JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2022

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Now that school is back in session and most of you are trying to rebound from summer trips, I have decided to offer you all some value wines in this set of reviews. I am also focusing on some Organic wineries as I know we are all trying to be a bit more healthy in 2022 after the last two years of craziness. Have fun with these selections and make sure you take advantage of our Pick 6 special pricing! Enjoy!

Baer ‘Arctos’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $39.89

Baer Winery is producing some absolute rocking Red wines. Erica Orr is the winemaker for these single vineyard wines. She worked her first harvest with Cathy Corison! The wines are all single vineyard from Stillwater Creek Vineyard on the Royal Slope of the Frenchman hills. The vineyard has quickly earned a reputation as one of Columbia Valley’s Top Vineyards. This wine is 91% Cabernet Sauvignon/9% Petit Verdot and was aged for 21 months in 50% new French oak. Flavors of blackberry and currant show on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate gives hints of minerality with crushed rocks and graphite. Touches of red fruit sink into sleek dark notes of blueberry. The finish is long and gratifying with tobacco, cigar box and cedar dust encompassing a plush core of fruit. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Riglos Gran Corte Red Blend 2017

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $39.89

Riglos is a wine that has made it to the United States because famed winemaker Paul Hobbs (who consults there) has taken this winery under his wings to show America what an amazing winery this is.  The wine is a Malbec/Cabernet/Franc blend that is lush and layered from start to finish.  Delicious flavors of blackberry and plum flow easily into a medium plus intensity.  Notes of lavender and cinnamon show with hints of toasted nuts, vanilla and graham crackers on the finish. Fall in love with this wine tonight!  Barlow score: 93 Points

Auctioneer Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $29.99

The Auctioneer is affectionately named after Michael Broadbent, the 24th Master of Wine, whose career is steeped in tradition and history. He partnered with Robert Mondavi in 1981 to start the Napa Valley wine auction. It is becoming increasingly hard to find $30 Napa Cabernet on the shelves, so it’s a pleasure to be able to offer this one with such history behind it. The wine offers medium intensity with flavors of cassis and blackberry flowing from the start. Notes of juicy plum and black cherry show in the mid palate with easy tannins. The finish is gracious with whiffs of graham cracker, vanillin, and toasted cedar that becomes long and alluring. Auctioneer was aged in 60% new French oak for 15 months. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Casa Gran del Siurana ‘Cruor’ Red Blend 2017

Priorat, Spain

Cash Price $25.99

The wine is a 31% Samso (Carignan)/60% Garnatxa (Garnacha)/9% Syrah blend and aged for 14 months in new and used French oak.  Cruor is a power bomb from start to finish.  Intense flavors of black berry and currant smash into medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows black cherry and plum with a smoky aroma that leads to hints of roasted meat and black pepper.  The finish is thick and robust with notes of dark chocolate, tea leaf, and coffee grounds.  Always a favorite!   Barlow Score: 92 Points

Brooks Rosé of Pinot Noir 2021

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $22.99

I’m quite excited to have this gem Dry Rosé back in stock. Brooks did not produce a 2020 vintage due to smoke taint issues in the Willamette Valley. This 100% Pinot Noir Rosé is wonderfully alluring from the start with medium intensity and vibrant acidity. Flavors of white raspberry and strawberries pop into the palate with an undertone of juicy watermelon. The mid palate shows hints of citrus with bing cherry flowing throughout. The finish is clean and refreshing with tinges of rhubarb, white flowers, and fresh herbs. Barlow Score: 92 Points

Paul Dolan Organic Zinfandel 2020

Mendocino County, California

Cash Price $19.94

Paul Dolan is a pioneer in the rise of organic farming. As you all know, I try to give wineries that have good farming practices a little more attention. The winery is Certified Organic and Vegan. This Zinandel has a delicious richness that runs throughout the core with a purity of fruit. Flavors of ripe red berries and plum show on the palate with medium intensity. The finish is soft and alluring with hints of tobacco and exotic spice. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Milbrandt Family Merlot 2019

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $16.99

I’ve become an advocate of Washington State wines and have decided that Texas should start enjoying some of the best crafted wines made in the United States. They have a penchant for producing high quality Merlot and this is a great one to hedge your bets on. The grapes come from King Fuji and Katherine Leon vineyards in the Columbia Valley. The wine offers bright flavors of bing cherry and pomegranate on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate shows a juicy vibrancy with more red fruit and silky tannins. The finish is balanced with hints of dark chocolate, cedar and plum. 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

Borgo Magredo Prosecco Extra Dry NV

Prosecco DOC, Italy

Cash Price $18.99

I visited Borgo Magredo many years ago in Friuli. I was quite impressed with their attention to detail and the quality of their white wines. This Prosecco is Extra Dry (meaning more grams of sugar than a Brut) but the sugar in this wine does not equate to sweetness, but instead softens the acidity of the sparkling wine. Flavors of ripe lemon citrus pop into the palate with notes of green apple and grapefruit. The finish is light and refreshing with plenty of bubbles to cleanse the palate and leave you wanting more. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Freelander Pinot Noir 2019

California

Cash Price $16.99

I was pleasantly surprised when I tried this Pinot Noir. The grape can often taste ‘artificial’ or ‘grapey’ in less expensive versions, but this one was quite exuberant and lively from start to finish. Ripe flavors of red and black fruit turn into loads of red raspberry. Cherry compote flows into the mid palate with whiffs of blueberry cream pie. There is no noticeable oak on the finish, but notes of raspberry tea and cola tickle the palate. Super Fresh. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Chateau Bonette Merlot Bordeaux Rouge 2016

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $14.99

The 2016 vintage will go down in the books as one of the greatest vintages of our lifetime in Bordeaux.  Snatch up all you can get your hands on, especially the value wines that are of extremely high quality for the price. Bonette is behind the Liberation de Paris wines and has produced an exceptional wine in this banner vintage.  Flavors of fleshy currant and black cherry pop into the palate with medium intensity.  There is a juicy core to this wine that gives it a gulp-able appeal, but has the structure to pair easily with food.  The finish offers touches of cinnamon, potpourri, and oak.  James Score: 89 Points

Pam’s Unoaked Chardonnay 2020

California

Cash Price $13.99

The wine is 100% Chardonnay and completely un-oaked. Pam’s Chardonnay was aged in stainless steel and drinks deliciously refreshing from start to finish. It’s a delightfully fruit forward wine with flavors of creamy pineapple and mango bursting at the seams. The mid palate has medium intensity with balanced acidity while showing notes of melon and green apple. The finish offers whiffs of cream and banana. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Girasole Charlie’s Blend Red 2019

Mendocino County, California

Cash Price $13.99

Girasole has become one of our more popular Organic wineries and this rocking little red just received 92 Points from Wine & Spirits with a nod as one of the best 100 wines for under $20! The wine is a blend of Merlot, Cabernet, Zinfandel, and Petite Sirah grown on the three Certified Organic vineyard sites. Ripe, juicy flavors of boysenberry and dark plum burst into the palate with medium intensity. Hints of caramel and vanilla show on the mid palate with darker fruit. The finish is plush and easy with notes of toasted marshmallow and black pepper. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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2 Responses to JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF SEPTEMBER 2022

  1. Ron Saikowski says:

    Still no Texas wines on the list!!! WHY??

    • Ron,

      I love your advocacy of Texas wines! But you are barking up the wrong tree. When/if I have the pleasure of becoming the Texas Wine Buyer for Spec’s then I will undoubtedly review Texas wines, but as it stands I am not thus I do not taste many Texas wines.

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