Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this month’s release but I took a vacation, so now I’m a bit behind.  Kids are out of school, vacations are booming, and that usually means that people are lighter in the pocketbooks. This month, I have picked some delicious ‘Value’ reds and whites for this blog, sprinkled with some absolute gems that I have tasted this month.  Enjoy!

Paradise Ridge ‘Elevation’ Cabernet 2013

Rockpile, California

Cash Price $44.99

This Gem Cabernet Sauvignon is often overlooked in our portfolio.  It gets lost among the Caymus, Silver Oak, and Jordan’s of the world, but I would pick this bottle of wine 10 out of 10 times over all the aforementioned wineries.  This stunning Cabernet from the Rockpile vineyard in Sonoma drinks gorgeously  from the first sup.  Ripe flavors of black cherry and currant sink into structured, yet juicy tannins and acids.  Lush notes of chocolate covered raspberries sinew through the mid palate with wisps of vanilla bean and mocha.  The finish is long, lingering and integrated with notes of cinnamon, graham crackers, and cedar.  Only 225 cases produced!  James Score: 95 Points

Chateau du Glana 2011

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $34.59

The 2011 vintage is one of my favorite because the wines are less expensive, but still hold outstanding quality across the board.  St. Julien is one of those appellations that doesn’t get the exposure of its neighboring villages such as Pauillac and Margaux, but often outshines its neighbors without breaking the bank.  This rocking wine offers elegance and balance of 51% Cabernet Sauvignon and 49% Merlot.  Ripe flavors of blackberry and black currant flow easily into firm, yet approachable tannins and acids.  The finish is chalked full of tobacco leaf, cedar, and smidgeons of vanilla.  James Score: 91 Points

Holdredge ‘Rolling Thunder’ Pinot Noir 2014

Russian River, France

Cash Price $44.99

Some of the best Pinot Noir’s from the United States come from the Russian River AVA.  I think John Holdredge is producing some of the finest expressions of Pinot Noir in all California.  He produces less than 2000 cases and you can put it in the bank that anytime you  pop a cork of Holdredge Pinot, the quality is there.  Lush flavors of raspberry and strawberry fly off the palate with exhilaration and a richness that is delightfully surprising.  The mid palate shows a creamy core with cola and allspice that is woven into rose petals and jam.  The finish is sleek and refreshing with just a kiss of cinnamon, and vanilla cream.  James Score: 94 Points 

Waterford Chardonnay 2014

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $19.94

Waterford winery located in Stellenbosch continues to overachieve for the money.  I am an avid fan of their Cabernet Sauvignon, and now I would say that this Chardonnay is up there on my list of favorites.  The wine is produced in a single vineyard and aged for 8 months on 26% New French oak.  I enjoy this wine because it is not overly oaked, shows restraint, yet also allows for the fruits to shine throughout.  Waterford exudes flavors of peach and papaya that is encompassed by a lemon citrus zest.  The mid palate shows touches of lees aging with hints of nutmeg and hazelnuts.  The finish has a whiff of creamy oak with coconut butter and hints of minerality.  James Score: 91 Points

Dubost Gamay 2015

Beaujolais Villages, France

Cash Price $14.99

Beaujolais is finally shrugging off the stigmatism that they only produce cheap nouveau wine that you only buy once a year to put on the table for Thanksgiving Day festivities.  This region is producing stunningly elegant and refreshing red wines that are perfect for the dog days of Houston summers.  Vibrant flavors of red cherries and cranberry burst into the palate with tinges of freshly picked strawberry and boysenberry.  The wine offers medium plus acids with medium minus tannins and minimal oak influence. Dubost is all about offering refreshing red fruits with deliciously thirst quenching acidity.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau de Breze Rose N/V

Loire Valley, France

Cash Price $17.99

My continuing affinity for the Loire Valley grows daily when I have the joy of tasting jewels like this wine.  100% Cabernet Franc from Saumur, this summer stunner knocked my socks off for the price.  Breze is considered one of the best organic and biodynamic vineyards in all Saumur and their sparkling Cremants (pronounced Kray-Mawn) are some of the best that they offer.  Flavors of citrus and rose petals zip into the palate with mouth watering intensity.  Hints of wild flowers and raspberry tickle the mid palate with bits of quince.  The finish offers minerality and a touch of salinity with red currant and crisp acidity.  James Score: 90 Points

Gemtree ‘Cinnabar’ Red Blend 2016

McLaren Vale, Australia

Cash Price $16.99

I am pleased to see the Aussies starting to focus on quality over quantity with their wines.  McLaren Vale is considered one of the finest regions in all of Australia and the area is best known for their red blends.  Gemtree garners very high praise from critics on a regular basis.  They have become famous with their organic and biodynamic vineyard practices.  Truthfully, the wines are quite impressive.  This is a blend of 40%Grenache/33% Shiraz/ and 27% Mourvedre.  The wine offers flavors of jammy plums and dark black fruits that offer a thicker viscosity in the mouth feel.  Notes of black pepper and spice are prevalent through the mid palate with medium tannins and acids.  The finish offers hints of tobacco and red licorice that sits easily on the palate.  Good BBQ wine.  James Score: 89 Points

Jean Baptiste Adam Riesling 2015

Alsace, France

Cash Price $16.99

Alsace produces some of the best DRY white wines in the world and this vintage is one of the best I have ever tasted!  I am stoked to be able to offer this winery at such a spectacular price.  This family just celebrated the 400th anniversary of their family being grape growers and winemakers in Alsace.  Riesling is the king of white grapes in Alsace making wines that are deliciously dry and hauntingly hedonistic.  Flavors of zesty citrus and orange blossoms flow into medium plus acidity without any encumbering oak.  Touches of apricot and grapefruit sinew cleanly through hints of wet rocks.  The finish is amazingly complex with apple blossoms, wild white flowers and lychee.  This is a WOW wine.  James Score: 91 Points

12 Gauge Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


Cash Price $13.99

Bjorn Larson(Yes, that Bjorn Howell Mountain Cabernet guy) and his compadre were in town recently showing off their delightfully easy drinking Gauge Cabernet.  The theme of this wine is for hunters, but truthfully I see this as a patio wine or daily drinker that never disappoints.  Ripe flavors of black cherry and currant show off this fruity, yet unassuming wine.  Fleshy and fun, Gauge over delivers for the money with accessible tannins and acids that flows into an easy, effortless finish.  James Score: 88 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Wrangler Red’ Red Blend 2015

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

Lake County is starting to garner praise for rock solid reds in the region north of Napa Valley.  Shannon Ridge was awarded the ‘Top Winery’ at Houston’s Uncorked Wine Competition in 2015.  This winery is releasing stellar red based on Zinfandel and Rhone Varietals.  Wrangler Red is a silky smooth Zindandel, Syrah blend that screams fruit from the onset.  The wine has been aged in French and American oak for 18 months.  Intense flavors of black cherry and black raspberry seep through the full blackberry with medium tannins and acids.  Notes of graham cracker and cinnamon are prevalent on the mid palate with touches of sweet tobacco and milk chocolate.  The finish is creamy and velvety with smooth lingering tones of rich fruit and spice.  Best Daily drinker that money can buy!  James Score: 89 Points

The Ned Rose of Pinot Noir 2016

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $11.99

This wine is a 2nd label of Marisco and has quickly become one of my favorite ‘inexpensive’ Roses.  You all know that I love Pinot Noir, so it just makes sense that I would love a Pinot Noir Rose.  New Zealand offers fresh and appealing wines that are very consistent in quality.  Bright flavors of wild red berries and watermelon sink into medium acidity with hints of jammed strawberry and cream.  The finish shows raspberry and red flowers with a gentle cream that lingers on the palate.  James Score: 90 Points

Liberation de Paris Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $11.99

This wine pays homage to the US soldiers that liberated Jean-Francois Bonnete’s fathers town in WWII.  A portion of the sales of every bottle of wine goes to a Veteran’s Hospital right here in Houston.  The wines are quite tasty as well!  This Grenache based red blend is jam packed full of flavors with red cherry and strawberries leading the march.  Secondary notes of fig, cured meat and black pepper are encompassed by medium tannins and acids.  The finish is easy and fun with touches of smoke and garrigue.  James Score: 88 Points

Ryan Patrick ‘Naked’ Chardonnay 2014

Columbia Valley, Washington

Cash Price $9.99

Ryan Patrick’s Chardonnay is fresh, fruity and completely un-oaked! Washington is producing some amazing value, every day wines that over deliver for the price point.  This Chardonnay offers flavors of citrus and honeydew melon with hints of apricot and pear.  The mid palate shows medium acidity without malolactic fermentation.  Theh finish gives ways to green apples that cleanses the palate and begs for another gulp!  James Score: 88 Points 

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS





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