Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the tardiness of this email. As you all know, I was recently in Spain and it took awhile to catch back up on things before I could get to this blog.  But here we are!  April is in full bloom and Easter is right around the corner. I have decided to make red blends a focus this month as I have tried numerous delightful wines lately that are based on blending grapes.  Enjoy!

Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

Blue Rock is an all estate produced winery that is located right next to Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley property.  The 2015 vintage was absolutely stunning with excellent depth and concentration.  The winery  is focused on showing the quality of terroir and offering balanced wines that  reflect the soil.  Blue Rock shows dark purple color with medium plus legs. The palate offers delicious flavors of blueberry and black cherry that sinew softly into medium intensity.  The wine is silky smooth with complex notes of cedar, vanilla and touches of spice.  The finish is rocking with blackberry cobbler and cigar box that sinks into a velvet finish.  Layered and lively.  James Score: 94 Points

Riglos Cabernet Franc 2016

Uco Valley, Argentina

Cash Price $29.99

Late last year, I had the marketing manager in town to host a consumer event in The Woodlands.  He tasted me through the entire portfolio.  I was highly impressed with the entire line, but (all you know I’m a sucker for good Cab Franc) the Cabernet Franc was particularly appealing to me.  The wine is 100% single varietal from a single vineyard.  Riglos offers dark blackberry and plum fruit with a spicy core of pepper and minerality.  It has medium intensity.  There is a creamy sensation prevalent on the mid palate that gives way to a wonderfully long finish that is chalked full of graham cracker, vanilla and toasted nuts.  James Score: 92 Points

Stewart Cellars Merlot 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

Michael Stewart has Houston roots from the oil industry, but has made California his home.  The 2014 vintage really shined on this Merlot from Brokenrock Ranch vineyard that was aged for 20 months in new French oak barrels. The wine shows dark red color with medium legs. The palate offers flavors of bright raspberries and candied red cherries pop freshly into medium intensity.  The wine is deliciously vibrant and showy.  The finish is silky fun with touches of plum, cocoa and toasted oak. Awesome Merlot! James Score: 93 Points

Summers Andrianna Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Napa/Sonoma, California

Cash Price $19.94

I have some unfortunate news from this winery.  Last year, Jim Summers surprisingly passed away.  His wife, Beth, has since decided to sell the winery.  Summers Andriana’s Cuvee Cabernet Sauvignon has been one of the best sellers in our entire portfolio for years.  Now, it will be going away.  We were able to procure one last large shipment, so if you love this wine then it is time to STOCK UP! The wine shows dark red/purple color with medium legs.  The palate is deliciously smooth and approachable.  This magnificent Cabernet offers flavors of black cherry and currant with medium intensity.  Notes of cedar, vanilla and exotic spices tickle the long, seamless finish. Get it while you can! James Score: 90 Points

Block 807 Chardonnay 2017

Chalone, California

Cash Price $19.94

This newest installment of The Vineyard Block Estate Chardonnay was sourced from the cooler Chalone AVA in the Central Coast.  As you all know, the Block wines are always  solid wines at a value price.  This Chardonnay really excels for under $20.  The wine offers a cooler climate feel to its flavor profile without losing the distinct California notes.  Flavors Meyer lemon and melon flow through medium light intensity which is rounded out by just a hint of cream and nuts.   The wine has an underlying core of minerality of wet rocks and flint. The finish is pure and fresh with hints of tree fruit, vanilla and oak.  James Score: 90 Points

Vigneti Di Ettore Ripasso Classico Superiore Red Blend 2016

Valpolicella, Italy

Cash Price $26.99

This Veneto winery is brand new to our portfolio and I am SUPER stoked to be able to offer them to you.  Ettore was established in 1930 and is located in the hills of Negrar within the Valpolicella Classico zone at 250-400 meter in elevation. The wines are made with the traditional grapes of the region such as Corvina, Corvinone, Rondinella, and Molinara. The winery is also practicing Organic vineyard management.  Stewed fruits of cherry pie and raspberry compote flow into medium plus intensity with plenty of alcohol on the palate. The mid palate offers a plethora of exotic spices with smidgeons of brown molasses and black pepper. The finish is easy and supple with blueberry cobbler and currant.  James Score: 90 Points

Albert Bichot Sparkling N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $18.99

Albert Bichot has become some of more consistently clean and delicious wines coming out of a negociant in Burgundy.  Recently, Christian Ciamos (commercial manager) of Bichot taught a class on terroir for the Spec’s employees.  We tasted through a good portion of their portfolio.  The Cremant specifically caught my eye as a little jewel that should be shared!  Persistently fine bubbles flowed from the glass with touches of gold highlights. White flowers popped into the palate with a citrus backbone.  The mid palate showed lees aging that offered hazelnut, cream and brioche. The finish was clean and appealing with touches of lime and minerals.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau D’Aussieres Red Blend 2016

Corbieres, France

Cash Price $26.99

Corbieres is a hidden gem for quality wine in France.  First Growth Bordeaux producer Lafite Rothschild purchased vineyards in this area with the intent of making ‘Grand Cru’ quality wine.  They have certainly achieved that feat with this wine.  The 2016 vintage smiled on the South of France with an exceptional harvest that has produced beautiful wines.  This wine is primarily Syrah based with Grenache and Mourvedre that has been aged for 16 months in oak and selected from only the finest plots in the vineyard.  Flavors of black cherry and black currant race through the palate with medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of toasted cedar and licorice sinew harmoniously through the mid palate with exquisite complexity.  The finish offers hints of gingerbread, vanilla, and clove.  D’Aussieres is a tremendously sleek wine from one of the best producers in the world!  James Score: 91 Points

Moccagatto Barbera D’Alba 2016

Piedmont, Italy

Cash Price $21.69

Barbera season is now as the temperature begins to rise and the Houston heat becomes the norm. Barbera is a perfect summer red with fresh fruit, good acidity and a pleasant sensibility.  Put a chill on this red and it pairs beautifully with many dishes.  Moccagatto is brand new to our portfolio and I was quite impressed with their 100% Barbera that was aged for 6 months in new barrique.  Deliciously fresh flavors of strawberry and bright red cherries zing into medium intensity.  The mid palate is fleshy and offers notes of wild flowers and rose petals with just a hint of spiced vanilla and white pepper.  Structured and lively.  James Score: 89 Points

Chateau Clarettes Rose 2017

Cotes de Provence, France

Cash Price  $18.99

Dry Rose wines are one of the hottest categories in the world right now with massive growth from year to year. Provence is the king when it comes to light Rose on the market.  The color is light pink with just a hint of gold and medium legs.   Flavors of supple raspberry and wild peaches flow through citrus with medium intensity.  The wine is clean and flavorful with a pleasantly pure finish that shows white fruit and just a kiss of red fruit.  It is versatile enough to pair with food or drink poolside.  James Score: 89 Points

L’Espigouette Vacqueyras Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $22.99

Vacqeyras has become a Sommelier darling region for it depth and complexity in the Rhone Valley.  It is a region in the Southern Rhone where most of the grapes grown are Grenache, Syrah and Mourvedre.  These are the main grapes in the blend with Grenache being the heavy favorite.  The wine is dark red in color with hints of purple.  The palate offers an explosion of flavor with black cherry, currant and blueberries with an almost jammed quality.  The wine is balanced but has massive mouthfeel.  The mid palate shows full intensity with notes of garrigue and exotic spices with a subtle cream on the core.  The finish is long and integrated with just a kiss of oak and sweet tannins.  James Score: 92 Points

Dead Zed Red Blend 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Paso Robles is blowing up as a region with Zinfandel and Rhone varieties showing excellent potential in the market. This is also a new wine to our portfolio.  The wine is a Grenache/Zinfandel/Syrah blend with plenty of alcohol (15.8%).  Wines with this magnitude and catchy labels aren’t usually my thing but I must admit….I really liked what was in the glass when I tried it.  The color shows good dark color and medium plus legs. The palate offered a delightful note of smokey tar and smoked meat from the start with plenty of dark bramble and blackberry.  The mid palate showed medium plus intensity with hints of bacon fat and toasty vanilla.  The finish was long and easy with more dark fruit, dark cocoa and hints of exotic spice.  James Score: 89 Points

Cru Viceroy Red Blend 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $14.99

Cru winery has been producing solid, affordable wines for quite awhile in our portfolio.  This is their new GSM red blend. The wine is 41%Grenache/41%Syrah/18%Mourvedre that is tailored to show off the versatility of the winemaker. The wine has medium red color and medium legs. It is aged for 16 months in 20% new French oak.  The palate offers juicy flavors of red cherry and raspberry with touch a touch of darker fruit with medium intensity. The finish shows notes of blueberry cobbler and just a smidgeon of black pepper that is rounded out by the richness.  Yum.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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  1. Fred de Roode says:

    Will Spec’s carry again an outrageously delicious Rose from South Africa again this year. I enjoyed 4 cases last year and wish I had purchased more. Under $20 a bottle. Thanks

    D. Fred de Roode
    CoFounder and Director
    25511 Budde Road
    Building 2901
    The Woodlands, TX 77380
    281-419-0400 office
    281-731-2133 cell

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  2. Ryan Price says:


    I’m on my way to Italy and will stop by after we return next week and drop off some olive oil.

    My wife was wondering if you had a Far Niete or Nickel & Nickel wooden crate we could buy or you could spare? My wife is doing a wine package for a silent auction for the American Heart Association and she wants to dress it up in that box. She is giving away her stash of those wines.

    Look forward to hearing from you.



    Sent from my iPhone


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