Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

The HOLIDAYS are upon us.  The weather is graciously beginning to cool and this truthfully enhances my mood.  I am ready for some fun after the unfortunate events of the past several months.  So, Join me in making this 2017 Holiday season one to remember!

I am Hosting a Hurricane Harvey Relief Fundraiser on October 26th at Pallotta’s Italian Grill from 6:30-9:00PM

LOCALS SUPPORTING LOCALS BITES AND WINE FUNDRAISING BENEFIT is geared to give the victims of Hurricane Harvey some relief and help them rebuild their lives.  Our goal is raise $10,000 and donate 100% of the money to CAC (Montgomery County Crisis Assistance Center).  The evening will include bites from 6 local restaurants and 2 bakeries.  I will be picking and pouring the wine for the event, so you know it’ll be great!  Tickets to the event are a $75 donation to youcaring.com/harveyrelieffund-954053.  We will be holding a silent auction for numerous specialty items such as eclectic wines, an outdoor oven, and numerous gift baskets and cards from the area.  Contact me at jamesbarlow25@hotmail.com for more information or just go to the link and donate!  HOUSTON STRONG!


Michele Castellani ‘Colle Christi’ Amarone 2010 DOCG

Valpolicella, Italy

Cash Price $59.69

I recently re-tasted this wine and was extremely happy with the progression it has had in the bottle.  It is lush and beautiful.  I believe this is the peak time to drink this wine.  The Amarone is a blend of 70% Corvina Veronese and Corvinone, 25% Rondinella, and 5% Molinara.  After harvest, the grapes are air- dried for 4 months which concentrates the sugars and takes out the extra water and then crushed.  The resulting wine is aged in large oak barrels and French barriques for 3 years before release.  This makes a wine of pure richness that is balanced with loads of fruit and structure.  Colle Cristi roughly translates into the ‘hills of Christ’ and I could not agree more.  Divine wines are made here.  Robust flavors of raisined Moreno cherries and dried fig sinew into nuanced notes of stewed plum, brown sugar and cured meat.  The mid palate is rich to the core with marzipan and mocha with medium plus tannins and medium plus acidity.  The finish has a touch of candied fruits, truffles and traditional Christmas spices which linger longingly on the palate for an intensely long time. James Score: 97 Points

Amiral De Beychevelle 2012

St. Julien, France

Cash Price $39.89

I am always on the hunt for value Bordeaux.  I have a true love for the Cabernet produced in the commune of St. Julien.  Chateau Beychevelle is a 4th growth on the left side of the Gironde known for producing sleek, yet full bodied Cabernet based blends.  Amiral de Beychevelle is the 2nd wine from this Chateau.  I have always found very high quality in the 2nd labels of Bordeaux’s Grand Cru Classe Chateaus.  The 2012 vintage was hit and miss in Bordeaux, but this wine is an absolute hit!  Dense flavors of black currant and black cherries sinew through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate has a raw depth that really engulfs the palate with notes of cigar box, graphite, and charred oak that are wrapped around a thick richness of dark fruits.  The finish offers cinnamon, leather and touches of vanilla bean that linger on the palate for a graciously long time.  James Score: 91 Points

Castelnau N/V Brut Reserve Sparkling Wine

Champagne, France

Cash Price $36.99

Castelnau 1998 Vintage Magnums were poured at one of my wine dinners last year and it reminded just how amazing this sparkling wine shows.  I recently re-tasted the n/v and was very happy with the ensuing results. Castelnau offers a higher percentage of Pinot Meunier (42%) than most Champagne producers.  Pinot Meunier adds a youthful exuberance to the wines with lively structure and fruit.  This Cooperative Manipulant exudes flavors of crispy green and red apples fly into medium plus acidity that is wrapped around a core of red cherry and rose petals.  The mid palate is spectacular with notes of brioche, almonds and licks of vanilla cream.  The finish is silky with tinges of toasted cocoa beans, confection and delicious goodness!  James Score: 94 Points

The Highwayman Red Blend 2014

Sonoma County, California

Cash Price $25.99

I have always been a fan of this line and I think this is the best of what they produce. Paul Giusto and Michael Sebastiani have really outdone themselves with the 2014’s.  This blend is a Cabernet Franc heavy wine, which is probably why I really enjoy it.  Flavors of black cherry and plum sink through the palate with balanced focus.  This wine is not a rambler, it has medium plus tannins and medium acids that are well integrated.  The mid palate shows blackberry and bramble with whiffs of cedar, toasted vanilla bean and just a hint of pencil shavings.  James Score: 92 Points

Studert Prum Wehlener Sonnenuhr Auslese Riesling 2014

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $25.64

The vineyards of Wehlener Sonnenuhr are considered some of the finest in all the Mosel.  Studert Prum is a winery steeped in history and fine wine making.  Quality Auslese is always lightly sweet on the palate but acidity is the great equalizer on the palate so the wine does not actually taste cloyingly sweet.  Eloquent flavors of white peach and apricot roam freely through medium plus acidity that is surrounded by a field of fresh white flowers.  The mid palate is rounder with notes of candle wax and bees wax.  The finish is chalked full of delicious minerality, citrus and lemon blossoms. Great age ability.  This wine is hauntingly good every vintage.  Make sure you try this one!  James Score: 94 Points

Castello Di Ama Chianti Classico  2014

Chianti Classico, Italy

Cash Price $24.99

Castello Di Ama is one of the finest estates in Chianti.  Their Sangiovese based wines are considered some of the finest quality in all of Tuscany.  Ama offers flavors of vibrant red cherries and wild red berries that lead into zesty acids and medium tannins.  Notes of fleshy plum and cranberry waft through the mid palate with hints of earth and  spice. The finish is smooth and harmonious with touches of candied raspberry and marmalade. This wine is perfectly balanced and would cellar well for 5-7 years.  Pair this gem with a thin crust, oven roasted pizza with peppers and sausage!  James Score: 92 Points

Eberle ‘Vineyard Selection’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.69

Gary Eberle was one of the Pioneers of Paso Robles.  This region is garnering much recognition for producing moderately priced Cabernet that can rival the quality of Napa Valley.  I am happy every time I purchase a bottle of Paso Cabernet.  Deliciously rich flavors of blackberry jam, plum and black cherry race through this slightly hedonistic wine.  The mid palate offer medium tannins and acids with a healthy dollop of delicious fruit.  Notes of currant and tobacco sleek through the mid palate.  The finish offers tones of black chocolate, toffee, and cedar with smidgeons of vanilla and hazelnuts.  James Score: 90 Points

Poggio Bello Pinot Grigio 2015

Friuli, Italy

Cash Price $17.79

The area of Colli Orientali inside of the region of Friuli is widely known to produce the best Pinot Grigio in the world.  There is a purity of flavor and terroir that is often missed in other regions that produce this varietal.  Poggio Bello shows a sleek complexity of balance, elegance and fragrance.  Flavors of citrus lemon-lime flow into the palate with smidgeons of melon and acacia.  Notes of lemon curd continue through the mid palate without any nuances of oak.  The finish is clean with continuing aromatics and hints of white flowers.  Utterly delicious for the price point.  James Score: 91 Points 

La Tercera Reserva Red 2010

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $18.99

Rioja can be hit and miss.  Tercera hit a home run with this Reserva wine.  Tempranillo is the main varietal with graciano and garnacha making up the difference.  The 2010 vintage was good to Rioja and to find an under $20 Reserva in this vintage is a no brainer.  Silky smooth red cherries and raspberry flow into medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers touches of pepper and cedar.  The finish is chalked full of minerality, dill and vanilla.  James Score: 92 Points

Marramiero ‘Dama’ Montepulciano 2014

Abruzzo, Italy

Cash Price $14.99

Marramiero is a darling winery that produces extremely high quality Montepulciano at value prices. Located between the Adriatic Sea and The Gran Sasso Mountains on the hills around Pescara, the Marramiero family has grown vines since the beginning of last century.  Dama is the daily drinker release that really exceeds expectations.  I akin the Montepulciano as somewhat similar to Cabernet Sauvignon.  This wine offers flavors of ripe red cherries and framboise with medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate offers hints of roasted tomato and iron that burst into red berries and red roses.  The finish is long and lingering with scant oak but plenty of fruit.  James Score: 89 Points

Dante Robino Malbec 2016

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $12.29

I am very excited to have this value Malbec in our portfolio.  It truly exceeds the price points and is a quintessential BBQ and meat wine.  This 100% Malbec is plush and delicious from the first sup.  The grapes are grown at 900 meters above sea level and aged in American oak for 4 months.  Ripe flavors of fleshy plum and black cherry sinew through medium tannins and acids.  Extremely approachable, the mid palate offers secondary flavors of black olives, cola and touches of cured meat.  The finish is silky smooth with whiffs of cedar and vanilla bean.  Must Try!  James Score: 90 Points

Novecento Sparkling Extra Brut N/V

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $12.29

I love deliciously dry bubbles.  This time of the year, I am in a fervent search for my ‘party sparkler’ to bring to all the fun festivities that the holidays entail.  I have found an absolute gem this year at a rock bottom price!  The wine is a 50/50 blend of Ugni Blanc and Chenin Blanc.  It is delightfully dry and clean from the get go.  Nuances of citrus and apple blossoms flow gracefully through a Teton of bubbles.  The mid palate shows touches of cream and mousse while still offering nice acidity on the backbone.  The finish is clean and refreshing with hints of wild flowers.  Yum!  James Score: 89 Points

Perelada ‘3 Fincas’ Red Blend 2013

Emporda, Spain

Cash Price $10.39

I fell in love with this fun red blend while visiting wineries in the Barcelona area last year.  I am a value hunter and this wine smacks of it from top to bottom.  It is a blend of primarily Carignan, Garnacha and Syrah.  Fresh and fruit driven this wine exudes flavors of black cherry and blackberry from the start with medium tannins and acids.  Dangerously approachable, this is almost a gulpable wine.  The finish shows crushed rocks, hints of earth and smoky cedar.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | 2 Comments


Locals Supporting Locals Flyer-2.jpg

Please join me in helping raise $10,000 for our community in the aftermath of Hurricane Harvey.  The silent auction will have amazing Magnums to offer from 2007 Volker Eisele Cabernet Sauvignon to 2004 Fumanelli Amarone plus numerous other items graciously donated by local restaurants and stores!  See you there!!!!!!!!!!!!!



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I hope you all had a chance to join us for the Chapoutier Consumer Appreciation Tasting.  If not, I have another AMAZING and FREE Customer Appreciation Event coming on Tuesday, September 26th from 6:00-8:00pm.


What: Wagner Wine Tasting

Where: Spec’s Oak Ridge North (27490 I-45 North)

Wines to be Poured:

  1. Caymus Cabernet Sauvignon
  2. Red Schooner Voyage 4 Red Blend
  3. Conundrum Red Blend
  4. Conundrum White Blend
  5. Conundrum Sparkling N/V
  6. Mer Soleil Santa Barbara Chardonnay
  7. Mer Soleil Santa Lucia Highlands Chardonnay
  8. Mer Soleil ‘Silver’ Chardonnay

Hosted by: Lauren Richardson, State Manager for Wagner Family


Top Spin Cabernet Sauvignon 2013


Cash Price $9.99

This extremely approachable Cabernet is silky soft from start to finish.  Flavors of black currant and cherry seep into hints of mocha, coffee beans and toasted oak.  Perfect everyday red.  James Score: 89 Points

Ryan Patrick Riesling 2013

Columbia Valley, Washington

Cash Price $9.99

Washington is REALLY impressing me with the Riesling being produced.  It can rival the Mosel!  Flavors of citrus, white peach and nectarines flow into medium plus acidity with licks of honeyed bees wax and petrol.  Just a touch of sweetness. Yum!  James Score: 90 Points

Chateau Des Romains Red Blend 2015

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $8.99

Deliciously fruit forward from the start with this Merlot based Gem.  Flavors of red cherry, wild berry and red currant.  Soft acids and integrated tannins.  Finish offers hints of toasted oak, smoke and just a hint of leather.  James Score: 88 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE,CSS



Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Chapoutier Free Customer Appreciation Tasting on 9-14-17 at Spec’s Oak Ridge

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join me next Thursday, September 14th from 6-8pm when we will host Antonin Bonnet the export manager for the Iconic Rhone Valley winery, Chapoutier.

The tasting will be held at the Spec’s Oak Ridge North location, right off of I-45.

27490 I-45 North is the physical address.




  1. M. Chapoutier Banyuls
  2. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Rouge
  3. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage Blanc
  4. Chapoutier Crozes-Hermitage ‘Les Meysonniers’ Rouge
  5. La Bernadine Chateauneuf du Pape

Antonin Bonnet Bio:

I was born in Montpellier in 1987 and I grew up in St Jean de la Blaquiere (St Jean of the white oaks in Occitan) where my father (both an oenologist and an agronomic engineer) was running the cave cooperative. I worked my first harvest at 13 years old and worked their until we moved to the Rhone Valley four years later; at this time I was sharing my time between playing rugby and working with my father in the Southern Rhone appellation of Lirac.   I meanwhile studied oenology myself in Montpellier (Institute of agronomic studies Agropolis) before departing to Newcastle England following my first passion for rugby.  After realizing I’d never be a professional player – I finally listened to my father’s advice: “in this world, you’d be more successful selling wines than making it” I decided to leave to Montreal – Canada to be a wine rep for the Quebec and Ontario monopolies– studying business on the side at the Mc Gill university.  In 2011 after realizing I’ll never survive another winter in Canada – I met Bobby Kacher in Clos Vougeot France (during my vacation) and I joined him to become his portfolio manager in NY until I transitioned to Michel Laroche, the famous Chablis producer in 2013. Finally, I joined Chapoutier in 2014 and have been based in New York’s SOHO neighborhood ever since, managing sales for the Americas.

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS



Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

What an absolutely catastrophic last couple of weeks.  My heart pours out to those of you that had major damage to your homes and vehicles.  It has been stunningly amazing to see how our great city and nation have come together to help our residents start to rebuild their lives after such a horrific hurricane.  My family, fortunately, came out of this tragedy fairly unscathed.  It’s time to pick ourselves up and begin to try to bring some normalcy back to this great city.  This month I have picked out a plethora of delicious wines that will help ease your stress in these trying times.  TEXAS STRONG!

Branaire-Ducru Grand Cru Classe Cabernet Sauvignon Blend 2014

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $56.99

Branaire-Ducru (meaning ‘beautiful pebbles’) is a 4th Growth Grand Cru Classe that, thanks to the Borie family, has been producing extremely high quality Classified wine for a relatively inexpensive price point.  The 2014 vintage is quite solid, but will undoubtedly be overlooked due to the exceptional 2015 and 2016 vintages.  That means this wine will be priced lower than those vintages but will shine as a value for the vintage.  Flavors of vibrant red cherries and cassis sink into a firm backbone of medium plus tannins and acids.  Notes of violet, lavender and spice play seamlessly through the mid palate with silky elegance.  The finish offers smidgeons of cedar, tobacco and graphite that linger on the palate for a wonderfully long time.  Elegant, yet quite full bodied.  James Score: 95 Points

Terre del Palio Vino Nobile di Montepulciano DOCG 2014

Tuscany, Italy

Cash Price $24.99

Sangiovese from this area is one of the hidden jewels in all of Tuscany. The ‘Noble Wine’ of Montepulciano is an excellent stepping stone between Chianti Classico and Brunello di Montalcino.  I usually looks for wines from this area because they inevitably drink much higher than their price point.  Such is the case for this Spectacular wine.  The wine is 90% Sangiovese with smidgeons of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot making up the rest.  The wine is aged in Slavonian oak for 18 months then another year in bottle prior to release.  Dense flavors of plum, currant and blueberry seep into the palate with medium tannins and medium plus acids.  The mid palate is pure and expressive with tinges of cream and wild berries.  The finish is lingering with hints of tobacco, black pepper and licks of anise.  James Score: 92 Points

Domaine de  la Tourade ‘Font des Aieux’ Gigondas Red Blend 2015

Rhone Valley, France

Cash Price $28.99

Gigondas is often referred to as ‘Baby Chateauneuf du Pape’ due to the high quality coming from the region, but without the price point.  I recently tasted through all of 2015 vintage for this winery and was quite impressed across the board, but this wine in particular was the shining star.  The 2015 vintage will go down as one of the best vintages of this century in most of France.  The wine has 80% Grenache with Syrah and Mourvedre making up the rest.  Flamboyant flavors of wild red berries and crushed rocks meld with fleshy plum and tinges of molasses.  The mid palate offers candied raspberries with creamy strawberries that weave through integrated tannins and acids.  The finish is packed full of pepper and smidgeons of garrigue.  James Score: 93 Points

Henri de Villamont Cremant Sparkling Rose N/V

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $16.99

Cremants (Pronounced Kray-Mawns) offers the best value bubbles coming out of France.  I tasted through the entire portfolio of Henri de Villamont recently.  They are located in Savigny-Les-Beaune but produce wines from all over Burgundy.  This Pinot Noir based Rose is deliciously quaffable from start to finish.  The wine has a beautifully vibrant color that really pops in the glass.  Flavors of freshly picked strawberries and red cherries play into tight, clean bubbles.  The wine is persistent with fine bubbles that flow into notes of cherry pie and brioche.  The finish gives hints of bread and confection with tinges of hazelnuts and cream.  YUM!  James Score: 90 Points

Alma Rosa Chardonnay 2016

Santa Barbara, California

Cash Price $19.94

I am extremely delighted that we added this winery to our portfolio.  The winery was founded by Sta. Rita Hills Icon Richard Sanford.  They produce classic Burgundian style wines with purity and elegance that are second to none.  This Un-oaked Chardonnay is aged in stainless steel tanks and left on the lees for eight months with very little malolactic fermentation present.  The wine is deliciously elegant and fine.  Flavors of lemon zest and citrus flow perfectly into medium acidity with licks of cream.   The mid palate explodes with notes of lychee, hazelnut and just a hint of tropical fruit.  The finish is clean and refreshing with hints of wet rocks and minerality.  James Score: 90 Points

DiamAndes Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Valley de Uco, Argentina

Cash Price $19.94

Located in the heart of the Uco Valley at 3,600 feet, DiamAndes boasts some of the best terroir in the Clos de los Siete.  The wine is made by one of the most famous wine-makers in the world, Michel Rolland.  The wine is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon and aged for 14 months in 50% new French oak.  Thick and densely textured, this wine offers flavors of black currant and plum that sink deftly into medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate shows a creamy thickness that coats the mouth with notes of cassis, leather and cigar box.  The finish is impressively structured with notes of clove, vanilla bean and textured cedar.  James Score: 91 Points

Webster Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Dry Creek, California

Cash Price $19.94

Webster is an extremely small producer (only 250 cases produced of this wine) that is hell bent on making great wine come hell or high water.  This wine is a classic expression of white Bordeaux, meaning that this wine does see some time in oak.  This wine is a perfect summer time refresher that begs to be paired with oysters on the half shell or crawfish.  The wine offers zesty flavors of freshly cut grass and lemon citrus with medium acidity.  The oak gives this wine a more rounded mouth-feel with a weightier texture.  The mid palate offers more stone fruits with hints of apricots and peaches.  The finish shows a delightful complexity with hints of apples and wild flowers.  James Score: 90 Points

Aeris Pinot Noir 2014


Cash Price $13.99

Aeris is the Latin word for ‘Air’ which pays homage to the unique impact the cooling winds have on the grapes in the vineyard.  Recent vintages in Oregon has definitely been riper, offering more alcohol and candied fruit.  This quaffable, gulpable wine is a perfect day that ends with ‘Y’ kind of wine.  It completely excels at this price point.  Flavors of bing cherry and cola flow through medium acids and medium minus tannins.  Soft and plush, this wine has a mid palate of raspberry and clove with tinges of cinnamon.  The finish is playful with hints of oak and vanilla.  James Score: 88 Points 

Highway 12 Cabernet Sauvignon 2015

Sonoma, California

Cash Price $14.99

The ‘Highway’ wines produced by Michael Sebastiani is, in my opinion, one of the best ‘cluck for the buck’ wines in our entire portfolio.  They consistently over achieve for the price and excel in the glass.  The wine was aged in French oak and sourced from three specific vineyards in Sonoma AVA.  Luscious and fruit forward, this wine exudes flavors of blueberry and black cherry that seep through medium tannins and acids.  The mid palate is silky smooth with a creamy core of blackberry and succulently sweet fruit.  The finish is soft and approachable with vanilla and cedar with whiffs of smoky goodness.  James Score: 89 Points

Tomich ‘Up and Away’ Rose 2016

Adelaide Hills, Australia

Cash Price $14.99

It’s starting to be ‘cool’ to drink Australian wine again.  The country took a massive hit for over producing ‘Critter wines’ and sending oceans of generic juice to the American market.  The Aussies have finally realized that they must produce quality over quantity to sell their wines.  You all know I love Rose, but rarely jump into Australian wine.  I recently tasted through this winery’s portfolio and was quite pleased with the results.  This Rose is unctuously delightful with flavors of juicy red cherries and raspberry that zing into medium acidity and a Dry complexity.  The mid palate offers hints of sweet tart and wild red berries with a touch of spice.  The finish is clean and refreshing.  Fun! James Score: 88 Points

Ken Forrester Sauvignon Blanc Reserve 2015

Stellenbosch, South Africa

Cash Price $14.99

I have been an avid fan of this winery since I visited it several years ago.  Ken Forrester is a gregarious man who produces absolutely fantastic wines in one of my favorite wine regions on earth, Stellenbosch.  The wine is produced in a sustainable nature with no pesticides or herbicides and hand picked for optimal quality.  The wine is 100% Sauvignon Blanc and completely un-oaked.  Zingy flavors of citrus and lemon grass weave integrally into medium plus acidity.  The mid palate shows hints of nectarines and guava that flows into candied jalapeno jam and herbs.  The finish is clean and gulpable with tinges of cactus juice and white peach.  James Score: 90 Points

Pietra Santa Merlot 2013

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $12.89

Located in Cienega Valley about 25 miles from Monterey Bay, Pietra Santa is Italian for ‘Sacred Stone’ in honor of the rich terrain and terroir on which the winery is located.  Italian Wine Maker Alessio Carli has produced a pure and focused wine with this offering.  Merlot is finally starting to make a comeback and this is a perfectly priced wine for you to fall in love with this exceptional variety all over again.  Flavors of ripe plum and blackberry meld easily into medium tannins and acids.  The wine has a juicy approachability with notes of cassis and black cherry on the mid palate.  The finish offers whiffs of nuts, cedar and vanilla.  James Score: 89 Points

Panarroz Mourvedre 2015

Jumilla, Spain

Cash Price $9.99

Panarroz is one of those wines that you wish you had stumbled upon years ago because its dirt cheap and so dang good!  This 80% Mourvedre/10% Syrah/10% Garnacha blend is taylor made for BBQ.  Fruit forward and un-oaked, this flashy wine is packed full of flavor from start to finish.  Black cherry and plum bounce dangerously through medium tannins and acids with hints of briar and tar.  The mid palate offers currant and a medley of spices like black pepper and such.  The finish is fleshy and fun with a fruit cocktail of blueberry, blackberry and cassis.  James Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

What a relief!  The kids (for the most part) are finally back in school.  Daytimes are free again!  That said, most of you spent crazy amount of money on your children getting them ready for the school year.  So, you want a daytime guzzler, but without breaking the bank.  Look no further, because I have three perfect slurpers under $9.00!  Enjoy!

Ca’Momi Bianco White Blend2016

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $8.99

Ca’Momi is an unpretentiously fun Chardonnay based blend that offers notes of citrus, melon and lychee.  The wine is un-oaked and built for mass consumption!  James Score: 88 Points

Domaine Fontval Rose 2016

Mediterranee, France

Cash Price $7.99

Fontval is dirt cheap and absolutely delicious!  The wine is predominantly Grenache based with a smidge of Mourvedre.  Flavors of red berries and raspberry sing into this delightfully Dry Rose.  Drink now, Drink often!  James Score: 89 Points

Pierre Rougon Red Blend 2013

Ventoux, France

Cash Price $5.99

This wine is built for days that end with ‘Y’.  It is an everyday, pairs with anything or nothing kind of wine that offers flavors of red cherries and currant with touches of cocoa and spice.  Predominantly Grenache based with a bit of body building Syrah.  James Score: 88 Points

Thank you.

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment


Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I have been spoiled rotten lately with the amount of quality wine that has passed through my palate.  This month, the wine selections will be bouncing around with different countries and price points that have really impressed me.  It is a wonderful time to be drinking wine in this crazy hot summer weather.  You won’t want to miss out on this month’s selections.  They truly are spectacular from top to bottom.  Enjoy!

Domaine Bernard Moreau ‘Old Vine’ Pinot Noir 2014

Burgundy, France

Cash Price $44.99

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 Pinot Noir they produce is unfined and unfiltered to make sure zero flavor is leached out of the final product.  All that said, this juice is absolutely stunning!  The vines from this vineyard are nearing their 60th year which causes very low yield, high quality fruit.  The wine is fermented with natural yeast and aged in 30% new French oak for 15 months.  Beautifully opulent flavors of bright red raspberry and marmalade sink into medium plus acids and soft, plush tannins.  The mid palate offers hints of cream with wild red berries and violets.  The finish is pure and expressive with tinges of hazelnut, potpourri and just a whiff of vanilla cola.  James Score: 95 Points

Chateau Cantemerle ‘Grand Cru Classe’ Red Blend 2014

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $35.79

Chateau Cantemerle is an often overlooked 5th Growth from the Haut-Medoc region in Bordeaux.  The 2014 vintage is a great value vintage and becomes a ‘perfect storm’ for bargain hunters when they find/purchase Chateaux like this gem.  One must typical drop a minimum $100 to buy ‘Classified Growth’, so buying at this price is a no brainer.  I wouldn’t have always said that, but Cantermerle ,specifically, has really upped their game in the past several years to produce wines well above the price point.  Flavors of red cherries and currant flow into medium plus tannins and medium acids.  The mid palate is gorgeous with a sensually seamless profile of sweet tobacco, fleshy plums and a creamy core that weaves harmoniously throughout the mouth feel.  The finish offers touches of cedar, cigar box and hints of herbs and vanilla bean.  James Score: 94 Points

Indomita ‘Zardoz’ Ultra Premium Cabernet Sauvignon 2013

Maipo Valley, Chile

Cash Price $29.99

I recently held a Chile vs. Argentina tasting for consumers.  The two countries were neck and neck the entire tasting till the final flight where ‘Zardoz’ was premiered.  This wine tipped the scale into an almost unanimous vote for Chile to win the competition.  The wine is named after the wild and untamable spirit that embodied the winery’s famous horse.  Extremely focused flavors blackberry and black cherry sink into rich, concentrated tannins that fill the mouth with hedonistic abandon.  Smidgeons of red fruit flow into the mid palate with a generous dollop of cedar and vanilla.  The finish is chalked full of hazelnuts and almonds with hints of graphite and cocoa dust.   The wine sits on the palate for a gorgeously long time.  James Score: 95 Points

Le Monde Ribolla Gialla 2016

Friuli Venizia Giulia, Italy

Cash Price $17.89

This white has secretly become one of my favorite wines in our entire portfolio.  I would’ve written it up in previous vintages, but we received such a small allocation that I couldn’t justify it.  Fortunately, we now have a larger allocation so I can share this wine with you all!  Ribolla Gialla is a rarely seen grape from Northern Italy (typically in Friuli) that makes Pinot Grigio seems like watered down water.  The winery is located in one of the best places in Italy to produce white wine, Friuli Grave DOC, and follow organic, sustainable and biodynamic practices.  The wine is completely un-oaked and bursting with energy!  Frenetic flavors of orange zest, papaya, and lemon citrus soften the backbone of acidity.  The mid palate offers a sweet tartness that tickles the taste buds with hints of wet rocks and flint.  The finish is delightfully clean with whiffs of wild meadow flowers and candied peaches.  I am truly in love with this wine!  James Score: 93 Points

Block 217 Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2015

Horse Heaven Hills, Washington

Cash Price $19.94

The Block Series has hit another home run with this perfectly priced Cabernet!  Napa Valley fruit is more expensive than its ever been, so producers are slowly but surely wandering up to Washington for quality grapes that don’t break the budget.  Horse Heaven Hills is an up and coming AVA and considered one of the finest in Washington, boasting the states finest vineyard, Champoux.  The 2015 vintage was rock solid and offers stunning wines across the board.  Rich and concentrated flavors of blackberry and black currant sleek silkily through medium plus tannins and medium acids.  Notes of tobacco leaf and cigar box weave through the mid palate with hints of fleshy plum.  The finish is long and integrated with touches of cedar, vanilla and hazelnuts.  Under 3,000 case production.  James Score: 90 Points

Busca Chardonnay 2014

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $25.99

Busca is produced by Brack Mountain Wine Company that is family owned and dedicated to finding small, artisan wines that over deliver for the price.  Located in one of the finest places in California to produce Chardonnay, this wine is showing a trend towards a more Burgundian approach to the grape.  Flavors of green apple and pear flow into medium (leaning towards medium plus) acids that are softened by the creamy core that doesn’t slather butter on the palate, but does offer an easy spoonful of it.  The finish offers touches of vanilla and toasted oak with kisses of melon and Meyer lemon.  Only 215 cases produced.  James Score: 90 Points

Faustino V Reserva 2011

Rioja, Spain

Cash Price $18.99

Rioja is considered one of the finest wine regions in Spain with a DOCa status (one of only two).  Faustino produces high quality, classic examples of Tempranillo here.  Reserva wines are aged a minimum three years before release but can age for decades.  This wine was aged in American oak for 18 months and the remaining in bottle.  Faustino has 150 years of pedigree and are considered one of the best producers in Rioja.  This classic wine offers quality from start to finish.  Flavors of vibrant red cherries and red berries flow into medium plus acidity and tannins. The mid palate offers strawberries and hints of licorice that dance around notes of tobacco and tea leaf.  The wine is medium bodied but the mouth feel is surprisingly full.  The finish is sleek with a strong vanilla milk chocolate note with whiffs of toasted oak and sawdust.  James Score: 92 Points

Dr. Konstantin Frank Brut Sparkling 2009

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $19.94

Dr. Konstantin Frank wines are some of the true hidden jewels in the United States.  His sparkling wines are some of the more serious, complex bubbles produced in all of the Americas.  Konstantin Frank was the 1st to make Vinifera vines (all those wonderful grapes you drink as wine come from this vine species) work in New York.  Frank produces Traditional Method (Champagne style) sparkling wines from the same grapes used in the Champagne region of France.  This bubbling beauty has double the price taste, yet is under $20 because it is not readily known on the market.  This Chardonnay/Pinot Noir blend offers glittery flavors of apricot, lemon lime zest and candied oranges on the palate with tight bubbles gleaming throughout the mouth feel.  Notes of apple and almond glow graciously on the mid palate.  The wine is aged on its lees for five years which gives the finish an exquisite confection, brioche flavor profile.  James Score: 92 Points

Eberle ‘Full Boar’ Red Blend N/V

Paso Robles, California

Cash Price $19.94

Eberle has been on the forefront of the Paso Robles Revolution that has brought this AVA to fame in the past several years.  He produces dynamic Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah (The 1st in Paso Robles to do so) and Zinfandel as well as a slew of other varieties.  This wine is non-vintage to give the wine consistency every vintage.  It is a mainly Cabernet Sauvignon, Zinfandel based wine that is perfectly matched with Texas BBQ.  Deliciously juicy flavors of bramble and blackberry burst into the palate with medium tannins and acids.  Boysenberry pops into the mid palate with tickles of raspberry and cherry.  The finish has a spicy note of black pepper with hints of vanilla, cinnamon sticks and toasted oak.  This is a brisket lovers perfect pairing.  James Score: 90 Points

Domaine Pegau ‘Pink Pegau’ Dry Rose 2016

Vin de France

Cash Price $16.99

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

Tohu Sauvignon Blanc 2016

Marlborough, New Zealand

Cash Price $14.99

Tohu (pronounced Tor-who) means signature and is produced by the first Maori owned wine company.  The Maori are the indigenous people of Aoteroa (New Zealand).  They produce expressive wines from a single vineyard in one of the finest regions in Marlborough, called Awatere Valley.  Fresh and zesty acids reach through the tropical flavors of gooseberries and key lime.  The wine is completely un-oaked and offers a mid palate of freshly picked herbs surrounded by a medley of guava and grapefruit.  The finish is pure and intense with a classic New Zealand profile.  James Score: 90 Points

Feudo Principi di Butera Nero d’Avola 2015

Riesi, Sicily

Cash Price $12.99

Butera is an unpretentious wine that is perfectly lovely on a hot summer day with a slight chill (YES it is OK to chill your red wine!).  Nero D’Avola is an indigenous varietal of Sicily that has fleshy fruits and medium body, which makes it perfect for summer.  Ripe flavors of black cherry and blackberry play through sleek medium acids and tannins.  The fruit turns slightly stewed on the mid palate with hints of brown sugar and scorched plum.  The finish shows cinnamon, mocha and tinges of coffee grinds. Butera is a very versatile wine that will pair well with numerous dishes or as a back porch pounder.  James Score: 90 Points

Losen Bockstanz ‘Wittlicher Lay’ Riesling Kabinett 2015

Mosel, Germany

Cash Price $11.99

The 2015 vintage in Germany is turning out to be one of the more remarkable in many years.  The Rieslings coming from this vintage are nothing short of spectacular.  For Me, Riesling is good year round but it is particular good this time of the year because it is low alcohol with touches of sweetness that combine with beautiful acidity to offer a harmoniously refreshing wine that is the perfect thirst quencher.  This single vineyard wine would be great at triple the price.  The wine is bursting with green apples that sink into exotic spice with medium plus acidity that melds beautifully with the licks of sweetness.  On the palate the wine barely shows sweetness and offers notes of pear, white peach and honeycomb.  The finish is clean and pure with touches of beeswax and fresh meadow flowers.  Yum!  James Score: 92 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow,CWE,CSS

Spec’s Regional Sales Trainer




Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment