JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS FOR FEBRUARY 2021

Barlow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Calistoga (Napa Valley), California

Cash Price $49.99

Yep. You read that right. Barlow Vineyards. Now mind you, this winery does have my last name, but I have no affiliation or lineage to this winery (Wish I did!). The winery has been on my radar for years, when I first tried it side by side with Diamond Creek and thought that the wine held up well against one of the more iconic wineries in the United States. They are located in Calistoga (northern most AVA in Napa) and I have actually driven by their vineyards, but never stopped into the winery. This age worthy Cabernet Sauvignon boasts incredibly smooth, yet refined tannins and a well rounded structure. Flavors of Cassis and black cherry flow into the palate with medium intensity and a nice dollop of vanilla seeping into the mid palate. Notes of currant, cigar box and tobacco leaf tickle into the finish with smidgeons of nutmeg and cedar. This wine really sticks the landing with a long lasting flavor profile that continually lingers on for a minute or so. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Nuiton Beaunoy Pinot Noir 2015

Gevrey Chambertin (Burgundy), France

Cash Price $46.99

Finding Gevrey-Chambertin under $50 is always a goal of mine. I’ve found a gem for ya’ll with this one. The 2015 vintage showed a warm streak in Burgundy that led to ripe, juicy wines that are ready to drink now.  Gevrey-Chambertin is one of the most hallowed places on earth to grow Pinot Noir and one of the original regions for Grand Cru wines.  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.  This wine offers vibrant red cherries that sing from the palate that carries into a delightful candied framboise.  The body offers medium intensity with a purity on the palate that screams for food pairings.  The finish is pure and expressive with hints of tea leaf, cola, and dark fruit with just a whiff of cedar and vanilla.  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Wonderful Wine Co. Organic Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

California

Cash Price $19.94

Are you searching for a clean and healthy wine for the New Year? Then this Organic, Vegan friendly, sustainably farmed, low sulfite wine is right up your alley! The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and organically farmed in the Ukiah Valley without addition of pesticides or added sugars. The wine is bright and fresh with flavors of blackberry and black cherry that sink to a medium intensity. Hints of pomegranate seep into the finish that doesn’t show a hint of oak. Clean, Fresh and Lively! Barlow Score: 88 Points

Cougar Crest Viognier 2016

Walla Walla Valley, Washington

Cash Price $19.94

I am continually surprised that Texans don’t buy wines from Washington State. They are producing top quality wine, yet the wines seem to sit on shelf.  Viognier (Pronounced Vee Oh N’Yay) is a grape that is exuberantly fruit forward and perfect for the hot Texas heat.  Popping flavors of melon, peach and citrus lay across a medium intensity that offers quite a rich mouthfeel. Tropical notes of pineapple and guava sift through light acids and hints of citrus.  The backbone of this wine has a delicious floral note that wafts haunting through the palate.  Yum!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Trig Point Zinfandel 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Nick Goldschmidt is the master mind behind some of the best wines produced in Alexander Valley.  He is from New Zealand, but has a penchant for finding the best vineyards in Sonoma and making wines of outstanding value, typically without breaking bank.  Railyard Vineyard sits just north of Geyserville (Ridge Winery fame) and is planted on pre Phylloxera vines that are organically farmed.  The wine is 88% Zinfandel with 12% Petite Sirah and aged in 15% New French oak for 16 months.  Decadent fruit flavors of bright blueberry and bramble leap into palate with exotic spices playing throughout the core.  Black cherry and raspberry sink into the mid palate with notes of toasted nuts and vanilla.  The finish is silky with soft tannins and lightly sweet blackberry cobbler pie.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Cru Winery ‘Monarch’ Red Blend 2015

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $27.99 but only $24.99 with your Spec’s Key for a limited time

I have been tasting through a fair amount of Paso Robles wine lately.  As Napa prices continue to rise, buyers are looking into more value driven areas such as Paso Robles.  Cru winery consistently offers exceedingly good value wine and this red blend is knocking it out of the park.  The wine is a mix of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties with the bulk being Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Monarch offers a balanced richness with flavors of currant and cassis with a silky medium intensity. The finish shows a balance of oak and spice that sits on the palate for a nice, long time. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Klinker Brick ‘Brickmason’ Zinfandel Red Blend 2016

Lodi, California

Cash Price $16.99

Klinker Brick is an oldie, but goodie that has come back to our portfolio.  The winery was founded in 1883 and has been family owned by the Fulton’s now for 5 generations.  The winery is sustainably farmed.  This wine is a blend of 80% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet, and 5% Petite Sirah that has been hand harvested with estate fruit then aged for 16 months in once used French oak.  The wine has a lighter ruby core with long legs. The palate offers flavors of rich red fruit leading into darker cherries and bramble with medium intensity.  Hints of raspberry compote and blackberry pie flow into whiffs of dusted cedar, creamy berry sauce and graham crackers.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Freelander District One Chardonnay 2017

California

Cash Price $15.99

I recently expanded the Freelander line after the Cabernet Sauvignon was such a hit. I was pleasantly surprised with this 100% Chardonnay. It wasn’t overly oaked or hedonistic. It showed wonderful restraint with flavors of pineapple and pear meddling into medium intensity. The mid palate flowed freely with tinges of green apples and melon. The finish was soft and appealing with whiffs of vanilla spice and just a kiss of oak. Really pleasant for the price. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi Pinot Noir 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

It’s hard to find good Napa Valley Pinot Noir for under $20. I think Ca’Momi has always been one of our better ‘Value’ Brands out of Napa Valley. This 100% Pinot Noir is light and vibrant. Flavors of wild blueberry and dark cherries explode on the palate with medium intensity and easy acids. Notes of cedar and vanillin show on the finish with tinges of raspberry that lay into a silky smooth finish. Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Diver Brut Sparkling Rose N/V

California

Cash Price $17.99

This is a newer addition to our portfolio that will be a wonderful bubbly to pop for your Valentine. I’ve been looking to grow our American sparkling portfolio and this was an easy ‘Yes’. The wine is 80%/20% Pinot Noir/Chardonnay traditional blend made in the Charmat method (Think Prosecco) with 1.1% Residual Sugar which is not really perceptible on the palate, but does soften the mouth feel. This delightful bubbly offers a beautiful salmon color and zips into the palate with flavors of bing cherry, strawberry and whiffs of citrus. Diver plunges into deliciously ripe, crunchy red fruit from start to finish. This would be a great bubbly for your Valentine! Barlow Score: 90 Points

K Vintners PopUp Brut Sparkling NV

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

Rivera Red Blend 2016

Salice Salento, Italy

Cash Price $13.99

I visited this estate many years ago and was impressed with their attention to detail and the delicious wines and olive oil that were poured at the table.  The flatlands of Salice Salentino have quietly made a cult following of their inexpensive Negroamaro blends. The wines are deliciously ripe and inviting with plenty of dark fruit.  This wine is 90% Negroamaro with 10% Malvasia Nero and aged for 3-4 months in small, aged oak casks.  Flavors of stewed blackberry and dates jump into surprisingly vibrant acidity.  The mid palate shows ripe fruits of plum and morello cherry with a dense finish.  This wine will definitely surprise you for the price!  Get it in your basket.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Girasole Organic Sangiovese

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

Girasole has been an absolute hit in our portfolio. I have been slowly expanding our organic wine footprint and this winery has been a feather in our cap when it comes to deliciously approachable organic wine. The winery has roots from Italy, so it makes complete sense that they would produce Sangiovese, which is the work horse grape in Chianti and most of Tuscany. This 100% Sangiovese offers ripe flavors of cherry and plum with just a hint of violets. The mid palate offers medium intensity with licks of spice and huckleberry. The finish is clean and pure with whiffs of black pepper and sage. 100% Organic and ready to drink. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s