A Napa Experience Hosted by James Barlow

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to offer my first class of the year.  I have been focusing mostly on French wines (Burgundy) in the past several classes.  For this class, I’d like to walk you through one of the most prestigious wine regions in the world: Napa Valley.

In this class I will dive into the AVA’s within Napa Valley, showing wines from different areas from the valley floor to the mountain sides.  We will walk through the sub American Viticultural Areas within Napa Valley learning about soil structure, grapes, vintages, wine-making techniques and much more.  We will taste wines from the regions to understand the unique differences of the areas.

This will be a wonderful experience as we will taste wines from all over Napa Valley with some single vineyard wines to help give a sense of place to each area.

I will have a selection of cheese and bread to nibble.

RSVP to Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

What: A Napa Experience hosted by James Barlow

When: Wednesday, February 27th from 6:30-8:00pm

Where: Prohibition Texas Bar in Old Town Spring: 26420 Preston Ave, Spring, TX 77373

Cost: $45 Per Person

Wines to be poured:

  1. Illumination Sauvignon Blanc – Rutherford/Napa Valley AVA
  2. Matthiason Ribolla Gialla – Oak Knoll AVA
  3. Jayson by Pahlmeyer Chardonnay – St. Helena/Carneros AVA’s
  4. Snowden Petit Verdot – Napa Valley AVA
  5. Napanook Red Blend – Yountville AVA
  6. Chimney Rock Cabernet Sauvignon – Stags’ Leap AVA
  7. Nickel and Nickel ‘John C. Sullenger’ Cabernet Sauvignon – Oakville AVA
  8. Vagabond Syrah – Carneros AVA

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS



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The ‘Twelve under $12’ for January 2019



Hayes Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

Cash Price $11.99

A perfect cool weather Cabernet with red cherry and cassis that envelope the palate with smooth tannins and cream vanilla. Pair with a dark chocolate, a blanket and your favorite movie.

Chateau Maret Bordeaux Rouge

Cash Price $8.99

A classic Merlot based red that gives silky plum flavors with medium intensity and just a hint of earthy complexity. Pair with tenderloin tips with onions and green peppers on a kabob.

Perimeter Chardonnay

Cash Price $9.99

A staple house-style chardonnay with easy tropical fruits of pineapple and apricot with tinges of butterscotch and oak on the finish. This is a day that ends with ‘Y’ Chardonnay.

Roblar Merlot

Cash Price $9.99

This wine is a real overachiever. Bright flavors of red raspberry, currant and rhubarb flow into a dollop of creamy vanilla that lingers on the finish quite nicely. Pair with a honey baked ham sandwich and baked beans.

Harvest Acres Sweet Red Moscato

Cash Price $9.99

Delightfully sweet notes of candied strawberry and wild berry flow into tinges of creamy chocolate and tickles of skittles on the finish. Pair with a strawberry chocolate mousse cake.

Mia Moscato White Sparkling N/V

Cash Price $9.99

This fun sparkler has wonderful aromatics with hints of white flowers, peach and apricot. Fun and fresh, pair this with friends at a party.

Brumont VDP Rouge

Cash Price $9.99

This wine is half Tannat/Merlot and offers intense red fruits with excellent structure and grip. The finish shows touches of spice and earthiness.  Pair with dark roux gumbo with lots of spice!

Dimino de Eguren ‘Protocolo’ Tinto

Cash Price $6.99

This 100% Tempranillo is unoaked and shows excellent aromatics. Flavors of juicy black cherry and hints of licorice are prevalent with medium intensity and smidgeons of peppery herbs on the finish.  Pair with smoked ham hocks and beans.

Arabella Chenin Blanc

Cash Price $8.99

Chenin Blanc is becoming quite popular. This entry level wine offers an easy drinking appeal with medium intensity and flavors of lemon citrus, grapefruit and kiwi.  Fresh and light, pair this with light cheese and white fish.

Messias Tawny Port N/V

Cash Price $9.99

This is the time to pop Port! Tawny offers flavors of brown sugar, dried apricots, marzipan and nuts. Lightly viscous and delish.  Pair with pecan pie or salted caramel cheesecake.

El Portillo Malbec

Cash Price $9.99

The Malbec craze is still strong. Unoaked flavors of blackberries and plum flow into sweet tannins and hints of clove and cinnamon.  Pair this with taco steak pasta.

Reserve St. Marc Merlot

Cash Price $6.59

This 100% Merlot is brimming with fresh currant and cassis with medium intensity and hints of dusty mocha on the finish. Pair with a ‘works’ thin crust pizza.


Buy a mixed case consisting of one 750ml bottle of each of our JANUARY 12-UNDER-$12 selections for only $100.00.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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2016 (Mostly) Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join me for this Spectacular event to taste the Highly Acclaimed 2016 Vintage.

4:30 – 8:30pm   Wednesday, January 16, 2019 at The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice

SPEC’s will host over 30 Bordeaux chateau owners, directors, and/or winemakers presenting 67 mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux wines, all from the superb 2016 vintage in a standup- and-walk-around tasting format. This is our eighth time to host such a delegation from Bordeaux and each of the previous events have been smashing successes. The list of well-known and highly regarded Bordeaux wines includes …

Dry White Wines: Blanc de  LYNCH BAGES (2017), Ch. CARBONNIEUX, Ch. SMITH HAUT LAFITTE, Domaine de CHEVALIER
Bordeaux, Cotes de Bordeaux, Satellites: Ch. CROIX MOUTON and Ch. le CONSEILLER, Ch. AMPÉLIA, Ch. d’AIGUILHE, Ch. PUYGUERAUD, Ch. CAP St. GEORGES
St. Estephe: Ch. Les ORMES de PEZ, Ch. PHELAN SEGUR

We’ll be tasting great wines from every major appellation in Bordeaux. The tasting will open at 4:30pm and run thru to 8:30pm, giving you ample time to taste the wines and visit with our guests from Bordeaux. The tasting will include a spread of artisanal cheeses and breads chosen to help absorb the wines and refresh the palate. We will taste from Riedel Degustazione (tasting) glasses.  The 2016 Mostly Cru Classé Bordeaux Tasting will cost $100.00 per person (including a 5% discount for cash or check, regular price is $105.26). To purchase your ticket, please contact Susan at 713-854-7855 or coburnsusan2@gmail.com.

The Crystal Ballroom at the Rice is located in downtown Houston at 909 Texas Avenue between Travis and Main. Valet Parking will be available.

If you buy a ticket and will not be able to attend, please cancel at least 24 hours before the event. No shows and later cancellations will be charged.

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

We have a whole weekend of festivies before New Year’s Eve this year!  It’s time to get your bubbles on!  I have 3 exceptional choices for you to POP this NYE.  Please be safe, but always remember…..Life is too short to open bad sparkling wine!  Thank you as always for being part of this blog and I hope my recommendations lived up to expectations this year.  See you in 2019!

Michel Mailliard ‘Cuvee Alexia’ Premier Cru Rose N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $49.99

Located in the famous sparkling town of Vertus in the Cote de Blancs, Michel Mailliard is a fourth generation Premier Cru producer.  ‘Cuvee Alexia’ is lovingly named after his daughter.  This Bubbly is a veritable fruit cocktail with clean, delicious sparkles from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir that is quite dry on the palate.  Flavors of strawberry, raspberry and bing cherries explode in the palate.  The mid palate shows fleshy citrus fruits that are encompassed by a rich, creamy complexity that mellows into touches of dark chocolate and rose petals.  The finish sings with gracefully tight bubbles that dance melodically  with hints of chocolate mousse, cherry pie and all things delicious!  This Premier Cru Champagne is a must for the WOW! factor at table this Holiday Season.  James Score 94+ Points

Jean-Pierre Marniquet Brut Tradition N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $29.99

There is a term in biz referred to as ‘Farmers Fizz’.  These Champagnes are made from grower-producers.  Easily put, these sparkling gems come from the blood, sweat, and tears of a farmer growing his own grapes and bottling his most prized possession.  The letters ‘RC’ on the label of the bottle refer to this farmer, also known as a Recoltant Manipulant.  This wine is not traditional Champagne in the sense that it uses Pinot Meunier as its primary varietal whereas Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are usually the heavy hitters in Champagne blends.  Pinot Meunier gives the bubbles a refreshing youthfulness of vibrant fruit and texture. Red fruits are prevalent and consistent through the tight bubbles.  Complex notes of apple citrus, Bosque pear and lemon pop into the palate with delightfully tight, clean bubbles.  The palate offers notes of confection and dough with just a smidgeon of button mushroom.  Yum!  James Score: 92 Points

Blason de Bourgogne Brut N/V

Bourgogne, France

Cash Price $13.99

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 wine is 60% Pinot Noir/20% Chardonnay/10% Gamay/10% Aligote and aged on the lees for twelve months.  Blason bubbly is an extremely pretty wine.  Flavors of citrus and fleshy green apples pop into the palate with hints of freshly baked biscuits.  The mid palate offers pear and apricots that meld into zesty acids.  The finish is light and refreshing with touches of confection and candied sweet tarts.  James Score: 89 Points

Happy New Year!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS


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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

We finished Part 1 tasting the passionate wines of Benjamin Leroux.  Our hotel was actually located within a couple of blocks of his winery, so we saw him several more times before the end of the trip….including a game of bocce ball in the depths of his cellars.

DAY 3 Continued…

We had lunch in Beaune town square at the office of Becky Wasserman with her crew.  We ate well and drank some wines from the Loire and Alsace (Marcel Deiss Altenberg GC 2012).

Next, we traveled down to Volnay to barrel taste with the gregariously affable Nicolas Rossignol of Domaine Nicolas Rossignol.  He is a 5th generation wine-maker in Volnay.  Rossignol implements biodynamic practices with his wines and offers a hands off approach to wine making which allows the wines to sing of their terroir or sense of place.

We tried barrel samples of Bourgogne, Pommard, Volnay and Beaune.

The Best of the Bunch

Pommard ‘Les Epenots’ 1er– from 112 year old vines. Round, plush, creamy texture with just a hint of reduction.  Darker fruit, very clean and balanced.  Chalky, spicy and dense.  The wine is 60% whole cluster and he considers this HIS Grand Cru wine.  James Score: 93-94 Points

Volnay ‘Santenots’ 1er– Rounder and more opulent than the others.  Creamy, yet an underlying rusticity that shows sense of place.  Angular with red fruit and herbal tea. Zesty, clean and pure with notes of violets and licorice. Yummy.  James Score: 93-94 Points

We then moved on to Nicolas Rossignol’s 2nd cousin, Jean Baptiste Boudier in Pernand-Vergelesses.  He is a small producer as evidenced by his tiny cellar under his home.  He is a younger vigneron but one could sense that he is an up and comer in the region.  2015 was his 1st vintage with a modest production of 3 hectare.

His best offerings from barrel:

Pernand-Vergelesses Blanc– Chalky, lemon-lime with a creamier mouth feel and a beautiful acidity on the back bone.  The lengthy finish shows nuts, melon and green apple citrus. James Score: 90-91 Points

Pernand-Vergelesses ‘Cru Sous Fretille’ 1er Blanc– Round and creamy with good acidity.  Hazel, melon and butternut on the finish. Lovely. James Score: 92-93 Points

We finished the evening at the famous Ma Cuisine restaurant in Beaune eating escargot and rabbit with Fontagne-Gagnard ‘La Romanee’ 1er 2010, Comtes Lafon Monthelie 2014, and Dom. Coche-Dury Volnay 2011.


We started the brisk, but beautiful morning at Domaine Arnoux-Lachaux in Vosne Romanee.  Charles Lachaux has taken the reigns from his father Pascal.  While still quite young, Charles has quickly ascended to the upper echelon of wine makers in the region. He produces organic/biodynamic, low yielding and extremely high quality wines with a large percentage of whole cluster implemented.  We tasted from barrel with Charles wines of Bourgogne, Nuits-St-Georges, Chambolle-Musigny, Vosne-Romanee, Clos de Vougeot, Echezeaux, Latricieres-Chambertin, and Romanee-St.-Vivant.  Every wine tasted was 91+ points…

Winner Winners….

Vosne-Romanee ‘Les Suchots’ 1er– Super sexy sweet-candied red fruit.  Elegance defined.  Cream and spice with medium intensity and a structured finish. James Score: 95-96 Points

Romanee St. Vivant Grand Cru– Meaty and savory, yet elegant with a velvety weightlessness. Amazingly beautiful red fruits with vibrant acidity, hints of olive and bubble gum. OMG wine!  James Score: 96-98 Points

Up next:

Domaine Alain Michelot in Nuits-St.-Georges.  It was unfortunate that this winery had to follow the rock star wines of Lachaux.  These wines were much more classic styles of Bourgogne with more rusticity and earthiness. Therefore, they showed completely different and not quite as well after the plushness of Lachaux.  It did offer me a good example of the ‘old guard’ vs. ‘new guard’ wine makers and trend toward more supple, forward wines.


Nuits-St-Georges Aux Champ Perdrix 1er– Fresh and easy with good acidity and spice.  Nice floral red fruit and flowers with apple skins. The finish is long with darker fruit and touches of cream.  James Score: 88-89 Points

On to the next appointment….

The next move had us driving to the Beaune and the Chardonnay area of Meursault.  Domaine Vincent Latour is located here and has made quite a splash in Meursault since 2006 as he has been making extremely high quality wines on his 8 hectare in a sustainable fashion.  Vincent is a jovial man that seems like he’d be just as at home in a honky-tonk bar doing the Texas two step as tending to his vines.  The wines were exceptional and the reds were a delightful surprise.  We tasted Bourgogne, St. Romain, Puligny Montrachet, Meursault Blanc and Rouge, Chassagne Montrachet, and Pommard.

Dazzling Whites…

Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Morgeot’ 1er 2016– Yellow apples, anise, melon, pear, minerals, stones race into the palate into a riper mid palate with good intensity.  Hazel, cream and cactus.  Yum!  James Score: 94-95 Points

Meursault ‘Les Perrieres’ 1er 2016– Darker color with a rich, unctuousness that belies the vivid backbone of acidity.  50% new oak, vanilla cream, cream of corn with excellent balance.  Lots of lemon lime citrus zest and minerals on the finish.  WOW! James Score: 95-97 Points

After Vincent Latour we made our way to Chassagne-Montrachet and the stellar whites of Domaine Fontaine-Gagnard. Celine Fontaine was our hostess.  She was bubbly with excitement talking about the quality of the 2017’s and 2018’s as the quality and crop were extremely high in Chassagne.  She started us off with a delightful Passe-tout-grains that may have been the finest I have tasted.  Good start!  This Domaine owns numerous parcels in Premier and Grand Cru vineyards.  We tasted Passe-tout-grains, Chassagne Montrachet, Batard-Montrachet, and Le Montrachet.  All wines rated 90+ points.

Best of the Best

Chassagne-Montrachet ‘Clos St. Jean’ 1er 2017– Banana cream, lemon custard, green apples with 1/3rd new French oak.  Good intensity with nuts, cream, pear, and melon.  James Score: 94 Points

Le Montrachet 2017– Vanilla, cream, butternut, citrus, apples, melon with nice intensity and verbosity. Minerals and a long lengthy finish.  Beautiful and Balanced.  James Score: 96-98 Points

We finished a very long day traveling to Givry in the Cote Chalonnaise, which is a nice ride through windy roads and forest scenery.  We parked in an inauspicious driveway in the middle of what seemed like nowhere. David Smith (our Guide) told us to just wait.  He had been trying to find a Chalonnaise producer for awhile and stumbled upon this winery.  The winery was Domaine Masse.  This domaine is run by Fabrice Masse.  Fabrice’s father Raymond managed Hospices de Beaune and his uncle was an enologist, so wine making is in Fabrice’s blood.  He farms with a reasoned struggle, as to say that he does not use chemicals in his vineyards unless it is absolutely necessary.  He was ecstatic to have us there and opened up way more wine than we imagined!  All his wines were extremely clean and balanced.


Givry ‘Severzene’ 1er 2017– easy, dense, gamey with splashes of black fruit and earth.  James Score: 89-90

Montagny 1er 2017– Crème Fraiche, easy, zesty with a leesy component. Fresh and fun.  James Score: 89 Points

I’ll finish up the tour and the best wines of the trip in the last installment!

DAY 5….

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS



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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

It’s that time of year again when I scavenge through my notes and find the best wines that I tried over the past year.  I’ve been blessed to travel to France three times (Bordeaux once and Burgundy twice…with a side bar to Champagne) this year.  I tasted several thousand wines this year, but my Top Pick of the Year was one that I tasted a couple of years ago and re-tasted this year with similar notes.  It is a wonderful time to be drinking European wine as the warmer climate has allowed for riper vintages in the past several years. California is having many issues with wildfires, but they continue to churn out amazing wines year after year and you will find several on this list.  Above all, Drink what you enjoy, but here are some great wines to put on your table and share with family and friends this Holiday season.  Thank you as always for being part of this blog!  My Top Pick of the Year will be at the bottom.

Del Dotto Caves Cabernet Sauvignon Estate 2016

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $ 74.99

David Del Dotto’s family name has roots in wine that can be traced back to the 1400’s.  It’s in his DNA.  In 1988, he found a beautiful 17 acre property in Rutherford and the rest is history.  Del Dotto’s wines have quickly become cult classics that sell early…and often.  We are lucky to have them as partners.  The 2016 vintage offered the 5th exceptional vintage in a row for Napa Valley with high quality but, unfortunately, low yield.  This hedonistic gem is 92% Cabernet Sauvignon/4% Merlot/4% Cabernet Franc and aged in mostly New French oak.  The wine is richly textured with a thickly extracted core.  Rich flavors of black cherry and raspberry ooze onto the palate with blackberry jam and tobacco showing throughout.  The wine has medium plus to full intensity with velvet tannins and a creamy mouth feel.  Notes of roasted espresso, vanilla bean, and soft milk chocolate flows through the palate with wreck less abandon.  The finish is long and flavorful with hints of toasted cedar, cigar box, graham crackers and red velvet cake.  James Score: 94+

Fontaine-Gagnard ‘Clos St. Jean’ Premier Cru Chardonnay 2013

Chassagne-Montrachet, France

Cash Price $71.99

I had the joy of recently tasting the 2017’s of this winery from barrel in their cellar.  The wines were some of the best Chardonnay that I had tasted in recent history.  This led me to re-taste some of their older vintages and voila, I found this extraordinary wine.  Premier Cru wines are just a step under the Grand Cru status, but often give amazing quality without garnering the Grand Cru prices.  Clos St. Jean is a Premier Cru vineyard located on the hillside above the streets and houses of Chassagne-Montrachet village. It is planted to both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, making high-quality examples of both.  This 100% Chardonnay is aged in 30% new French oak for twelve months.  Flavors of crisp green apples and white flowers pop from the palate with hints of lemon citrus and a kiss of stone fruit.  The mid palate offers medium intensity with nice acidity on the backbone but also shows some flair with creamy bananas, pear and melon.  The finish is beautifully arranged with touches of hazelnut, custard and a dollop of vanilla bean.  James Score: 95

Volker Eisele ‘Terzetto’ Red Blend 2013

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $69.99 BUT FOR A LIMITED TIME


ONLY $49.99

Volker Eisele is located in the quaint district of Chiles Valley on the south eastern side of Napa Valley.  The AVA is one of the coolest in Napa and thus has one of the longest growing seasons.  The 60 acre estate has been organically farmed since 1974 and lies in elevations of 900-1,100 ft. Terzetto is a Bordeaux blend composed of equal parts of 1/3rd Cabernet Sauvignon, 1/3rd Cabernet Franc, and 1/3rd Merlot that is co-fermented then aged for 22 months in 60% new French oak.  The grapes are organically grown and hand harvested.   The wine is elegantly textured with medium intensity.  Eloquent flavors of blackberry and cassis with soft, encompassing tannins show through the core.  Notes of leather, cigar box and tinges of exotic spice play easily into hints of toffee, roasted coffee and mocha.  The finish lingers nicely on the palate with smidgeons of cedar, tea leaf and vanilla.  James Score: 93

Michel Mailliard ‘Cuvee Alexia’ Premier Cru Rose N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $49.99

Located in the famous sparkling town of Vertus in the Cote de Blancs, Michel Mailliard is a fourth generation Premier Cru producer.  ‘Cuvee Alexia’ is lovingly named after his daughter.  This Bubbly is a veritable fruit cocktail with clean, delicious sparkles from 90% Chardonnay and 10% Pinot Noir that is quite dry on the palate.  Flavors of strawberry, raspberry and bing cherries explode in the palate.  The mid palate shows fleshy citrus fruits that are encompassed by a rich, creamy complexity that mellows into touches of dark chocolate and rose petals.  The finish sings with gracefully tight bubbles that dance melodically  with hints of chocolate mousse, cherry pie and all things delicious!  This Premier Cru Champagne is a must for the WOW! factor at table this Holiday Season.  James Score 94+ Points

Edu Pulenta Gran Cabernet Franc XI 2013

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $39.89

The vineyard of Finca La Zulema Block 11 is located 1,000 feet above sea level in the region of Luyan de Cuyo in the picturesque region of Mendoza.  It is here that they grow this sensational Cabernet Franc.  Pulenta is a brand that world renowned wine maker Paul Hobbs has put his personal stamp on, as he is a consultant for the winery.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Franc that is aged for 18 months in New French Oak.  Pulenta is a fuller bodied Cabernet Franc that still possesses the finesse that the varietal typically offers.  Plush flavors of sweet red cherries, currant, and rose petals fill the palate with medium intensity.  Touches of sweet red berries enter the mid palate with hints of roasted pepper and eucalyptus.  The finish is deliciously flavorful with notes of cedar, vanilla bean and potpourri.  The wine is amazingly balanced and one of the better new world styles of Cabernet Franc that I have encountered.  James Score: 95 Points

Bernard Moreau Chardonnay 2014

Chassagne-Montrachet, France

Cash Price $64.99

It is impossible to mention the famed region of Chassagne-Montrachet in the Cote de Beaune without speaking of Bernard Moreau.  This small chateau produces organic, biodynamic, and sustainable wines with a pure hands off approach to allow the grapes to offer their true expressions of flavor and terroir.  The wine is aged in 30% new French oak for 15 months, fermented with natural yeast and bottled un-fined and unfiltered.  It is brilliantly layered with flavors of lemon citrus that is cradled by tropical fruits and a beautiful floral bouquet.  Notes of white flowers and peach sink into the mid palate with tension based acidity.  The finish offers a plethora of flavor with butterscotch, hazelnuts, crushed rocks and whipped cream pie.  This wine is amazingly structured for the long haul and will only get better with some age.  James Score: 96 Points

Paolo Scavino Nebbiolo 2013

Barolo, Italy

Cash Price $59.84

Barolo DOCG is the king of Piemonte which offers some of the best expressions of Nebbiolo in the world. Paolo Scavino owns 30 hectares entirely in the Barolo area and works on 20 Barolo historical crus located in Castiglione Falletto, Barolo, La Morra, Novello, Serralunga d’Alba, Verduno and Roddi.  The Scavino family distinguishes itself from the beginning by their scrupulous care of the vineyards and passion for terroir. Their core beliefs is the supremacy of the viticulture above the oenology therefore the focus is the care of the vines in order to grow ripe and healthy grapes. In winemaking minimal and equal intervention are sought, to preserve natural diversities, terroir.  This Paolo Scavino Barolo comes from the best plots of seven cru. The diversity of soils, exposure and altitude characterizes each of these small but very important terroir. Unifying these diversities, the Barolo offers harmony and complexity with an overall character of the zone. The wine is 100% Nebbiolo and aged for 22 months in aged French oak and large casks.  Flavors of violets and rose petals quaff into the palate with notes of fresh red plums and cherries.  The wine has a full intensity that is extremely aromatic.  Chewy tannins and firm acidity will give this wine a nice long life.  The finish is pleasurable with hints of potpourri and baking spices.  James Score: 96 Points

Chateau Real D’Or ‘Monaco la Riviera’ Blanc 2015

Cotes de Provence, France

Cash Price $49.99

This fabulous white is made by Chateau Réal D’Or, which is in the village of Gonfaron, Côte de Provence.  The Chateau is nestled at the foot of the Massif des Maures, surrounded by oak forests and majestic centuries-old pine trees.  The vineyard is protected from the infamous Mistral winds..  The wine is 100% Rolle (Vermentino) and fermented in new French oak and then left on the lees for 4 months.  I had reservations about this wine as I wondered how a white from Provence could command such a price, but then I tried it.  The quality in the bottle is undeniable.  It is worth every penny of its price point.  Flavors of citrus lemon, pear and white peach show easily with medium intensity.  The mid palate has a surprised weightiness that gives the wine extra depth.  Hints of wild flowers, jasmine and almond are integrated nicely with touches of cream and vanilla.  The finish is balanced and refreshing with smidgeons of orange blossom, custard and toasted oak.  Only 5,000 bottles produced. James Score: 94 Points

Chateau D’Aiguilhe Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $30.89

Chateau D’Aiguilhe located in the Cotes de Castillon on the right bank of Bordeaux.  The estate is owned by the legendary icon Stephan Von Neipperg, who also happens to own Chateau Canon La Gaffeliere (Wine Spectator’s #2 wine this year) and Premier Grand Cru Classe Chateau La Mondotte.  This is his value estate that completely over delivers for the price point.   The wine is 85% Merlot/15% Cabernet Franc that is aged in 30% new oak.  Massive color with a WOW body.  The wine is full and vibrant with dark red fruits, currant and chalky cream.  The wine has medium intensity with violets and raspberries that sink into a soft roundness that becomes poignant towards the finish.  Notes of baking spices and vanilla tingle throughout the quite inviting finish.  Very well balanced with a quiet opulence.  Yum!  James Score: 93-94 Points

Ulrich Langguth ‘GG’ Dry Riesling 2016

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $28.29

Dry Riesling done well can be absolutely haunting. The Langguth family is steeped in wine tradition with over 200 years of history in wine making.  ‘GG’ is a shortening of ‘Grosse Gewachs’ which is the Grand Cru system for the VDP, a community of 200 growers that are considered the finest in Germany. These grapes were grown on the very slate strewn, deep soils of Goldtropfchen, which is considered some of the finest vineyard sites in all of Germany.  Most wines from this area are slightly sweet, but this wine is deliciously dry.  Amazing flavors of crisp green apple, pear and apricot sinew into honeydew and hints of petrol.  The mid palate offers medium intensity and notes of beeswax and a stony minerality that sinks into the core.  The finish is flush with white flowers that waft sensuously throughout the palate.  The ‘GG’ wines of the region are considered of the utmost quality and some of the finest in all the land.  It is rare to get this quality at such a great price point.  James Score: 94 Points

Bindi Sergardi ‘Calidonia’ Sangiovese Reserva 2014

Chianti Classico, Italy

Cash Price $25.64

Bindi Sergardi is producing some of the freshest Sangiovese in all of Tuscany.  I tasted through the entire line and was quite impressed throughout.  This wine was one of my favorites.  It is a DOCG wine, which is the highest quality tier for wine in Italy, and exudes luxury and finesse from start to finish.  The wine is 97% Sangiovese/3% Merlot and aged in oak for fifteen months.  Flavors of crunchy red cherries and wild red berries flow into taught tannins and fresh acids.  The mid palate offers touches of savory meat and herbs of sage and white pepper.  The finish is restrained with a concentration of red fruits, rose petals, and freshly cut cedar.  Hints of spice and graphite layer throughout the entire mouth feel.  The wine is a touch closed, so a good decant is recommended.  That said, this wine is an over achiever at $25.  James Score: 92 Points

Frederico Paternina Banda Tempranillo Reserva 2010

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $14.99

Founded in 1896 in Ollauri, Rioja Alta by Don Federico Paternina, this historic bodega is one of the classics of Rioja. Bodegas Federico Paternina joined the premium Marques de la Concordia Family of Wines in 2014, owner of Spain’s finest estates since 1812. 2014 also saw the return to Paternina of the renowned Rioja winemaker Carmelo Angulo. Carmelo began his career at Paternina where he worked for 14 years, before gaining experience in the other great wine growing regions of Spain and today crafts the much-loved Federico Paternina ranges.  I opened this delight at a ‘Taste of Europe’ tasting and it absolutely floored everyone for the price point.  This Tempranillo based wine is aged in American oak for 24 months.  Flavors of dark currant and plum are held in check by a medium intensity.  Flavors of vanilla and dill are encompassed by earthy tinges of spice and dusted mocha with touches of freshly ground coffee.  The finish is long and complex with hints of toasted oak and subtle hints of tobacco leaf.  James Score: 91 Points



Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $71.99

Chateau Branaire-Ducru is a family-owned 4th Growth Grand Cru Classe in the commune of Saint Julien.  I have been an avid fan of these wines for the past several years as I think the quality in the bottle is much higher than the price point.  This estate has a history that dates back to 1680.  Patrick Maroteaux purchased the property in 1988 and poured this soul and being into making this property a leader in the Medoc.  He was one of the 1st in the Medoc to implement gravity flow at his winery.  He preferred wines of elegance, with a quiet voice that sings harmoniously from start to finish.  Sadly, Patrick Maroteaux passed away last November, but his son Francois-Xavier has stepped admirably into his father’s large shoes and taken the reigns of the Chateau.  The terroir of the estate is deep gravel with clay soils, which is perfectly suited for Cabernet Sauvignon.  Jean Dominique Videau is the master wine maker behind this stunning wine with Eric Boissenot consulting.  The 2015 vintage offers some of the purest, ready to drink Bordeaux that I have ever tasted.  It is a wonderfully fruit forward vintage that is drinking gorgeously now.  Branaire-Ducru is a 65% Cabernet Sauvignon/26% Merlot/4% Cabernet Franc/5% Petit Verdot blend that is aged in 65% new French oak for 18 months.  This wine is the reason I have fallen in love with this Chateau.  Flavors of red cherry, framboise and violets flow into crunchy fresh notes of red berries and currant.  The wine has medium intensity with a soft, elegant creamy core and velvet tannins.  This stunner is unbelievably seamless with notes of clove, cinnamon and toasted oak that weave through hints of tobacco and exotic spices.  The finish lingers for a beautifully long time.  An Absolute Show Stopper Wine!  James Score: 99 Points

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,



Don’t miss out on this rare opportunity to learn about one of the finest wine regions in the world!

Please join me, James C. Barlow, Bourgogne Wine Ambassador and Certified Wine Educator, for the 2nd installation of my Burgundy ‘In Focus’ Master Classes.  This class will focus on the Cote Chalonnaise.  Often overlooked, this quaint region just south of the Cote D’Or is quietly building a great reputation for quality wines that are still quite affordable.  The grapes will, for the most part, stay the same with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir as the main varieties of the region.  I will introduce a grape that is taking the American market by storm called Aligote.  This variety has exploded on the market showing massive sales with even our own Houston Sommelier from Pappa’s Steakhouse, Steven McDonald, getting in on the action by creating a rap song about Aligote (YouTube it!) that has become a hit in America and France!  So Come One, Come all! We have 32 seats available for this class.  I have a new venue for this event Thanks to Effie Stees, owner of Envy Wine Room in Old Town Spring, who has been gracious enough to offer to host this event at her New Whiskey Bar, Prohibition Texas.

RSVP to: Jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com

Cost: $45 per person

What: Burgundy ‘In Focus’ Master class: Cote Chalonnaise

When: Tuesday, December 4th from 6:30-8pm

Where: Prohibition Texas Bar in Old Town Spring: 26420 Preston Ave, Spring, TX 77373


  1. Louis Jadot Aligote 2015, Bouzeron
  2. Vincent Girardin Premier Cru ‘Les Cloux’ Chardonnay 2015, Rully
  3. Albert Bichot Premier Cru Chardonnay 2015, Montagny
  4. Domaine Thenard Premier Cru ‘Les Bois Chevaux’ Pinot Noir 2011, Givry
  5. Famille Masse ‘Vieilles Vignes’  Pinot Noir 2015, Givry
  6. Albert Bichot Pinot Noir 2015, Mercurey

*Minimum 15 people for event to be held*

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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