Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is scorching hot in Texas right now!  All I want is something light and refreshing to quench my thirst and cool my core.  So, I’ll give you some great options to do just that!  I have recently been (re) falling in love with Merlot and I had a show stopper that will lead off this review.  RIP Anthony Bordain. Lost a good one today….

Seavey Merlot 2012

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $59.84

This wine is really at the height of quality for American Merlot.  I’ve been raving about wines from St. Emilion and Pomerol made from Merlot, but don’t overlook the brilliance that can be produced in California.  Philippe Melka is behind this delicious Napa Valley wine.  Melka is a native of Bordeaux, but has found a home producing extremely high quality wines in Napa Valley.  The wine is 96% Merlot/4% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged in 40% new French oak for nineteen months.  Whole berry fermentation, de-stemming and natural crushing allows for silky smooth tannins in this wine.  Flavors of plum and red cherries lay on a plush mid palate with velvet tannins and rose petals.  The palate offers a pure roundness with a core of creaminess that gives this wine an amazing mouth feel.  The finish offers hints of butterscotch, tea leaf, rhubarb and cedar with just a smidgeon of wild herbs.  Layers and Layers in this wine.  James Score: 94 Points

Nuiton-Beaunoy Volnay Pinot Noir 2014

Bourgogne, France

Cash Price $39.89

Inside of the Cote de Beaune is one of my favorite places on earth for Pinot Noir.  Volnay has no Grand Cru vineyards, but can boast quite a few Premier Cru vineyards.  The 2014 vintage is one of structure and purity.  Bourgogne vignerons have made a united decision to farm in more natural ways whether it be sustainable, organic, biodynamic or all three.  The ensuing wines have a depth and purity of flavors that are unbeatable in comparison to any other place in the world that is producing Pinot Noir.  Fresh flavors of ripe red cherry and raspberry sing into the palate with a light, clean core and balanced acidity.  Aromatically appealing, this wines shows whiffs of rose petals and violets on the mid palate.  There is beautiful underlying minerality to this wine that shows notes of graphite and herbal tea.  The finish offers kisses of exotic spice, cinnamon and licorice.  Get this limited Pinot Noir!  James Score: 92 Points

Shed Horn Chardonnay Reserve 2015

Lake County, California

Cash Price $29.99

Michael Wood’s vision of building his own winery after making others wines for years is really taking shape.  He started in 2004 with only 3 barrels.  Wood has now ramped up his production to 4,000 cases and we are excited to be able to add him to our portfolio.  Lake County is becoming a hot bed for wineries since Napa fruit is becoming exceedingly expensive. Classic California flavors of pineapple, yellow apples and melon explode in the palate with a soft, creamy core of hazelnuts and butter.  The finish is easy and pleasing with notes of toasted oak, marshmallows and vanilla.  James Score: 90 Points

Frey Sohler Pinot Gris 2015

Alsace, France

Cash Price $19.94

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.  Pinot Gris from Alsace is typically off-dry (just a touch of sweetness) and is perfect for extremely hot heat.  It has the acidity but also shows off a veritable fruit bomb of flavor with touches of candied sweetness.   This 100% Pinot Gris is aged in neutral oak for 9 months and from the generally warmer town of Rittersberg.  It offers flavors of melon and pear with a refreshing acidity that beautifully balances the tinges of sweetness.  Notes of citrus lime and wet slate focus on the mid palate with a finish of fresh meadow flowers.  Perfect for the Scorching Summer Heat!  James Score: 90+

22 Pirates Red Blend 2016


Cash Price $19.94

Ready for a fun, accessible red blend for summer?  Look no further!  This Syrah/Petite Sirah blend is thick and unctuous with flavors of blackberry and blueberry racing through the palate with a creamy core of cobbler and pie.  Black cherry and currant flow easily through the mid palate with soft, plush tannins and acids.  The finish offers darker notes of jammy blackberry pie with licks of cinnamon, vanilla and cedar.  James Score: 88 Points

Bjorn Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Bjorn Larson is based in the famed Howell Mountain region of Napa Valley.  He produces the daily pleasers Gauge red and white, but his namesake wines are truly something special. ‘Great wines come from great grapes which comes from great farmers in great locations’.  Crisp, clean flavors of citrus and grapefruit are prevalent on the palate although the mid palate softens into notes of Meyer lemon and apricot with medium acidity.  Hints of tree fruits and honey play on the finish with a nice zesty finish.  James Score: 90 Points

Malmont Red Blend 2015

Cotes du Rhone, France

Cash Price $18.99

Malmont (bad mountain) is a single vineyard located in the highly acclaimed region of Seguret.  Nicolas Haeni is the brain child behind the powerful wines from this label.  I often say that some of the world’s best priced wines come from the encompassing Cotes du Rhone AOC and this wine is exactly why I consistently say that.  Malmont is a 55% Grenache/45% Syrah blend that offers concentrated flavors of blackberries and garrigue flow smoothly into medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers a medley of spices with pepper being prevalent.  The finish is silky and long lasting with hints of violets and lavender flowing through tinges of stewed fruits.  James Score: 89 Points

Graf Von Bentzel Blaufrankisch 2013

Wurttemberg, Germany

Cash Price $16.99

German reds are hidden gems!  Blaufrankisch (called Lemberger in Germany) is a dark skinned grape that has a unique feel to it.  The grape has never really gained popularity in the general public, probably due to its difficult pronunciation (Bl-OW Frankish) meaning ‘blue Frankish’ in German.  It has become a darling grape in the Sommelier World and a dark horse on wine lists throughout the United States.  The wine has a softer feel to it with good structure of tannins and acids.  I put a slight chill on this wine last week in the sweltering heat and it tasted exceedingly well.  Flavors of black cherry and pomegranate flow into medium tannins and acids with a linear backbone of minerality.  The wine doesn’t have any perceptible oak, but it doesn’t need it.  The fruits are quite fresh on the palate and flow into a blackberry fruit cocktail sensation.  Yum!  James Score: 89 Points

Tamboerskloof Rose of Syrah 2017

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $14.99

Kleinood winery consistently produces some of my favorite wines coming out of South Africa.  In fact, this Syrah of Rose is one of my favorite Roses in our portfolio.  I find Syrah to be amazingly versatile to pair with many foods and a dynamite pairing with herbs.  When made into a Rose, it shows all the flavor but without the tannins.  This wine offers flavors of wild strawberries and bright red cherries.  The mid palate displays medium acidity with freshly picked red apples and cranberry tingling throughout. The tertiary flavors really drive this wine with notes of garrigue and white pepper.  The finish is deliciously clean with hints of wet slate and fruit punch.  James Score: 92 Points

Clos Des Moiselles Red Blend 2014

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $13.99

The Cotes de Bourg was just ravaged by a hail storm last week.  I have not heard to what extent this Chateau was damaged, but we need to support wines from this region.  The area is considered one of the better ‘value’ regions in all of Bordeaux.  This little gem is 50% Merlot/45%/5% Malbec and aged in used oak.  Delightfully fresh flavors of bright red cherry and cranberry flow into medium plus tannins and acids.  The 2014 vintage is well structured and suited to pair with heavy meals.  The finish offers licks of mocha, cocoa dust and just a hint of fresh earth.  James Score: 88 Points

Gemtree ‘Dragon Blood’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

McLaren Vale, Australia

Cash Price $12.29

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 at excellent price points.  This is truly a Daily Cab drinkers Cabernet.  Fruit forward and approachable, Dragon’s Blood offers flavors of black cherry and cassis with accessible tannins and acids.  The mid palate is rich and enticing with notes of black pepper, plum and currant.  The finish is loaded full of cobbler and exotic spices.  James Score: 89 Points

Domaine de Fournache Aligote 2016

Bourgogne, France

Cash Price $11.99

Aligote is taking Texas by storm!  It is the ‘other’ white grape of Burgundy that is best known in the region of Bouzeron.  It is definitely NOT Chardonnay, so don’t even connote the two (although the do have the same parents, Gouais Blanc and Pinot).  The grape offers more acid and is typically leaner in flavor profile than Chardonnay.  Aligote used to be reserved for a drink called Kir, which one would add a dollop of crème de cassis to the wine to soften the bracing acidity in the glass.  Now with the warming trends in France, Aligote can be produced in a much riper style with less acidity and more fruit.  Fournache offers deliciously zingy acids with plenty of citrus lemon on the palate.  The wine is un-oaked and quite refreshing.  Notes of white flowers and hints of hazelnuts dance vibrantly on the finish.  James Score: 88 Points

Cappricio Sparkling Torrontes N/V

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $11.99

This fully sparkling, 100% Torrontes is naturally sweet and highly aromatic with fruit packed flavors of peach, pear and guava.  The bubbles tickle the palate while flavors tantalize the taste buds with hints of honeycomb and lush stone fruits.  While the wine may taste like moscato ‘light’, it does have 9.5% alcohol content to add with the flavors of fresh meadow flowers.  James Score: 86 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS

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