Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

What an absolutely catastrophic last couple of weeks.  My heart pours out to those of you that had major damage to your homes and vehicles.  It has been stunningly amazing to see how our great city and nation have come together to help our residents start to rebuild their lives after such a horrific hurricane.  My family, fortunately, came out of this tragedy fairly unscathed.  It’s time to pick ourselves up and begin to try to bring some normalcy back to this great city.  This month I have picked out a plethora of delicious wines that will help ease your stress in these trying times.  TEXAS STRONG!

Branaire-Ducru Grand Cru Classe Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2014

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $56.99

Branaire-Ducru (meaning ‘beautiful pebbles’) is a 4th Growth Grand Cru Classe that, thanks to the Borie family, has been producing extremely high quality Classified wine for a relatively inexpensive price point.  The 2014 vintage is quite solid, but will undoubtedly be overlooked due to the exceptional 2015 and 2016 vintages.  That means this wine will be priced lower than those vintages but will shine as a value for the vintage.  Flavors of vibrant red cherries and cassis sink into a firm backbone of medium plus tannins and acids.  Notes of violet, lavender and spice play seamlessly through the mid palate with silky elegance.  The finish offers smidgeons of cedar, tobacco and graphite that linger on the palate for a wonderfully long time.  Elegant, yet quite full bodied.  James Score: 95 Points

Terre del Palio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2014

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $24.99

Sangiovese from this area is one of the hidden jewels in all of Tuscany. The ‘Noble Wine’ of Montepulciano is an excellent stepping stone between Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.  I usually looks for wines from this area because they inevitably drink much higher than their price point.  Such is the case for this Spectacular wine.  The wine is 90% Sangiovese with smidgeons of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot making up the rest.  The wine is aged in Slavonian oak for 18 months then another year in bottle prior to release.  Dense flavors of plum, currant and blueberry seep into the palate with medium tannins and medium plus acids.  The mid palate is pure and expressive with tinges of cream and wild berries.  The finish is lingering with hints of tobacco, black pepper and licks of anise.  James Score: 92 Points

Domaine de  la Tourade ‘Font des Aieux’ Gigondas Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $28.99

Gigondas is often referred to as ‘Baby Chateauneuf du Pape’ due to the high quality coming from the region, but without the price point.  I recently tasted through all of 2015 vintage for this winery and was quite impressed across the board, but this wine in particular was the shining star.  The 2015 vintage will go down as one of the best vintages of this century in most of France.  The wine has 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre making up the rest.  Flamboyant flavors of wild red berries and crushed rocks meld with fleshy plum and tinges of molasses.  The mid palate offers candied raspberries with creamy strawberries that weave through integrated tannins and acids.  The finish is packed full of pepper and smidgeons of garrigue.  James Score: 93 Points

Henri de Villamont Cremant Sparkling Rose N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $16.99

Cremants (Pronounced Kray-Mawns) offers the best value bubbles coming out of France.  I tasted through the entire portfolio of Henri de Villamont recently.  They are located in Savigny-Les-Beaune but produce wines from all over Burgundy.  This Pinot Noir based Rose is deliciously quaffable from start to finish.  The wine has a beautifully vibrant color that really pops in the glass.  Flavors of freshly picked strawberries and red cherries play into tight, clean bubbles.  The wine is persistent with fine bubbles that flow into notes of cherry pie and brioche.  The finish gives hints of bread and confection with tinges of hazelnuts and cream.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Alma Rosa Chardonnay 2016

Santa Barbara, California

Cash Price $19.94

I am extremely delighted that we added this winery to our portfolio.  The winery was founded by Sta. Rita Hills Icon Richard Sanford.  They produce classic Burgundian style wines with purity and elegance that are second to none.  This Un-oaked Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel tanks and left on the lees for eight months with very little malolactic fermentation present.  The wine is deliciously elegant and fine.  Flavors of lemon zest and citrus flow perfectly into medium acidity with licks of cream.   The mid palate explodes with notes of lychee, hazelnut and just a hint of tropical fruit.  The finish is clean and refreshing with hints of wet rocks and minerality.  James Score: 90 Points

DiamAndes Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Valley de Uco, Argentina

Cash Price $19.94

Located in the heart of the Uco Valley at 3,600 feet, DiamAndes boasts some of the best terroir in the Clos de los Siete.  The wine is made by one of the most famous wine-makers in the world, Michel Rolland.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 14 months in 50% new French oak.  Thick and densely textured, this wine offers flavors of black currant and plum that sink deftly into medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows a creamy thickness that coats the mouth with notes of cassis, leather and cigar box.  The finish is impressively structured with notes of clove, vanilla bean and textured cedar.  James Score: 91 Points

Webster Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Dry Creek, California

Cash Price $19.94

Webster is an extremely small producer (only 250 cases produced of this wine) that is hell bent on making great wine come hell or high water.  This wine is a classic expression of white Bordeaux, meaning that this wine does see some time in oak.  This wine is a perfect summer time refresher that begs to be paired with oysters on the half shell or crawfish.  The wine offers zesty flavors of freshly cut grass and lemon citrus with medium acidity.  The oak gives this wine a more rounded mouth-feel with a weightier texture.  The mid palate offers more stone fruits with hints of apricots and peaches.  The finish shows a delightful complexity with hints of apples and wild flowers.  James Score: 90 Points

Aeris Pinot Noir 2014


Cash Price $13.99

Aeris is the Latin word for ‘Air’ which pays homage to the unique impact the cooling winds have on the grapes in the vineyard.  Recent vintages in Oregon has definitely been riper, offering more alcohol and candied fruit.  This quaffable, gulpable wine is a perfect day that ends with ‘Y’ kind of wine.  It completely excels at this price point.  Flavors of bing cherry and cola flow through medium acids and medium minus tannins.  Soft and plush, this wine has a mid palate of raspberry and clove with tinges of cinnamon.  The finish is playful with hints of oak and vanilla.  James Score: 88 Points 

Highway 12 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Sonoma, California

Cash Price $14.99

The ‘Highway’ wines produced by Michael Sebastiani is, in my opinion, one of the best ‘cluck for the buck’ wines in our entire portfolio.  They consistently over achieve for the price and excel in the glass.  The wine was aged in French oak and sourced from three specific vineyards in Sonoma AVA.  Luscious and fruit forward, this wine exudes flavors of blueberry and black cherry that seep through medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate is silky smooth with a creamy core of blackberry and succulently sweet fruit.  The finish is soft and approachable with vanilla and cedar with whiffs of smoky goodness.  James Score: 89 Points

Tomich ‘Up and Away’ Rose 2016

Adelaide Hills, Australia

Cash Price $14.99

It’s starting to be ‘cool’ to drink Australian wine again.  The country took a massive hit for over producing ‘Critter wines’ and sending oceans of generic juice to the American market.  The Aussies have finally realized that they must produce quality over quantity to sell their wines.  You all know I love Rose, but rarely jump into Australian wine.  I recently tasted through this winery’s portfolio and was quite pleased with the results.  This Rose is unctuously delightful with flavors of juicy red cherries and raspberry that zing into medium acidity and a Dry complexity.  The mid palate offers hints of sweet tart and wild red berries with a touch of spice.  The finish is clean and refreshing.  Fun! James Score: 88 Points

Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $14.99

I have been an avid fan of this winery since I visited it several years ago.  Ken Forrester is a gregarious man who produces absolutely fantastic wines in one of my favorite wine regions on earth, Stellenbosch.  The wine is produced in a sustainable nature with no pesticides or herbicides and hand picked for optimal quality.  The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and completely un-oaked.  Zingy flavors of citrus and lemon grass weave integrally into medium plus acidity.  The mid palate shows hints of nectarines and guava that flows into candied jalapeno jam and herbs.  The finish is clean and gulpable with tinges of cactus juice and white peach.  James Score: 90 Points

Pietra Santa Merlot 2013

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $12.89

Located in Cienega Valley about 25 miles from Monterey Bay, Pietra Santa is Italian for ‘Sacred Stone’ in honor of the rich terrain and terroir on which the winery is located.  Italian Wine Maker Alessio Carli has produced a pure and focused wine with this offering.  Merlot is finally starting to make a comeback and this is a perfectly priced wine for you to fall in love with this exceptional variety all over again.  Flavors of ripe plum and blackberry meld easily into medium tannins and acids.  The wine has a juicy approachability with notes of cassis and black cherry on the mid palate.  The finish offers whiffs of nuts, cedar and vanilla.  James Score: 89 Points

Panarroz Mourvedre 2015

Jumilla, Spain

Cash Price $9.99

Panarroz is one of those wines that you wish you had stumbled upon years ago because its dirt cheap and so dang good!  This 80% Mourvedre/10% Syrah/10% Garnacha blend is taylor made for BBQ.  Fruit forward and un-oaked, this flashy wine is packed full of flavor from start to finish.  Black cherry and plum bounce dangerously through medium tannins and acids with hints of briar and tar.  The mid palate offers currant and a medley of spices like black pepper and such.  The finish is fleshy and fun with a fruit cocktail of blueberry, blackberry and cassis.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS


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