Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Happy New Year!  I hope everyone had a happy and safe holiday season.  I really enjoy the holidays, but boy am I glad when they are over.  There is something to be said about getting back to normal.  Last year, I really went out of my way to rediscover Burgundy.  I am not sure what this year’s intrigue may be, but I am excited to continue the quest of bringing you all great wines and finding new loves.  Hopefully, you all will continue to learn as your palate expands with the new wines you will try from these blogs and my ever necessary studies will guide us through a blessed 2015.

Kopke Porto Colheita 2004

Duoro, Portugal

Cash Price $31.99

I really enjoy Colheita Port in the winter.  Lightly sweet, well matured wines can be the perfect way to end an evening.  Portugese wines have exploded this past year in the world of wine with Wine Spectator leading the way by making its top pick of the year a Port.  Kopke is the original Port house and was founded in 1638 by the German born Cristiano Kopke.  The house produces predominantly Tawny Ports, specializing in Colheita, with stock dating back 100 years.  Colheita wines are tawny Ports that are vintage dated and at least seven years old.  Since they are already fortified and usually quite oxidized, these wines will last a good month after opening.  So no need to rush through the bottle, in fact I prefer to have a small glass after dinner throughout the month.  This wine offers matured flavors of red currant and cherries with silky tannins that soften through out the mouth feel.  Notes of vanilla, potpourri and brown sugar dance deftly through dried figs and apricots.  The finish is supple and plentiful.  Fall in love with Port this winter!

Guardian Peak ‘Lapa’ Cabernet 2009

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $34.99

I think that South Africa quietly makes some of the best wines on Earth.  They can produce New World style wines with a genuine expression of terroir.  Lapa is one of the better Cabs that I have had from Stellenbosch.  The grapes come from the northern slopes of Helderberg Mountain which allows for maximum sun exposure for the grapes with the cool breezes from the Atlantic Ocean cooling off the grapes in the summer.  Guardian Peak shows dark, opaque fruits of cassis and blackberry that are encompassed by a radiance of eighteen month of French oak aging.  Notes of graphite and pencil shavings lead into of Framboise and dark wild berries.  The tannins are medium bodied and well integrated with medium acids.  The finish is long and powerful.  This is an amazing Cabernet!

Chateau Bernadotte 2006

Haut Medoc, France

Cash Price $25.99 but only

$23.49 with your Spec’s Key for a limited time!

I have found some of the best value wines in the 2006 vintage from the Haut Medoc.  It followed the monster vintage of 2005, so it was largely overlooked albeit an outstanding harvest.  This wine is produced by the same team that makes the highly acclaimed Pichon Lalande.  Bernadotte went through a ‘closed’ phase, but is starting to hit its stride right now.  Classic Bordeaux with flavors of red currant with medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of black cherry and cranberry sink into the mid palate with hints of graphite and vanillin.  The finish offers bits of bay leaf and toasted cedar with just a touch of kitchen spice.  Great Value Bordeaux!

Feudo Di San Nicola Negroamaro 2010

Puglia, Italy

Cash Price $17.99

Negroamaro is the signature grape of Puglia and is often blended with Primitivo (Zinfandel) to make a rich, juicy style of red blend.  The grape makes a full bodied wine with fruits that are on the baked side due to the hot flatlands of Puglia.  Thick and racy, this wine exudes flavors of stewed plums and fig with tinges of cinnamon sticks on the mid palate.  Dried morello cherries lead into hints of licorice and molasses.  Nicola has medium tannins and medium plus acids.  The finish has touches of oak with a nice dollop of alcohol on the finish.  Negroamaro would pair nicely with a hearty meat dish or a nice Cuban cigar!

Crossos Garnacha blend 2011

Priorat, Spain

Cash Price $14.99

It is tough to find a Priorat wine for under $20, so I am particularly excited when I find one that is stunning like the Crossos red blend.  The wine is predominantly Garnacha based, but does have Cabernet and Samso to add structure and depth.  Crossos shows flavors of intense red cherries and plums that play into hints of black slate and black pepper.  The wine is full bodied and fat, but with excellent structure throughout the core.  The finish gives fleshy pomegranate and tinges of over ripe raspberry and scorched earth.  Excellent Value Wine!

Aria Brut Sparkling N/V

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $14.99

Segura Viudas is the producer for this great sparkling brand.  This house is considered one of the finest in Cava and was given the high accolade of ‘Value Brand of the Year’ in 2013 by Wine & Spirits magazine.  I have figured out what the best time to have bubbles. Any time, anywhere is the answer.  Cava offers great value as it is produced the same way as Champagne, but at a margin of the price.  Crisp and clean, this sparkler exudes flavors of citrus and green apple with tight, refreshing bubbles.  The mid palate gives hints of jasmine and white flowers with touches of pear and almond.  The finish is vibrant and inviting with tinges of fresh dough and confection.  Bubbles are for all occasions!

Chateau De Lancyre ‘Coste D’Aleyrac’ Red Blend 2009

Pic Saint Loup, France

Cash Price $18.99

 The Languedoc is one of the premier value wine regions in the world.  Grenache and Syrah are typically king in this land with other role playing grapes.  Such is the blend of this wine.  50% Syrah, 40% Grenache, and 10% Carignan give this sustainably farmed wine excellent character.  Lancyre has some of the oldest Syrah vineyards in the region which has given this winery a reputation as one of the top in the district.  Ripe flavors of wild red berries and cherry abound through zippy acids and garrigue.  The wine is un-oaked and ready to drink for the first sup.  Notes of fresh strawberry and raspberry play into medium tannins.  Lancyre is juicy and drinking beautifully right now!  A Must Try!

Cuesta Pedro Ximinez Sherry

El Puerto de Santa Maria, Spain

Cash Price $12.99

Pedro Ximinez (better known as PX) is a grape that is used for producing sweeter styles of Sherry.  Cuesta is owned by the famed Lustau Sherry house.  This delicious gem is sweet, but not cloyingly so.  It is aged for a minimum of ten years, which is really prevalent on the baked, aged nose.  Flavors of raisins and brown sugar start the complex profile with almonds and hazelnuts seeping through the mid palate.  Notes of all spice and dried dates sit on the delightfully textured mouth feel. The finish is lingering and shows hints of honey, toffee, and graham crackers.  Excellent flavor profile for the price.  Try this with chocolate and fall in love!

Chateau Ampelia Red Blend 2007

Cotes de Castillon, France

Cash Price $17.49

Castillon borders St. Emilion on the right bank of the Garonne River.  The region is primarily devoted to Merlot and is considered the value version of the right bank.  This wine is 95% Merlot with the remainder being Cabernet Franc.  Ampelia is medium bodied and peaking right now.   Flavors of blueberry and black currant flow seamlessly through medium tannins and acids.  Notes of cedar and vanilla play through the finish with tinges of plum.   Ampelia is tailor made for a thick steak and always give a Bordeaux wine its proper due by decanting it for awhile.

Dr. Frank Semi-Dry Riesling 2011

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $14.39

Konstantin Frank is producing some of the best wines in New York and are, in fact, the first to successfully implement vitis vinifera into New York.  Riesling is a specialty for this winery and their semi dry version is absolutely stunning!  This lightly off dry wine offers flavors orange blossom, green apples with tinges of ripe pear that balance effortlessly through the palate.  The wine is un-oaked and has medium plus acidity that is tamed by the licks of sweetness.  The finish offers notes of honeysuckle and wild meadow flowers combined with hints of wet rock minerality.  Dr. Frank is one of the best Riesling producers in the New World.

Shannon Ridge Cabernet 2012

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

This winery recently received the accolade of ‘Best Winery’ at the Houston Rodeo Uncorked! Wine Competition.  They are located in the steep mountain slopes of Lake County and are dedicated to producing high quality, sustainably farmed wines at a great price.  This high elevation Cabernet is dangerously approachable from the first pop of the cork.  Supple flavors of black cherries and dark berries are encompassed by smooth, easy tannins and well balanced acids. The core offers notes of raspberry, plum and tobacco.  The finish is silky with touches of vanilla, all spice and licks of cedar.  Spectacular wine under $15!

Erik Banti ‘Carato’ Red 2010

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $11.99

It is a great time to be drinking Italian wine.  The wines are more approachable and fruit forward as they have ever been and the value wine category has seen a big jump in quality.  This delicious offering is a blend of 70% Sangiovese, 25% Merlot, and 5% Syrah.  The wine is medium bodied, but with a fleshy structure that gives it plenty of meat on the bones with fruit pouring into the palate from all angles.  Voluptuous flavors of bing cherries and cranberries lead from the palate with zesty, yet tame acids and medium tannins.  Vibrant notes of ripe tomatoes and hints of black pepper make this wine a perfect pairing for a pizza with all the toppings!  The finish shows notes of toasted oak with hints of vanilla bean and hazelnut.  Carato Red is an outstanding value and a sure fire pick as your new ‘Tuesday’ night wine!

Peirano ‘The Other’ Red Blend 2011

Lodi, California

Cash Price $11.99

The Other Red has a lot going for it besides its catchy labeling.  This wine is a blend of 50% Cabernet, 40% Merlot, and  10% Syrah.  Peirano offers flavors of sweet black cherries and blackberries with a ripe core of seductive fruit.  Notes of boysenberry and plum play through the mid palate with medium tannins and acids.  The finish is soft and playful with hints of graham cracker, cedar and just a touch of smoke.  The wine is easily paired , but is meant for a nice relaxing evening or an in house date night.

Thank You,

James C. Barlow

Certified Wine Educator

Certified Sommelier



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  1. Ron Saikowski says:

    Is the wine tasting on January 21 still on?

    Ronald A. Saikowski PE LEED AP CFM

    Quest Engineering

    304 North Main Street, suite #1

    Conroe, Texas 77301

    Cell (713) 252-3729

    rsaikowski@comcast.net (Home)

    rsaikowski@consolidated.net (Office)

  2. Larry Nail says:


    Would you hold me 6 bottles of the Reserva Malbec at the front? The Lamadrid that you brought in. Wow! It is great!!

    Larry C Nail 210 410 1974

    Sent from my iPhone Please excuse typos


  3. randycz says:

    James: We will be by Saturday to pick these up. Randy

  4. domandrita says:

    Hi James, This is Rita, I am in need of a recommendation of a nice wine, that is moderately priced. Something that will pair well with Grilled Salmon, topped with a Fresh corn relish and a Garlicky Shrimp Scampi, on a bed of Parmigiana -Riggiano-Orzo and Baby Spinach. My guest’s are Red Wine drinker’s! Salad of Arugula, Fresh Shaved-Scales of Parmesan and toasted pine nuts, with a Balsamic-Vinaigrette Dressing, and Roasted fresh Glazed Pear’s for dessert!……… Need your help!…… Thanks in advance. R.M.

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