Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

This is my favorite time of the year.  The weather is starting to cool and people are starting to get excited about the holidays.  My family and I just recently went to pick out our pumpkin from the pumpkin patch.  I am extremely excited about the holidays this year.  We are hoping to be able to move into the old Academy building before Thanksgiving, but of course, there is always a bump or two in the road.  I have some excellent wines to feature this holiday season and I am already pouring over all my notes for My Top Picks of the Year.  Have a blessed holiday season and I  look forward to seeing you all soon!

Il Marroneto Brunello di Montalcino 2008

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $65.64

I have had a real love affair with Italy this year.  The quality coming out of Tuscany these days is quite impressive.   Of course, Brunellos are the cream of the crop in quality and this gem is stunning.  Marroneto is easily one of the top ten estates in all of Montalcino and their quality and reputation continues to increase with every vintage.  They produce beautifully refined wines that show amazing perfumed notes with elegant concentration and true personality.  Ripe and succulent, this wine offers flavors of ripe red cherries and red plums with medium plus tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows notes of vanilla cream and nutmeg with a core of minerality.  Touches of tobacco leaf and tomato paste are noticed on the finish that is stunningly long with hints of cinnamon and caramel.  This wine is still quite young and will age in your cellar for another decade if you wish.  Maronneto is a wine that you will want to open for the special occasions this holiday season!

Stewart Cellars Chardonnay 2013

Sonoma Mountain, California

Cash Price $39.89

I have a fickle fascination with California Chardonnay.  I sometimes gush over the richly textured, if not hedonistic, styles produces or I am overcome by them as my palate grows weary quite quickly.  With this wine I am fortunately and fortuitously in the former category instead of the latter.  Stewart Chardonnay is in a word: sexy.  Paul Hobbs is the consulting winemaker for this winery and you can tell that he has his hands all over these wines.  Stewart is 100% Chardonnay picked from the Farina Vineyard and aged for eleven months in 40% new French oak.  The wine is neither fined nor filtered (think Newton) as not to strip out any flavors.  Refreshing and opulent, this wine offerssucculent flavors of white peach and fleshy Fiji apples with touches of pear blossoms and honeydew.  The mid palate offers a core of nutty complexity that begins to show decadent creamy tones with medium acidity.  The oak is prevalent on the finish with licks of apricot and orange blossom that lays keenly on a profile of freshly buttered toast.  A truly impressive offering!

Summers Cabernet Sauvignon 2011

Calistoga, California

Cash Price $28.39

Over the years, Summers winery has really become a favorite of mine from California, especially for the Cabernet Sauvignon varietal.  They produce very high quality reds at a very reasonable price point.  They own property in Knights Valley and in Calistoga.  This Calistoga offering is quite delicious.  The 100% Cabernet is aged in 50% new French oak for nineteen months before release.  Flavors of sweet black cherries and currant envelope the palate with a true concentration.  Notes of dark plum and blackberry sink into the medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate is pure and flavorful with nuances of dark chocolate and cigar box.  The finish is velvety smooth with notes of cinnamon and nutmeg with quaffs of vanilla beans.  Rich and Flavorful Cabernet!

Aldo Conterno ‘Masante’ Dolcetto 2007

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $26.59

Dolcetto is the lost varietal of Piedmonte in my opinion.  People are constantly raving about Nebbiolo or Barbera or dare I say it….Moscato!  Dolcetto is often lost in the mix and rarely given its proper due.  Dolcetto (translated meaning is ‘The Little One’) is actually quite full bodied.  The varietal is quite age worthy which is why I am able to give you this review for a 2007 wine.  The wine is peaking perfectly right now in fact.  Silky and Smooth, Masante flows through the palate with delicate complexity and refined flavors.  Blueberry and blackberry waft hauntingly through the palate with hints of crème de cassis.  Medium tannins and acids play through the richly textured fruit with smidgeons of bay leaf and tobacco.  The finish offers dried herbs with hints of jammed and stewed figs.  Don’t miss out on this perfectly peaking wine!

Colterenzio ‘Puiten’ Pinot Grigio 2011

Alto Adige, Italy

Cash Price $21.49 BUT ONLY


This is a rare deal.  Colterenzio is one of our finest Pinot Grigio producers and I have never seen such a bargain price on their wines.  Colterenzio offers wines of high quality and expressive terroir.  Puiten is their top tier wine and has touches of oak which adds weight and complexity to the wine.  Classic and tasty, this wine exudes flavors of citrus lemon lime with granny smith apples and candied pear.  The mid palate shows medium acidity with notes of chalky flint.  The finish is light and refreshing with nuances of cream and fleshy nectarines.  Get it while  you can!

Block 329 Pinot Noir 2013

Carneros, California

Cash Price $19.94

The Block series ALWAYS over delivers for the price and their Pinot as of late have been truly spectacular.  I am finding myself enjoying Carneros Pinot Noirs more than their Russian River counterparts on a regular basis.  Carneros wines are quite captivating and show variance from winery to winery.  This titillating offering is supremely delicious with flavors of ripe strawberry and red raspberries that flow into bright red cherries.  The mid palate offer medium plus acids and medium tannins with notes of rhubarb and cola with sublte hints of milk chocolate and all spice.  The finish is plush and pure with wafts of graham cracker and cinnamon.  A wonderful Pinot for the holidays!

Salentein Malbec 2013

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $18.99

This winery has always been one of my favorites.  It could be that I’m sentimental because it was the 1st winery I visited in Argentina or maybe it just that their wines are so darn good that I can’t help but to enjoy them time and time again.  Nestled in the Andes Mountains, this winery has top notch facilities and make wine and purity and focus.  This offering shows flavors of thick red plums and perfectly ripened blackberry with touches of marmalade laced throughout.  The mid palate gives brawny tannins and medium acids with notes of black pepper and tobacco leaf.  The finish shows a youthful ripeness that almost gives the wine a sweet texture, but the tannins kick it back into focus for a long flavorful finish with hints of mocha, espresso and vanilla cream.  Wine & Spirits scored this juicy Malbec 92 points.

Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2014

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $14.99

Momo (meaning offspring in Maori) has sprung from the Seresin Estate.  Momo wines are meant to be fun, enjoyable and a party wine.  All of the grapes from these wines are sustainably grown and Vegan friendly.  I am probably reviewing this wine a month early because this will be a great wine to pair with your Thanksgiving Day Feast, but alas, I have the wine on my mind and feel compelled to share it with you.  Completely un oaked and tantalizingly tasty, Momo expresses flavors of lemon citrus and grapefruit that are encompassed by guava and pineapples.  The mid palate offers medium plus acidity with plush passion fruit quaffing throughout.  The finish is clean and thirst quenching with hints of lemon meringue and apricot.  A perfect party white!

Graham Beck ‘Gamekeeper’ Shiraz 2011

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $15.89

Great wine is made in the vineyard is this winery’s mantra.  They strive to create highly individual wines of exquisite quality.  Graham Beck has gained notoriety and garnered much praise with their sparkling wines, but I have been just as happy with their red offerings.  The wine is aged for fifteen months in mostly French oak with a touch of American oak as well.  The Gamekeeper shows expressive flavors of wild red berries and gamey, stewed fruits.  Notes of black cherry and mulberry are focused around medium tannins and medium acids.  The finish has nuances of black pepper and touches of bacon fat with dark berries and cream.  This wine would be perfectly paired with a nice cut of thick beef.

Pierre Archambault Cabernet Franc 2013

Chinon, France

Cash Price $12.99

I have a true infatuation with the Loire Valley, especially with the region of Chinon.  This area produces my favorite Cabernet Franc in the world.  Vibrant, fresh flavors of red cherries and raspberry zing into the palate.  Fresh herbs and hints of green olive and bell peppers  combine with pyrazines to give a light vegetal undertone.  The mid palate has medium plus acidity and medium tannins.  The lively acids combine to make a really refreshing and delightfully fruit forward wine.  The finish is soft and flavorful with notes of wild red berries and hints of cranberries.  A SPECtacular Value wine!

Dr. Pauly Bergweiler ‘Noble House’ Riesling 2014

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $9.99

You all know that I think Riesling is one of the finest white varietals in the world.  So, I am constantly searching out the best expressions of the grape that I can find.  I am truly excited to be able to offer this dynamic winery as an exclusive for Spec’s.  Riesling, of course, doesn’t have to be syrupy sweet.  This off dry wine exudes flavors of citrus, stone fruits, white peaches and  orange blossoms.  The mid palate has medium plus acidity that is tamed by notes of quince compote and white flowers.  This is a hauntingly delicious wine and a stunning price!

Ca’Momi Merlot 2013

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $11.99

This winery is one of the best selling in our entire portfolio.  Their Merlot offering is always a steal for the price.  The wine offers balanced flavors of red cherries and plum with touches of fig and quince.  The mid palate is medium bodied with medium tannins and acids with touches of bramble and jam.  The finish is vibrant and complex with smidgeons of toasted charred oak, coffee beans and vanilla cream.  This wine is a dead wringer for your Tuesday slurper!

Finca Copete Chardonnay 2010

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

Mendoza offers some of the best values on the market. This lightly oaked offering is quite effective.  Flavors of green apples and pear flow lightly into hints of  almonds and cream.  The mid palate has medium acids and a touch of tannins.   The finish offers touches of butter and creamy vanilla.  Copete is ready to crack and go!

Thank You,

James C. Barlow

Certified Wine Educator

Certified Sommelier

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