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

Blue Rock Estate 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

Castelnau Brut Reserve N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $38.94

I recently re-tasted their non vintage sparkler and was very happy with the ensuing results. Castelnau offers a higher percentage of Pinot Meunier (42%) than most Champagne producers.  Pinot Meunier adds a youthful exuberance to the wines with lively structure and fruit.  This Cooperative Manipulant exudes flavors of crispy green and red apples fly into medium plus acidity that is wrapped around a core of red cherry and rose petals.  The mid palate is spectacular with notes of brioche, almonds and licks of vanilla cream.  The finish is silky with tinges of toasted cocoa beans, confection and delicious goodness!  Barlow Score: 94 Points

Smith-Madrone Chardonnay 2017

Spring Mountain, California

Cash Price $39.89

This artisanal 100% Chardonnay come from all dry farmed Estate mountain vineyards high on top of Spring Mountain. The wine was 100% Barrel fermented for 9 months in 80% new French oak. It has a pale-yellow core with medium legs. The nose lifts into hazelnuts, cedar and Meyer lemon. The palate has beautiful weight to it with flavors of melon, apricot, and lemon zest. The mid palate offers a certain viscosity that lets you know that this is a serious wine while retaining the nice acidity. Notes of pistachio, vanilla custard and almonds waft through hints of butterscotch and cream. The finish is rich and aromatic with notes of white peach and fig that finish into toasted oak and citrus. Big without being heady. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Chateau Beau-Site Cabernet Based Red Blend 2016

Saint Estephe (Bordeaux), France

Cash Price $39.89

Chateau Beau-Site (Beautiful Site) is located in St. Estephe, right up the hill from famed 3rd Growth Calon Segur. I’ve always loved these wines as St. Estephe stony terroir gives Cabernet Sauvignon a certain grip and texture that you don’t find as you travel south through the others Appellations. The 2016 vintage is considered one of the top of the century by any vigneron you ask. A plentiful harvest and nearly perfect growing season led to spectacular wines that have lots of structure, but will drink beautifully early and often. This Cabernet based red is full of black currant with medium plus intensity on the palate. The mid palate offers savory texture with hints of sage and tobacco that meld into a dark cherry profile. The finish is long and integrated with hints of pipe smoke, cedar and crush rocks. It’s always a pleasure pairing this wine with a dinner. Barlow Score: 92 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

Donati Paicines Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $19.94

I must admit, I didn’t have much of a gauge on these wines before I tried them. I had no idea where Paicines was or much background with Donati wines. I left my meeting with them shaking my head in approval at the wines they are producing. There aren’t many wineries in Paicines, formerly known as ‘Tres Pinos’ and is located around 700 ft in San Benito County. The wines is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon with other Bordeaux varietals to finish the cepage and was aged for 18 months in 15% new American oak, along with a tinge of new French and Russian oak. The wine was bright and plentiful with flavors of black cherry and blackberry on the palate with medium intensity. The oak showed more than expected (although I am sensitive to American oak) with notes of cedar, dark chocolate and a vanilla core on the finish. Solid $20 Cabernet! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cru Montage Pinot Noir 2018

Central Coast, 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 2018 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

Brooks ‘Concho’ White Blend 2018 (Clay Walker)

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

Houston Native and famous country singer, Clay Walker visited this winery a couple of years ago and instantly fell in love. So much so, that he decided he wanted to make some wines with Brooks. They came up with the Concho label for him and the rest is history. This is his white blend produced in an Alsatian field style with Pinot Blanc, Riesling, Muscat, Pinot Gris and Gewurztraminer making up the blend. It is completely un-oaked and produced in a dry fashion. This wine is the perfect porch pounder for the hot hot Texas heat. It is refreshingly dry with a medley of white flowers flowing from the palate with flavors of white peach blossom, Meyer lemon and passion fruit. The mid palate has a medium intensity with lively acidity and notes of freshly squeezed nectarines and apricot. The finish is lip smackingly delicious with zippy tinges of dripping wet pineapple and peach nectar. Get this in your cart! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Republic of Pink Dry Rose 2019

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $16.99

Rosé season has officially arrived! Republic of Pink has been my ‘go-to’ Dry Rosé lately. The wine is not done Saignee, these grapes were specifically chosen to be made into a Rosé. This Rhone style (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah) blend hails from the several single vineyards in the Central Coast. The color of this wine is pale salmon, much like the Rose’s of Provence. Ripe cherries and strawberries burst into the palate with a light creamy core on the mid palate. Taut acidity makes this a great food wine as the finish shows touches of candied watermelon and citrus zest. This wine is downright gulpable! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Perelada Stars Brut Nature NV

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $13.99

I love Good inexpensive bubbles. That is why I go to Cava early and often as my daily bubbles of choice. I knew this wine would be a regular in my glass when I visited them several years ago and found this Stars bursting in my glass. The bubbly is made of up 45% Xarel-Lo, 30% Parellada, and 25% Macabeu and aged for 9 months before disgorging in the traditional method. Racy, dry flavors of bright lemon citrus and white flowers pop into brilliantly small bubbles. The mid palate offers whiffs of confection and macadamia that are encompassed. The finish is clean and fresh with hints of brioche and nuts. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi Chardonnay 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $12.99

Ca’Momi is rooted in Italian heritage, but with Napa panache.  Ca (Pronounced ‘ka’) Momi roughly translates to ‘The House of Momi’ after Momi dea Bionda, who was notoriously obsessive and protective of his property and vineyards in Veneto, Italy.  This winery puts its heart and soul into the vineyards with meticulous care.  This Chardonnay exudes ripe flavors of pineapple and pear with medium acidity.  The mid palate offers mandarin orange that turns slowly into a cream vanilla core.  The finish gives licks of almond and hazelnuts on lightly toasted oak.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

One Flock Red Blend 2017

California

Cash Price $14.99

I recently tasted the new vintage of this everyday slurper and came up with quite similar notes for you value shoppers!  The wine is a kitchen sink blend with Zinfandel and Cabernet making up the lion’s share. The wine was aged in both French and American oak.  Flock is deliciously supple with flavors of red plum and wild berries that sinks into soft tannins.  Whiffs of blackberry pie, cinnamon and nutmeg flow through the finish with tinges of pipe tobacco and sweet clove.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Girasole Organic Zinfandel 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

Girasole continues it’s march toward the top of our ‘Organic’ sales category. This Italian roots winery has been farming the right way every since planting roots in Mendocino county. Zinfandel has a lot of opportunity for growth and I believe this dynamic Zin can really get your palate thinking of Zinfandel more often. Bright and juicy, the wine offers quick popping bursts of blackberry and plum into medium intensity on the palate. The mid palate flows seamlessly into hints of black pepper and touches of exotic spice with a continued darker flavor profile. The finish is easy and punchy with ripe notes of boysenberry and fig. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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