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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FREE K VINTNERS ‘DRINK WASHINGTON STATE’ CUSTOMER APPRECIATON EVENT

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I apologize for the late notice, but I’ve been able to put together a great tasting of Washington State wines from Washington ICON K Vintners.  At this event,  you will be able to taste through some excellent day values (TOP 100 WINE SPECTATOR, Wines of Substance Cabernet) as well as some of their upper end wines that will show the excellence that Washington State has to offer.  See you there!

Please RSVP to RSVP_Woodlands@specsonline.com

WHAT: K Vintners Free Customer Appreciation Event

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North

When: 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)

Let me know if you have any questions.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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The Twelve Under $12 for February 2020

Ca’Momi Sparkling Rose

Napa Valley

$11.99/$10.79 Case Price

Deliciously soft on the palate, flavors of ripe strawberries and sweet red cherries burst into millions of bubbles.  A creamy core offers hints of cherry cobbler crust and citrus in a seamless finish. Pair with chocolates and your Valentine.

Schlumberger Cabernet

California

$10.99/$9.78 Case Price

This beautifully layered and textured wine offers black currant and plum with smidgeons of cigar box and exotic spice. Buy this by the case for your daily drinker.

Perimeter Chardonnay

California

$9.99/$8.79 Case Price

A staple house-style chardonnay with easy tropical fruits of pineapple and apricot with tinges of butterscotch and oak on the finish. This wine is Chardonn-Yay!

Roblar Merlot

California

$9.99/8.79 Case Price

Merlot is making a comeback!  Bright flavors of red raspberry, currant and rhubarb flow into a dollop of creamy vanilla that lingers on the finish.  Pair with a honey baked ham sandwich and baked beans.

Fog Bank Pinot Noir

California

$10.69/9.41 Case Price

American Pinot Noir often offers juicier texture with layers and complexity of wild berry and raspberry that flow into an elegant finish of rhubarb and cinnamon.  Pair with a fire roasted suckling pig.

Trocard Bordeaux

Bordeaux, France

$11.49/10.34 Case Price

Trocard is Merlot based, unoaked and offers good concentration with soft red fruits and hints of crushed rocks. It is a consistently reliable table wine.  Pair with a hearty beef stew.

Chateau La Fleur de Haut Serre Malbec

Cahors, France

$11.99/10.79 Case Price

Dark and lush, this wine offers black currant and blackberry with tinges of leather and slate.  Pair with a roast beef au jus sandwich.

Reserve Saint Marc Sauvignon Blanc

Languedoc, France

$6.99/6.29 Case Price

What a stunner for under $10. Fresh and crisp flavors of ripe citrus fruits flow into zesty acids and hints of grapefruit. Zip, Zap, Zoom this into your glass.

Liberation de Paris Chardonnay

France

$9.99/8.99 Cash Price

A good wine for a good cause, as a portion of the proceeds for this wine’s sales goes straight to a Houston Veterans Hospital.  Flavor of apple, melon and honeysuckle offer supple acidity and brightness.  Pair with lemon-buttered shrimp.

Radley & Finch Cabernet Sauvignon

South Africa

$8.99/8.09 Case Price

Value Cabernet is found in South Africa. This easy drinker offers flavors of red cherry and dark berries with hints of herbs that sink into an easy approachability.  Pair with chicken fried steak.

Impero Pinot Grigio

Delle Venezie, Italy

$8.49/7.47 Case Price

Pinot Grigio sales continue to soar.  Impero offers light fresh citrus notes with hints of tree fruit and white flowers. Un-oaked and quite refreshing, pair with your upcoming crawfish boil!

Marques Concordia Tempranillo

Rioja, Spain

$10.99/9.89 Case Price

This Tempranillo is gushing with flavor.  The wine offers flavors of red cherry and currant with good balance and just a whiff of new oak on the finish. Pair with food truck enchiladas and empanadas.

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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James Barlow’s ‘The Thirteen’ Picks of February 2020

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am back in the saddle with this blog after taking January off. I was recently in California on a Saké trip, being that I am also the new Saké buyer for Spec’s. When I was there I had a couple of delicious red blends (I Know, I know….I was on a Saké excursion) and it has lead me to the theme for this month’s list. I have several other wines on this list, but the main focus of this blog is Red Blends from around the world and the many grapes that comprise a delicious red blend. Blends are typically the winemaker’s best opportunity to show off their skills with the grapes involved to make a balanced expression of what what they would put on their dinner table to drink. Get some of these in your basket and let me know what you think!  Enjoy!

Monticello ‘Jefferson Cuvee’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $32.99

“Good wine is necessity of life” were the words from one of our Forefathers, Thomas Jefferson. The Corley family pays homage to the great man with their Jefferson’s Cuvee selections.  The winery has been producing Napa Valley wines since 1969.  The vineyards are sustainably farmed and the fruit used in this wine is all estate and fermented in French Oak.  I had the opportunity to dine with Stephen Corley last year and tasted through his whole line up.  These are beautifully crafted wines done right! Monticello exudes flavors of lush blackberry and black cherry that weave easily throughout balanced tannins and acids.  The mid palate shows touches of plum and anise that flow into a textured mouth feel.  The finish is long and entertaining with notes of lightly toasted oak, dark mocha and whiffs of vanilla.  Touches of spice linger delightfully on the palate.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Saddleback Cellars ‘Rancher Red’ Red Blend 2015

Napa Valley (Oakville), California

Cash Price $29.99

I am super excited to be able to offer this wine made by the LEGENDARY Winemaker Nils Venge.  He was the very first 100 Point winemaker in California with his 1985 Groth Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon.  He has since purchased a 14 acre Oakville estate and offers extremely reasonable prices from the (arguably) best AVA in Napa Valley.  The Rancher Red is a blend of mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a smidgeon of Petite Sirah and Syrah to finish the blend.  It is a small production, high quality wine that is sure to knock your socks off!  Silky flavors of black cherry and currant flow into velvet tannins and acids. Hints of blackberry and blueberries sink into light touches of cedar, vanilla, and toast.  The finish is long and balanced.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Cougar Crest ‘Dedication Eleven’ Red Blend 2013

Walla Walla, Washington

Cash Price $19.94

As most of you know, I have become an advocate of Washington State wines over the past couple of years and love showing a wine with a touch of age on it.  This gives the consumer an opportunity to see how well Washington wines can age.  Dedication is a blend of 40% Cabernet Sauvignon, 31% Syrah, 25% Merlot, and 4% Petit Verdot.  I am increasing happy with most of the wines coming out of Washington, but am REALLY excited about the blends from Walla Walla.  Dedication offers flavors of silky black cherries and blackberries that encompass velvety tannins and soft acids.  The mid palate shows a harmonious display of plum, mocha and baking spices that envelope the palate into a delightfully full, lush finish.  The wine does have a ‘sense of place’ on the palate that makes it distinctly different from some New World wines. The wine is peaking and drinking perfectly NOW, so go get yours!   Barlow Score: 91 Points

Trig Point ‘The Railyard’ Zinfandel 2017

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.  Railyard Vineyard sits just north of Geyserville (Ridge Winery fame) and is planted on pre Phylloxera vines 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.  Barlow Score: 91 Points

Pontac Phenix Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, 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.  It is hard to find a wine in the 2015 vintage that isn’t amazing quality, but this one is a true diamond for under $20.  Flavors of red cherry and kirsch lay on a medley of sweet spices and medium tannins.  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

L’Espigouette Red Blend 2016

Rasteau, France

Cash Price 20.89

The Rhone Valley has long produced some of the best value table wines on Earth, yet people often overlook the $15-$30 price point in Rhone.  The are either buying CDR (Cotes du Rhone) at $10 or CDP (Chateauneuf du Pape) at $40, and the middle price point is often lost.  I implore you to start diving into the insanely complex wine in the mid tier of the Rhone Valley.  This wine hails from the village of Rasteau which is best known for producing VDN (Vin du Naturel is a lightly fortified sweet wine) but can produce distinctly intense red wines. This wine is mostly Grenache (80%) with a little Syrah and Mourvedre sprinkled in.   Flavors of Stewed cherry cobbler races through the palate with raspberry compote.  The wine is thick and brooding with a viscous mouth feel.  Notes of sweet spice and oregano flow deftly into the mid palate with medium tannins and acids.  The 2016’s in France have yet fail me.  Everything I have had from almost every region has been spectacular.  Barlow Score:  91 Points

La Motte ‘Millenium’  Red Blend 2017

South Africa

Cash Price $17.99

This winery is a direct result of the immense care given by the famed Anton Rupert.  He planted noble grapes and provided excellent viticulture to build a winery with dynamic wines of repute.  This Merlot/Cabernet Franc blend was aged for 12 months in used oak.  Bright flavors of raspberry and currant sing into hints of herbacious underbrush and black tea.  Notes of blueberry bounce into a finish of toffee, cinnamon and wild flowers. This is a food wine for sure, but is sure to please on many range of palates.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Chablisienne Sauvignon Blanc 2017

St. Bris, France

Cash Price $12.99

This wine comes from one of the best Co/ops in all of France. Chablisienne sourced these grapes southwest of Chablis in the quaint region of St. Bris.  This region is the only one in Burgundy that highlights Sauvignon Blanc!  I am absolutely enamored by the wines of St. Bris. They offer textural and flavor differences from most of versions of SB in the entire world.  This daily stunner shows flavors of citrus apple with a layered, textured mouthfeel. Hints of melon and peach tingle into delightfully fresh acidity that is unencumbered by oak.  The finish is classically fresh and built for the hot Houston heat.  Super Yummy!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Domaine Haut Gleon Red Blend 2015

Valee Du Paradis, France

Cash Price $14.99

I’ve found your Crawfish Boil Red Wine for the upcoming season!  Look no further than Haut Gleon Rouge.  It is a blend of 60% Grenache/25% Syrah/15% Carignan from old vines and aged in neutral French oak.  The wine is fruit forward and spicy from the start.  Flavors of pomegranate and framboise explode from the palate with medium acidity and tannins.  The mid palate shows a juicy starburst core with exotic spices throughout.  The finish is soft and mellow with touches of coffee beans and salty roasted meats and nuts.  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Rivera Red Blend 2016

Salice Salentino, Italy

Cash Price $13.99

I visited this estate many years ago and was impressed with their attention to detail and the delicious wines and olive oil that were poured at the table.  The flatlands of Salice Salentino have quietly made a cult following of their inexpensive Negroamaro blends. The wines are deliciously ripe and inviting with plenty of dark fruit.  This wine is 90% Negroamaro with 10% Malvasia Nero and aged for 3-4 months in small, aged oak casks.  Flavors of stewed blackberry and dates jump into surprisingly vibrant acidity.  The mid palate shows ripe fruits of plum and morello cherry with a dense finish.  This wine will definitely surprise you for the price!  Get it in your basket.  Barlow Score: 89 Points

Shannon Ridge ‘Wrangler Red’ Red Blend 2017

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

Ca’Momi Chardonnay 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $12.99

Ca’Momi is rooted in Italian heritage, but with Napa panache.  Ca (Pronounced ‘ka’) Momi roughly translates to The House of Momi after Momi dea Bionda, who was notoriously obsessive and protective of his property and vineyards in Veneto, Italy.  This winery puts its heart and soul into the vineyards with meticulous care.  This Chardonnay exudes ripe flavors of pineapple and pear with medium acidity.  The mid palate offers mandarin orange that turns slowly into a cream vanilla core.  The finish gives licks of almond and hazelnuts on lightly toasted oak.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Muscador ‘Ice’ Sparkling N/V

France

Cash Price $9.99

Muscador is a delightfully medium sweet white sparkling wine that will be a perfect pair with your Valentine.  Made in the traditional method with Muscat (Moscato) grapes, this sweet bubbly offers flavors of citrus zest that flows into white flowers and drizzling honey. These light bubbles will give your Valentine a sparkle in their eyes.  Pair with a heart shaped box of chocolates!  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank You,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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JAMES BARLOW’S TOP PICKS OF 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to announce my TOP PICKS OF 2019! I have had the pleasure of traveling to Spain and Napa Valley this year.  I am settling into my new role with Spec’s as the Fine Wine America buyer as you will see with the medley of American wines on this list. I tasted several thousand wines this year and poured through my notes to find well rated, yet nicely priced wines.  I have a Dry Rosé on this list for the first time, but I love it enough to serve at my Thanksgiving day feast this year. The list is in no particular order, except for the last wine, MY TOP PICK OF 2019!  Thank you, as always, for being part of this blog. Please share with your friends and have them join too!  Happy Holidays!

Blue Rock ‘Best Barrels’ Cabernet Franc 2016

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $59.84

This is the 1st incarnation of Best Barrels Cabernet Franc….and I can see why as it is easily the best Cabernet Franc from the New World I have tried this year.  The ‘Best Barrel’ program for Blue Rock is an intensive progress where the best barrels from each vintage are kept off to the side to produce the ‘Best’ of what this winery has to offer.  They usually only produce a Cabernet Sauvignon, but this year the quality was undeniable in the Cabernet Franc barrels, thus it was decided to make this wine.  The wine is 95% Cabernet Franc with a plash of Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon all from the sustainably farmed Estate in Alexander Valley. It was aged in 35% New French oak (the rest in 1-2 year old barrique) for 20 months.  Deep and deliciously aromatic, this Franc offers exuberant flavors of red raspberry and strawberry that explode on the palate with whiffs of dried herbs showing medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate gives more red fruit with smidgeons of pepper and dark mocha that softens into a creamy core.  The finish is long and tantalizing with whiffs of cedar, vanillin and exotic spice.   Barlow Score: 95 Points

J. Moss Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Rutherford, California

Cash Price $74.99

I met James Moss (a fellow Texan) when I visited Napa Valley several months ago.  We were paired to have dinner together, by fate or design, and I was able to taste through his small production wines. I was quite impressed with the wines as we ate at a killer steakhouse called Cordeiro’s. This wine is from Rutherford AVA in a spectacular vintage (2014).  The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon that was aged in 100% New French Oak for 28 months.  Succulent, silky black and red fruits flow through velvet tannins.  Notes of mocha, tobacco and toasted spice layer beautifully through nuances of creamy vanilla and dark chocolate. Layered with amazing finesse.  Barlow Score: 93+ Points

Rizzi Barbaresco (Nebbiolo) 2016

Barbaresco, Italy

Cash Price $37.59

I tasted through this line up earlier this year 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 vineyard was planted in 1967 on marl clay and sand.  Flavors of strawberry and violets flow easily into the palate with medium plus acidity. The wine is fresh and clean with a plush mid palate that is somewhat surprising considering the wine is 100% Nebbiolo.  Notes of tea leaf are prevalent throughout the finish with touches of spice. Barlow Score: 91+ Points

Brooks ‘Janus’ Pinot Noir 2015

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $45.99

This winery is fully sustainable with most being organic or biodynamic. The wines offer purity and finesse that make it one of the top producers in the United States. They have an Old World feel with New World panache. They are also one of the first wineries in the United States to partner with 1% for the Earth. One Percent of all their sales goes straight back into making our Earth a better place. But enough about the winery! This is their flagship wine.  Striking flavors of bright cherry compote and pomegranate sinew into whiffs of chocolate macaroon and rhubarb.  The mid palate offers medium plus acidity with notes of lavender, cola, and root beer.  The finish is pure and clean with hints of porcini, cinnamon and raspberry tea.  Barlow Score: 93+ Points

Webster ‘Left Bank’ Red Blend 2012

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $74.99 But ON SALE FOR A LIMITED TIME

ONLY $59.97

Keith Webster, a former Houstonian for 27 years, loved wine from a very early age. He made his money as a businessman, but decided at the age of 56 that his true passion was in wine. He enrolled in the UC Davis Wine Program and began making wine from high quality Diamond Mountain fruit.  He produces Old World style wine, hence the name Left Bank (an homage to Bordeaux) from beautiful Napa fruit.  The wine is a blend of 60% Cabernet Sauvignon, 20% Merlot, 15% Petite Verdot and 5% Cabernet Franc aged in French oak.  This wine is really starting to hit its stride.  Robust flavors of cassis and blackberry deftly flow through dense, yet integrated tannins.  The mid palate offers layers of boysenberry and black cherry with subtle notes of dried tobacco and cigar box.  The finish is balanced and complex with touches of cedar, vanilla, and herbs.  This wine is worthy of the price, but an absolute steal under $60!  Less than 2 cases available. Barlow Score: 94 Points

Waris Hubert ‘Albescent’ Blanc de Blanc Grand Cru N/V

Champagne, France

Cash Price $49.99

I recently popped a bottle of this bubbly to celebrate with a good friend whom had just passed WSET 3 and was reminded at how absolutely stunning this Grand Cru Champagne is.  The wine is 100% first press Chardonnay (Blanc de Blancs) from the Grand Cru villages of Cramant and Avize.  It was aged for 3 years on the lees and bottled with a dosage of 7 g/l (.7).   The term Albescent come from the ‘Albe’ in Latin meaning white. The vineyards are an average age of 25 years and farmed sustainably.  Tight, clean bubbles weave through flavors of Granny Smith apples and freshly squeezed lemon with a vivacious backbone of minerality.  Hints of brioche and granary toast sneak into whiffs of white flowers, wet stone and tickles of honey.  Stunningly Clean and complex. What a treat!  Barlow Score: 94+

Ch. Pontac Lynch Red Blend 2015

Margaux, France

Cash Price $37.99

Margaux is considered a more elegant styles of Cabernet Sauvignon on the left bank of the Gironde River.  I have been extremely impressed with this winery every vintage.  As most of you know, the 2015 & 2016 vintages were excellent.  Pontac Lynch is consistently high quality at a great price point as their property is adjacent to the Grand Cru Classe estates of  1st Growth Chateau Margaux, 2nd Growth Rauzan-Segla, and 3rd Growth Chateau D’Issan.  It is a 10 hectare property that has been Cru Bourgeois status since 1932 and based on limestone and gravel soils.  This sustainably farmed wine is a blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot with touches of Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot.  The wine was aged in new and used French oak for 12 months.  Pontac Lynch is young but quite approachable right now.  Flavors of black raspberry and black cherry dance into nuanced acids and lively tannins.  Notes of currant, cigar box and leather play through the mid palate with tinges of cedar and sandalwood.  The finish offers hints of mocha, vanilla bean and vibrant fruits that lead into a long, lingering finish. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Calcareous ‘Tres Violet’ Red Blend 2017

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $39.89

Owner Dana Brown visited Texas this year with her team and laid out her passion for Paso Robles showing quality in the bottle and embodying the mantra ‘let the soil speak’.  Her portfolio was impressive across the board (Check out her Syrahs!) but I was quite taken with her Rhone style blend called Tres Violet.  It is a blend of Grenache, Mourvedre, and Syrah that sung from start to finish.  Gracious flavors of raspberry, violets and smoked game lifted into the palate with medium tannins and acids. The mid palate screams blueberry through a plush, creamy core. The finish is long and integrated with dancing hints of clove and cinnamon. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Domaine de Cabasse ‘Cuvee Juncunditas’ Red Blend 2016

Gigondas, France

Cash Price $23.69

I had the pleasure of taking Benoit Baudry, owner of Domaine de Cabasse, around our beautiful city showing his fantastic Rhone Valley wines this year.  His eyes lit up like birthday candles when he talked about this wine, boasting that it was one of the best wines he has ever produced. The wine is a blend of 70% Grenache/15% Syrah/15% Mourvedre grown at 1,300 feet above sea level.  The wine is supple and inviting from the 1st taste.  Flavors of ripe plum and roasted dates fling effortlessly into the palate with medium intensity followed by candied cherries.  Notes of licorice and black raspberry flow into hints of cracked black pepper with touches of garrigue.  Get this wine while you can!  Barlow Score: 94 Points

Castello di Ama Chianti Classico Gran Selezione 2015

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $62.99

The 2015 vintage was one to behold in all of Tuscany, but this wine absolutely stunned me with the quality and depth in the glass. Located just northeast of Siena, in the heart of Chianti Classico, is the picturesque estate of Castello Di Ama.  San Lorenzo is picked from their finest vineyards and aged for 12 months in 20% new barrique.  Divine flavors of wild red cherries and fresh strawberries play into the palate with medium plus acidity and medium tannins.  Notes of red clay, tobacco leaf and leather sinew through the mid palate with touches of thyme, blackberry and just a whiff of orange blossom.  The finish shows a silky complexity offering graham crackers and hints of milk chocolate.  This is easily one of the best offerings in all of Chianti Classico.  Barlow Score: 95 Points

Bodegas La Horra ‘Corimbo’ Tempranillo 2013

Ribera Del Duero, Spain

Cash Price $41.79

I tasted through the portfolio of the Iconic Rioja producer, Roda, at their Ribera Del Duero Winery earlier this year. The property in Ribera Del Duero is called La Horra named after the town in which it presides.  The wines are a definition of the newer style of ripe wine-making that is taking Spain by storm.  The wines were all of very good quality.  The Corimbo is produced in their La Horra estate and is 100% Tinta Del Pais (Tempranillo). The vines are an average of 25 years old on limestone/chalk soils in the towns of La Horra and Roa.  The wine is fermented in large oak and stainless steel then aged for 12 months in 80% French/20% American oak with 20% of that being new oak. The color of the wine is pristine with little to no signs of aging which shows that this wine will have a long life if you so choose.  The wine offers delicious flavors of black cherry and cassis that are enveloped with medium plus tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers a soft, approachable plushness that sinks into a long, lingering finish with kisses of vanilla, cedar and spice.  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Matthiasson Dry Rose 2018

California

Cash Price $19.94

The geek in me gets quite excited when I have the pleasure of pouring the wines of Steve and Jill Matthiasson.  They are considered some of the best in the business.  They love to experiment with lesser known varieties and keep wine making pure and simple. This wonderfully Dry Rose is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Counoise sourced from two vineyards (Dunnigan in Yolo and Hurley in Napa).  The wine has a delightful citrus and red fruit component that begs to be paired with food.  The wine is low alcohol (11.5%) and has a Provencal feel, but with American panache.  Notes of lemon citrus combine with fresh rose petals, wild flowers and raspberry that flow into refreshing acids. The mid palate softens a hint with touches of sur lie aging showing and notes of bing cherry that race throughout the creamy core. The finish is pure and refreshing with whiffs of white pepper, wet rock and gardenias.  Yum! Barlow Score: 91 Points

JAMES BARLOW’S TOP PICK OF 2019

Barnett Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Spring Mountain, California

Cash Price $99.99

Barnett Spring Mountain Cabernet 2016 was the best wine I tasted in Napa this year.  I tasted hundreds of wines during my trip and this one stood head and shoulder above the rest (and there was tough competition!).  I tasted this at an AVA specific tasting with all the wine makers talking of terroir and why their wines had different structure and flavors from different soils. David Tate was an unassuming fellow who showed true passion for growing mountain fruit. A couple of days later I had the pleasure of sitting with his wife (with bun in the oven) at a luncheon and talking a little more in depth about David’s wines.  This all estate wine is 76% Cabernet Sauvignon/11% Petite Verdot/9% Merlot/4% Cabernet Franc that was aged for 22 months in 65% new and 35% 2 yr French oak.  The 2016 vintage in Napa was a return to normalcy with decent rainfall in the winter months, followed by a warm spring and a moderately hot summer with warm days and cool nights. This wine was harvested from two vineyards, York Creek and Barnett Vineyards, which were meticulously cared for and the grapes were picked at perfect ripeness. Barnett shows great intensity and a dark core from the start with blueberry pie and blackberry jam cobbler flowing into a silky mouthfeel that belies its excellent structure.  It is definitive mountain fruit with depth and concentration while offering velvet notes of dark plum ensconced by clove, tobacco and dark, rich milk chocolate. The finish is extremely long with beautiful notes of vanilla, minerals, and dusty wood floor.  This wine will age gracefully for next 10-15 years. Layered, complex, complete.  Barlow Score: 97+

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine America and Saké Buyer

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THE THIRTEEN PICKS OF NOVEMBER 2019

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Tis the season for my ABSOLUTE favorite holiday.  Thanksgiving allows me to truly get my wine ‘geek’ on and typically pick some esoteric wines that will pair phenomenally with all the Turkey day fixins. This year I have chosen to be a bit more traditional, in the sense that I am showing you mostly American wines for this American Feast.  I hope you all will join me in pouring these wines at your table this Holiday Season.  Enjoy!

Roederer Estate ‘L’Ermitage’ Cuvee Sparkling Brut 2012

Champagne, France

Cash Price $44.64

Sparkling wines are a wonderful start, middle and ending to all things Thanksgiving! The wines are extremely versatile being mainly composed of a white and a red grape(Chardonnay and Pinot Noir).  This Winery is one of the top Champagne producers and have crossed the pond to settle their American version in Anderson Valley.  This sparkler is consistently one of the top produced in the United States.  The wine is Vintage 2012 and only produced in the top years. It was aged for 5 years in French cask and 5 more months after disgorgement. Flavors of grilled peach and crisp citrus flow through tight, clean bubbles. The mid palate has wonderful depth and weight with notes of brioche and confection wafting through a beautiful nuance of minerality.  Barlow Score: 94 Points

Vincent ‘Silvershot’ Pinot Noir 2016

Eola-Amity, Oregon

Cash Price $49.99

Vincent Wine Company is a small winery located in the Eola-Amity HIlls of the Willamette Valley.  Winemaker Vincent Fritzsche prides himself on producing small production, high quality (and vineyards) wines with a sense of place. The wine is 30% whole cluster and from the sustainably farmed Silvershot vineyard (formerly Crowley Station) and aged in neutral French oak.  Flavors of bright raspberry and cranberry dance through deliciously crisp acidity and low alcohol. The mid palate has an elegant texture of freshly picked fruit and the finish is long, yet light with hints of underbrush, cola and a delightful fruit punch medley.  Barlow Score: 93+

Domain Grand Tinel Red Blend 2016

Chateauneuf-Du-Pape, France

Cash Price $42.99

The 2016 vintage was ideal for the Southern Rhone with great crops that led to spectacular wines. This wine is composed of 80% Grenache and 20% Syrah from 70-year-old vines rooted in clay and limestone soils. Striking aromas of red berries and pomegranate soak into the palate with hints of violet and garrigue.  The mid palate has a plush vibrancy that leads to polished fruit and hints of dried herbs, dark chocolate and black pepper.  The finish offers silky texture with elegant prowess that belies its powerful structure. Wow!  Barlow Score: 94 Points

Kenefick Pickett Road Red Blend 2015

Calistoga, California

Cash Price $39.89

Kenefick has long been one of my favorite producers in Calistoga producing wines from sustainable farming using 100% estate grown fruit for over three decades. The wine is a blend of 44% Merlot/44% Petit Verdot/12% Cabernet Franc aged for 18 months in French oak and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The wine has a ruby core with medium plus intensity from the Petit Verdot. Flavors of black cherry and plum bounce into hints of juicy black raspberry and milk chocolate. The mid palate is silky smooth, yet firm with underlying notes of blackberry pie and just a kiss of creamy toffee. Yum!  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Bedrock Zinfandel 2017

Sonoma, California

Cash Price $26.99

This may be a new addition to our portfolio, but this wine has a long history of viticulture in the hands of famed Zinfandel Winemaker Joel Peterson (Ravenswood Winery).  His son, Morgan Twain-Peterson is the owner and winemaker of this winery and has poured his heart, soul, and long-loved experience of producing Zinfandel in every bottle. He passed the Prestigious Master of Wine program in 2017, making him one of forty-five in the United States.  This dynamic Old Vine Zinfandel offers a light neon ruby rim that leads into jammy deliciousness and flavors of red fruit, pomegranate, and red currant.  The wine screams through the palate with juicy fruits that are balanced by structured acidity and tannins. The fruit darkens out a bit on the finish and is encompassed with touches of pepper and anise.  Barlow Score: 92 Points

Brooks Pinot Noir 2017

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $29.99

I am extremely excited to introduce Brooks winery back into our portfolio!  They just received a ‘Top 100 Wineries of the Year’ for 2019 and I couldn’t be happier to offer these spectacular wines!  The winery is fully sustainable with most being organic or biodynamic.  The wines offers purity and finesse that make this winery one of the top producers in the United States. They are also one of the first wineries in the United States to partner with 1% for the Earth.  One Percent of all their sales goes straight back into making our Earth a better place.  But enough about the winery!  This smashingly vibrant Pinot offers bright flavors of strawberry and pomegranate on the nose with a rich cherry texture and pie crust filling the mid palate.  The finish is amazingly complex with notes of dried rose petals, hints of forest floor and crunchy red fruit that lingers on the palate for a delightfully long time. Enjoy! Barlow Score: 92+

Bacio Divino ‘Pazzo’ Red Blend 2016

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 zesty sweet red fruits of cherry and raspberry zing into the palate with a richly textured balance that sings into the core of the wine.  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

Expression 38 ‘Russian Camp’ Chardonnay 2017

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

Matthiasson Dry Rose 2018

California

Cash Price $19.94

The geek in me gets quite excited when I have the pleasure of pouring the wines of Steve and Jill Matthiasson.  They are considered some of the best in the business.  They love to experiment with lesser known varieties and keep winemaking pure and simple. This wonderfully Dry Rose is a blend of Grenache, Syrah, Mourvedre, and Counoise sourced from two vineyards (Dunnigan in Yolo and Hurley in Napa).  The wine has a delightful citrus and red fruit component that begs to be paired with food.  The wine is low alcohol (11.5%) and has a Provencial feel, but with American panache.  Notes of lemon citrus combine with fresh rose petals, wild flowers and raspberry that flow into refreshing acids. The mid palate softens a hint with touches of sur lie aging showing and notes of bing cherry race throughout the creamy core. The finish is pure and refreshing with whiffs of white pepper, wet rock and gardenias.  Yum! James Score: 91 Points

Blue Rock ‘Baby Blue’ Sauvignon Blanc 2018

Sonoma, California

Cash Price $18.99

The baby blue line has exploded into the Texas market with some of the best sales in the entire United States.  The Sauvignon Blanc has been growing exponentially every year it has been released.  I recently had Kenny Kahn (owner) in my office to taste through the new vintage.  These may be the best he has ever produced.  This wine is 94% Sauvignon Blanc with just a smidgeon of Viognier to add floral aromatics and viscosity.  Flavors of delicious ripe lemon citrus delivers into the palate with precision while allowing secondary components of lychee, white peach and fresh meadow flowers to dance playfully through moderate, yet vivacious acidity.  The wine is un-oaked and prides itself on displaying a balance of fruit and acidity that will pop in the palate. The finish is clean and rounded with hints of orange blossom and nectarines.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Brooks Riesling 2017

Willamette Valley

Cash Price $18.99

As you may have read earlier in this blog…. Brooks winery is now part of our portfolio.  I cannot remember the last time I reviewed a winery twice in the same blog (maybe never) but as we approach Thanksgiving, I want to give you all the opportunity to pour these extraordinary wines at your table this holiday season.  Riesling is a perfect pairing for Turkey day as the grape is extremely versatile.  This mostly Dry 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.  Barlow Score: 91 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.  This 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. Great Turkey Day Cabernet!  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Ca’Momi ‘Heartcraft’ Brut Rose N/V

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $10.99

Deliciously soft on the palate, flavors of ripe strawberries and sweet red cherries burst into millions of bubbles.  A creamy core offers hints of cherry cobbler crust and citrus.  The finish gives hints of bread crumbs and confection. Make this your starter for all the Holiday festivities!  Barlow Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Wine, Spirits and Finer Foods

Buyer –  Fine Wine America and Saké

 

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THE 12 UNDER $12 FOR NOVEMBER 2019

Dibon Brut Sparkling N/V

Spain

Cash Price $9.99

Cava produces the best priced sparkling wine in the world.   Dry flavors of citrus and grapefruit play into fresh bubbles and baked apple while showing hints of toasted bread on the finish. Pop early and often for the holidays.

Pierre Archambault Vouvray

France

Cash Price $11.99

Chenin Blanc from Vouvray is one of my ‘go to’ whites for Thanksgiving. Deliciously un-oaked, this wine offers stone fruits with loads of lychee and apricot with hints of sweetness.  Perfect Apertif.

Chateau D’Arton Dry White

France

Cash Price $8.99

Bright and lively, This white offers flavors of lemon and grapefruit without any oak.  Nice acidity zings through hints of floral and tree fruit. Great Starter Feast Wine.

Smythe & Renfield Sauvignon Blanc

New Zealand

Cash Price $11.99

This white is extremely approachable and cuts cleanly through the dry white meats. It offers flavors of grapefruit, guava and lime with zesty acidity.  A sure-fire winner for Thanksgiving!

Pescador Dry Rose Frizzante

Spain

$7.99

Dry Rose can pair wonderfully with all the Turkey day fixings.  Crisp flavors of red cherry and cranberry pop into the palate through hints of bubbles and deliciousness.

Liberation de Paris Pinot Noir

France

Cash Price $9.99

Pinot offers some of the best 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.

Fog Bank Pinot Noir

California

Cash Price $10.69

American Pinot Noir often offers juicier texture with layers and complexity of wild berry and raspberry that flow into an elegant finish of rhubarb and cinnamon.

Domaine Cabasse ‘Cuvee Marguerite’ Red Blend

France

Cash Price $9.99

Rhone blend are versatile at the table particularly with spice and herbs. Flavors of black raspberry and currant waft into hints of pepper and garrigue.

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!

Perimeter Cabernet Sauvignon

California

Cash Price $9.99

This Cabernet offers flavors of plum and black cherries with full bodied texture and toasted oak on the finish.  Big, Bold and Beautiful.

Chateau Loupiac Gaudiet Sweet White

France

Cash Price $8.99

A lightly sweet wine is a wonderful way to end the festivities.  This balanced white is a veritable fruit bomb of flavor with apricot, ginger, peach and saffron running through the palate on a soft, plush finish.

Scavi & Ray Rosso Cioccolata

Italy

Cash Price $10.99

Dessert in a bottle, this chocolate flavored wine tickles the senses with hints of chocolate covered cherries, Italian chocolate mousse and wild berry. It’s fruity and gently sweet which will appeal to most guests.

Thank you,

James C. Barlow

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