Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope you have been braving the crazy rain this past month. Hopefully June will bring some sunny days! I have a nice medley of wines picked out for you all this month. I’ve decided to go ‘Value’ this month with many of the picks being under $20. The picks are American heavy because, well, that’s what I taste mostly these days. Go support your local Spec’s and pick up a case of these wines! Enjoy!

Once & Future Oakley Road Zinfandel 2017

Contra Costa, California

Cash Price $49.99

Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame is the lightning rod for this project. He found some extremely old vines in Contra Costa and decided to produce some of the finest damn Zinfandel in California with them. Oakley Road Vineyard has extremely sandy soils which is key to the survival of the 100+ year old vines that live there. This 100% Zinfandel was aged in 30% French oak for 12 months. Peterson practices organic farming in this vineyard. The wine has neon color with medium legs. Bright red raspberry and bramble pops into the palate with hints pipe tobacco. The mid palate offers a supple creamy texture with nice acidity to balance the big fruits. The wine is silky and aromatic from start to finish. Notes of black pepper and licorice play into the finish with tinges of black cherry and dried leaves that lingers on the palate for a delightfully long time. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Parched Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $29.99

This single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast is catching fire in our portfolio.  The Pinot Noir grapes are 777 clone and sourced from two blocks in the Gold Coast Vineyard, fermented 100% whole berry then aged for 10 months in 30% new French oak. Rich flavors of black cherry and pomegranate meld with soft acidity and tannins. Hints of cola and rhubarb tingle throughout the palate with whiffs of exotic spice.  The finish is layered and textured with notes of vanilla and raspberry compote. 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

Expression 38 ‘Russian Camp’ Chardonnay 2018

Russian River, California

Cash Price $22.99

Iconic wine trailblazer Bill Hill is behind this line.  He has long standing relationships with farmers in some of the best vineyards in the United States. This wine is from the Russian Camp Vineyard that is nestled in heart of the Russian River Valley.  The wine is beautifully layered with flavors of baked apples, melon and ripe pear.  The mid palate offers a core of acidity that is rounded out by a creamy plushness of pineapple, vanilla and butterscotch.  The finish is light and persistent with hints of roasted nuts, cedar and graham crackers.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Home Ranch’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Lake County, California

Cash Price $19.94

Clay Shannon is making some of the best VALUE Cabernet in California. He owns a bunch of acres 2,000+ feet up in the Red Hills of Lake County. Cabernet up here gets plenty of sunshine to allow for optimal ripeness as you’ll see when you look at the alcohol content on the label (usually pushing 15%). This wine was aged for 24 months in 35% new 3/4 French and 1/4 American oak. Powerful and intense flavors of dark cassis and cherry barrel into the palate with medium plus intensity. The mid palate offers juicy blackberry with caramel notes. The finish is balanced showing vanilla, cream and tobacco leaf with just a smidgeon of graham cracker and allspice. Barlow Score: 91

Dusty Nabor ‘NSO’ Syrah 2018

Sta. Rita Hills, California

Cash Price $18.99

I love good value Syrah. Dusty Nabor is rocking this beauty for under $20. The wine is from the cool climate of Sta. Rita Hills and fermented 30% whole cluster in large foudre barrels for two years. The wine is quite energetic and bursting with nervy fruit. Flavors of pomegranate and raspberry pump into the palate with licks of blue fruit enticing the palate. The mid palate offers classic Syrah notes of peppercorn and spice that stick to the bones of the wine while letting the fruit flow freely throughout. The finish tapers a bit while showing whiffs of lavender and wild flowers. He doesn’t make a lot, so make sure to get this in your basket early and often! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cru ‘Unoaked’ Chardonnay 2018

Monterrey, California

Cash Price $17.99

Cru Winery has produced a pure expression of Chardonnay with this wine.  It is completely unoaked, being aged in 100% stainless steel while blocking malolactic fermentation to give this blank slate a nicely balanced and pure shape.  Flavors of bright green apples and mango flow into medium intensity.  The mid palate is refreshing with honeysuckle and melon gushing into whiffs of white peach and lychee. The finish is clean and soft with a natural zing of citrus. Day Drinking Chardonnay right here!  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Brooks Winery Pinot Blanc 2019

Eola-Amity, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

This winery is fully sustainable with most being organic or biodynamic. The wines offer purity and finesse that make it one of the top producers in the United States. They have an Old World feel with New World panache. They are also one of the first wineries in the United States to partner with 1% for the Earth. One Percent of all their sales goes straight back into making our Earth a better place. Pinot Blanc is making a big comeback in the Texas Market! This is one of the best expressions that I’ve had in the New World. Beautifully bright flavors of lemon citrus and pear pop into the palate with delicious refreshing acidity. The mid palate offers apricot, cantaloupe and white flowers that lay on a clean minerality of wet rocks. The finish is pure and flavorful with whiffs of beeswax and white peach. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Broadside Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

Paso Robles is still making some great Value Cabernet Sauvignon. It’s really hard to go wrong with anything from the 2018 vintage. This single vineyard Cabernet offers flavors of black cherry and currant that flow easily into the palate with nuances of tobacco leaf and subtle smoke. The wine has medium intensity with a plush mid palate. The finish is inviting with hints of exotic spice, vanilla bean and cedar. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Cru Winery Jose’s Dry Rosé 2019

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $14.99

This Rosé is quite unique being that its main variety is Albarino! Albarino is an exotic grape found mostly in Spain. It’s an expressive grape that offers lots of stone fruits, which shows through in this wine. The wine is 64% Albarino/24% Chardonnay/12% Pinot Noir aged in 100% stainless steel. Named after it’s winemaker Jose ‘Jefe’ Reyes, this wine pops into the palate with loads of freshly picked strawberries and candied pineapple. Hints of citrus flow through the backbone of the wine with hints of guava and banana. The finish is crisp and refreshing with hints of white pepper and bing cherry. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Pine Ridge Sparkling Chenin/Viognier N/V


Cash Price $14.99

I’ve been a fan of the still version of this wine for many years, so it doesn’t surprise me that the sparkling version of this is a home run in my book. It’s brand new to market, so make sure you get this in your cart for the impending summer heat! Dazzling flavors of lemon citrus, lanolin and lychee pop into the palate with lively bubbles. The mid palate shows orange blossoms and pear. The finish is flavorful and pleasing with whiffs of white meadow flowers and tinges of quince. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Nine Hats (Longshadows) Pinot Gris 2018

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $12.99

Washington State is offering some impressive Pinot Gris/Grigio that seems to fall under the radar of most customers. The wines are lively and energetic with deliciously appealing fruit. This wine is the 2nd wine of famed Longshadows winery. Nine Hats is 100% Pinot Gris from Columbia Valley. Lime citrus and white peach jump into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate shows apricot and pear with pleasantly pure acidity. The finish is clean and quaffable with more peach tingling throughout. Barlow score: 88 Points

Girasole Organic Charlie’s Red Blend 2019

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

Charlie’s Blend has taken the place of Hybrid Red in Girasole’s 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

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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  1. Renee Hamilton says:

    Thank you! I was just looking at expression numbers today. How are you?

    Sent from my iPhone

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