JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS FOR THANKSGIVING 2017

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I don’t know about you, but I am ready to run full force into the holidays.  It’s time to celebrate the important things in life with such a tumultuous year we have all endured.  I am ready to break bread with family and friends with all the fixings!  Thanksgiving is my personal favorite holiday of the year because of my wine and food background.  If you want to really impress the people at your table this Thanksgiving this year, take this list down to your local Spec’s and pick up a bottle or two or thirteen of my selections and you’ll be sure to shine with family and the food!

On a personal note, THANK YOU to everyone that supported the LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS Hurricane Harvey Fundraising event that we held at Pallotta’s last month.  We raised $20,235.00 (our goal was $10,000) for the Montgomery County Crisis Assistance Center!!!!!!!  All the money stays right here in this county to help our neighbors in need.

Michel Mailliard ‘Cuvee Alexia’ Brut Rose Premier Cru N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $49.99

Located in the famous sparkling town of Vertus in the Cote de Blancs, Michel Mailliard is a fourth generation Premier Cru producer.  ‘Cuvee Alexia’ is lovingly named after his daughter.  This Bubbly is a veritable fruit cocktail with clean, delicious sparkles from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir that is quite dry on the palate.  Flavors of strawberry, raspberry and bing cherries explode in the palate.  The mid palate shows fleshy citrus fruits that are encompassed by a rich, creamy complexity that mellows into touches of dark chocolate and rose petals.  The finish sings with gracefully tight bubbles that dance melodically  with hints of chocolate mousse, cherry pie and all things delicious!  This Premier Cru Champagne is a must for the WOW! factor at your Turkey Day table.  James Score 94+ Points

Alma Rosa Pinot Noir 2014

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $34.99

I was able to try through this winery’s portfolio a couple of months ago and immediately I knew I would review one of their Pinot Noir’s for Thanksgiving.  The vineyards of Alma Rosa were planted by famous Sta. Rita Hills Icon Richard Sanford.  His family has been producing classic Pinot from this area for over 40 years!  The vines are sustainably farmed and kept as natural as the weather allows.  Alma (Spanish for Essence) Rosa is aged for 16 months in oak in 20% New French Oak.  This 100% Pinot Noir exudes essences of silky smooth blackberries and plum with supple tannins and acids.  The mid palate gives ample amounts of exotic spices with smidgeons of cracked cinnamon sticks, graham crackers and brown sugar.  Touches of minerality and herbs flow through the finish with hints of vanilla, dried cranberry, cocoa and just a whiff of cedar.  Beautiful!  James Score: 93 Points

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

Piedmonte, Italy

Cash Price $36.99

I think that Barbera is the perfect red wine for the state of Texas.  This ‘under the radar’ grape is a dynamic pairing for beast or fowl.  It is extremely flavorful with higher acidity to quench your thirst while showing minimal dry tannins.  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.  This is that OMG wine that will surely impress the family!   James Score: 94 Points

Monticello Vineyards Chardonnay 2014

Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $26.99

I have been an ardent fan of this balanced California Chardonnay for years.  I am often put off by the ‘Over The Top’ Chardonnays that are meal in your mouth wines.  I like my Chardonnay to pair with my food, not be the food!  The Corley family has been producing Napa Valley wines since 1969.  The vineyards are sustainably farmed and the fruit used in this wine is all estate and fermented in French Oak.  This wine is distinctly California Chardonnay, but has a classic Burgundian elegance.  The 100% Chardonnay shows vibrant flavors of green apples and pear that meld gorgeously into medium acids.  The mid palate shows touches of butterscotch, cream and truffles that touch just a hint of tannin.  The body is expressive and opulent without being overly weighty.  The finish shows kisses of vanilla bean, cedar and roasted nuts.  James Score: 90 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!  *This is a re post, but I felt that this wine would be an amazing fit at your family gathering this year.  James Score: 93 Points

Dr. Frank Cabernet Franc 2014

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $18.99

I am in love with Cabernet Franc.  Little think of the grape with pairings, but I find it to be amazingly versatile.  Dr. Konstantin Frank was extremely influential in the growing of the Vitis Vinifera vine species in the Northeast.  He is credited with being the first to successfully produce vinifera wines in New York.  The American vine species dominated the vineyards until he was able to master the art of Vinifera.  Cabernet Franc is one of my favorite varietals (father of Cabernet Sauvignon) on earth.  The grape can produce spectacular wines with bursting flavor and complexity.  The wine is lighter in style, so it will pair wonderfully with ham or fried turkey with big sloppings of mashed potatoes and gravy.  Cabernet Franc from cooler regions are well suited to be drunk in warmer climates because of the higher acid content and brighter fruits.  Flavors of vibrant black cherry, cranberry and wild red berries zing through medium plus acidity and medium tannins.  The mid palate is refreshing with complex acids and touches of leather and sun dried tomatoes.  The finish shows 18 months of European and American oak aging with hints of cedar, smoked tar, and black pepper.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Tour Leognan Blanc 2016

Pessac Leognan, France

Cash Price $23.99

Most people think of New Zealand when conjuring up images of Sauvignon Blanc.  I challenge you to fall in love with one of the best regions for Sauvignon Blanc in the world: Bordeaux, France.  Chateau Tour Leognan is the 2nd label of famed Chateau Carbonnieux in Pessac Leognan which happens to be one of my favorite white wine producers on earth.  This winery is owned by the Perrin family and consistently makes my favorite white Bordeaux.  Tour Leognan may be a second label, but has a first label quality.  The wine is 70% Sauvignon Blanc and 30% Semillon with a small amount of French oak aging which I only noticed on the nose.  Vibrant flavors of grapefruit, citrus and cactus are encompassed by medium plus acidity and just a whiff of tannin.  The mid palate offers a distinct minerality of cracked stones that leads into meadow flowers.  The finish offers tinges of vanilla with a clean, refreshing mouth feel.  This wine will be a spectacular match for white meats on your table.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Pegau ‘Maclura’ Cotes du Rhone Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $14.99

The Feraud’s of Chateau Pegau have been tending vines in Chateauneuf du Pape since the year 1670.  They are considered on of the premier ‘Elite’ producers in all of the Rhone Valley.  The yields of this CDR are kept at the ridiculously low standards of Chateauneuf du Pape, so the quality is EXTREMELY high for $14.99.  Laurence Feraud has become somewhat of a rock star winemaker with her wines garnering high praise and scores year after year.  ‘Maclura’ is a type of Osage orange tree found on the 100 acre, 50+ year old vines estate.  This 50% Grenache/25% Syrah/10%Mourvedre/5% Cinsault red blend screams pleasure from the first sup.  Striking flavors of cassis and blackberry form into thickly integrated medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows wild dark fruits with notes of sweet cherries and plum that sinew into freshly cracked black pepper and cured meats.  The finish is impressively expansive with touches of garrigue (thyme, fennel) and crushed rocks.  Silky, fun and fresh!  James Score: 89 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 complex and age worthy. Gone are the Nouveau days….Enter the new age of high quality Cru and Beaulojais-Villages wines!   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.  Pick up the REAL Beaujolais this holiday and get prepared to be blown away! YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Frey Sohler Pinot Blanc Reserve 2015

Alsace, France

Cash Price $14.99

Alsatian wines are the best food pairing wines on earth.  The 2015 was picture perfect throughout most of France and the vintage will go down in history as one of the finest in the century.  Frey Sohler wines have always been solid, but this particular vintage is really something special.  Alsace is quite warm, so you can get some of the juiciest, rich white wines in all of France from this small region nestled right by the German border.  This 100% Pinot Blanc is elegant yet surprisingly expressive.  Flavors of citrus, lychee and gardenias fall into a perfectly balanced medium plus acidity that wraps around the wine like a snuggly fleece.  The mid palate shows rounded melon and pear while still offering a floral component with a citrus backbone.  The finish is pure and lip-smacking!  This wine is a dark horse winner, so make sure it’s on your table this holiday season!  James Score: 91 Points

Pierre Archambault Chenin Blanc 2016

Vouvray, France

Cash Price $11.99

Chenin Blanc from Vouvray is one of my ‘go to’ whites for Thanksgiving.  The wines are vinified slightly sweet (Demi-Sec), but with good acidity to give balance.  Pierre Archambault has become a tradition for our pre Thanksgiving festivities.  My wife, her sisters, and mother all enjoy sipping this gem while preparing the feast.  Deliciously un-oaked, this wine offers stone fruits with loads of lychee and apricot.  The wine has licks of sweetness throughout but isn’t overly sweet by any means.  The acidity is medium and has beautiful precision in the wine to balance the residual sugars.  Loads of white flowers, quince and touches of minerality quaff through the mid palate.  The finish is light and refreshing with hints of almond and citrus.  Archambault is a wine that will surely be the monster hit with the pre meal festivities as it is a great aperitif!  James Score: 88 Points

Domaine Cabasse ‘Le Rose de Marie’ Rose 2016

Seguret, France

Cash Price $13.99

Dry Rose is my drink of choice during the time leading up to the un-belt buckling feast.  Anne et Benoit Baudry of Domaine Cabasse has consistently put out one of my favorite Dry Rose’s year after year.  The wine is outstanding every vintage and a staple in my cellar.  It is a Grenache based wine with loads of character from other grapes such as Syrah, Carignan and Counoise.  Flavors of freshly picked strawberries and raspberries zing into zesty acids with tinges of citrus and white pepper.  The mid palate offers notes of red roses and wild meadow flowers.  The finish is clean and thirst quenching with smidgeons of pomegranate and wild red berries.  Be ready make Rose a daily drinker after trying this Thanksgiving Stunner!  James Score: 90 Points

Dr. Pauly ‘Noble House’ Dornfelder Sweet Red 2016

Rheinhessen, Germany

Cash Price $9.99

The odds are there is a member of your family that will absolutely not drink dry wine, but would still like a glass…or two.  Fear not!  Dornfelder is perfect with turkey and offers touches of sweetness throughout the core of the wine.  The wine has low tannins and just a hint of sweetness that will keep your family member happy while still being deliciously quaffable for the rest of the family as well.  Dr. Pauly offers red cherries and raspberries with lively acidity that melds easily with the juicy fruit character of the wine.  This wine is unpretentious, yet still has plenty of character.  This is a great wine to open for the pre feast activities because of its low alcohol content and slurpability!  James Score: 87 Points

HAPPY HOLIDAYS!

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS

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