Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email. I have been extremely busy.  March is upon us and the warm weather has joined us. I am starting to taste wines that are geared more toward refreshing the palate as the temperatures rise.  The ‘R’ de Rieussec is one of the better whites that I have tasted in quite awhile, so make sure you try this limited supply wine while you can! Enjoy!

PS I will be traveling through Spain next month, so this blog may possibly be late again next month.

R de Rieussec by Lafite Rothschild Dry White 2017

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $29.99

R de Rieussec is 54% Semillon/46% Sauvignon Blanc and located in Sauternes.  This wine has a nose to get lost in.  It’s paradise.  Flavors of pineapple, mango and lemon drop are surrounded by divinely placed acidity.  Notes of grapefruit and tree fruit are exquisite on the mid palate.  The finish offers a plethora of flavors like white peach, apricot and creamy banana.  Absolutely Stunning for the price!  James Score: 95-96 Points

Rizzi Nebbiolo 2015

Barbaresco, Italy

Cash Price $37.99

I tasted through this line up last week with the wine maker Enrico Dellapiana.  He produces clean and ‘pretty’ wines that are approachable in their youth, but age accordingly.  The winery is sustainable and the vineyard was planted in 1967 on marl clay and sand.  Flavors of strawberry and violets flow easily into the palate with medium plus acidity. The wine is fresh and clean with a plush mid palate that is somewhat surprising considering the wine is 100% Nebbiolo.  Notes of tea leaf are prevalent throughout the finish with touches of spice. James Score: 91 Points

Ballade de La Pointe Red Blend 2015

Pomerol, France

Cash Price $31.99

The 2015 vintage offered affordable pricing for an exceptional vintage.  The 2nd label wines are of exceedingly great value for the money.  ‘Ballade’ is the 2nd label of acclaimed Pomerol Chateau, La Pointe.  The wine is 89% Merlot/11% Cabernet Franc that has been aged in used barrique for 12 months. The wine has brilliant color and offers flavors of crushed strawberries and currant with medium intensity.  It has a beautifully creamy mid palate with hints of blueberry.  Notes of cigar box and tobacco leaf are prevalent on the finish that is long and integrated. James Score: 90 Points

Windvane Pinot Noir 2015

Carneros, California

Cash Price $49.99

I recently poured this at a tasting and was again quite impressed.  The 2015 vintage is one of several stunning years that California has produced although it was one of the earliest harvests due to heat and drought.  This allowed for extremely concentrated grapes which followed into the bottle.  The wine was aged in 46% new French oak for 9 months.  This 100% Pinot Noir offers dense notes of blackberry and black cherry that flows eloquently into notes of cola and subtle spice.  Although the wine has high alcohol for a Pinot Noir, it does not feel hot on the palate.  The wine has structured acidity and light tannins.  The mid palate shows blueberry pie with hints of caramel and cream.  The finish gives more oaky complexity with smidgeons of vanillin and cedar.  James Score: 94 Points

O. Fournier Spiga Red Blend 2012

Ribera Del Duero, Spain

Cash Price $27.99

O. Fournier is an unheralded winery that continues to garner high ratings from critics and praise from Sommeliers. I tasted this wine recently as I am trying to freshen up my palate for wine from Ribera Del Duero since I will be traveling there in a couple of weeks.  This wine is peaking now.  Spiga is 100% Tinta del Pais (Tempranillo) and aged in 50% new oak.  Flavors of blackberry and dark cherries pounce into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is silky with touches of smoke and game that mold into tinges of graphite.  The finish is easy and pleasurable with nuances of oak and baking spices.  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Du Santenay ‘Clos de la Chaise Dieu’ Chardonnay 2014

Bourgogne Hautes Cotes de Beaune, France

Cash Price $19.94

The 2014 vintage was a hard one for the region of Beaune due to a hailstorm that ripped through the vineyards on June 28th.  This hailstorm caused many farmers to lose half (if not more) of their crop.  So the vintage is quite low yielding, but extremely high quality.  The Hautes Cotes de Beaune is located in the higher elevations and was mostly spared of the hailstorm.  This vineyard called ‘The Seat of God’ is set in the hills next to St. Aubin.  Flavors of fleshy green apples and ripe pear flow into the palate with medium plus acidity.  The mid palate offers hints of white flowers with notes of citrus.  The finish is light and accommodating with hints of chalk, salinity and just a kiss of lemon butter.  James Score: 89 Points

Thread Count Red Blend 2016

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $18.99

This newest addition of Copper Cane is made by famed Caymus producer Joseph Wagner, son of Chuck Wagner.  He chose Sonoma County Zinfandel as the main component of this red blend.  Flavors of black raspberry and strawberry compote zing into the palate with medium plus intensity.  The mid palate is quite juicy with hints of black pepper and bacon jam.  The finish is easy and fun with a moderate finish.  James Score: 89 Points

Bodegas Borbore Aya Syrah 2014

San Juan, Argentina

Cash Price $16.99

As you all know, I am a sucker for good Syrah.  This Argentine version is quite delicious and wonderfully affordable.  The wine offer a dark violet color with flavors of fresh red cherries and raspberry with medium intensity.  The mid palate offers smoked game with tinges of jerky and wild berries.  The finish is full of crunchy tannins, spice, and minerals.  This wine is begging for Rodeo BBQ!  James Score: 90 Points

Pull Chardonnay 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

This wine comes from the Broken Earth Winery and is built for early and often consumption.  This Chardonnay was constructed as a food wine with balance.  Flavors of pineapple, melon and citrus show nicely on the palate with medium intensity.  There is subtle oak aging from American Hogshead that gives the wine a creamy core with touches of vanilla bean.  The finish offers hazelnuts and butterscotch.  James Score: 88 Points

Dubost Gamay 2017

Beaujolais Villages, France

Cash Price $15.99

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.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Schild Estate GMS Red Blend 2015

Barossa Valley, Australia

Cash Price $14.99

Schild winery’s fame has grown in the last several years because of the high scores (Top 10 in Wine Spectator) they have garnered with their entry level Shiraz.  This winery makes high quality wines at all price points in the hills of the esteemed Barossa Valley with vines up to 160 years old.  The wine is a blend of 45% Grenache/28% Mourvedre/27% Shiraz and produced in a southern Rhone style.  Juicy flavors of black cherry and blackberry scream into the palate with medium intensity  Notes of plum  are prevalent on a plush, integrated mid palate.  The finish is fleshy, offering notes of rhubarb and spice.  James Score: 89 Points

Liberation de Paris Brut N/V


Cash Price $14.99

This French made, American owned wine is the newest addition to the portfolio of this winery.  They made a huge splash last year by offering affordable French wines and donating a portion of the proceeds to a Houston Veterans Hospital as the owner (Jean-Francois Bonnete) lives right here in Houston.  The wine is 100% Chardonnay and offers flavors of citrus, green apples and melon with kisses of nuts and creamy hazel.  The finish is fresh and clean with fine, persistent bubbles. James Score: 88 Points

L’espigouette Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash price $12.99

The Rhone Valley has long produced some of the best value table wines on Earth.  I implore you to start diving into the insanely complex wine in the mid tier ($13-30) of the Rhone Valley.  This wine hails from the southern Rhone and is mostly Grenache (80%) with a little Syrah and Mourvedre sprinkled in.   Flavors of Stewed cherry cobbler races through the palate with raspberry compote.  The wine is thick and brooding with a viscous mouth feel.  Notes of sweet spice and oregano flow deftly into the mid palate with medium tannins and acids.  The 2015’s in France have yet fail me.  Everything I have had from almost every region has been spectacular.  James Score:  90 Points

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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  1. Renee Hamilton says:

    Hi James:
    There are days when I feel like I belong in spam…lol!

    Thanks for the clarification, and I’m excited you featured the Barbaresco as that category tends to be stuck in no man’s land between Langhe Nebbiolo and Barolo. It’s even more confusing since this Barbaresco is from the “Rizzi” Cru (vs. Pajore and Nervo), so it’s a little strange to refer to this as the Rizzi Barbaresco Rizzi. ☺ I actually had a discussion with Enrico about distinguishing this one from the other two in terms of packaging since it’s less expensive. He was very much open to the idea….and many others.

    Btw, I talked to Tom yesterday and he told me he saw Joseph downtown. I’m sure that was strange. I actually tried to see him on Sunday and found out he was no longer at the recovery center. Not good.

    Anyway, thanks again for your support.


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