JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MAY 2017

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email, but I have been extremely busy as of late.  I recently took on the role of managing the world’s finest varietal specific glassware, Riedel.  I just returned from a Riedel seminar led by none other than Mr. Georg Riedel himself.  We tried through numerous wines and glassware.  Every time, no matter Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, or Tequila the beverage always tasted better in the correct glass.  It was astounding!  If you want to make your wine taste better, you MUST have it in a Riedel Glass!  Email me if you have any questions.

Alexandre Bonnet Grande Reserve Brut N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $39.89 BUT ONLY

$35.89 with your Spec’s Key for a $4.00 SAVINGS!

I was able to taste this sparkling gem last week.  It is from the region of ‘Les Riceys’ in the Cote de Bar in Champagne.  This part of Champagne is not considered one of the ‘finer’ regions so its price point is more user friendly than its counterparts in Montagne de Reims.  This beauty is 80% Pinot Noir and 20% Chardonnay that is 100% hand harvested in the Cote de Bar.  Bonnet explodes on the palate with deliciously sexy notes of red roses and cherries that lay on a bed of fresh meadow flowers.  Lilacs lick the mid-mouthfeel with touches of citrus and key lime that are integrated into tightly woven bubbles.  The finish is clean and lingering with whiffs of brioche and hazelnuts.  Yummy!  James Score: 94 Points

La Meridiana ‘Terre Il Cielo’ Barbera d’Asti Superiore 2011

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $36.99

I think that Barbera is the perfect summer red for the state of Texas.  It is extremely flavorful with higher acidity to quench your thirst without beating up your palate with tons of tannin that Cabernet Sauvignon often offers.  This 100% Barbera is one of the best I have tried in quite awhile.  Juicy and thirst quenching, Meridiana is like a TNT fruit bomb on your palate.  Flavors of blackberry and blueberry flow thickly on the palate with medium acidity and tannins that encompass the mouth feel.  Notes of wild berries and pomegranate flow through a medley of sweet spices like gingerbread and clove.  The finish is rich and voluptuous with notes of vanilla bean and hints of cedar.  James Score: 94 Points

Henri de Villamont ‘Les Champs-Claude’ Pinot Noir 2013

Santenay, France

Cash Price $29.99
Santenay is quickly becoming my ‘go to’ Pinot Noir region for great quality Burgundy without the crazy price points.  The Pinot’s from here are gorgeous with excellent balance and purity.  Henri Villamont’s wines can be often overlooked, but I have found consistency across the board with this Domaine.  The wine is 100% Pinot Noir and aged for 10 months in French oak.  Flavors of ripe red cherries and raspberries burst into the palate with medium plus acids and minimal tannins.  The mid palate offers silky complexity with just a hint of cream.  The finish is fresh and vibrant with kisses of minerality and cedar.  James Score: 91 Points

Domaine Seguinot-Bordet Chardonnay 2015

Chablis, France

Cash Price $19.94

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 lush green apple and citrus zing into medium plus acids with touches of chalky minerality.  Notes of ripe melon 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.  This is definitely a riper style of Chablis, but does retain the acidity and minerality throughout.  James Score: 91 Points

Bacio Divino ‘Pazzo’ Red Blend 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $25.99

I have had this wine for numerous vintages and have always been happy with the result.  I prefer this vintage (2014) more than any recent that I have tasted.  It is a Sangiovese, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon blend that is richly textured and firm from the start.  Consulting Wine Maker Kirk Venge is known for producing extracted wines with tons of fruit.  The crazy one (Pazzo) is jam packed full of sweet red fruits and hints of blueberry.  The acidity of Sangiovese is quite vibrant on the backbone with silky smooth tannins.  The finish is delivers a slew of complex flavors like black pepper, coffee bean, and mocha. This fruit forward offering is a perfect red that does not need to be paired with food to enjoy.  James Score: 92 Points

Ampelos Rose of Syrah 2016

Santa Ynez Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

This winery was the first in the United States to become certified Organic, Biodynamic, and Sustainable in Practice which makes them one of the purest wineries in the New World.  I have always been an advocate of this amazing winery.  Their Rose is one of my favorite New World Rose’s on the market.  This 80% Syrah/20% Grenache/5% Riesling Rose offers a decadent nose of perfumed red roses and wild white flowers.  The palate flows elegantly with ripe strawberry and candied cherries with medium acidity.  The mid palate offers rounded notes of peaches and cream that waft through the rich red fruits.  The finish is round and full with touches of cream and sweet red berries.  James Score: 90 Points

Jenner Pinot Noir 2013

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $24.99

This is the 2nd wine of Fritz Cellars.  I typically look for Sonoma Coast Pinot’s when drinking California Pinot Noir due to their more elegant nature.  The 2013 vintage was a rather lush vintage with plenty of sunshine and ripeness of grapes.  Jenner shows the restraint of body, but allows for all the curves to show in the wine.  Sexy flavors of bing cherries and red raspberries flow seamlessly into the palate with medium acidity and light tannins.  The mid palate gives notes of molasses and cola with hints of sassafras that are encompassed into a cream smooth core.  The finish is light and delightful with a lingering sentiment.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Filet Red Blend 2013

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $16.99

The 2013 vintage was considered a ‘miss’ in Bordeaux.  That said,  I think you can find excellent value with these elegant wines.  The prices are moderately priced to move and the quality can often surprise.  This deliciously dry red blend is 85% Merlot and 15% Cabernet Sauvignon.  Elegant flavors of black cherries and currant mold into medium tannins and medium plus acids.  The mid palate gives a touch of cream that is enveloped by an earthy minerality of graphite and green tea.  The finish is pure and balanced with notes of cedar, vanilla and clove.  James Score: 90 Points

Hart and McGarry Chardonnay 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $15.99

It is not easy these days to find Napa Valley juice at this price point.  The price for grapes has been sky-rocketing most producers out of the market.  This wine continues its consistent price and value for Napa Valley year in and year out.  Flavors of juicy melons and pear lick into medium acidity.  Notes of pineapple and guava lay smoothly on a creamy core of vanilla and butter.  The finish is persistent and velvety.  James Score: 89 Points.

Hilt and Blade Red Blend 2013

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Hilt and Blade sifts through the riff raff of California and finds quality micro climates to produce deliciously fruit forward styles of wine.  This Cabernet Sauvignon blend is jam packed full of red currant and cherries throughout the palate.  The mid mouth feel offers a soft jammy profile of raspberry cream pie with medium tannins and acids.  The finish is chalked full of oak with notes of cedar, vanilla, clove and spice.  James Score: 88 Points

Beppe Moscato d’Asti 2016

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $14.99

Moscato is a perfect white wine for the screaming heat in Texas.  It is light & refreshing with touches of sparkle and sweetness.  This wine is unpretentious and begs to be enjoyed poolside or for summer parties.  Flavors of green apples and honey suckle flow through the palate with just a touch of effervescence that clean the palate.  Notes of white peach and nectarines frolic through the mid palate with hints of white flowers and sweet candied stone fruits.  The wine is lower in alcohol and meant to be a refreshingly fun wine.  James Score: 88 Points

Piattelli Malbec 2014

Luyan de Cuyo, Argentina

Cash Price $14.99

This Argentine winery is dedicated to quality and organic practices.  They avoid chemical fertilization and pesticides and strive for sustainability.  Located in the rocky soils of Tupungato in the lush Mendoza Valley, the Piattelli family immigrated here from Tuscany.  This 100% Malbec is rock solid.  Luyan de Cuyo produces some of the best Malbec in all Argentina.  Piattelli is a high altitude wine grown at 3,152 feet in elevation.  Robust flavors of black currant and blueberry hit the palate with all the beefy brawn that the variety often offers.  The structure is medium with silky tannins and easy acids that are surrounded by a core of dark chocolate and spice.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau La Tour De Beraud White Blend 2015

Costieries de Nimes, France

Cash Price $11.99

As the heat rises, I start to seek out refreshing whites that over deliver for the price.  Beraud Blanc is a blend of Grenache Blanc, Roussanne, and Marsanne that exudes tropical fruits of peach, orange blossoms and pineapple that play over a soft acidity.  The wine is un-oaked and packed full of deliciously refreshing fruit flavors.  The finish is persistent with kisses of grapefruit and honeysuckle.  James Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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