SHANNON RIDGE ZOOM TASTING ON JUNE 19TH AT 7PM

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join me for my favorite ‘Daily Drinking’ winery from Lake County! Winemaker Joy Merriless will walk us through the history and wines as well as talking about sustainable/organic farming in Lake County.  Find your local Spec’s, buy these wines, and join us for a personal tasting experience with Shannon Ridge Winery!

 

SR Zoom TAsting

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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The 12 under $12 for June 2020

Shannon Ridge Zinfandel

Lake County, California

Cash Price $11.99 with Spec’s Key

Zesty and ripe, this wine shows blackberry and plum that explode into spices and dark fruit. The finish is integrated with soft vanilla and oak. Pair with smoked brisket ends.

The Ned Rose 

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $11.99

Bright flavors of wild red berries and watermelon sink into hints of jammy strawberry and cream.  The finish shows raspberry and red flowers that would pair wonderfully with cedar plank salmon.

Shannon Ridge Sauvignon Blanc

Lake County, California

Cash Price $11.99 with Spec’s key

My daily favorite winery offers this zesty blanc that shows flavors of lemon citrus and gooseberry with whiffs of tangerine on the finish. Pair with this beautifully hot weather!

Liberation de Paris Pinot Noir

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $10.99

Pinot Noir offers some of the most versatile food pairings.  The wine is delightfully pure and fresh.  Black cherry and framboise flow through minimal tannins and easy acids with a soft finish of cola and spice.

McGuigan ‘The Plan’ Chardonnay

Australia

$9.99

Vibrant and fruity, this wine offers rich stone fruit, lychee and citrus with just a whiff of vanilla and coconut. Pair with chicken marsala.

Perelada Sparkling Brut Rose N/V

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $10.99

People are figuring out the Rose season is year-round here in Texas. This Grenache based Dry Rose offers citrus peel with hints of cherry lollipops and rose petals. Pair with today, early and often.

Encore Cabernet Sauvignon

Lodi, California

Cash Price $11.99

Looking for excessively ripe and opulent Cabernet? Try this plush wine that offers plum, stewed fruits and blackberry pie with supple and inviting tannins. The finish is jammy with hints of cobbler and spice.  Pair with brisket slathered in BBQ sauce.

Michel Schlumberger ‘Maison Rouge’ Red

California

Cash Price $10.99

This red blend offers tantalizing flavors of cherry and raspberry, with tinges of spice and pepper on the finish. Pair with grilled or smoked meat on these increasingly hot summer days.

Moscato Rubino

California

Cash Price $11.99

Dark and sweet, this red Moscato offers intense strawberry and cherry with a light spritz that flows into sweet deliciousness on the finish. Chill, pour, drink, repeat.

Chateau de Romains Bordeaux Rouge

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

Romains is a gem that is deliciously fruit forward.  Flavors of red cherry, wild berry and currant flow into hints of toasted oak and just a tease of tobacco leaf. Pair this with fatty spiced brisket and fried okra.

Dr. Pauly ‘Noble House’ Riesling

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $9.99

Riesling is a versatile grape with the ability to offer wide range of flavors. This lightly sweet wine is a veritable fruit cocktail of white peach, apple and mango with a beautifully floral finish.

Tiziano Pinot Grigio

Delle Venezia, Italy

Cash Price $10.99

Pinot Grigio weather is here! This refreshing white offers lively acidity and tropical fruits with a perfectly crisp, clean finish. Pair with warm weather and an ice-cold glass.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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Daou Virtual Tasting with Master Sommelier Fred Dame next Tuesday, 5-26.

SpecsVirtualTasting

Join me for this awesome and rare event! It’s the first one done in Texas with Master Sommelier Fred Dame!

Please click on the link above for information about this rare event to speak and taste with one of the best Sommeliers in the world, Fred Dame.

Purchase wines for the tasting at Spec’s and taste virtually with one of the best in the world or just join us for free and soak in the knowledge!

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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The 12 under $12 for May 2020 AND Blue Rock Virtual Tasting is Today!

Hello all,

Please make sure to join me tonight at 7pm CST for a Virtual tasting with Blue Rock Vineyards owner Kenny Kahn!  Stop by your local Spec’s and purchase some of his wines to taste with him tonight!  See you there!

Please click on this link to register for the event. Zoom Registration link

The 12 under $12 for May 2020

Shannon Ridge Chardonnay

Lake County, California

Cash Price $11.99 (on Sale for a limited time!)

Great daily Chardonnay starts here. Flavors of pineapple and creamy lemon sink into melon and butterscotch on the finish.  Lush and fun, pair this with lunch!

The Ned Sauvignon Blanc

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $11.99

Warm weather is here! This wine has flavors of kiwi and lemon grass that zing into pineapple and jalapeno cream.  Refreshing and crisp, pair with your back porch after a nice bike ride.

Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah

Lake County, California

Cash Price $11.99 (on Sale for a limited time!)

My ‘go-to’ daily winery offers this juicy Petite Sirah. Ripe flavors of blackberry and black raspberry jump into vanilla, spice and cedar on the finish. Pair with Lasagna and meatballs.

Muscador Sparkling Rose

Vin de France

Cash Price $9.99

Nothing is better to refresh your palate in the heat than a nice, lightly sweet sparkling Rose. Flavors of candied cherries and raspberries meld into dancing bubbles. Pair with a sweet treat.

Perimeter Cabernet

California

Cash Price $9.99

This Cabernet offers flavors of plum and black cherries with full bodied texture and toasted oak on the finish.  Pair with your favorite arm-chair and pizza!

Ca’Momi Rosso

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $8.99

This rosso is truly built for a backyard BBQ with Zinfandel being a primary varietal of this blend.  Flavors of dark jammy blueberry and blackberry zing through a medley of spices and soft tannins.

Roblar Syrah

California

Cash Price $9.99

Syrah can often pair better than most wines but is often over-looked on the shelf. Flavors of dark plum and red cherry pop into the palate with hints of pepper and spice. Make sure this gets in your basket!

Fog Bank Pinot Grigio

California

Cash Price $9.99

This delightfully floral wine gives jasmine and lilacs on the nose with citrus and zesty acids on the palate. This refreshingly clean wine would pair well with shrimp scampi.

Francois Thienpont Sauvignon Blanc

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $10.99

Refreshing citrus and green grass zing into the palate with pinpoint precision. The finish has bits of lemon lime and touches of cactus juice. Pair with a beach towel and sunglasses in your back yard.

Liberation de Paris Rose

Vin de Pays, France

Cash Price $10.99

This Liberatingly Dry Rose gives flavors of wild red berries and strawberries. Fresh, pure acids give way to rose petals and citrus. Pair with HOT days that end with Y!

Gryphus Sauvignon Blanc

Rapel Valley, Chile

Cash Price $11.99

This is one of my favorite summer whites. Zesty acids are whipped into shape with flavors of citrus and grapefruit with kisses of grass and meadow flowers.  Pound with the spicy crawfish.

Abrazo Tempranillo

Carinena, Spain

Cash Price $8.99

Abrazo is light with flavors of red cherries and raspberry that make it an inexpensive MUST HAVE at your home. The finish is long with a soft creaminess that begs to be paired with a Gyro sandwich.

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BLUE ROCK VIRTUAL TASTING WITH OWNER KENNY KAHN ON TUESDAY, MAY 19TH AT 7PM

Hello all,

Please join us for this FREE FUN event with the Owner and Vintner Kenny Kahn of Blue Rock Vineyards.  He would love if you tasted the wines with him, so please feel free to purchase them at any Spec’s location, curbside, or Instacart.

Blue Rock

Please click on this link to register for the event. Zoom Registration link

Blue Rock will be hosting a virtual tasting on May 19th at 7pm CST featuring the owner Kenny Kahn where he will be speaking about the history of the winery while pouring Baby Blue Red and White and the Estate Cabernet.

As you all know the Baby Blue wines are absolute gems for the price and his all estate wines are dynamic!

Let me know if you need more information.

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MAY 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope everyone is dealing with our new temporary lifestyle with a decent outlook. I’ve taken the opportunity to bond closer with my son (if that’s possible!) and get back into an exercise routine.  That said, I’m a little stir crazy to get back to normal as I’m sure you all are too.  Well my friends, take solace and enjoyment in the wines that I have picked for review this month. The weather is warming up and so you’ll see many selections will typically have some chill to them. Stay safe friends and always feel free to offer this blog to your friends and family! Have them sign up at thewineepicure.com!  Enjoy!

Bougetz ‘Jovana’ Red Blend 2015

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

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. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Lavinea ‘Tualatin Vineyard’ Pinot Noir 2015

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $39.89

This winery has shown the ability to quickly become a rising star in the world of Willamette Valley wines. Tualatin Vineyard was planted with the originals like Ponzi and Eyrie.  The vineyard has varied elevation up to 900 feet and produce Pinot Noirs of great vibrancy and length.  The wine was produced with native yeast with twice a day pump overs and then aged in 30% new French oak.  This sleek and sexy wine shows velvet texture from the pop of the cork.  Plush red cherries pop into freshly picked strawberries with whiffs of rose petals and white flowers.  The mid palate offers medium intensity with electric acidity that travels seamlessly into tinges of crushed rocks, cherry cobbler and exotic spice. Tualatin is beautiful now, but will age gracefully for years to come.  Barlow Score: 93 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

Adelsheim Dry Rose of Pinot Noir 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $19.94

I am super stoked that Rose season is back!  I recently tasted this Dry Rose and immediately checked to see how much I could get. The wine is LIVE certified (minimal footprint) and is deliciously thirst quenching.  This wine has a beautiful pale salmon color.  Flavors of white peach and juicy watermelon gush into the palate with whiffs of rose petals and cranberry.  The mid palate offers zesty acids that cleanse the palate for even more juicy red fruits on the finish. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Eberle ‘Steinbeck Vineyard’ Syrah 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $24.99

Gary Eberle was a pioneer of Paso Robles and is noted as  planting the 1st Syrah in the region. This OG Syrah has consistently been a standard for good Syrah in the Central Coast. The wine is wonderfully expressive with flavors of blueberry and blackberry that crunch into a medium intensity.  The mid palate continues with dark fruit but transitions into an earthy crushed rock texture that is finished with whiffs of chocolate covered espresso beans and dark spice. This staple Syrah is a mush have in your basket and a perfect pair with BBQ.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Portlandia Pinot Gris 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $14.99

I am gravitating more and more toward Oregon wines when it comes to the Pinot varieties.  Portlandia is 100% stainless steel from select vineyards throughout Willamette Valley.  This Pinot Gris (Grigio) offers instant floral notes of honeysuckle and gardenias that flow into a plethora of fruits like apricot, melon, and peach.  The wine has medium intensity with citrus zest and lemon merigue through the mid palate.  The finish shows a clean tartness that begs for another sip. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Freelander ‘District One’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

California

Cash Price $15.99

This new addition to our portfolio is built to be a user friendly, daily drinking Cabernet that doesn’t break the bank.  Freelander Cabernet checks all the boxes in flavor profile.  Racy and deep flavors of blackberry and cassis flow easily into medium intensity.  Notes of black raspberry and vanilla offer a creamy core with hints of blueberry cobbler.  The finish is soft and plush with hints of toasted oak and graham crackers.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Cru Winery Unoaked Chardonnay 2017

Arroyo Seco, California

Cash Price $17.99

Cru Winery has produced a pure expression of Chardonnay with this wine.  It is completely unoaked, being aged in 100% stainless steel while blocking malolactic fermentation to give this blank slate a nicely balanced and pure shape.  Flavors of bright green apples and mango flow into medium intensity.  The mid palate is refreshing with honeysuckle and melon gushing into whiffs of white peach and lychee. The finish is clean and soft with a natural zing of citrus. Day Drinking Chardonnay right here!  Barlow Score: 89 Points

The Ned Rose of Pinot Noir 2018

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.  James Score: 90 Points

Twisted Paso ‘Main Squeeze’ Red Blend 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Calcareous Vineyard’s ‘Twisted Paso’ line has become one of the best sellers in all of Spec’s portfolio.  The Main Squeeze is a silky red blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah.  Dark fruits of ripe blackberry and boysenberry are prevalent from the start.  The mid palate turns into creamy blackberry pie with velvet tannins and lush acids.  The finish offers hints of toasted oak and caramel that sink into a gracious amounts of dark chocolate and mild spices.  The wine is aged in 15% New American Oak and 75% Neutral French Oak for eighteen months.   Barlow Score: 88 Points

Las Margas Garnacha 2017

Carinena, Spain

Cash Price $15.99

I love affordable Garnacha this time of year. Garnacha is a red grape that offers plenty of alcohol, but without all the tannins that can dry out your palate. This red wine would love a slight chill. Ripe and juicy flavors of cassis and pomegranate burst into the palate with medium intensity. Freshly crushed blueberries leak into the mid palate with hints of plum and cherry.  The finish is refreshing and offers hints of black spice.  Barlow Score: 91

Girasole ORGANIC Pinot Blanc 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

We are extremely pleased to add this ORGANIC value winery to our portfolio. It is rare to get organic wine at such a great price point. Pinot Blanc is a white variety in the Pinot family.  It is arguably one of the purest expressions of the variety.  The wine is pale straw in color and offers flavors of freshly squeezed lemons and fresh cut melon with medium intensity.  The mid palate shows nectarines and honeysuckle with just a whiff of wet rocks.  The finish is lovely with tinges of white flowers and tree fruit.  Perfect summer white!  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘High Elevation’ Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99 but $1.00 Savings with Spec’s Key for a limited time

Only $11.99

As you all have read in past blogs, this winery has become my ‘go-to’ for easy drinking daily wines. Lake County is making some of the best priced Sauvignon Blancs in the entire United States. This Sauvignon Blanc is jam packed full of citrus fruits.  Perky and fresh flavors of lemongrass and gooseberry tingle into medium intensity and tickles of exotic fruits.  The mid palate is mouth watering with tangerine and orange blossom flowing into a crispy finish of papaya and grass.  Delightfully refreshing. Barlow Score: 90 Points

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF APRIL 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Wow. What a March! I believe that we are now in a new month…April? I hope everyone is staying healthy and safe. I have been working from home and still Covid-19 free as far as I know. Family is healthy too.  Please stay home as much as possible for everyone’s safety as we continue to flatten the curve. Spec’s offers Curbside pick up or we have just launched a new Spec’s App that helps you pick out selections from the comfort of your own home. We are using Instacart and Drizly for methods of transportation, so please download the app or get on our website (specsonline.com) to order from home.  We can get it delivered to you! Package stores (Alcohol) have been deemed ‘essential’ so don’t worry about your friendly neighborhood liquor store not being open, but please if you do venture out, be cautious and smart. We will all get through this together….with a little help from the wine! Enjoy!

Lavinea ‘Elton Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2015

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $39.89

I recently had the pleasure of bringing in this wine to our portfolio.  Willamette Valley Chardonnay is quickly becoming my ‘go to’ area for Spectacular Chardonnay! This wine is EASILY one of the best Chardonnays that I’ve had in recent memory and quite possibly one of the best I’ve tasted from the New World.  The winemaker is Isabelle Meunier (Evening Land, Domaine Vougeraie and Felton Road) whom apprenticed under famed Bourgogne winemaker Dominique Lafon.  In other words, she has excellent pedigree!  The Elton vineyard (named Oregon’s Top Ten Best Vineyards) is located in the Eola-Amity Sub AVA of Willamette Valley with elevation of about 500 feet and the well known Jory soil that makes Willamette Valley unique in profile. This silky smooth and beautifully textured wine offers harmonious flavors of white peach, granny smith apple, and whiffs of quince that dance melodically through deliciously refreshing acidity. Hints of butterscotch and cotton candy lay into a clean mineral component.  The finish offers a clean zest of key lime pie and just a kiss of vanilla. Absolutely stunning. Barlow Score: 96 Points

Parched (Bougetz) Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $39.89

Want a $70 Cabernet for $40? This is your choice!  2017 was an amazing vintage for Napa Valley. The fruit for this wine was sourced from carefully selected vineyards in the mountains and valley floor to give it excellent structure, balance and complexity.  The wine was aged for 20 months in 50% New French oak and 50% once used French oak.  Firm and Structured, this wine offers thick flavors of blackberry and black cherry with a silky core of tannins and acids that keep the fruit taught and fresh.  Notes of cassis and tobacco tingle into the mid palate with whiffs of pipe smoke.  The finish is layered and textured with hints of toasted vanilla bean, cedar and cigar box. Yum! Only 385 cases produced.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Anthill Farms Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $39.89

I have the opportunity in my job to seek out little geeky wineries that are making fabulous ‘under the radar’ wines and work on giving them their niche in the Texas retail market. This is one such producer.  The winery is known for producing minimal ecological impact (biodynamic) wines made by Anthony Filiberti.  This stunning Pinot Noir is picked from 40 year old vines with 30% whole cluster implemented then aged in 30% New French oak for 12 months.  Silky and plush, this mighty ant marches up the hill with flavors of candied raspberry and strawberry with medium intensity.  Notes of rhubarb and cola are prevalent on the mid palate with whiffs of vanilla, toast and a delightfully rich whipping cream on the finish.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Cru Winery ‘Monarch’ Red Blend 2015

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $27.99

I have been tasting through a fair amount of Paso Robles wine lately.  As Napa prices continue to rise, buyers are looking into more value driven areas such as Paso Robles.  Cru winery consistently offers exceedingly good value wine and this red blend is knocking it out of the park.  The wine is a mix of Bordeaux and Rhone varieties with the bulk being Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon. Monarch offers a balanced richness with flavors of currant and cassis with a silky medium intensity. The finish shows a balance of oak and spice that sits on the palate for a nice, long time. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Jean Baptiste Adam Reserve Riesling 2017

Alsace, France

Cash Price $17.99

Dry Riesling is one of my absolute favorite wines.  It is such a versatile grape that it can pair with darn near everything or be perfectly fine by itself.   Alsace produces some of the best DRY white wines in the world and this vintage is one of the best I have ever tasted!  This family has a history of over 400 years of being grape growers and winemakers in Alsace.  Flavors of zesty citrus and orange blossoms flow into medium plus acidity without any encumbering oak.  Touches of apricot and grapefruit sinew cleanly through hints of wet rocks.  The finish is amazingly complex with apple blossoms, wild white flowers and lychee.  This is a WOW wine.  James Score: 91 Points

Chateau Callac Prestige Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $21.84

The 2015 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 60% Merlot/25% Cabernet Sauvignon/15% 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

Portlandia Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $17.99

This fun and fresh 100% Pinot Noir  from Willamette Valley was aged in 60% French oak for 11 months and is an absolute bargain under $20.  Bright red cherries dance into the palate with bits of crunchy raspberry that meld into medium intensity.  The mid palate offers hints of creamy wild berries and cranberry with just a touch of rhubarb and underbrush on the finish. This is a no brainer value Pinot Noir. Barlow Score 88 Points

Klinker Brick ‘Brickmason’ (Zinfandel) Red Blend 2016

Lodi, California

Cash Price $16.99

Klinker Brick is an oldie, but goodie that has come back to our portfolio.  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

Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ Chardonnay 2016

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $15.99

Twisted Paso has become one of my favorite ‘Every Day’ wines that over delivers for the price point. Paso Robles continues to produce exciting wines that don’t carry the price burden of its wineries to the North (Napa Valley).  This soft and plush Chard offers flavors of pineapple and melon sinew easily into medium acids that are ensconced by hints of hazelnut, vanilla cream and orchard fruit. The finish is balanced and mellow with smidgeons of caramel and toffee. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Chateau de Haut Serre Grand Vin Seigneur Malbec 2015

Cahors, France

Cash Price $21.84

Chateau Haut Serre is owned by arguably the best producer in Cahors, Georges Vigouroux.  The wine is 90% Malbec with smidgeons of Merlot and Tannat and aged for twelve months in 30% New French oak.  This powerhouse black wine is thick and meaty from start to finish.  Flavors of black currant and blackberry sink into brooding tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows herbs and spice with touches of dark cherry and tar.  The finish is full of clove, cinnamon and vanilla with tinges of leather and mushrooms.  James Score: 90 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘High Valley’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Lake County, California

Cash Price $15.99

Clay Shannon is producing some of the best Cabernet grapes, sustainably farmed, that are still affordable in the region of Lake County at an average elevation of 2,000 ft.  This delicious mountain Cabernet was sourced from one of his favorite blocks, (so much so that he named it after his mother) Betsy’s vineyard. Thick Mountain fruit flavors of blackberry and dark cherry explode into a fruit driven freight train that is kept on the tracks by excellent acids and tannins to hold it in balance. French oak gives this mountain fruit some texture and notes of exotic spice and vanilla.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Girasole Organic ‘Hybrid’ Red Blend 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

We are extremely pleased to add this ORGANIC value winery to our portfolio.  It is rare to get organic wine at such a great price point.  This every day red blend is a blend of Cabernet, Merlot and Zinfandel from a little Italian family that has been farming in Mendocino forever. Ripe, crunchy red fruits pop into the palate offering flavors of dark cherry and plum with medium intensity. Notes of blackberry lift into black pepper, cinnamon and coffee beans.  The finish is easy and lingering.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Domaine de Pegau ‘Pink Pegau’ Dry Rose 2018

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $14.99 BUT ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME!

ONLY $10.97!

This Dry Rose is consistently one of my favorite wines for the blazingly hot summers of Houston.  It is an 80% Cinsault blend with bits of Grenache and Carignan sourced from the vineyards of Laurence Feraud in Sorgues (4 miles south of Chateauneuf du Pape).  Pegau doesn’t produce any wines short of spectacular. Period. Always know you have quality when you pop a bottle of Pegau.  Pink Pegau offers wild strawberries and watermelon that linger on medium plus acidity.  The mid palate hits with wild red berries and red cherry with just a hint of white pepper and red roses.  The finish shows tinges of minerality with a whiff of red apples and peach.  James Score: 91 Points

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

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The 12 under $12 for April 2020

McGuigan Red Blend

Australia

Cash Price $9.99

This delightful red is filled to the brim with flavors of plum, blackberry and cherry while showing hints of spice on the finish. Pair with Momma’s everyday cooking.

Cycles Gladiator Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $11.89

Cycles rides into ripe flavors of blackberry and black cherry with hints of dried herbs and cedar that linger into a deliciously long finish. Pair with beef fajitas from your favorite take out Mexican restaurant.

Michel Schlumberger Chardonnay

California

Cash Price $10.99

Here we have a delicious Chardonnay for daily consumption. Bright flavors of melon and pineapple sink into a rich, creamy finish.  Pair with your back porch and some quiet time!

Hayes Merlot

California

Cash Price $11.99

Dark cherries and blueberry pop into an intensely fruit forward palate. Bright strawberries flow into whiffs of vanilla and offers a creamy texture on the finish.  Pair with meatloaf and mashed potatoes.

Playtime Red

California

Cash Price $9.99

This playful red blend is sure to be a hit at your dinner table.  It is a Zinfandel heavy wine that offers flavors of blueberry, plum and vanilla with hints of exotic spice.  Pair with a grill and meat while wearing your favorite apron and cooking for the family.

Roblar Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $9.99

Rich and fruity, this pleasure offers flavors of crushed strawberries and pomegranate with tinges of vanilla, cola and cream. Pair with a seafood salad from your favorite take out seafood joint.

Perimeter Riesling

Washington State

Cash Price $9.99

Riesling continues to be one of the most versatile white grapes in the world.  Perimeter offer flavors of apricot and nectarines with hints of honeyed wax and wildflowers.  Pair with sweet and sour grilled shrimp.

Trocard Blanc

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $9.99

Trocard is a Sauvignon Blanc based blend.  Flavors of lemon lime citrus flows into clean, fresh acids with a touch of tropical fruit to round out the finish. Pair with the rays of sunshine while social distancing on this beautiful April day.

Pigmentum Malbec

Cahors, France

Cash Price $9.99

This French Malbec is a wine critic darling.  It offers flavors of blackberry and currant with soft tannins and a long, lingering finish.  Pair with beef tacos from your favorite taco truck.

Fontaleoni Chianti

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $11.99

Fresh and perfumed, this Sangiovese explodes with floral red roses and crunchy red cherries on the palate with excellent balance throughout the finish. Pair with Pappa’s spaghetti and meatball extravaganza.

La Gondola Pinot Grigio

Tre Venezia, Italy

Cash Price $6.99

Its porch pounding Pinot Grigio weather!  Gondola offers light flavors of lemon citrus and hints of white fruit.  Pair with yard work and a case of this in a big iced cooler.

Liberation de Paris Rose

VDP, France

Cash Price $10.99

This Liberatingly Dry Rose gives flavors of wild red berries and strawberries.  Fresh, pure acids give way to rose petals and citrus.  Pair with arugula and tomato topped flatbread.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

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JAMES BARLOW’S ‘THE THIRTEEN’ PICKS OF MARCH 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

March is roaring in and just like that a third of the year is gone, but great goodness almighty! What a year it has already been!  I plan to travel to Bordeaux to taste the 2019’s in a couple of weeks and I’ll make sure to give you all an in-depth look at the vintage. This month’s list is American heavy as I have been tasting much more American wine as of late, with a sprinkling of other wines from around the world. Pick a bottle or 6 (Pick 6 discount!) and let me know what you think. Enjoy!

Bougetz ‘Amaryllis’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Spring Mountain (Napa), California

Cash Price $59.84

I was in Napa Valley last year with Napa Valley Vintners and had the pleasure of really sinking my teeth into all that Napa Valley has to offer. I tasted this wine amongst probably a hundred other wines and found myself gravitating back to their booth to taste through the rest of the line. This wine showed a purity and concentration that put it head and shoulders above the rest at the tasting. The wine is 92% Cabernet with 4% Merlot and Cabernet Franc from 1,000 ft. above the valley in Spring Mountain. It 100% whole berry crushed and fermented then aged for 22 months in 75% new oak. Bright flavors of thick black fruits of currant and cassis load into the palate with nice viscosity. The mid palate is full with good tannin and acid structure that are ensconced by layers of cherry vanilla, cedar and exotic spice.  Get this in your home! Wow! Barlow Score: 95 Points

Calcareous ‘ZSM’ Red Blend 2017

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

Parched Pinot Noir 2017

Sonoma Coast, California

Cash Price $29.99

This single vineyard Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast is a new addition to our portfolio.  The Pinot Noir grapes are 777 clone and sourced from two blocks in the Gold Coast Vineyard, fermented 100% whole berry then aged for 10 months in 30% new French oak. Rich flavors of black cherry and pomegranate meld with soft acidity and tannins. Hints of cola and rhubarb tingle throughout the palate with whiffs of exotic spice.  The finish is layered and textured with notes of vanilla and raspberry compote. Barlow Score: 92 Points
Ulrich Langguth Spatlese Gunterslay Riesling 2017

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $22.99

Riesling season is coming back with the warm weather!  Riesling is so deliciously versatile to pair with food or to share with friends at the pool.  This 100% Riesling from the Piesporter Gunterslay vineyard is intensely ripe with flavors of white peach and oozing fleshy melon.  Sunshine citrus flows through a backbone of fresh acidity with hints of crushed white rocks. Whiffs of apricot and pear combine with fresh wild flowers on the finish. Utterly delicious!  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Chateau de Castera Red Blend 2010

Haut Medoc (Bordeaux), France

Cash Price $19.94

Castera is a Cru Bourgeois winery that is held to higher standards than the regular AOP wines of the area.  The 2010 vintage was one to behold in Bordeaux.  Bright, sunny days and cool nights helped the grapes reach full potential ripeness while retaining acidity and structure.  The wine is Merlot based with a heavy dollop of Cabernet and touches of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  Ripe flavors of strawberry and black cherry sing through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of currant are displayed through hints of cinnamon and clove.  The finish offers sweet spices with licks of vanilla and a smidgeon of roasted meat and freshly brewed coffee.  Awesome wine from a vintage that is sure to dazzle.  This wine is drinking beautifully Right Now! Barlow  Score: 90 Points

Peachy Canyon ‘Westside’ Zinfandel 2017

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 plum 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

Trig Point ‘Diamond Dust Vineyard’ Merlot 2017

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99

Nick Goldschmidt is one of my favorite wine makers.  He consistently crafts wines of high quality in different climates and even hemispheres.  His father was a land surveyor and a ‘Trig’ is used to establish boundary lines.  Goldschmidt’s Trig Point wines show the unique soils of the area he gets the grapes from, namely Alexander Valley.  The vineyard is located on the southern (and cooler) end of Alexander Valley which makes it prime territory for producing low yield, high quality Merlot.  This 100% Merlot offers flavors of intense black cherry and rhubarb that jump into easy acids and well rounded tannins.  Notes of strawberry and freshly picked plum meld into the core of the wine with touches of spice and smokey minerality.  The finish is deliciously long with 12 months of French oak aging in 25% new barrels and just a touch of new American oak which gives hints of creamy vanilla bean, cinnamon, and cedar.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Twisted Paso Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $16.99

The Calcareous ‘Twisted Paso’ (formerly Twisted Sister) line has become one of the best selling wine selections in Spec’s entire portfolio.  They produce a wine with silky smooth approachability that is heaven on the palate.  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.  James Score: 89 Points

Blason de Bourgogne Cremant Sparkling Rose N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $15.69

Some of the best value bubbles in the world are coming from the Bourgogne region. The wines are made Methode Champenoise and can often rival that of its neighbors to the north but without the price tag.  This Pinot Noir based bubbly is vibrant and refreshing from first POP of the cork.  Deliciously fresh notes of strawberry and raspberry tart zing into the palate with hints of biscuity goodness that are wrapped up in rose petals and wild flowers.  The finish is clean and crisp with tinges of cherry pie and melon. Yum! Barlow Score: 90 Points

One Flock Red Blend 17

California

Cash Price $14.99

I recently tasted the new vintage of this everyday slurper and came up with quite similar notes for you value shoppers!  The wine is a kitchen sink blend with Zinfandel and Cabernet making up the lion’s share. The wine was aged in both French and American oak.  Flock is deliciously supple with flavors of red plum and wild berries that sinks into soft tannins.  Whiffs of blackberry pie, cinnamon and nutmeg flow through the finish with tinges of pipe tobacco and sweet clove.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Girasole ORGANIC Chardonnay 2018

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $12.99

This Brand New addition to our portfolio is 100% Certified Organic!  We have been on the hunt for value Organic wine and have hit pay dirt with this Mendocino winery that has been farming organically from the start.  Fresh flavors of lemon lime citrus and tree fruits flow easily into the palate with light intensity.  The mid palate is elegant and shows a creamy note that is surrounded by whiffs of green apple,honeyed almonds and vanilla. The finish is light and compelling with bit of toasted oak.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Shannon Ridge Petite Sirah 2018

Lake County, California

Cash Price $12.99

Shannon Ridge has become my ‘go-to’ daily winery with exceedingly high quality in the bottle for such a marginal cost. This juicy Petite Sirah has become a staple of their winery with its extremely approachable mentality.  The wine gets consistently high scores from critics (#64 Wine Enthusiast Top 100 Wines of 2019) year after year.  Ripe flavors of blackberry and black raspberry rush into the palate with medium intensity. Hints of black pepper and spice fill the mid palate with tickles of vanilla and cedar on the finish. Barlow Score: 90 Points

Kono Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $12.99

Kono is one of the more consistent selling Sauvignon Blanc’s in Spec’s portfolio.  It is the 2nd label of Tohu winery and has absolutely caught fire in the market the past couple of years.  Completely unoaked, this Sauvignon is juicy and vivacious from start to finish.  Flavors of citrus lemon-lime zest zing through medium plus acids.  Notes of ripe and dripping grapefruit are prevalent on the palate with smidgeons of jalapeño jam and finely chopped herbs.  Perfect summer party wine that would pair insanely with oysters on the half shell! Barlow Score: 89 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

 

 

 

 

 

 

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K VINTNER’S EVENT IS ON 3-11-20

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I just realized I neglected to put date of the event…..it’s this Wednesday!

Please RSVP to RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com

WHAT: K Vintners Free Customer Appreciation Event

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

When: MARCH 11TH FROM 6:30-8:00PM

Wines to be poured:

  1.  Popup Sparkling N/V
  2.  Charles Smith ‘Vino’ Pinot Grigio
  3. Charles Smith ‘Vino’ Rosso Red Blend
  4.  Wines of Substance Cabernet Sauvignon (91 Points, Wine Spectator #49 Top 100)
  5. K Vintnters Motor City Kitty Syrah (96 Points)
  6.  K Vintners King Coal Cab/Syrah (98 Points)

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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