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

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I Hope you all braved Hurricane Nicholas and came through okay. I apologize for the tardiness of this list, but its been an insanely busy month for me. Fortunately, this storm allowed me to sit down and pour through my notes to pick out the selections for this month. I’ve got a couple of Washington State wines on the list and couldn’t be happier with their quality. Give them or all of this list a whirl while you are hunkering down and staying dry. Cheers!

Maritana ‘Le Russe’ Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

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. ‘Le Russe’ (The Russian) is 100% Pinot Noir from Martealla, Brown and Martinelli River Road vineyards that are all sustainably farmed on Goldridge sandy loam soil. The wine was aged for 9 months in 33% new French oak. Bright and bursting flavors of ripe strawberry, bing cherry and lavender flow into medium intensity with a balanced core of vibrant acidity. The mid palate offers savory herbs that round into whiffs of cola and sassafras root. The finish is soft and intriguing with notes of vanilla, rose petals, and nutmeg. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Baer Ursa Red Blend 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington

Cash Price $39.89

I am super excited to bring this winery back into our portfolio. This wine was a daily drinker for me many years ago (I bought cases of the 2009). I was able to taste these wines a few months ago and started the work to get them back into Texas. The wine is 38% Cabernet Franc/38% Merlot/22% Cabernet Sauvignon/2% Malbec from a single vineyard (Stillwater Creek) and was aged for 21 months in 50% new French oak. The wine has a medium ruby core with long legs. Flavors of black cherry and plum show on the nose with just a tinge of graphite. The palate is plush and silky with flavors of currant and blackberry that flow into thick tannins. The mid palate offers savory notes with hints of black pepper and tea leaf. The finish is sleek and fulfilling with a creamy core of raspberry compote. Yum! Barlow Score: 92 Points

Calcareous ‘The Moose’ Syrah 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $35.99

Calcareous is one of my favorite producers in all of Paso Robles and their Syrah can be considered some of the best expressions of the varietal made in the United States.  Paso has become a hot bed for Rhone varietals and Syrah is leading that charge. I have often thought that is one of the better ‘under the radar’ gems in our Paso Robles portfolio. The wine is 78% Syrah/22% Petit Verdot and was aged for 18 months in 50% new French oak.  Sweet, jammy fruits of bluberry and blackberry sing into the palate with silky tannins and a rich, hedonistic core.  Notes of roasted fig and tar play through the mid palate and slowly molds into creamy milk chocolate.  The finish is vibrant with hints of scorched earth, black pepper and toasted oak. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Hanzell Sebella Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma Valley, California

Cash Price $27.99

Sebella is the entry level wine from one of the more Iconic Chardonnay producers in the United States, Hanzell. The wine is produced from the younger vines on the estate. It is fermented in stainless steel and used French oak, so as not to over burden the wine. They also did not allow malolactic fermentation as to preserve the vibrancy. Granny Smith apple delivers into the palate with tickles of guava and lemon citrus. The mid palate shows medium intensity with bright notes of white peach and pear that gives way to surprising weight. The finish is clean and fresh with hints of white flowers, crushed rocks and tickles of herbs. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Lucky Draw Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

California

Cash Price $21.84

This new edition to our portfolio has a fun label, but it’s the juice inside the bottle that will keep you coming back for more. This wine has fruit from Sonoma, Napa, Lodi and Paso Robles to make a user friendly Cabernet Sauvignon that is sure to be a hit at your next party. The wine is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon/8% Malbec and was aged for 12 months in 30% new French oak. Soft and easy, this wine offers flavors of blueberry and black cherry on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is plush with soft tannins that are encompassed by milk chocolate and graham crackers. The finish shows slight oak with cherry cola bursting throughout. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Chateau de Callac Prestige Rouge 2018

Graves (Bordeaux), France

Cash Price 21.84

The 2018 vintage was an absolute stunner throughout Bordeaux.  It is easy to find excellent quality in lower priced wines as one really didn’t have to work hard to produce spectacular wine.  This wine is from Graves and may be the best priced wine in our Bordeaux portfolio.  It is a blend of 85% Merlot/10% Cabernet Sauvignon/5% Cabernet Franc and aged for twelve months in French oak.  Flavors of ripe plums and currant flow easily through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows touches of earth and minerality with silky black cherry and black olive playing throughout the core.  The finish is fleshy and appealing with tinges of cedar, vanilla and red roses.  James Score: 90 Points

Jean Baptiste Adam Pinot Gris 2018

Alsace, France

Cash Price $19.94

I wrote an article for the Society of Wine Educators several years ago titled: Alsace, The Unheralded King of White Wines.  I am still a firm believer and, in fact, have become as staunch as ever on the subject.  This region makes some of the best white wines in the world!  I am stoked to be able to offer this winery at such a spectacular price.  This family just celebrated the 400th anniversary of their family being grape growers and winemakers in Alsace.  Pinot Gris from Alsace could not be more different than its Italian counterparts.  Alsatian Pinot Gris is much rounder, softer and typically has just a kiss of sweetness.  This wine is 100% Pinot Gris and was aged in stainless steel for 3 months.  Voluptuous flavors of fresh meadow flowers and jasmine waft hauntingly through medium acids.  The mid palate shows exotic stone fruits of peach and nectarine with tinges of orange blossom.  The finish is tickling with hints of stony minerality and licks of honeyed beeswax.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Salentein Malbec Reserva 2018

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $18.99

Nestled in the Andes Mountains, this winery has top notch facilities and make wine and purity and focus.  This offering shows flavors of thick red plums and perfectly ripened blackberry with touches of marmalade laced throughout.  The mid palate gives brawny tannins and medium acids with notes of black pepper and tobacco leaf.  The finish shows a youthful ripeness that almost gives the wine a sweet texture, but the tannins kick it back into focus for a long flavorful finish with hints of mocha, espresso and vanilla cream.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Le Monde Ribolla Gialla 2019

Friuli, Italy

Cash Price $16.99

This Ribolla Gialla has consistently been one of my favorite white wines in our entire portfolio.  Ribolla Gialla is a rarely seen grape from Northern Italy (typically in Friuli) that makes Pinot Grigio seems like watered down water.  The winery is located in one of the best places in Italy to produce white wine, Friuli Grave DOC, and follow organic, sustainable and biodynamic practices.  The wine is 100% Ribolla Gialla, completely un-oaked and bursting with energy!  Frenetic flavors of orange zest, papaya, and lemon citrus soften the backbone of acidity.  The mid palate offers a sweet tartness that tickles the taste buds with hints of wet rocks and flint.  The finish is delightfully clean with whiffs of wild meadow flowers and candied peaches.  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Twisted Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ line has become one of the better selling wine selections in Spec’s entire portfolio and Cabernet is the big driver.  They produce seamless wines with silky finesse.  Lush flavors of blackberry and currant flow through the palate with licks of milk chocolate and cedar.  The mid palate give medium intensity with integrated tannins.  The core offers creamy blueberry with notes of leather and cigar box.  The finish offers hints of graham cracker and toasted oak with smidgeons of vanilla and cinnamon.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Diver Brut N/V

California

Cash Price $14.99

I am always on the hunt for good value bubbles! This California sparkler is 80% Chardonnay/14% Sauvignon Blanc/6% Gewurztraminer sourced from Monterey and Mendocino made in Charmat method. The wine has pale straw color with loads of citrus on the palate. Notes of white flowers and lychee are prevalent on the nose. The palate offers green apples and pear with hints of biscuity goodness. The finish is clean and floral with a vibrant intensity. Fun and Fresh. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Zinphomaniac Old Vine Zinfandel 2019

Lodi, California

Cash Price $14.99

I recently tasted through most of the portfolio for Mendocino Wine Company and thought this wine stood out for an easy drinking daily red produced on Old Vines. The wine offers harmonious flavors of dark cherry and raspberry with medium intensity. The mid palate shows bramble and blueberry compote with a creamy core. The finish offers a zesty medley sweet oak, molasses and clove spice. Barlow Score: 88 Points

LULU Dry Rose 2020

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

I bought heavily on this wine as I think it’s a delicious no-brainer Rose for under $10. I am an advocate for Washington State wines as I think they offer excellent value for price and LULU knocked this Rose out of the park!. This Dry Rose is 73% Syrah/27% Tempranillo from Columbia Valley. Light and bright, this Rose is red fruit driven with flavors of bright cherry and pomegranate. The wines has medium intensity and offers dried cranberry and savory herbs on the mid palate. The finish is crisp and flavorful with loads of red fruit from start to end on the palate. Get this wine in your basket early and often! Barlow Score: 90 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