Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The HOLIDAYS are upon us.  The weather is graciously beginning to cool and this truthfully enhances my mood.  I am ready for some fun after the unfortunate events of the past several months.  So, Join me in making this 2017 Holiday season one to remember!

I am Hosting a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fundraiser on October 26th at Pallotta’s Italian Grill from 6:30-9:00PM

LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS BITES AND WINE FUNDRAISING BENEFIT is geared to give the victims of Hurricane Harvey some relief and help them rebuild their lives.  Our goal is raise $10,000 and donate 100% of the money to CAC (Montgomery County Crisis Assistance Center).  The evening will include bites from 6 local restaurants and 2 bakeries.  I will be picking and pouring the wine for the event, so you know it’ll be great!  Tickets to the event are a $75 donation to youcaring.com/harveyrelieffund-954053.  We will be holding a silent auction for numerous specialty items such as eclectic wines, an outdoor oven, and numerous gift baskets and cards from the area.  Contact me at jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com for more information or just go to the link and donate!  HOUSTON STRONG!


Michele Castellani ‘Colle Christi’ Amarone 2010 DOCG

Valpolicella, Italy

Cash Price $59.69

I recently re-tasted this wine and was extremely happy with the progression it has had in the bottle.  It is lush and beautiful.  I believe this is the peak time to drink this wine.  The Amarone is a blend of 70% Corvina Veronese and Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara.  After harvest, the grapes are air- dried for 4 months which concentrates the sugars and takes out the extra water and then crushed.  The resulting wine is aged in large oak barrels and French barriques for 3 years before release.  This makes a wine of pure richness that is balanced with loads of fruit and structure.  Colle Cristi roughly translates into the ‘hills of Christ’ and I could not agree more.  Divine wines are made here.  Robust flavors of raisined Moreno cherries and dried fig sinew into nuanced notes of stewed plum, brown sugar and cured meat.  The mid palate is rich to the core with marzipan and mocha with medium plus tannins and medium plus acidity.  The finish has a touch of candied fruits, truffles and traditional Christmas spices which linger longingly on the palate for an intensely long time. James Score: 97 Points

Amiral De Beychevelle 2012

St. Julien, France

Cash Price $39.89

I am always on the hunt for value Bordeaux.  I have a true love for the Cabernet produced in the commune of St. Julien.  Chateau Beychevelle is a 4th growth on the left side of the Gironde known for producing sleek, yet full bodied Cabernet based blends.  Amiral de Beychevelle is the 2nd wine from this Chateau.  I have always found very high quality in the 2nd labels of Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classe Chateaus.  The 2012 vintage was hit and miss in Bordeaux, but this wine is an absolute hit!  Dense flavors of black currant and black cherries sinew through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate has a raw depth that really engulfs the palate with notes of cigar box, graphite, and charred oak that are wrapped around a thick richness of dark fruits.  The finish offers cinnamon, leather and touches of vanilla bean that linger on the palate for a graciously long time.  James Score: 91 Points

Castelnau N/V Brut Reserve Sparkling Wine

Champagne, France

Cash Price $36.99

Castelnau 1998 Vintage Magnums were poured at one of my wine dinners last year and it reminded just how amazing this sparkling wine shows.  I recently re-tasted the n/v and was very happy with the ensuing results. Castelnau offers a higher percentage of Pinot Meunier (42%) than most Champagne producers.  Pinot Meunier adds a youthful exuberance to the wines with lively structure and fruit.  This Cooperative Manipulant exudes flavors of crispy green and red apples fly into medium plus acidity that is wrapped around a core of red cherry and rose petals.  The mid palate is spectacular with notes of brioche, almonds and licks of vanilla cream.  The finish is silky with tinges of toasted cocoa beans, confection and delicious goodness!  James Score: 94 Points

The Highwayman Red Blend 2014

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $25.99

I have always been a fan of this line and I think this is the best of what they produce. Paul Giusto and Michael Sebastiani have really outdone themselves with the 2014’s.  This blend is a Cabernet Franc heavy wine, which is probably why I really enjoy it.  Flavors of black cherry and plum sink through the palate with balanced focus.  This wine is not a rambler, it has medium plus tannins and medium acids that are well integrated.  The mid palate shows blackberry and bramble with whiffs of cedar, toasted vanilla bean and just a hint of pencil shavings.  James Score: 92 Points

Studert Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling 2014

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $25.64

The vineyards of Wehlener Sonnenuhr are considered some of the finest in all the Mosel.  Studert Prum is a winery steeped in history and fine wine making.  Quality Auslese is always lightly sweet on the palate but acidity is the great equalizer on the palate so the wine does not actually taste cloyingly sweet.  Eloquent flavors of white peach and apricot roam freely through medium plus acidity that is surrounded by a field of fresh white flowers.  The mid palate is rounder with notes of candle wax and bees wax.  The finish is chalked full of delicious minerality, citrus and lemon blossoms. Great age ability.  This wine is hauntingly good every vintage.  Make sure you try this one!  James Score: 94 Points

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico  2014

Chianti Classico, Italy

Cash Price $24.99

Castello Di Ama is one of the finest estates in Chianti.  Their Sangiovese based wines are considered some of the finest quality in all of Tuscany.  Ama offers flavors of vibrant red cherries and wild red berries that lead into zesty acids and medium tannins.  Notes of fleshy plum and cranberry waft through the mid palate with hints of earth and  spice. The finish is smooth and harmonious with touches of candied raspberry and marmalade. This wine is perfectly balanced and would cellar well for 5-7 years.  Pair this gem with a thin crust, oven roasted pizza with peppers and sausage!  James Score: 92 Points

Eberle ‘Vineyard Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.69

Gary Eberle was one of the Pioneers of Paso Robles.  This region is garnering much recognition for producing moderately priced Cabernet that can rival the quality of Napa Valley.  I am happy every time I purchase a bottle of Paso Cabernet.  Deliciously rich flavors of blackberry jam, plum and black cherry race through this slightly hedonistic wine.  The mid palate offer medium tannins and acids with a healthy dollop of delicious fruit.  Notes of currant and tobacco sleek through the mid palate.  The finish offers tones of black chocolate, toffee, and cedar with smidgeons of vanilla and hazelnuts.  James Score: 90 Points

Poggio Bello Pinot Grigio 2015

Friuli, Italy

Cash Price $17.79

The area of Colli Orientali inside of the region of Friuli is widely known to produce the best Pinot Grigio in the world.  There is a purity of flavor and terroir that is often missed in other regions that produce this varietal.  Poggio Bello shows a sleek complexity of balance, elegance and fragrance.  Flavors of citrus lemon-lime flow into the palate with smidgeons of melon and acacia.  Notes of lemon curd continue through the mid palate without any nuances of oak.  The finish is clean with continuing aromatics and hints of white flowers.  Utterly delicious for the price point.  James Score: 91 Points 

La Tercera Reserva Red 2010

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $18.99

Rioja can be hit and miss.  Tercera hit a home run with this Reserva wine.  Tempranillo is the main varietal with graciano and garnacha making up the difference.  The 2010 vintage was good to Rioja and to find an under $20 Reserva in this vintage is a no brainer.  Silky smooth red cherries and raspberry flow into medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers touches of pepper and cedar.  The finish is chalked full of minerality, dill and vanilla.  James Score: 92 Points

Marramiero ‘Dama’ Montepulciano 2014

Abruzzo, Italy

Cash Price $14.99

Marramiero is a darling winery that produces extremely high quality Montepulciano at value prices. Located between the Adriatic Sea and The Gran Sasso Mountains on the hills around Pescara, the Marramiero family has grown vines since the beginning of last century.  Dama is the daily drinker release that really exceeds expectations.  I akin the Montepulciano as somewhat similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine offers flavors of ripe red cherries and framboise with medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers hints of roasted tomato and iron that burst into red berries and red roses.  The finish is long and lingering with scant oak but plenty of fruit.  James Score: 89 Points

Dante Robino Malbec 2016

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $12.29

I am very excited to have this value Malbec in our portfolio.  It truly exceeds the price points and is a quintessential BBQ and meat wine.  This 100% Malbec is plush and delicious from the first sup.  The grapes are grown at 900 meters above sea level and aged in American oak for 4 months.  Ripe flavors of fleshy plum and black cherry sinew through medium tannins and acids.  Extremely approachable, the mid palate offers secondary flavors of black olives, cola and touches of cured meat.  The finish is silky smooth with whiffs of cedar and vanilla bean.  Must Try!  James Score: 90 Points

Novecento Sparkling Extra Brut N/V

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $12.29

I love deliciously dry bubbles.  This time of the year, I am in a fervent search for my ‘party sparkler’ to bring to all the fun festivities that the holidays entail.  I have found an absolute gem this year at a rock bottom price!  The wine is a 50/50 blend of Ugni Blanc and Chenin Blanc.  It is delightfully dry and clean from the get go.  Nuances of citrus and apple blossoms flow gracefully through a Teton of bubbles.  The mid palate shows touches of cream and mousse while still offering nice acidity on the backbone.  The finish is clean and refreshing with hints of wild flowers.  Yum!  James Score: 89 Points

Perelada ‘3 Fincas’ Red Blend 2013

Emporda, Spain

Cash Price $10.39

I fell in love with this fun red blend while visiting wineries in the Barcelona area last year.  I am a value hunter and this wine smacks of it from top to bottom.  It is a blend of primarily Carignan, Garnacha and Syrah.  Fresh and fruit driven this wine exudes flavors of black cherry and blackberry from the start with medium tannins and acids.  Dangerously approachable, this is almost a gulpable wine.  The finish shows crushed rocks, hints of earth and smoky cedar.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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  1. Charles Coughin says:

    James. Aren’t you going crazy with all these high ratings? Charlie

    Sent from my iPhone


    • No Charlie! Thank you for noticing! I find better wines to write up during the holidays to make sure you, the consumer, has a great choice from which to buy during the best time of the year!

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