JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MARCH 2021

Hello all,

I hope everyone survived the last couple of weeks without too many issues. I have been tasting a fair amount of solid wines (mostly from California) lately. As the weather begins to (thankfully!) warm up, I’ve put together a mix of wines that will be sure to help you enjoy the springtime festivities! Cheers!

Barlow ‘Barrouge’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Calistoga, California

Cash Price $44.99

Located in a sweet spot in Southeastern Calistoga, Barlow’s Estate Vineyard is at the base of Dutch Henry Canyon and near Duckhorn’s Iconic 3 Palms Vineyard. Over thousands of years, the sediment has washed down from the hillsides of the Vaca Mountains, creating notoriously complex soils, ideally suited for Bordeaux varietals. This wine is drinking delightfully well right now. It is 81% Cabernet balanced with a blend of Merlot, and Petit Verdot and aged for 21 months in French oak. Silky flavors of blackberry, currant and black cherry flow into a velvet mid palate. Notes of blueberry gives way to a medium intensity and creamy French vanilla. The finish is refined and lasting with notes of salty ham, tobacco, and whiffs of graphite. Well Balanced and Tasty! Barlow Score: 93 Points

Daou Chardonnay Reserve 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $49.99

Daou has become a winery that is making Paso Robles a destination location and a mainstay on the tables of Texans. They may be best known for their Cabernet Sauvignons, but don’t miss out on their stellar selection of white wines! Daou Reserve Chardonnay comes from the Willow Creek District in Paso Robles. This powerfully rich wine is a white wine for red wine drinkers. Toasted oak and citrus offer layers of aromas. Flavors of succulent pineapple, ripe apple and melon flow gracefully into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is warm and enticing with notes of pear, honey and almonds. The finish is easy, yet thoughtful with hints of nutmeg, vanilla custard and exotic spice. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Chateau D’Aiguilhe Bordeaux Blanc 2016

Cotes de Castillon, France

Cash Price $42.99

The 2016 vintage will go down in records as one of the finest vintages of the century. Chateau D’Aiguilhe is owned by Stephan Von Neipperg of La Mondotte St. Emilion fame. This project has turned into an absolute gem for him. The wines coming from the value Bordeaux region of Castillon are stunning! This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is made in a Loire style and produced without oak. The ensuing wines offers delicioius flavors of gooseberry and lemon citrus with medium intensity. Notes of nectarine and orange blossoms flow through the mid palate. The finish is pure and fresh with hints of crushed rocks, lilacs and energetic acidity. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Macauley Old Vine Zinfandel 2016

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $44.99

The vines for this wine primary hail from old vineyards in St. Helena and Calistoga. Kirk Venge is the wine maker and produces extremely expressive Zinfandel. Racy flavors of blackberry jam and strawberry compote jump into the palate with medium intensity. Notes of cherry cobbler enhance the exotic spices and dark fruit on the palate. The finish is bright and juicy with hints of black pepper, maple and licorice. This is a Zinfandel that will surely impress. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Calcareous ZSM Red Blend 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $35.99

Dana Brown is quietly producing some of the better wines coming out of Paso Robles. Her wines got rave reviews (2 Double Gold and Class Champion) at the Houston Uncorked! Wine Competition. This is one of her newer wines and I couldn’t be happier to offer it. The wine is mostly Zinfandel with a hint of Syrah and Merlot.  The grapes are all estate fruit and aged for 17 months in French oak and American oak.  Rich, ripe flavors of blackberry and cocoa flow easily into the palate with tinges of bramble. The mid palate gives medium structure with ample tannins and easy acids. Notes of black pepper and cocoa butter linger on the finish with whiffs of vanilla and cedar. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Experience Winemaker’s Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $24.99

This new addition to our portfolio has exploded in sales from the start. It’s quality Napa Valley wine at a Killer price! Catherine and Travis Vale own an 8 acre estate in the Oak Knoll District of Napa Valley and have recently used their ‘experience’ to start this Experience. This softer style Cabernet is incredibly open and inviting from start to finish. Flavors of dark cassis and blackberry flow from the palate into a medium intensity. The richly textured mid palate offers black cherry and currant which sinks into hints of dark chocolate and black tea. The finish shows soft oaky flavors of cedar and vanilla with twinges of tobacco and allspice. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Dusty Nabor ‘NSO’ Pinot Noir 2019

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $19.94

Dusty Nabor (pronounced NAY-Boar) is an up and comer in the Central Coast who is producing quite exciting wines. This 100% Pinot Noir is from 50% Pommard/ 50% 667 clones and aged for 9 months in 50% new French oak. The grapes are hand harvested from Sta. Rita Hills and bottled unfined/unfiltered. The wine offers super juicy aromas of red fruit and flowers. Vibrant flavors of candied raspberry and pomegranate flow into medium intensity. The mid palate offers bright cherry and cola. The finish is soft and sexy with hints of rhubarb, lavender and exotic spice. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Prados Garnacha 2018

Calatayud, Spain

Cash Price $22.99

I have long expected Spanish Garnacha to begin to make a big splash in the American market. The wines are dangerously delicious and typically dirt cheap. The quality from Campo de Borja is at an all-time high and wineries are making very clean and food friendly wines. Pagos del Moncayo is an artisanal and sustainable winery located at the foothills of the Sierra del Moncayo, in the heart of the Iberian mountain range as it passes through Aragon. They only hand-pick their grapes and tread the grapes in house to produce at Prados. This Garnacha (Grenache) exudes fleshy red fruits and spice on the nose. The palate offers juicy red cherries and plum that lead into a medium intensity. Notes of garrigue and tampenade show through brambly fruit that seep into hints of black pepper and freshly picked raspberries. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Brooks Oak Ridge Vineyard Dry Gewurztraminer 2019

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

I’m quite excited to offer this low production (only 170 cases produced), single vineyard Gewurztraminer. This wine offers delightful aromas of fresh meadow flowers and stone fruits. The palate shows medium intensity with flavors of candied apricot, melon and citrus without being encumbered by oak nuances. The mid palate shows notes of honeysuckle and beeswax with hints of ginger and lychee. There is an underlying tone of minerality and salinity that finishes with crushed wet rocks and beautifully balanced acidity. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Dr. Frank Semi Dry Riesling 2019

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $14.99

Konstantin Frank is producing some of the best wines in New York and were, in fact, the first to successfully implement vitis vinifera into New York.  Riesling is a specialty for this winery and their semi dry version is absolutely stunning!  This lightly off dry wine offers flavors orange blossom, green apples with tinges of ripe pear that balance effortlessly through the palate.  The wine is un-oaked and has medium plus acidity that is tamed by the licks of sweetness.  The finish offers notes of honeysuckle and wild meadow flowers combined with hints of wet rock minerality.  Riesling is one of the more versatile wines to pair with food and the hint of sweetness will make it a favorite at the table! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Cross Springs Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $14.39

Located in the Red Hills AVA of Lake County, Clay Shannon is producing extremely high quality wines at an unbelievably affordable price.  His vineyards are located some 1,400 feet above sea level and are naturally sustainable due to the elevation being well above the fog line.  The wine is full bodied and textured with flavors of black cherry and currant seeping through its core. The mid palate offers blackberry and wild berry with hints of sage and tobacco wafting throughout integrated tannins and acids. The finish is plush and long with tinges of smoke and lavender.  James Score: 90 Points

Aria Brut Sparkling NV

Penedes, Spain

Cash Price $14.99

Segura Viudas is the producer for this great sparkling brand.  This house is considered one of the finest in Cava and was given the high accolade of ‘Value Brand of the Year’ in 2013 by Wine & Spirits magazine.  I have figured out what the best time to have bubbles. Any time, anywhere is the answer.  Cava offers great value as it is produced the same way as Champagne, but at a margin of the price.  Crisp and clean, this sparkler exudes flavors of citrus and green apple with tight, refreshing bubbles.  The mid palate gives hints of jasmine and white flowers with touches of pear and almond.  The finish is vibrant and inviting with tinges of fresh dough and confection.  Bubbles are for all occasions! James Score: 88 Points

Girasole ORGANIC Hybrid Red Blend 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

We are extremely pleased to add this ORGANIC value winery to our portfolio.  It is rare to get organic wine at such a great price point.  This every day red blend is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel from a little Italian family that has been farming in Mendocino forever. Ripe, crunchy red fruits pop into the palate offering flavors of dark cherry and plum with medium intensity. Notes of blackberry lift into black pepper, cinnamon and coffee beans.  The finish is easy and lingering.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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