Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
It looks like Spring has already passed and the brutal Houston summer heat is back! This month, I am focusing on wines that are prime for summer time drinking. I have chosen a softer style of Cabernet from France that will not beat you down with high alcohol as well as several other wonderful whites, reds, and rose’s that are sure to be perfect for your palate. I apologize for not being as available lately, for I just finished teaching a Certified Specialist of Wine course for Spec’s and it has taken up a good portion of my time. Hopefully, You will have numerous stores in the near future that have a Certified Specialist of Wine at your disposal to help you with your wine selections! I am teaching a class at Crescent Moon Wine Bar on May 28th, entitled ‘Wines that beat the Hot Houston Heat’. Seats are limited and go fast! RSVP to 281-364-9463.
La Sirene de Giscours Cabernet Blend 2010
Cash Price $37.99
Margaux is one of the best regions on earth to produce soft, silky Cabernets. The 2010 vintage in Bordeaux will go down in the books as one of the best of our life time. La Sirene is the 2nd label of the 3rd Growth Chateau Giscours. Bold, voluptuous flavors of black cherry and currant glide into notes of cedar, vanilla and clove. The fruits are amazingly integrated into this sexy Cabernet. This wine can hold for some time, but I would recommend popping it on your first chance to impress guests. A Cabernet dressed to impress!
Domaine Thenard Premier Cru Pinot Noir 2009
Cash Price $24.99
Burgundy enjoyed one of its best harvest in the 2009 vintage. Givry is farther south of the famed Cote D’Or and makes some awesome Pinot Noir on the same soil as the hallowed Grand Cru’s of Burgundy. Thenard offers exquisite black cherries and framboise that lick into tinges of spice and red flowers. Notes of currant and nutmeg dangle through the mid palate with fresh and vivacious acids. The finish offers lilacs, fresh blossoms and hints of potpourri. Refreshing and quite stunning!
Arcadian ‘Westerly’ Syrah 2007
Santa Cruz, California
Cash Price $24.99
I think that California Syrah is completely overlooked in the wine world. Wine Maker Joe Davis is not afraid to take risks with his wines. This wine is impressively exuberant from the start. Flavors of dark cassis and cherry blow up the palate with a silky milk chocolate texture throughout the mouth feel. Hints of smoke and bacon waft hauntingly through the core of the wine. The finish is quite chewy with notes of thick currant, bitter chocolate, and black pepper. Impressive!
La Varenne Cabernet Franc 2012
Cash Price $18.99
The Gouron Family has been producing wine for five generations at their estate in Chinon. This wine is classic Cabernet Franc. Varenne is all about producing minimal wine at maximum quality. I recently wrote an article for the Society of Wine Educators about the new found popularity of Cabernet Franc and this winery is one of the reasons that it is happening! Wonderfully integrated flavors of plum and red cherries sink into an earthy tone of freshly churned soil and forest floor. Notes of blackberry and currant meld beautifully into hints of green pepper, mushrooms and pencil shavings. This wine is awesome and perfect for this summer heat!
Les Rocailles Gamay Rose 2012
Cash Price $13.29
Savoie is a little known region near Switzerland that produces stunning Rose! Gamay, which is best known as the red grape of Beaujolais, thrives here showing ripe, fresh fruits with zesty acids and minimal tannins. Rocailles is a dry Rose that offers fresh notes of strawberry, raspberry and cranberry that dance through zesty acids. The finish is clean and offers a unique tartness that makes you want to immediately take another sip. Houston summers are too hot not to have a refreshing Rose at the table.
Lucas and Lewellen Pinot Noir 2012
Santa Barbera, California
Cash Price $16.99
It is tough to find quality Pinot Noir for under $20. Fortunately for you, I am an avid fan of Pinot Noir! This wine is ridiculously good for the money! Flavors of bright red cherries and cola sink into succulent acids and eloquent tannins. Notes of raspberry and candied red apples round into the mid palate with bits of toasted nutmeg. The finish is soft and smooth with hints of vanilla bean and just a touch of earthy terrior. Enjoy!
Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Marlborough, New Zealand
Cash Price $14.99 But only
$13.99 with your Spec’s Key for a limited time!
Tohu produces impressive wines from the best area in Marlborough, called Awatere Valley. Fresh and zesty acids reach through the tropical flavors of melon and key lime. The wine is completely un-oaked and offers a mid palate of freshly picked herbs surrounded by a medley of guava and grapefruit. The finish is pure and intense. From start to finish, this wine exudes a need for quenching Houston’s hot summer heat palates!
Caruso Nero D’Avola 2010
Cash Price $15.69
Nero D’Avola is the perfect summer red. It has mellow tannins and fresh, vibrant acids that tend to quench the palate without all the heaviness which can be overbearing on your taste buds in the hot Houston heat. Caruso offers flavors of red berries and sweet red cherries that meld into a delicious acidity that encompasses the backbone. Notes of prune and stewed red fruits are prevalent on the mid palate with hints of vanilla bean and cedar. The finish is smooth with bits of sage and all spice. This is a fabulously produced wine and will give the chef versatility with many dishes at your dinner table.
Cross Springs Chardonnay 2011
Lake County, California
Cash Price $13.99
Located just north of Napa, Lake County is beginning to gain popularity in the California wine world. Cross Springs Winery is quickly becoming one of Spec’s best selling wineries across the board due to their easy, approachable flavor profiles. This deliciously creamy Chardonnay has quite an extravagant mouth feel. Flavors of tropical melon and candied green apples are surrounded by notes of creamy butter, hazelnut, and butterscotch. The backbone has an easy acidity and the American oak gives the wine texture. The finish is long, succulent and full of richness. A Chardonnay to fall in love with!
Fattoria di Vetrice Sangiovese 2011
Cash Price $12.29
The region of Rufina is producing the best wines within the rolling hills of Chianti. Vetrice is 90% Sangiovese. Soft, plush red fruits of cherry, raspberry and cranberry abound throughout the palate. The oak is non existent which allows the acids to zip cleanly through the backbone. Hints of orange blossom and citrus sink easily into a refreshingly fruit forward finish. Vetrice would be great to pop at your next crawfish broil!
Ca’bolani Pinot Grigio 2012
Alto Adige, Italy
Cash Price $12.99
The Zonin family produces this perfectly smooth white. Ca’bolani is a tasty little Pinot Grigio that is deliciously clean and pure. Flavors of lime and melon zing into zesty, clean acids that clear the way for softly textured notes of green apples and mandarin. Balanced acids and minerals really allow the fruit to shine in this wine. The finish has a refreshingly subtle hint of honeysuckle that dances on the back palate to balance out the spunky Pinot Grigio! Think Santa Margherita is your white of choice? This one may change your mind and save you some money!
Vassal de Mercues Malbec 2011
Cash Price $11.99
The revolution of Malbec in Argentina has really helped the little town of Cahors which has been producing the grape for centuries. The French Malbecs tend to have larger tannins and an earthier texture than their Argentinian counterparts. Georges Vigouroux has become a master at producing inexpensive, high quality wines from Cahors. Flavors of plum and red currant are accentuated by ripe, supple tannins. The wine is thick, full bodied and unencumbered by oak. The finish is persistent with notes of black pepper, coffee grinds and hints of bitter mocha. Vassal would love to be paired with a big hunk of meat with all the fixings!
Esperanza Verdejo 2012
Cash Price $8.99
Rueda is one of the few regions on earth that has made the fickle Verdejo grape its mainstay. If this grape is properly vinified, it is delightfully aromatic and full of life. Unfortunately, Verdejo is prone to easy oxidation, so the wine maker must pay special attention to the ensuing wine to retain the freshness. Esperanza offers a fruity wine with flavors of grapefruit and citrus that lead into tropical notes of pineapple, mango and bananas. Just a smidgeon of Viura is added to help with body and structure. The finish is refreshing with a soft acidity that tickles the palate. Perfect Pool Side Wine!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator