Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

February will be an interesting time this year with the Super Bowl headed to Houston.  I am also noticing that our economy is taking a turn for the better.  That said, I realize that tax season is right around the corner.  So, I have put together a medley of wines…..some for celebrating, a little for commiserating, and a few for the penny pinchers.  Enjoy!



Chateau du Bligny Blanc de Blanc N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $49.99

Chateau Bligny is located in the Cote de Bars in the southern portion of Champagne.  The chateau has become known for producing all of the legal grapes of Champagne.  This Blanc de Blanc is 100% Chardonnay and bottled on the estate.  Crisp and linear, this wine shows elegant citrus flavors and pear with medium plus acidity.  The finish has a subtle richness with whiffs of brioche, white flowers and toasted nuts.  James Score: 92 Points

Block 1029 ‘Connor Lee Vineyard’ Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Columbia Valley, Washington

Cash Price $34.99

The Block Series has really hit its stride in the past couple of years.  I have been truly impressed with just about anything being released.  This is the 1st foray into Washington State for the Block Estates.  I am pleased to report that I like this wine every bit as much as some of the better California releases, if not more!  Rich flavors of blueberry and blackberry flow seamlessly through medium acids and medium plus tannins.  The mid palate offers touches of tobacco, graphite, and cigar box.  The finish is quite pleasing with hints of mocha and vanilla bean that is layered through cedar. Full-bodied and balanced.  Do Not Miss Out On This Limited Release!  James Score: 93 Points

Albert Bichot Pinot Noir 2014

Mercurey, France

Cash Price $24.99

100% Pinot Noir from Burgundy can turn into a rather pricey endeavor.  The region of Cote Chalonnaise is located in Burgundy, but just south of the Cote d’Or (where all the Grand Cru’s are).  Here one can find excellent value for spectacular expression of the purest area in the world to produce Pinot Noir.  The producers of this wine implement sustainable practices when producing this gem.  Bright flavors of freshly picked red cherries burst into the palate with tinges of wild red berries and minerality.  The mid palate offers medium plus acidity that hews gracefully into notes of plum and rose petals. The finish is full of candied red fruits that lay on velvety tannins. The wine is beautifully balanced and a true delight on the palate.  James Score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Two Bud Block’ Zinfandel 2013

Lake County, California

Cash Price $19.94

I think some of the best priced wines in California are from this up and coming wine region.  Located North of Napa, the prices of grapes have not sky rocketed like they have in Napa Valley.  Shannon Ridge is one of my favorite price point wineries in California.  The 2013 vintage was spectacular in California with weather that allowed growers to push the envelope on ripeness which makes for jammy and juicy Zinfandels!  Flavors of roasted plums and figs explode on the palate with a healthy dollop of alcohol.  Notes of blackberry jam and stewed currants flow into a medley of spices.  The finish offers French and American oak aging flavors of vanilla, cinnamon and dark chocolate with whiffs of cedar.  James Score: 90 Points

Domaine du Courteillac 2010

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $18.29

The 2010’s are drinking wonderfully right now.  I am tickled every time I come across an inexpensive 2010 right now because I just know they are going to be OUTSTANDING!  This vintage has gone down as one of the best of the century.  Prices exploded, so it became hard to find value.  That said, you had to be a really bad grower to produce bad wine.  Anything under $20 is drinking exceedingly well….like this wine for instance!  Flavors of silky red currant and plum sink into eloquent acids and tannins.  Kisses of French oak weave melodically through the mid palate with smidgeons of hazelnuts and vanilla.  The finish is soft, yet firm with hints of spice.  Only 3 cases available!  James Score: 90 Points

Chenin de Mercues Blanc 2014

Cotes du Lot, France

Cash Price $16.99

This wine comes from the famed Cahors producer Georges Vigouroux.  Only red wines based on Malbec are allowed to be labeled Cahors, but he has produced an amazing Chenin Blanc under the Cotes du Lot IGP label.  As most of you know, I LOVE Chenin Blanc!  This wine offers delicious fruits of citrus and pear with whiffs of white flowers and beeswax.  The mid palate shows a pure intensity with medium plus acidity that is encompassed by licks of honeyed jasmine and ripe green apples.  The finish is beautifully integrated with hints of toasted nuts and crushed rocks.  James Score: 89 Points

Domaine de Montcy Red Blend 2015

Cheverny, France

Cash Price $16.99

I poured this wine at a tasting during the holidays and everyone was absolutely in love with this light and refreshing thriller.  Located in a fairly unknown area in the Loire Valley, this winery focuses on high quality whites and reds on soils of clay and limestone.  The wine is a blend of 50% Gamay, 45% Pinot Noir, and 5% Malbec.  I know….not typically grapes you see used in blends, but boy o boy this wine is delicious!  Bursting red fruit flavors of freshly picked bing cherries and raspberries sing into medium plus acidity and minimal tannins.  The wine is completely unoaked, instead choosing to focus on pinpoint red fruits with hints of spice.  The finish is silky and mouth watering with touches of white pepper, cranberry and violets.  James Score: 91 Points

Raphael Sallet Chardonnay 2014

Macon-Uchizy, France

Cash Price $13.99

I find some of the best value Chardonnays produced in the world come from the Macon.  The wines are typically unoaked and ready for enjoyment from the first pop of the cork.  This wine is bursting with fresh tropical fruits and white flowers. The mouth feel is refreshingly vibrant with medium acids and fresh lemon lime zest on the mid palate.  The finish is pure and focused with notes of wet stones. James Score: 89 Points

Hunter Chaps Cabernet Sauvignon 2015


Cash Price $13.99

This Cabernet is a newer addition to our portfolio, but has screamed into the upper echelon of sales very quickly.  It is smooth and extremely approachable on the palate.  Silky flavors of blackberry and cassis reach deftly into a creamy core of plush tannins and acids.  Touches of candied plum and crushed wild berries are prevalent on the finish. James Score: 88 Points

Bliss ‘Blissful’ Red Blend N/V

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $11.89

Bliss winery has been producing some of our top selling value wines in our entire portfolio.  This wine recently changed names (Schoolhouse Red) but the quality in the bottle has not.  This wine is a perennial ‘pizza wine on Thursday night’ wine.  The wine is a hodgepodge blend of Zinfandel and Sangiovese with Barbera, Merlot, Cab, and Syrah for additional structure. Ripe flavors of candied cherries, plums, and clove sinew smoothly through the palate with a rich mouth feel bursting with bright raspberries and cinnamon notes. This wine finishes with integrated tannins and good acidity to make it the perfect food match.  James Score: 88 Points

Indomita Grande Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Maipo Valley, Chile

Cash Price $11.99

I traveled to Chile last year for about a week.  During my travels, I found extremely high quality Cabernet Sauvignon coming out of Maipo Valley.  Even better, the prices were quite affordable for the quality in the bottle.  I think this winery is the epitome of that thought process. Indomita offers flavors of sweet cassis and smoky, dark fruit. There are hints of tobacco and green spice on the palate, bolstered by mature red fruits with medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The finish offers touches of vanilla and cedar in a long lasting finish.  James Score: 90 Points

Domaine de Cabasse ‘Les Deux Anges’ Red Blend 2014

Cotes du Rhone, France

Cash Price $11.99

Domaine Cabasse is a true representation of the high quality coming from the Rhone Valley.  The Cabasse name has Italian roots that goes back to the time when the Pope resided in Avignon in the 14th century.  Avignon is the center for the famed wines of Chateauneuf du Pape.  This Grenache and Syrah based red blend is extraordinary.  Flavors of red cherries and raspberry blossom in the mouth with hints of rich cream.  The wine has medium tannins and acids that never over power, but in fact enhance the flavor profile.  Notes of garrigue and spices play through the mid palate with hints of black pepper and sage.  The finish is soft and eloquent with smidgeons of wild red berries and strawberry cream.  James Score: 89 Points

Pigmentum Malbec 2015

Cahors, France

Cash Price $9.99

This wine is also from the highly acclaimed house of Georges Vigouroux.  He produces the best priced Malbec in the world in my opinion.  With Bertrand-Gabriel Vigouroux at the helm, the quality continues to exceed the price.  This 100% Malbec that has been ranked in the Wine Spectator Top 100 is balanced and food friendly.  The ‘Black Grape of Cahors’ offers flavors of blackberry and dark currant with medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate exudes ripe raspberries with wild berries that soften into a long, lingering finish.   James Score: 90 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow

Certified Wine Educator

Certified Sommelier


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