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

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

This may be the hottest summer I can remember in the twenty years that I’ve been here and it’s just now hitting August! I have had the unfortunate onus of catching Covid in both June and July, so I am quite ready for this summer to move right along….and I don’t know about ya’ll, but I’m ready for pumpkin spice in my coffee! This month I’ve put together a good medley of wines, some new, some oldies but goodies. Let me know what you think! As many of you have seen, I am starting up live classes again. I have found a good place downtown as a venue, so you will see me hosting more classes in Houston, but I’ll definitely try to keep some up in our area too! Enjoy!

Maritana ‘Le Russe’ Pinot Noir 2017

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99 BUT WITH $5.00 SPEC’S KEY

ONLY $44.99 FOR A LIMITED TIME!

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

Recoltant Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

This delicious Napa Valley Cabernet is new to our portfolio. I brought it in because it had amazing depth and balanced for a $40 Cabernet Sauvignon as Napa prices continue to skyrocket. The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and was made by rising star winemaker Britt Nichols. Flavors of dark raspberry, cassis, and black cherry flow evenly on the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate is beautifully restrained with whiffs of red fruit lingering in tea leaf and tobacco. The finish is long and lingering with lilacs, mocha, and toasted vanilla. Barlow Score: 93 Points

JN Haton Sparkling Brut Reserve NV

Champagne, France

Cash Price $36.99

We’ve found an amazing value Champagne in a time when bubbles are tough to come by! This sparkler is 30% Chardonny/30% Pinot Noir/35% Pinot Meunier with an average age of 50 years for the vines. The grapes are hand harvested and aged for a minimum 3 years on the lees. Haton is delicately delicious with flavors of white peach, citrus and orange blossoms. Whiffs of yeasty complexity, hazelnuts, and exotic spice tingle throughout the palate with tantalizing efficiency. The finish is long and crisp with that lip smacking smile sure to cross your face. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Barlow Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

El Dorado, California

Cash Price $29.99

Barlow Vineyards is making some killer Cabernet Sauvignon and they offered me this little gem that I just couldn’t pass up for the price! El Dorado is located in the Sierra Nevada Foothills towards the center of California. Some of the oldest vines in California are located in this area. One doesn’t see much Cabernet coming from here, so I was slightly skeptical but that changed rather quickly as I tasted it. The wine is soft and supple, more of an elegant Cabernet Sauvignon than the smack you in the mouth style that much of Napa is known for. Bright red fruits flow freely with cherry, currant, and raspberry being the leaders in the soft mid palate. Barlow Cabernet is well rounded and pleasing from the get go. The finish is easy and relaxed with good structure of cedar, violets, and mocha graham crackers. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Pazzo Red Blend 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $26.99

Pazzo Red blend is one of the more unique blends on the market because it is one of the very few that use Sangiovese as its primary variety.  Granted, the rest of the blend does have Merlot, Cabernet, and Syrah that make its body and structure quite exquisite.  The juicy red fruits of cherry and raspberry burst into the palate with a richly textured balance that shows off the brilliance of the 2018 vintage in California.  The mid palate is fresh and delicious without all the encumbering oak.  Kirk Venge is the consulting wine maker here and its evident with its plush nature and vibrant flavors.  Touches spice and mocha tickle into a long, palate refreshing finish. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Rizzi Dolcetto D’Alba 2019

Piedmont, Italy

Cash Price $23.49

Dolcetto is an oft overlooked grape from Piedmont.  It is a very nice food wine with supple tannins and light acids. I tasted through this line up not long ago with the wine maker Enrico Dellapiana. He produces clean and ‘pretty’ wines that are approachable in their youth, but age accordingly. The winery is sustainable and the vineyards were planted starting in 1967 on marl clay and sand.  This 100% Dolcetto is un-oaked and lively from the start with ruby color. Flavors of blackberry and black cherry sinew gracefully through medium intensity.  Hints of wild red berries flow throughout the core with touches of almonds. The finish offers depth with hints of tar and spice.  James Score: 89 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

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

Brooks Riesling 2019

Willamette Valley

Cash Price $18.99

Dry Riesling is a perfect pairing for the dog days of summer.  This Riesling offers fresh fruit flavors of melon and cantaloupe that seep into exemplary acidity which softly lays on a bed of gardenia and honeysuckle.  Hints of orange blossom and lemon pie waft hauntingly into a long finish that shows whiffs of petrol, wet rocks and mouth watering spice. Get Riesling in your glass Today!  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Chateau Croix Mouton 2019

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

Domaine de Cabasse Cuvee Garnacho Red Blend 2018

Rhone Villages, France

Cash Price $14.99

My favorite daily reds inevitably come from the Rhone Valley.  The wine is Grenache based and a true representation of the high quality coming from this region.  The Cabasse name has Italian roots that goes back to the time when the Pope resided in Avignon in the 14th century.  Avignon is the center for the famed wines of Chateauneuf du Pape.  Flavors of ripe boysenberry and black currant are rounded out with medium acids and tannins that are silky throughout the core.  Notes of fig and touches of bacon fat sink into rich vanilla beans and garrigue.   The finish offers hints of sage, thyme, and peppercorn which lays on the palate for quite awhile.  Cabasse is a perfect BBQ wine!  Barlow score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Wrangler Red’ Red Blend 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

Lake County is continuing to build momentum and garner praise for rock solid reds in the region north of Napa Valley.  Shannon Ridge was awarded the ‘Top Winery’ at Houston’s Uncorked Wine Competition in 2015 and their sales have exploded ever since.  This winery is releasing a stellar red blend based on Zinfandel and Rhone Varietals.  Wrangler Red is a silky smooth Zindandel, Syrah blend that screams fruit from the onset.  The wine has been aged in French and American oak for 18 months.  Intense flavors of black cherry and black raspberry seep through the full blackberry with medium tannins and acids.  Notes of graham cracker and cinnamon are prevalent on the mid palate with touches of sweet tobacco and milk chocolate.  The finish is creamy and velvety with smooth lingering tones of rich fruit and spice.  Best Daily drinker that money can buy!  Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Ned Dry Rose 2021

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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CAYMUS VINEYARDS PORTFOLIO TASTING ON WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 3RD FROM 6:30-8PM

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join us for the Spec tacular wines of Caymus Vineyards! It’s great to finally be able to offer these classes again, so we decided to give you a REALLY GREAT one to kick it back off! This event will take place at the Spec’s Oak Ridge location (address below). RSVP to Jamesbarlow@specsonline.com or Jennifer.Clark@RNDC-USA.com

See you there!

Wines to be poured:

  1. Caymus Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
  3. Emmolo Sauvignon Blanc
  4. Sea Sun Pinot Noir
  5. Conundrum White Blend
  6. Conundrum Red Blend

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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An Evening with Sullivan Winery on Tuesday, August 9th from 6:30-8PM

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s been awhile since I’ve done one of these due to Covid, but I’m ready to jump back in the saddle! Join me on Tuesday, August 9th from 6:30PM – 8PM (and after) as we will taste the Iconic wines of Sullivan Winery, one that is full of rich history and tradition in the area.

The Event will be held at Vault & Vino (2512 Genesee Street) which is not far from our Smith Street location. We will be opening six wines that range from $80 all the way up to $300 with the James O’Neal collection.

Price will be $55 per person and I will have Hors d’oeuvre available such as bread, cheese, crackers and fruit.

If you would like to join me for this spectacular event please RSVP to

Jamesbarlow@specsonline.com

Payment Options: Cash, Check, Venmo, Paypal

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR JULY 2022

Simply Cabernet Sauvignon

Washington State

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry and currant
  • Pairs with pulled pork sliders

Chemin de Provence Rose

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Light flavors of raspberry and rose petals
  • Pairs with July!

Adorn Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.49

  • Aromas of vivacious red fruit
  • Flavors of red cherry and plum
  • Pairs with a honey baked ham sandwich

Fernlands Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of citrus fruit
  • Flavors of grapefruit and lemon grass
  • Pairs with rosemary chicken breast

Fog Bank Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruits and cream
  • Flavors of green apple and toasted oak
  • Pairs with shrimp scampi

Happy Camper Merlot

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry and plum
  • Pairs with Tuesday night

Ca’Momi Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of white peach and lychee
  • Pairs with well-seasoned crab legs

Gressina Red Bordeaux

France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aroma dark fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry and plum
  • Pairs with steak fajitas

Brumes de Gascogne Blanc

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of tree fruits
  • Flavors of grapefruit and melon
  • Pairs with buffalo chicken wings

Versant Pinot Noir

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruits and violets
  • Flavors raspberry, cherry, and cream
  • Pairs with a chicken BLT

Dibon Brut Rose N/V

Spain

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit and pastries
  • Flavors raspberry and citrus
  • Pairs with spicy crawfish

Andrew & Vito Pinotage

South Africa

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of plum and red berries
  • Pairs with a nice chill on the patio

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR JUNE 2022

Raywood Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of lime citrus
  • Flavors of zingy grass and spring flowers
  • Pairs with hot summer days!

Martenot Red Blend

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of juicy red fruit
  • Flavors of bright red cherry and berries
  • Pairs with a light chill and friends!

Dr. Pauly Noble House Rose

Germany

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red and white fruit
  • Flavors of grapefruit, red berries, and slate
  • Pairs with shrimp ceviche

Ch. Les Confreries Red Blend

France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of ripe dark fruit
  • Flavors of cherry and black currant with spices
  • Pairs with greasy street tacos

Rifugio Del Vescovo Chianti

Italy

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of dark red fruit
  • Flavors of cherry, plum and herbs
  • Pairs with veal ravioli

Perelada Dulce Sweet Sparkling

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of honeyed sweetness
  • Flavors of elderflower and honeycombs
  • Pairs with ice and a glass

Encore Cabernet

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry cobbler and spice
  • Pairs with brisket slathered in BBQ sauce

Girasole Dry Rose

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of red fruits
  • Flavors of strawberries and rose petals
  • Pairs with cedar plank salmon

Encore Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $7.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of pineapple, melon, and cream
  • Pairs with a ladies night in

Lockwood Unoaked Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of tree fruit
  • Flavors of green apple and lilacs
  • Pairs with baked chicken and saffron rice

Perimeter Red Blend

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of baked red berries and cherry
  • Pairs with spicy pulled pork sandwiches

Ryan Patrick Pinot Grigio

Washington State

Cash Price $10.44

  • Aromas of key lime citrus
  • Flavors of mango, nectarine, and white flowers
  • Pairs with oyster shooters

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Unions des Grands Crus de Bordeaux 2019 vintage Houston event on June 23rd

Howdy!

It’s been far too long since we have been able to host our annual Bordeaux preview tasting – an event conceived long before my time by our friend and my mentor, the incomparable Bear Dalton.

After a prolonged hiatus, however, I am thrilled to announce that we are once again hosting a preview of the newly released 2019 vintage!

The 2019 vintage was easily the most challenging of my nascent career. One week I was planning to travel to Bordeaux with my associate, James; the next, a set of indefinite travel restrictions threw not only our plans into flux, but the entire En Primeur campaign for 2020. Producers scrambled to find solutions that would allow members of the trade access to their wines. I was fortunate to have the relationships Bear built over the years with so many great partners who shipped me as many samples as they could. Unfortunately, although many showed up in decent shape, just as many got held up in warehouses long enough to arrive spoiled.

For that reason, I am chomping at the bit to finally taste these wines. This 2019 vintage preview will be just as much of a learning experience for me as it will be to you all. Attached is a list of producers who will be represented at the event. This is a larger group than has been here for previous shows – close to 100 producers will be represented. From Pavie Macquin (referred to by Vinous as “one of the most exotic Saint Emilions of the year”) to Leoville Barton (which Wine Enthusiast said had “all the hallmarks of one of the stars of this vintage”) to Pichon Baron (rated 97-100 in barrel by Wine Advocate!), this lineup has tremendous pedigree.

If you are interested in attending, please email me (adennis@specsonline.com) with your contact info as well as the number of attendees in your group, and I will arrange for payment.

Let me know if you have any questions. Otherwise, I look forward to seeing you there!

CHATEAUX TO BE POURED:

Property Appellation
Château de Chantegrive Graves
Château Bouscaut Pessac – Léognan
Château Carbonnieux Pessac – Léognan
Château Les Carmes Haut – Brion Pessac – Léognan
Domaine de Chevalier Pessac – Léognan
Château de Fieuzal Pessac – Léognan
Château de France Pessac – Léognan
Château Haut – Bailly Pessac – Léognan
Château Haut – Bergey Pessac – Léognan
Château Larrivet Haut – Brion Pessac – Léognan
Château Latour – Martillac Pessac – Léognan
Château La Louvière Pessac – Léognan
Château Malartic – Lagravière Pessac – Léognan
Château Olivier Pessac – Léognan
Château Pape Clément Pessac – Léognan
Château Smith Haut Lafitte Pessac – Léognan
Château Beau – Séjour Bécot Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Canon Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Canon – La – Gaffelière Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Dominique Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Clos Fourtet Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Franc Mayne Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Gaffelière Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Couspaude Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Larcis Ducasse Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Pavie Macquin Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château La Tour Figeac Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Troplong Mondot Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Valandraud Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Villemaurine Saint – Emilion Grand Cru
Château Beauregard Pomerol
Château Le Bon Pasteur Pomerol
Château La Cabanne Pomerol
Château Clinet Pomerol
Château Gazin Pomerol
Château La Pointe Pomerol
Château Clarke Listrac – Médoc
Château Fonréaud Listrac – Médoc
Château Fourcas Dupré Listrac – Médoc
Château Fourcas Hosten Listrac – Médoc
Château Chasse – Spleen Moulis – en – Médoc
Château Maucaillou Moulis – en – Médoc
Château Poujeaux Moulis – en – Médoc
Château Beaumont Haut – Médoc
Château Belgrave Haut – Médoc
Château de Camensac Haut – Médoc
Château Citran Haut – Médoc
Château Coufran Haut – Médoc
Château La Tour Carnet Haut – Médoc
Château Cantenac Brown Margaux
Château Dauzac Margaux
Château Giscours Margaux
Château Kirwan Margaux
Château Lascombes Margaux
Château Malescot Saint – Exupéry Margaux
Château Prieuré – Lichine Margaux
Château Rauzan – Gassies Margaux
Château Rauzan – Ségla Margaux
Château Siran Margaux
Château du Tertre Margaux
Château Beychevelle Saint – Julien
Château Branaire – Ducru Saint – Julien
Château Gloria Saint – Julien
Château Gruaud Larose Saint – Julien
Château Lagrange Saint – Julien
Château Langoa Barton Saint – Julien
Château Léoville Barton Saint – Julien
Château Léoville Poyferré Saint – Julien
Château Saint – Pierre Saint – Julien
Château Talbot Saint – Julien
Château d’ Armailhac Pauillac
Château Batailley Pauillac
Château Clerc Milon Pauillac
Château Croizet – Bages Pauillac
Château Duhart – Milon Pauillac
Château Grand – Puy Ducasse Pauillac
Château Grand – Puy – Lacoste Pauillac
Château Lynch – Bages Pauillac
Château Lynch – Moussas Pauillac
Château Pichon Baron Pauillac
Château Pichon Longueville Comtesse de Lalande Pauillac
Château Cos Labory Saint – Estèphe
Château Lafon – Rochet Saint – Estèphe
Château Ormes De Pez Saint – Estèphe
Château de Pez Saint – Estèphe
Château Phélan Ségur Saint – Estèphe
Château Bastor – Lamontagne Sauternes
Château Doisy Daëne Barsac
Clos Haut – Peyraguey Sauternes
Château Suduiraut Sauternes
Château La Tour Blanche Sauternes

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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

Brooks ‘Concho’ Pinot Noir 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $44.99 but ONLY

$34.99 with a $10.00 Spec’s Key for a limited time!

This wine was produced for Country rock star singer Clay Walker. He’s a Cabernet Sauvignon fan, but fell in love with Brooks winery so they decided to collaborate on a red and white wine. This 100% Pinot Noir is made in a ‘beefier’ style to mold to Clay’s palate. The wine has medium intensity with bright cherry compote and exotic spice on the nose. The palate offers fresh pomegranate, lavender and dark cherries with whiffs of dark chocolate and cola. The finish is deliciously appealing with hints of minerality, rose petals and just a kiss of oak. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Baer Cabernet Franc 2016

Columbia Valley, Washington State

Cash Price $34.99

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. Their Cabernet Franc is easily one of the best that they make in my opinion as that variety is one of absolute favorites produced in Washington State. The wine is 92% Cabernet Franc with 8% Merlot and 21 months aging in French Oak. It has medium plus intensity with flavors of black cherry, plum, and mulberry on the palate. The mid palate is plush and inviting with hints of roasted herbs and cracked pepper. The finish is long and integrated with whiffs of cream, gravel and tea leaf. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Snowden ‘Lost Vineyard’ Merlot 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $37.99

Lost Vineyard is a 2 acre block located on perlite and sand soils. The wine was hand harvested and fermented with native wild yeast and aged in 50% New French oak barrels for 14 months while being bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine is 95% Merlot with 5% Cabernet Sauvignon. It has beautiful structure and intensity while offering loads of fruit and velvet texture. Bright flavors of red cherry and currant pop into the palate with silky finesse and elegant balance. The mid palate is balanced with ripe red fruit while offering touches of spice and whiffs of earthy underbrush. Notes of plum, vanilla and cedar are prevalent with hints of tea leaf on the long, lingering finish. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Altruria Cabernet Sauvignon 2019

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $25.99

This is a new addition our portfolio and should be a smashing success! The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Alexander Valley. The 2019 vintage was gorgeous for Alexander Valley and the ensuing wine really shows it. This small production Cabernet was aged for 18 months in new and used French oak. Ripe flavors of dark cherries, cassis, and blackberry pop into the palate with medium plus intensity. Notes of soft cocoa, smoked game, and violets sink through the mid palate. The finish is long and enticing with whiffs of black tea, tobacco and cedar. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Slate Pinot Noir 2019

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $24.99

The Slate wines are a newer addition to our portfolio. This 100% Pinot Noir is unfined, unfiltered and was aged in 40% new French oak for 12 months. The wine has medium intensity with poised structure. Flavors of juicy pomegranate, bursting red cherries and raspberry tea round into vibrant acidity. Hints of tea leaf and cola waft through notes of lavender on the finish with tinges of minerarlity. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Peachy Canyon ‘Westside’ Zinfandel 2019

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $24.99

We are extremely excited to have Peachy Canyon back in the fold of our portfolio. This winery has been producing high quality Zinfandel since 1988. Paso Robles is offering exciting wines for good value and Zinfandel has been a staple variety in the region since its infancy.  This is Peachy Canyon’s flagship Zinfandel. The wine is 77% Zinfandel with a smattering of Primitivo, Alicante Bouschet and Petite Sirah making up the difference. It was aged for 18 months in 30% new French, Hungarian and American oak. Powerful notes of strawberry rhubarb and boysenberry pop in the palate with medium structure. Notes of white pepper, leather and tobacco hit the mid palate with whiffs of licorice and cassis.  The finish is integrated with notes of raspberry pie, vanilla and red currant. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Chateau Pontac Phenix Red Blend 2014

Haut Medoc, France

Cash Price $19.94

Phenix is the 2nd wine of Pontac Lynch and the vineyards used are in the Haut Medoc and Margaux, not far from 1st Growth Chateau Margaux. The 2014 vintage is a great value vintage where one can find awesomely delicious and affordable wines. This vintage is drinking perfectly right now! Flavors of red cherry and kirsch lay on a medley of sweet spices and medium intensity.  This wine is deliciously ripe and ready to drink.  The acids are tantalizing with dense notes of toasted oak  and roasted coffee bean.  The finish is persistent and well rounded.  Yum! A true gem!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Red Phoenix Red Blend 2018

Lodi, California

Cash Price $19.94

This Red Blend is a new addition to our portfolio. I decided to buy this wine due to it’s inherent approach ability and easy drinking nature. The wine is 57% Zinfandel with smidgeons of Petit Verdot, Petite Sirah, Merlot, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon making up the rest of the blend. Red Phoenix has medium intensity with plush notes of blackberry and cherry flowing into a silky mid palate. Hints of subtle spice waft enticingly throughout the mid palate. The finish is creamy with whiffs of milk chocolate and toasted oak. Joseph Smith is the wine maker and he also makes Experience Cabernet which has become quite a sensation in our portfolio. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Brooks ‘Amycas’ White Blend 2021

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $17.99

Amycas is an Alsatian style white blend with 30% Pinot Gris/24% Pinot Blanc/16% Muscat/15% Riesling/15% Gewurztraminer as the components of the wine. This wine absolutely explodes with flavor on the palate. Ripe, textured flavors of white peach, papaya, and Honeycrisp apple pop into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate shows licks of white flowers and more tropical fruit. The finish is clean and refreshing with whiffs of lychee, mandarin, apricot, and exotic spice. What a perfect Summer white wine! Barlow Score: 92 Points

Cru Montage Chardonnay 2018

Monterey, California

Cash Price $18.99

I recently tasted through this winery’s white portfolio.  I am a fan of Monterey because there are so many micro climates that one can find a large variance in styles of wines produced.  This wine has beautiful restraint while keeping true to the expression of ‘traditional’ California Chardonnay.  Flavors of pineapple and pear flow seamlessly through hints of fresh flowers and ripe green apples.  The mid palate shows focus with tropical flavors and medium acidity.  The finish offers notes of hazelnuts, vanilla custard and smidgeons of oaky complexity.  James Score: 88 Points

Triennes Dry Rose 2021

Mediterranee, France

Cash Price $17.99

Triennes is consistently one of my favorite Rose’s year in and year out.  As the heat starts to rise, I quickly begin to gravitate towards higher acid, lower tannin wines.  Rose wines are a perfect medium to combat the Hot Houston Heat.  Deliciously dry, this Cinsault based Rose has expressive and compelling aromatics.  Flavors of bright red cherries and red roses zing into medium plus acidity that quenches the palate.  Notes of wild meadow flowers play into the mid palate with touches of cranberry and red berries.  The finish is clean and pure with touches of salinity and wet rocks.  Fall in Love with Dry Rose this summer!  James Score: 92 Points

Etesian Brut Sparkling NV

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $15.89

Etesian is a new sparkling wine for us from an extremely reputable winery (It’s a secret!) that we’ve been able to procure at a great price point. Coming from a bubble head, I’ll tell you that these sparklers are absolutely delicious! This sparkler comes from Carneros on the Sonoma side. The cepage is 57% Pinot Noir and 43% Chardonnay produced Methode Champenoise and aged for 2 years on the lees. The ensuing bubbly has clean, tight bubbles with lively flavors of tangerine, lemon and Asian pear. The finish is clean and enticing with hints of biscuity brioche and white flowers. Barlow Score: 91 Points

Lockwood Cabernet Sauvignon 2020

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $13.99

Lockwood has been a staple in the Spec’s portfolio for many years, however it was purchased by the Boisset family a couple of years ago and they have changed the flavor profile of the wines a bit.  The wines are still all estate grown on calcareous soil and spends time in French oak.  Flavors of cherry and cassis flow into hints of chocolate and tobacco. Framboise is prevalenton the mid palate with soft, lush tannins and accessible acids.  The finish give hints of oak and cocoa.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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

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

California

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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12 UNDER $12 FOR APRIL 2022

McGuigan ‘The Plan’ Shiraz

Australia

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of plum, blackberry, and spice
  • Pairs with Momma’s everyday cooking

Fairhall Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand

Cash Price $8.99

  • Aromas of citrus
  • Flavors of grapefruit, lemon, and prickly pear
  • Pairs with warmer weather

Perelada Brut Rose N/V

Spain

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of citrus peel and cherry lollipops
  • Pairs with spring parties

Projection Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry, cassis, and oak
  • Pairs with days that end with ‘Y’

Raywood Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of creamy tropical fruit
  • Flavors of pineapple, peach, and melon
  • Pairs with creamy chicken pesto pasta

Perimeter Merlot

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of cherry, plum, and vanilla
  • Pairs with Tuesday night dinner

Ryan Patrick Redhead Red

Washington State

Cash Price $10.44

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry, raspberry, and chocolate
  • Pairs with herb crusted lamb shanks

Michel Schlumberger Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry, cola, and spice
  • Pairs with a Caribbean Jerk chicken sandwich

LULU Dry Rose

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of bright red fruit
  • Flavors of raspberry, pomegranate, and savory herbs
  • Pairs with lunch on the patio

Ca’Momi Sauvignon Blanc

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of tropical fruit
  • Flavors of mango,lychee, and honeysuckle
  • Pairs with fresh spring air

Hayes Valley Zinfandel

California

Cash Price $11.99

Aromas spicy red fruit
Flavors of cherry, bramble, and molasses
Pairs with Rodeo BBQ

Chateau Nicot Rouge

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of currant, cherry, and cinnamon
  • Pairs with beef stew

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR FEBRUARY 2022

Heartcraft Sparkling N/V

California

Cash Price $12.99 but with a $11.99 with your Spec’s Key

  • Aromas of Citrus and pear
  • Citrus, brioche and caramel
  • Pairs with Your Valentine!

Muscador Sweet Sparkling Rose

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Light, bouncy bubbles with flavors of red cherry and sweet candied raspberries
  • Serve with chocolates for your Valentine

Quady Flore de Moscato Sweet Wine

California

Cash Price $10.47

  • Citrus and peaches
  • Light body with notes peach, mango, white flower, and honeycomb with a light spritz
  • Serve chilled with a ladies night out

Cuvee des 3 Messes Basses Rouge

France

Cash Price $9.99

  • Grenache dominant with red fruits
  • Medium bodied with notes of red pomegranate, stewed fruit, cinnamon and black pepper
  • Pairs with bacon wrapped and cream cheese filled peppers

Chateau Lavagnac Bordeaux Rouge

France

Cash Price $11.99

  • Merlot dominant with red fruit
  • Medium bodied notes of red plum, cherry, and vanilla
  • Pairs with sausage and brisket

Roblar Merlot

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of red fruit
  • Flavors of red raspberry with vanilla
  • Pairs with a honey baked ham sandwich

Long Barn Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas of dark red fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry and framboise with hints of plum
  • Pairs with chocolate

Hayes Valley Red Blend

California

Cash Price $11.99

  • Aromas of dark fruits
  • Flavors of plum and cherry with baking spices
  • Pairs grilled meats

Nica Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $8.99

  • Aromas of apple and peach
  • Flavors of ripe tropical fruits
  • Pairs with shrimp scampi

Liberation de Paris Malbec

France

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of blackberry, plum, pepper
  • Pairs with steak and truffles

Wish Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $10.99

  • Aromas of dark fruit
  • Flavors of black cherry with oak
  • Pairs with steak kabobs

Ca’Momi Rosso Red Blend

California

Cash Price $9.99

  • Aromas dark fruit
  • Flavors of blueberry, blackberry, pepper
  • Pairs with BBQ

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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