Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for missing last month’s reviews, but I have been quite busy. I recently visited Alexander Valley (several picks in this blog) and Burgundy. I haven’t traveled in two years due to Covid, so I am making the rounds with Spec’s now that we are able to travel again. I am leaving for Bordeaux next week and have another California trip on the books as soon as I return, so hopefully I will have some time to sit down and pen my reviews of the wines and regions that I have visited once I settle down a bit. Always feel free to reach out if you have any questions and I would love if ya’ll would share this blog to help build it’s footprint. Cheers!

Bougetz ‘Jovana’ Red Blend 2015

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

This wine is in a REALLY beautiful spot right now! I’m surprised this wine hasn’t jumped into more baskets to enjoy. A blended wine can really show what a wine maker is made of as it is their chance to express passion and versatility with a number of grapes in one wine.  This blend has (and needs) only two grapes.  The wine is 59% Merlot/ 41% Cabernet Franc and I couldn’t be happier with the final result. The Merlot comes from Andy Beckstoffer’s Orchard Vineyard in Oak Knoll and the Cabernet Franc comes from the Yates Vineyard on top of Mt. Veeder.  The wine was whole berry crushed then aged in 67% new French oak for 22 months.  Jovana shows excellent structure and depth from beginning to the delicious end. Flavors of black cherry and currant flow into medium intensity.  The mid palate offers blueberries with an underlying current of black pepper and spice. The finish is pure and elegant with touches of cinnamon and vanilla bean. Balanced and layered. Get this on your Table! Barlow Score: 93 Points

Keever Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Yountville, California

Cash Price $32.99

I brought in Keever last year as their winemaker is one of my favorites, Celia Welch of Scarecrow fame. This is a serious Sauvignon Blanc with excellent layers and complexity. The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and was aged in 55% French oak to give the wine a soft, layered mouthfeel. Bright tropical fruits of pineapple, mango, and papaya pop into the palate with medium intensity. Keever has a softer than expected palate with a beautiful roundness throughout. The finish offers whiffs of vanilla custard and exotic spices with hints of hazelnuts. TLC. Textured, Layered, Complex. Only 260 cases produced. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Calcareous ‘ZSM’ Red Blend 2018

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

Blue Rock ‘Baby Blue’ Red Blend 2019

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

I recently visited this winery. I was excited to see the passion and hard work Kenny Kahn and Co. put into their winery and vineyards. For Kenny it truly is a labor of love and a life passion to grow grapes in the picturesque Alexander Valley. Blue Rock winery has gained a reputation for producing silky smooth reds from their 100 acre estate in the famed AVA of Alexander Valley.  The 2019 vintage was a spectacular vintage, which turned out to be fortuitous due to the next couple of vintages.   This wine is a 44% Cabernet Sauvignon/32% Merlot/10% Syrah/4% Malbec/9% Petit Verdot/1% Cabernet Franc blend that is aged for 12 months in French oak and dangerously approachable from the pop of the cork.  Sleek flavors of blackberry and currant run into the silky smooth palate that offers a core of milk chocolate.  The tannins are elegant and integrated with easy acids that play into the gracious amount of fruit.  Notes of toasted oak and vanilla sink into hints of violet and granola.  The finish is soft and plush with a plethora of fruit and oak. This wine is built to be delicious from start to finish!  James Score: 91 Points

Parched Chardonnay 2018

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $24.99

Parched Chardonnay is a single vineyard Chardonnay originating from the Gold Coast Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA.  The wine has seen full malolactic fermentation in barrel, yet has a delicate, lively acidity that belies this fact.  It was aged in 50% new French oak for 10 months on the lees. Plush and gushing, Parched offers flavors of bright green apple, apricot and melon that flow through medium intensity. Whiffs of creamy brioche and butter sail into tingles of vanilla creme, marshmallow and toasted oak on the finish. Yum! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Vine and Supply Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $19.94

This newer edition to our portfolio has been selling like wildfire. Quality Pinot Noir under $20 isn’t always easy to find, but this one hit the bullseye! The wine is 100% Pinot Noir and was aged in 30% new French oak for 12 months. Ripe red berries pop into the palate with flavors of bing cherry and plum. The mid palate shows medium intensity with a plushness that pleases the palate. The finish is long lasting showing hints of cedar, anise and rose petals that lay on a bed of spice and underbrush. I found your daily Pinot! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Trig Point ‘The Railyard’ Zinfandel 2020

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $19.94

Nick Goldschmidt is the master mind behind some of the best wines produced in Alexander Valley.  He is from New Zealand, but has a penchant for finding the best vineyards in Sonoma and making wines of outstanding value, typically without breaking bank. I recently was able to visit Yolyn (Nick’s Wife) while visiting Alexander Valley a few weeks ago and tasted through their entire portfolio. Every wine was extremely well made.  Railyard Vineyard sits just north of Geyserville (Ridge Winery fame) and is planted on pre Phylloxera vines in sandy loam soils that are organically farmed.  The wine is 88% Zinfandel with 12% Petite Sirah and aged in 15% New French oak for 16 months.  Decadent fruit flavors of bright blueberry and bramble leap into palate with exotic spices playing throughout the core.  Black cherry and raspberry sink into the mid palate with notes of toasted nuts and vanilla.  The finish is silky with soft tannins and lightly sweet blackberry cobbler pie.  I love this wine every vintage! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Twisted Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $17.99

This ‘Can’t Miss’ Cabernet has always been a great value for under $20.  Calcareous produces a rock solid wine with silky smooth approach ability that is heaven on the palate from Paso Robles which has become a hotbed for great Cabernet lately.  Lush flavors of blackberry and currant flow seamlessly through the palate with licks of milk chocolate and cedar.  The mid palate give medium tannins and acids that are soft and integrated.  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: 90 Points

Republic of Pink Dry Rosé 2020

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $17.99

This delicious Dry Rosé has become my ‘Go To’ pink wine for food pairing. The winery only makes 1 wine. 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

Momo Sauvignon Blanc 2020

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $15.99

Momo (meaning ‘offspring’ in Maori) has sprung from the Seresin Estate.  Momo wines are meant to be fun, enjoyable and a party wine.  All of the grapes from these wines are sustainably grown and Vegan friendly.  The wine is completely un oaked and tantalizingly tasty, Momo expresses flavors of lemon citrus and grapefruit that are encompassed by guava and pineapples.  The mid palate offers medium plus acidity with plush passion fruit quaffing throughout.  The finish is clean and thirst quenching with hints of lemon meringue and apricot. This is a perfect warm weather white wine.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Klinker Brick ‘Brickmason’ Zinfandel Red Blend 2017

Lodi, California

Cash Price $16.99

Klinker Brick is an oldie, but goodie that has come back to our portfolio.  It received a GOLD Medal at the Houston Rodeo Uncorked! Wine Competition. The winery was founded in 1883 and has been family owned by the Fulton’s now for 5 generations.  The winery is sustainably farmed.  This wine is a blend of 80% Zinfandel, 10% Syrah, 5% Cabernet, and 5% Petite Sirah that has been hand harvested with estate fruit then aged for 16 months in once used French oak.  The wine has a lighter ruby core with long legs. The palate offers flavors of rich red fruit leading into darker cherries and bramble with medium intensity.  Hints of raspberry compote and blackberry pie flow into whiffs of dusted cedar, creamy berry sauce and graham crackers.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Brooks ‘Terue’ Dry Muscat 2019

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

I tried this wine a couple of months ago when searching for more dry white wines to add to our portfolio. We are starting to run short on Brooks Winery white wines as they did not produce a 2020 vintage due to smoke taint issues. This 100% Dry Muscat is bursting with flavor from Brooks Estate Vineyard and Muska Vineyard in Eola-Amity. The wine is expressive and elegant with flavors of citrus blossom and peach nectar. The mid palate has medium intensity with notes of cactus, kumquat, and lychee. The finish is pure and vibrant with hints of saline and melon. This Dry Muscat is a perfect compliment for Spring weather! Barlow Score: 90 Points

The Diver Sparkling Brut Rose N/V


Cash Price $17.99

I’ve been looking to grow our American sparkling portfolio and this was an easy ‘Yes’. The wine is 80%/20% Pinot Noir/Chardonnay traditional blend made in the Charmat method (Think Prosecco) with 1.1% Residual Sugar which is not really perceptible on the palate, but does soften the mouth feel. This delightful bubbly offers a beautiful salmon color and zips into the palate with flavors of bing cherry, strawberry and whiffs of citrus. Diver plunges into deliciously ripe, crunchy red fruit from start to finish. This would be a great apertif for your family festivities. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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  1. Ron Saikowski says:

    WHY don’t you ever recommend Texas Wines?

    Ronald A. Saikowski PE LEED AP CFM

    Quest Engineering – Texas Engineering Firm F-10574

    Licensed to Practice Engineering in the State of Texas

    304 North Main Street, Suite #1

    Conroe, Texas 77301

    Cell (713) 252-3729

    rsaikowski@comcast.net (Home)

    rsaikowski@consolidated.net (Office)

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