Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,
The dog days of summer have really just been an extension of the rainy May showers this year. I almost welcome the heat if it gives us a reprieve from the rain! I have been fielding a lot of questions as to my whereabouts these days because of my absence at the Rayford/Sawdust location as of late. I have been helping the new Oak Ridge North store gain traction and build their wine selections. I will be working in the wine department at the Oak Ridge location on Wednesdays and Thursdays for the foreseeable future. The rest of the time, I plan to continue keeping the Rayford/Sawdust store my home. Please email me if you have any questions or concerns. I have picked a marvelous selection of wines this month. In fact, I am extremely proud to offer several of these wines for the first time to customers. I am also quite proud to have a Texas wine in ‘The Thirteen’ Picks for the very first time!
Castello Di Ama San Lorenzo Gran Selezione Chianti Classico 2011
Cash Price $45.99
The Gran Selezione is a brand new Tier in Chianti Classico that is rewarding wineries for aging their wine for a longer amount of time before releasing it to the public. It is now considered the finest that the Chianti Classico region has to offer. Castello Di Ama is one of the highest quality wineries in all of Tuscany and the inaugural release of their Gran Selezione named San Lorenzo was good enough to make into the Top Five of Wine Spectator’s Top 100 this past year. The next vintage (2011) was just released and it is Spectacular! Located just northeast of Siena, in the heart of Chianti Classico, is the picturesque estate of Castello Di Ama. San Lorenzo is picked from their finest vineyards and aged for 12 months in 20% new barrique. Divine flavors of wild red cherries and fresh raspberries play into the palate with medium plus acidity and medium tannins. Notes of red clay and scorched earth sinew through the mid palate with touches of vanilla, cinnamon, and leather. The finish shows a silky complexity that offers graham crackers and hints of milk chocolate. This is an impressive offering from Chianti Classico!
Del Dotto ‘Ca’Nani’ Pinot Noir 2012
Sonoma Coast, California
Cash Price $39.89
Ca’Nani, meaning House of Dwarves, is the newest adventure by the Cult Classic Del Dotto winery. This will be the only vintage of this label as it was quickly renamed in the next vintage as Piazza Del Dotto. This wine comes from the highly touted area of Fort Ross-Seaview (Flowers fame) in the Sonoma Coast. Classic Pinot Noir structure flows through this wine. Flavors of strawberry and bing cherries show brightly with vibrant acids and fleshy, yet restrained tannins. Notes of cola and rhubarb mellow into hints of almond and tea leaves. The finish is rich and decadent with tinges of graham cracker, vanilla, and wild berries. This wine is delicate while still being quite a mouthful!
Seguinot Bordet Chardonnay 2013
Cash price $21.84
I find that there is nothing finer in my glass on a scorching summer day than a refreshing Chablis. Chardonnay from the upper reaches of Burgundy is some of the best expressions of terroir driven wine in the world. The kimmeridgeon limestone in the area shines through in the wine with minimal use of oak. Jean-Francois Bordet produces this gem that is perfect for the dog days of summer in Texas. Flavors of green apple and melon zing into medium plus acids with touches of chalky minerality. Notes of grapefruit and lemon zest play through the mid palate with hints of butter and hazelnut. The finish offers hints of cream laced with smidgeons of flint and wet stones. Seguinot is deliciously complex and an absolute steal!
Carne Humana Red Blend 2011
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $28.49
This hedonistic red blend is a blend of Petite Sirah, Petite Verdot, and Zinfandel that is sourced from the sub appellations of Calistoga, St. Helena, and Rutherford Valley. The dark purple color in the glass shows that it will be a massively intense wine.Thick and juicy flavors of black cherries and pomegranate sinew into medium plus tannins and medium acids. Hints of licorice, leather and tobacco leaf show nicely on the chewy mid palate. The finish is long and integrated with notes of vanilla and cedar from the 18 months of French oak ageing. Carne Humana is a wine that is built for Texans!
Pederanales Cellars Viognier 2014
Cash Price $15.99
Pedernales produces the best white wine that I have tasted from Texas and at a great price point. I have been ardently searching for a quality Texas wine to put on this list and am extremely pleased to offer this delicious wine from The Texas Hill County. Pedernales produces Spanish and Rhone style wines that are winning awards throughout the United States. The 2013 vintage was named the Top Texas Wine at the Rodeo Uncorked! Wine Competition. Flavors of canned peaches and mango flow into a thick mouth feel with medium acidity. Notes of tropical pineapple and fleshy nectarines are encompassed with a round viscosity that coats the palate. The finish is clean and pleasing with touches of blood orange and papaya. This wine would pair well spicy cuisine or be perfectly suited in your glass on the back porch. Drink Texas Wine Proudly!
Chateau D’Aussieres by Lafite Rothschild Red Blend 2009
Cash Price $29.99
Corbieres is a hidden gem for quality wine in France. First Growth Bordeaux producer Lafite Rothschild purchased vineyards in this area with the intent of making ‘Grand Cru’ quality wine. They have certainly achieved that feat with this wine. The 2009 vintage smiled on the South of France with an exceptional harvest that has produced beautiful wines. This wine is primarily Syrah based with Grenache and Mourvedre that has been aged for 16 months in oak and selected from only the finest plots in the vineyard. Flavors of black cherry and black currant race through the palate with medium plus tannins and medium acids. Notes of toasted cedar and licorice sinew harmoniously through the mid palate with exquisite complexity. The finish offers hints of gingerbread, vanilla, and clove. D’Aussieres is a tremendously sleek wine from one of the best producers in the world!
Pietra Santa Pinot Gris 2012
Cinega Valley, California
Cash Price $13.99
This Pinot Gris is consistently one of my favorite summer whites. The winery is situated 25 miles from Monterey Bay and benefits from the cool coastal breezes that allow for a long growing season. Their Pinot Gris is grown on the highest elevation vineyards on the estate. Pietra Santa is Italian for ‘Sacred Stone’ in honor of the rich terrain and terroir on which the winery is located. Italian Wine Maker Alessio Carli has produced a pure and focused wine with this offering. Flavors of mangos and oranges are up front on the palate with an under current of citrus fruits. Notes of ripe peaches play through soft acids and hints of stony minerality. The finish is delightfully clean with hints of white plum and stone fruits. Yum!
Chateau Tour Leognan Red Blend 2011
Cash Price $23.99
Chateau Tour Leognan is the 2nd label of famed Chateau Carbonnieux in Pessac Leognan. The winery is owned by the famous Perrin family that is known for producing high quality wine in France. The Tour Leognan label stems from the same land and vineyards that produce the Grand Cru Classe Chateau Carbonnieux wines. The wine is a 60% Cabernet/40% Merlot blend that is aged for 12 months in 30% new oak. Flavors of black cassis and plum flow deftly through medium plus tannins and medium plus acidity. Notes of tea leaf and sandalwood sink into the mid palate with touches of gravelly minerality. Hints of graphite show on the finish with vanillin and toasted oak. This is a spectacular price point for the quality in the bottle.
Block 012 Red Blend 2012
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $19.94
The newest release from the Block Vineyard Estates is a dynamite red blend that is a Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon based wine from the Oak Knoll district in Napa Valley. The climate is cooler in Oak Knoll and the valley floor produces wines with intense dark fruits. Flavors of blackberry and currant race through medium plus tannins and medium acids. Secondary notes of plum and fig play smoothly through the rich mouth feel. The finish offers touches of vanilla and oak with hints of kitchen spices. Always a hit with the Block Wines!
Domaine Cabasse ‘Le Rose de Marie’ Rose 2014
Cash Price $13.99
Dry Rose is my drink of choice during the sweltering summer months in Texas. This Rose is outstanding every vintage and a staple in my cellar. It is a Grenache based wine with loads of character. Flavors of freshly picked strawberries and raspberries zing into zesty acids with tinges of citrus and white pepper. The mid palate offers notes of red roses and wild meadow flowers. The finish is clean and thirst quenching with smidgeons of lychee and wild red berries. Make this a summer of Rose!
Rust En Vrede Merlot 2010
Stellenbosch, South Africa
Cash Price $22.49
Rust En Vrede is one of the best wineries in the world that hardly anyone is talking about. They are consistenly rated as a Top 100 winery in the world and the only one in South Africa. It was the wine that Nelson Mandela chose to be served at his Nobel Peace Prize dinner. The wines are old world in style and terroir with a new world fruit complexity that leaves the palate yearning for more. Flavors of blueberry and plum are encompassed by full tannins and medium acids. The mid palate exudes notes of wild blackberries and black cherry with tinges of roasted meat. The finish expresses terroir with touches of graphite combined with oak tones of cigar box, cedar planks and vanilla that sit on the palate for a nice long time. Perfect wine for a thick, juicy Ribeye!
Shelby Grant Sauvignon Blanc 2013
Napa Valley, California
Cash Price $12.29
Shelby Grant is a new label in Spec’s portfolio that has taken off like wildfire because of the minimal price point and quality in the bottle. This wine is taylor made to be a pool party pounder. Flavors of citrus lemon peel and grapefruit play through medium plus acidity. The mid palate offers tinges of pear and green apple with freshly cut grass. The finish is crisp, clean, and refreshing. Grant is a no brainer Blanc at a great price point!
Chateau Haut Madrac Red Blend 2011
Cash Price $14.99
I have been extremely impressed with the 2011 offerings from Bordeaux. The wine is a 2nd label of 5th Growth producer Lynch Moussas. It is a classic Cabernet/ Merlot blend that over excels for the price. I love finding value Bordeaux hidden in 2nd label wines. Flavors of black cherry and blackberry move smoothly through medium tannins and acids. Touches of cedar and vanilla are present on the mid palate with hints of leather and cigar box. The finish is supple and well rounded. It is a GREAT time to be drinking Bordeaux!
James C. Barlow
Certified Wine Educator