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

Prime Solum Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

I find that this Napa Valley ‘Grand Cru’ is often overlooked in our portfolio. Famed grower Bill Hill owns this winery and farms the fruit from the well known Brokenrock Vineyard. The vineyard is named for its remarkably rocky soil perched on a steep, western facing slope on his 96 acre ranch. Winemakers such as Philippe Melka and Paul Hobbs purchase fruit from this esteemed vineyard. Patrick Mahaney is the winemaker for this wine and has excellent pedigree as he worked for Robert Mondavi Winery for 24 years. This wine comes mostly from Brokenrock (90%) and a little from the Cirle R vineyards (10%). This delicious Cabernet is 95% Cabernet Sauvignon with 2% Merlot/2% Petit Verdot/1% Cabernet Franc and was aged in 40% new French oak for 23 months. This Beefy Cabernet is built for the long haul and will continue to age beautifully for another decade. Flavors of dark cherry and black raspberries flow into medium plus intensity. Notes of black tea and tobacco encompass the mid palate with hints of graphite and licorice. The finish is balanced with smidgeons of vanilla and cedar showing well into a long lingering profile. Only 335 cases produced. Barlow Score: 95 Points

Maritana ‘La Riviere’ Chardonnay 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99 but with a $4.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time

ONLY $45.99

Donald Patz (Yes, that Donald Patz of Patz & Hall) has a new project called Maritana Vineyards. He has become renowned for producing highly rated Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Sonoma. He has deep relationships with some of the best grape growers in California and has used them to get his hands of top notch fruit for his Maritana Vineyards. La Riviere is French for ‘The River’ and his Pinot Noir is called ‘Le Russe’ or Russian as these wines come from the Russian River AVA. The wine is 100% Chardonnay from Dutton Ranch, Ritchie, Martinelli and Sussana vineyards that are all sustainably farmed. The ensuing wine was 100% barrel fermented (10% New French oak) with 100% malolactic fermentation occurring in barrel with native yeasts. It was then aged for 9 months on sur lie. Ripe, yet refined flavors of yellow peach and apple are prevalent on the bouquet. The palate shows green apple and pear with a nice round mid palate that offers hints of lemon drop and citrus. The finish is pure and gives whiffs of salinity (which I look for in quality Chardonnay) that softens into hints of butterscotch and just a hint of oak. Beautiful. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Expression 38 Russian Camp Pinot Noir 2015

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

The Expression wines are another offering from the Famed William Hill. This wine hails from the 38th latitude and is sourced solely from the Russian Camp Vineyards that are dominated by ‘Swan’ Clones from the well known vineyards of Joseph Swan and located on clay and gravel soils. It is a low yield clone that is perfectly suited for the Russian River. This 100% Pinot Noir offers true vivacity in the glass with bouncing red fruits and zesty acids. Flavors of red cherry and pomegranate flow into hints of licorice and sandalwood. Notes of exotic spice tickle through the palate with whiffs of cola, fresh rain and crushed rocks. The finish is refreshing and clean with just a hint of blue fruit and vanilla creme. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Chablisienne ‘La Pierrelee’ Chardonnay 2018

Chablis, France

Cash Price $24.99

I love Chablis!  It is some of the most exquisite Chardonnay produced in my opinion.  Granted, I do enjoy higher acid wines so keep that in mind.  Chablis expresses true terroir in their wines.  You can actually taste the chalk and limestone.  This is a great introductory example of a Classic wine from this region.  Flavors of ripe green apples and citrus zing through the palate with medium plus acidity.  Touches of stone fruit show in the mid palate with linear complexity and hints of crushed rock and chalk.  The finish is clean with touches of cream and wild flowers.  A perfect pairing for these screaming hot August days! Barlow Score: 90 points

Tinazzi Ripasso Red Blend 2018

Veneto, Italy

Cash Price $22.99

Ripasso’s or aka baby Amarone are really becoming a hot topic in the wine world. The wines are wonderfully priced and offer some of the best red blends on the market. The wines are sumptuous and succulent, often WAY over achieving their price point.  The wine is quite delicious and has a deep complexity that is sure to perk up interest in your palate.  Flavors of ripe cherries and plum stick in the palate with good viscosity that allows for medium plus intensity.  The mid palate offers hints of spice with pepper and clove flowing into touches of fig and molasses.  The finish is full and inviting with tinges of mocha and cedar.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Miner Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Miner is a family owned winery located in the eastern hills of Oakville. They are best known for their red wines, but don’t miss out on their dynamic Sauvignon Blanc that is perfectly suited for this scorching weather. Winemaker Stacy Vogel uses a combination of old world techniques with modern wine making to reflect a balanced ‘terroir’ driven wine. She produces wines of elegance and balance. This 100% Sauvignon Blanc is zesty and popping from the first taste. Flavors of grapefruit and fresh cut grass zing into medium intensity. Notes of lemon citrus and melon flow into hints of white flower that finish into a clean, lip smacking experience. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Alexander Valley Vineyards ‘Homestead’ Red Blend 2018

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $17.99

We have had a great relationship with Alexander Valley Vineyards for many years as it was cultivated by Bear and the Wetzel family. Their Cyrus Red Blend has won the Houston Rodeo Uncorked Wine Competition a record 4 times! This is their daily drinker called ‘Homestead’. The wine is mainly a blend of Merlot, Zinfandel and Cabernet but does have a dash of Grenache, Mourvedre and Syrah to add spiciness and aromatics. The wine was aged in French and American oak for 12 months. Flavors of black cherry and bramble sink into the palate with a whiff of pipe tobacco and gamey bacon fat. The wine has medium intensity with soft, chewy phenolics. The finish offers dark plum and blueberry pie with hints of vanilla spice and oak. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Chateau Croix Mouton 2018

Bordeaux Superior, France

Cash Price $17.99

Jean Philippe Janoueix, former assistant to Michel Rolland, has become a rock star of Right Bank wines with his production of such gems as La Confession in St. Emilion and La Croix St. Georges in Pomerol.  His every day endeavor is the production of Croix Mouton which seems to get better and better every vintage.  This delicious Merlot Blend is spectacular for under $20.  The 2018 vintage went down as the best Bear Dalton had tasted in his 24 years of visiting Bordeaux En Primeur. This 97% Merlot/2.5% Cabernet/.05% Petit Verdot offers flavors of blackberry and black currant play through dense, refined tannins and eloquent acids.  Notes of tobacco and pencil shavings weave through a core of minerality and earth.  Voluptuous fruits encompass the entire  mouth feel with smidgeons of cedar plank and just a touch of licorice.  Stunning Value! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Dante Robino Reserva Malbec 2018

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $17.99

Robino is 100% Malbec aged for 12 months in new and used French oak.  Bodega Dante Robino has become a gem in our portfolio from South America.  The wines are over achievers at a moderate price point.  This wine offers thick and robust flavors of plum and black cherry with medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows blackberry and currant with a silky mouth feel that starts to offer creamy vanilla.  The finish is delicious with notes of toasted graham crackers, exotic spice and cedar. Pair this with your meats on the grill this weekend! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cooper Hill Pinot Gris 2020

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $15.99

I love good Pinot Gris. It will typically have a little more flavor and complexity than its Italian counterparts (Grigio). Cooper Hill is a Certified Organic and Biodynamic winery that is really offering some quality selections from Oregon at a great value price point. Flavors of apple, pear and melon pop into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate offers hints of dried herbs, white peach and wild flowers that quaff quite beautifully. The finish is integrated with hints of papaya and citrus that tickle the corners of your mouth until it causes a smile on your face. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Broadside Merlot 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

Merlot is making a comeback in the American market due to the shift towards producing quality Merlot on sights where the variety thrives. Broadside is a single vineyard (Margarita vineyard) wine that really screams for the price point. The wine is 78% Merlot/22% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged for 11 months in neutral French barrels. The palate offers racy red fruit of plum, pomegranate and cassis with medium intensity. The wine is soft and plush with a creamy core that softens the intensely ripe fruit. The finish is balanced with notes of dark chocolate, toasted oak and whiffs of exotic spice. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Jean Baptiste Adam Sec Si 2019

Alsace, France

Cash Price $12.99

I LOVE finding a great VALUE white wine for the dog days of summer. This porch pounder is completely un-oaked and delicious from the 1st sip! The wine is a blend of 85% Sylvaner/15% Muscat that was grown on the soils of the famed Ammerschwihr vineyards. The vines are certified Organic and Biodynamic, so great lengths are kept to allow the grapes to show their true profile. Crisp and citrusy, flavors of white peach and lemon zest pop into the palate with a refreshing backbone of acidity that quenches your thirst. Tinges of melon and pear show through the mid palate. The finish is clean and enticing with notes of white flowers and just a whiff of tropical fruit. Yum! Barlow 91 Points

The Ned Rose of Pinot Noir 2020

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $11.99

This wine is a 2nd label of Marisco and has quickly become one of my favorite ‘inexpensive’ Roses.  You all know that I love Pinot Noir, so it just makes sense that I would love a Pinot Noir Rose.  New Zealand offers fresh and appealing wines that are very consistent in quality.  Bright flavors of wild red berries and watermelon sink into medium acidity with hints of jammed strawberry and cream.  The finish shows raspberry and red flowers with a gentle cream that lingers on the palate.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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