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

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been spoiled rotten lately with the amount of quality wine that has passed through my palate.  This month, the wine selections will be bouncing around with different countries and price points that have really impressed me.  It is a wonderful time to be drinking wine in this crazy hot summer weather.  You won’t want to miss out on this month’s selections.  They truly are spectacular from top to bottom.  Enjoy!

Domaine Bernard Moreau ‘Old Vine’ Pinot Noir 2014

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $44.99

It is impossible to mention the famed region of Chassagne-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune without speaking of Bernard Moreau.  This small chateau produces organic, biodynamic, and sustainable wines with a pure hands off approach to allow the grapes to offer their true expressions of flavor and terroir.  The Pinot Noir they produce is unfined and unfiltered to make sure zero flavor is leached out of the final product.  All that said, this juice is absolutely stunning!  The vines from this vineyard are nearing their 60th year which causes very low yield, high quality fruit.  The wine is fermented with natural yeast and aged in 30% new French oak for 15 months.  Beautifully opulent flavors of bright red raspberry and marmalade sink into medium plus acids and soft, plush tannins.  The mid palate offers hints of cream with wild red berries and violets.  The finish is pure and expressive with tinges of hazelnut, potpourri and just a whiff of vanilla cola.  James Score: 95 Points

Chateau Cantemerle ‘Grand Cru Classe’ Red Blend 2014

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $35.79

Chateau Cantemerle is an often overlooked 5th Growth from the Haut-Medoc region in Bordeaux.  The 2014 vintage is a great value vintage and becomes a ‘perfect storm’ for bargain hunters when they find/purchase Chateaux like this gem.  One must typical drop a minimum $100 to buy ‘Classified Growth’, so buying at this price is a no brainer.  I wouldn’t have always said that, but Cantermerle ,specifically, has really upped their game in the past several years to produce wines well above the price point.  Flavors of red cherries and currant flow into medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate is gorgeous with a sensually seamless profile of sweet tobacco, fleshy plums and a creamy core that weaves harmoniously throughout the mouth feel.  The finish offers touches of cedar, cigar box and hints of herbs and vanilla bean.  James Score: 94 Points

Indomita ‘Zardoz’ Ultra Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Maipo Valley, Chile

Cash Price $29.99

I recently held a Chile vs. Argentina tasting for consumers.  The two countries were neck and neck the entire tasting till the final flight where ‘Zardoz’ was premiered.  This wine tipped the scale into an almost unanimous vote for Chile to win the competition.  The wine is named after the wild and untamable spirit that embodied the winery’s famous horse.  Extremely focused flavors blackberry and black cherry sink into rich, concentrated tannins that fill the mouth with hedonistic abandon.  Smidgeons of red fruit flow into the mid palate with a generous dollop of cedar and vanilla.  The finish is chalked full of hazelnuts and almonds with hints of graphite and cocoa dust.   The wine sits on the palate for a gorgeously long time.  James Score: 95 Points

Le Monde Ribolla Gialla 2016

Friuli Venizia Giulia, Italy

Cash Price $17.89

This white has secretly become one of my favorite wines in our entire portfolio.  I would’ve written it up in previous vintages, but we received such a small allocation that I couldn’t justify it.  Fortunately, we now have a larger allocation so I can share this wine with you all!  Ribolla Gialla is a rarely seen grape from Northern Italy (typically in Friuli) that makes Pinot Grigio seems like watered down water.  The winery is located in one of the best places in Italy to produce white wine, Friuli Grave DOC, and follow organic, sustainable and biodynamic practices.  The wine is completely un-oaked and bursting with energy!  Frenetic flavors of orange zest, papaya, and lemon citrus soften the backbone of acidity.  The mid palate offers a sweet tartness that tickles the taste buds with hints of wet rocks and flint.  The finish is delightfully clean with whiffs of wild meadow flowers and candied peaches.  I am truly in love with this wine!  James Score: 93 Points

Block 217 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015

Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

Cash Price $19.94

The Block Series has hit another home run with this perfectly priced Cabernet!  Napa Valley fruit is more expensive than its ever been, so producers are slowly but surely wandering up to Washington for quality grapes that don’t break the budget.  Horse Heaven Hills is an up and coming AVA and considered one of the finest in Washington, boasting the states finest vineyard, Champoux.  The 2015 vintage was rock solid and offers stunning wines across the board.  Rich and concentrated flavors of blackberry and black currant sleek silkily through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of tobacco leaf and cigar box weave through the mid palate with hints of fleshy plum.  The finish is long and integrated with touches of cedar, vanilla and hazelnuts.  Under 3,000 case production.  James Score: 90 Points

Busca Chardonnay 2014

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $25.99

Busca is produced by Brack Mountain Wine Company that is family owned and dedicated to finding small, artisan wines that over deliver for the price.  Located in one of the finest places in California to produce Chardonnay, this wine is showing a trend towards a more Burgundian approach to the grape.  Flavors of green apple and pear flow into medium (leaning towards medium plus) acids that are softened by the creamy core that doesn’t slather butter on the palate, but does offer an easy spoonful of it.  The finish offers touches of vanilla and toasted oak with kisses of melon and Meyer lemon.  Only 215 cases produced.  James Score: 90 Points

Faustino V Reserva 2011

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $18.99

Rioja is considered one of the finest wine regions in Spain with a DOCa status (one of only two).  Faustino produces high quality, classic examples of Tempranillo here.  Reserva wines are aged a minimum three years before release but can age for decades.  This wine was aged in American oak for 18 months and the remaining in bottle.  Faustino has 150 years of pedigree and are considered one of the best producers in Rioja.  This classic wine offers quality from start to finish.  Flavors of vibrant red cherries and red berries flow into medium plus acidity and tannins. The mid palate offers strawberries and hints of licorice that dance around notes of tobacco and tea leaf.  The wine is medium bodied but the mouth feel is surprisingly full.  The finish is sleek with a strong vanilla milk chocolate note with whiffs of toasted oak and sawdust.  James Score: 92 Points

Dr. Konstantin Frank Brut Sparkling 2009

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $19.94

Dr. Konstantin Frank wines are some of the true hidden jewels in the United States.  His sparkling wines are some of the more serious, complex bubbles produced in all of the Americas.  Konstantin Frank was the 1st to make Vinifera vines (all those wonderful grapes you drink as wine come from this vine species) work in New York.  Frank produces Traditional Method (Champagne style) sparkling wines from the same grapes used in the Champagne region of France.  This bubbling beauty has double the price taste, yet is under $20 because it is not readily known on the market.  This Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend offers glittery flavors of apricot, lemon lime zest and candied oranges on the palate with tight bubbles gleaming throughout the mouth feel.  Notes of apple and almond glow graciously on the mid palate.  The wine is aged on its lees for five years which gives the finish an exquisite confection, brioche flavor profile.  James Score: 92 Points

Eberle ‘Full Boar’ Red Blend N/V

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Eberle has been on the forefront of the Paso Robles Revolution that has brought this AVA to fame in the past several years.  He produces dynamic Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (The 1st in Paso Robles to do so) and Zinfandel as well as a slew of other varieties.  This wine is non-vintage to give the wine consistency every vintage.  It is a mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel based wine that is perfectly matched with Texas BBQ.  Deliciously juicy flavors of bramble and blackberry burst into the palate with medium tannins and acids.  Boysenberry pops into the mid palate with tickles of raspberry and cherry.  The finish has a spicy note of black pepper with hints of vanilla, cinnamon sticks and toasted oak.  This is a brisket lovers perfect pairing.  James Score: 90 Points

Domaine Pegau ‘Pink Pegau’ Dry Rose 2016

Vin de France

Cash Price $16.99

This Dry Rose is consistently one of my favorite wines for the blazingly hot summers of Houston.  It is an 80% Cinsault blend with bits of Grenache and Carignan sourced from the vineyards of Laurence Feraud in Sorgues (4 miles south of Chateauneuf du Pape).  Pegau doesn’t produce any wines short of spectacular. Period. Always know you have quality when you pop a bottle of Pegau.  Pink Pegau offers wild strawberries and watermelon that linger on medium plus acidity.  The mid palate hits with wild red berries and red cherry with just a hint of white pepper and red roses.  The finish shows tinges of minerality with a whiff of red apples and peach.  James Score: 91 Points

Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $14.99

Tohu (pronounced Tor-who) means signature and is produced by the first Maori owned wine company.  The Maori are the indigenous people of Aoteroa (New Zealand).  They produce expressive wines from a single vineyard in one of the finest regions in Marlborough, called Awatere Valley.  Fresh and zesty acids reach through the tropical flavors of gooseberries and key lime.  The wine is completely un-oaked and offers a mid palate of freshly picked herbs surrounded by a medley of guava and grapefruit.  The finish is pure and intense with a classic New Zealand profile.  James Score: 90 Points

Feudo Principi di Butera Nero d’Avola 2015

Riesi, Sicily

Cash Price $12.99

Butera is an unpretentious wine that is perfectly lovely on a hot summer day with a slight chill (YES it is OK to chill your red wine!).  Nero D’Avola is an indigenous varietal of Sicily that has fleshy fruits and medium body, which makes it perfect for summer.  Ripe flavors of black cherry and blackberry play through sleek medium acids and tannins.  The fruit turns slightly stewed on the mid palate with hints of brown sugar and scorched plum.  The finish shows cinnamon, mocha and tinges of coffee grinds. Butera is a very versatile wine that will pair well with numerous dishes or as a back porch pounder.  James Score: 90 Points

Losen Bockstanz ‘Wittlicher Lay’ Riesling Kabinett 2015

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $11.99

The 2015 vintage in Germany is turning out to be one of the more remarkable in many years.  The Rieslings coming from this vintage are nothing short of spectacular.  For Me, Riesling is good year round but it is particular good this time of the year because it is low alcohol with touches of sweetness that combine with beautiful acidity to offer a harmoniously refreshing wine that is the perfect thirst quencher.  This single vineyard wine would be great at triple the price.  The wine is bursting with green apples that sink into exotic spice with medium plus acidity that melds beautifully with the licks of sweetness.  On the palate the wine barely shows sweetness and offers notes of pear, white peach and honeycomb.  The finish is clean and pure with touches of beeswax and fresh meadow flowers.  Yum!  James Score: 92 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow,CWE,CSS

Spec’s Regional Sales Trainer

 

 

 

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