JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

We are heading into the final dog days of summer and hopefully looking for a reprieve from the summer heat in the near future. This has been an interesting summer to say the least, but we are resilient and moving forward into the holiday season. I hope everyone enjoys Labor Day! This month’s picks are a medley of wines that are still geared for summer heat, but starting to slowly nudge toward cooler weather so you will see more Cabernet Sauvignon on this list. Make sure to stop by your local Spec’s (or better yet use our curbside or delivery services) and pick up some of these wines to support your family owned Texas beverage center! Enjoy!

Blue Rock Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $42.99

Blue Rock is an all estate produced winery that is located right next to Silver Oak’s Alexander Valley property.  The 2017 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 intensity. The palate offers voluptuous flavors of blueberry and black cherry that sink into a plush core of currant .  The wine is silky smooth and bright with complex notes of cedar, vanilla and baking spices on the mid palate.  The finish is rocking with blackberry cobbler and cigar box wrapped into a velvet finish.  Layered and lively.  James Score: 94 Points

Ratio ‘Johnson Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2016

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $29.99

This new addition to Spec’s portfolio shows why we are seeking out more Willamette Valley Chardonnay these days. Elegant and restrained, yet with loads of fruit throughout to give a wonderfully textured and complex wine. This Certified ORGANIC vineyard is located in the Yamhill-Carlton AVA. Flavors of Flinty wet rocks and pineapple pour into the palate with medium intensity. Notes of chamomile and Meyer lemon lift the mid palate into the zesty acids. The finish is pure and electric with hints of vanilla bean and nutmeg. 97 Cases produced. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Domaine du Pré Semelé Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sancerre, France

Cash Price $28.99

Pré Semelé has become one of my singular favorite wineries in all of the Loire Valley. This has been my ‘go to’ 100% Sauvignon Blanc for several years now. The vineyards are planted on Calcareous clay and limestone, so this wine exudes that chalky zest that makes Sauvignon Blanc from Loire some of the most unique and sought after white wines in the world. Explosive flavors of lemon lime citrus and gooseberry zing into medium plus acidity. The mid palate offers a surprising softness that give ripe notes of tree fruit. The finish becomes quite linear again with hints of crushed rocks after a fresh rain and minerals. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Block 718 Red Blend 2018

Stag’s Leap District, California

Cash Price $24.99

This newest Block edition hails from the famed Stag’s Leap District in Napa Valley. The wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Malbec and Petite Verdot that was aged in French oak for 12 months. Sumptuous and ready to drink from the pop of the cork, this wine offers flavors of hedonistic black raspberry and cherries that heap into medium intensity. Notes of blackberry fill the mid palate with plush tannins that waft into hints of baking spices, milk chocolate and anise on the finish. Sleek and inviting, get this in your basket! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Manzoni Chardonnay 2014

Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Cash Price $26.99

The Santa Lucia Highlands is a hidden gem AVA’s for producing dynamite Chardonnay.  This wine comes from Vigna Monte Nero Vineyard on the cooler northern stretches of SLH. The vintage was exceptional and it follows through in the glass.  Vibrant flavors of pineapple, mango and orange blossoms are quite present on the palate with a rich creamy core on the mid palate.  There is a dense vivacity on the backbone that keeps this wine in focus and balanced.  The finish shows tinges of papaya and nectarines with a bit of exotic spice and vanilla. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Trig Point ‘Diamond Dust Vineyard’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $22.99

Nick Goldschmidt is one of my favorite wine makers. He consistently crafts wines of high quality in different climates and even hemispheres. His father was a land surveyor and a ‘Trig’ is used to establish boundary lines. Goldschmidt’s Trig Point wines show the unique soils of the area he gets the grapes from, namely Alexander Valley. Nick is famed for crafting consistently balanced Cabernet from California that are not exceedingly ripe or alcohol driven. This 100% Cabernet Sauvignon was aged for 18 months in French, American and Hungarian oak. Ripe, yet focused flavors of red currant and raspberry pump into the palate. The mid palate shows medium intensity with notes of chocolate covered cherries, caramel and hints of blue fruit. The finish is full and structured with touches of toasted oak, vanilla and creamy butterscotch. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Cru Montage Pinot Noir 2016

Santa Lucia Highlands, California

Cash Price $18.99

Santa Lucia Highlands is nestled in the Central Coast of California with a perfect micro climate for growing very high quality Pinot Noir.  Winemaker Ken Post has hit gold with this wine.  The 2016 vintage was picture perfect for California with abundant harvests and perfectly ripe fruit.  Flavors of pomegranate and wild strawberries sinew effortlessly into a core of cherry cola.  This 100% Pinot Noir shows an elegance while really driving the delicious fruit flavors through the palate.  Notes of rhubarb and brown sugar play softly into the 9 months of French oak aging.  Hints of blueberry pie and crust play into the finish with bits of vanilla bean and herbs.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Domaine Pegau ‘Setier’ Red Blend 2016

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $17.99

Chateau Pegau has always been one of my favorite Chateauneuf Du Pape producers.  They started making this wine several years ago as an entry level Rhone Village made just a smidge south of CDP but still implements low yield, hand harvesting and strict pruning criteria.  The wine is a blend of 60% Grenache, 20% Syrah, and 20% Mourvedre.  Setier offers flavors brambly black cherry and red currant that flow seamlessly into a medium intensity.  Notes of garrigue and black pepper knock into hints of smoked tar and juicy raspberries.  This wine really over delivers!  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Cru Winery ‘Viceroy’ Red Blend 2015

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

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.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Julia’s Dazzle (Long Shadows) Rose 2019

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $16.99

I would say that Rosé season is winding down, but I think it’s Rosé season year round in Texas! This Rosé is 98% Pinot Grigio (Yep, that one) and 2% Sangiovese. The wine has a bright, popping pink color that is quite brilliant in the glass. Juicy fruits of watermelon and strawberry pop into the palate with medium intensity. Tickles of sweetness play on the mid palate with tree fruit and hints of banana. The finish shows whiffs of grapefruit and orange blossom. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Charles Smith ‘Pop Up’ Brut Sparkling 2018

Ancient Lakes of Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $14.99

I have been scouring the US for delicious bubbles to add to our portfolio that really over deliver for the price. I have found it in this bubbling beauty! This sparkler is 100% Chardonnay and 100% single vineyard (Evergreen) at a killer price. Light and clean bubbles pop into zesty lemon citrus and honeysuckle. The mid palate is lip smacking and offers notes of orange blossom, peach and pie crust. The finish is easy and quaffable with tinges of white flowers and lemon tart. Barlow Score: 89 Points

One Flock Chardonnay 2017

California

Cash Price $14.99

This quintessential California Chardonnay is ready for you to pour early and often on days that end with ‘Y’. Ripe tropical fruits of pineapple and melon flow into plush hints of mandarin with a soft intensity. Hints of baking spice are an underlying current throughout. The finish shows papaya and mango with whiffs of creamy vanilla. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Girasole ORGANIC Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

You all know that I am an ardent fan of growers that farm with an eye on Mother Earth and future generations. This Cabernet is Certified Organic from an Italian family that has been growing grapes that way since the beginning. Pure flavors of currant and cassis flow into medium intensity. The mid palate is balanced and racy with notes of blackberry, dark chocolate and graham crackers. The finish is easy and integrated with hints of plum, toasted oak and spice. Surprisingly good for the price! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow CWE, CSS

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1 Response to JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2020

  1. Bob Fellers says:

    James….Plse have your Willis store stock Hogue chardonnay… Bob Fellers

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