Butera is an awesome daily red!

Danie De Wetshof ‘Bon Vallon’ Chardonnay 2013

Robertson, South Africa

Cash Price $10.99

De Wetshof is considered the premier winery for Chardonnay in all of South Africa.  I consider this winery my ‘go to’ for Chardonnay.  Bon Vallon is completely unencumbered by oak which gives the varietal a purity and expressiveness.  Delicious flavors of freshly picked green apples and citrus play into zesty, yet integrated acids.  The mid palate brings a unique minerality of wet limestone and the fruits start to become riper with hints of melon and peach.  The finish is clean and refreshing with just a hint of cream and nuts.  This wine is an absolute steal!

Lockwood Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Monterrey, California

Cash Price $12.99

but only $10.99 for a limited time with your Spec’s Key!

Lockwood winery was recently purchased by the negociant Boisset family.  The goal of Boisset is to produce the best quality wines at an affordable price.  Lockwood fits into that profile perfectly.  This dynamite Cabernet offers flavors of black cherry and boysenberry with chewy tannins and smooth acids.  Notes of black currant and tobacco sinew easily through the mid palate.  The finish offers ample amounts of toasted oak, mocha, and vanilla that sit on the palate for a nice long time.  Awesome daily Cabernet!

Cazes Le Canon du Marechal Red Blend 2010

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $9.19


Marechal is a unique blend of equal parts Syrah and Merlot.  Cazes is located in the foothills of the Corbieres Moutain range in southern France.  The wine offers lush fruits and an easy approachability.  Flavors of red cherry and raspberry sing into velvet tannins and acids.  The finish is silky smooth and flavorful.  Fruit forward and ready to drink, this wine is good for pairing or just enjoying on the patio with family and friends.

Thank You,

James C. Barlow

Certified Wine Educator

Certified Sommelier




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  1. Marek Pakulski says:

    Lots of interesting wines. I will stop by.



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