Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

I am pleased to announce my TOP PICKS OF 2020! Who could’ve imagined this year would turn into what it has. That said, this was my 1st full year as the Fine Wine America and Saké buyer for Spec’s Wines, Spirits and Finer Foods. I’ve had the pleasure to dive deeply into wines and regions that I had rarely focused on in the past. I tasted a considerable amount of Pacific Northwest wines and was able to taste through many Iconic California wineries that I had never taken notes on. I tasted through several thousand wines this year and have put together a list of stunners. This list is not always necessarily the priciest (although some are definitely pricey!) but is mostly based on quality vs price in the glass. Granted there were some stunners that I rated quite highly and are decently expensive. I’ve never put too much weight into ratings, but it does help quantify my perspective on a wine for you all to gauge. Without further ado, Happy Holidays and here’s to a MUCH BETTER 2021! As in years past, MY TOP PICK will be at the bottom of this blog.

#2. Brooks Winery ‘Rastaban’ Pinot Noir 2017

Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon

Cash Price $54.99

As you all know, I have been raving about Brooks a lot this year. The winery is fully sustainable with most being organic or biodynamic. The wines offer purity and finesse that make them 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 and become Certified B Corp. This estate wine is 100% biodynamic and comprised of Pommard, 115, and 777 clones farmed in Eola-Amity Hills. Rastaban is the name of a star that is the ‘eye’ of the constellation called Draco (Latin for Dragon). The wine offers gorgeously layered flavors of black raspberry and pomegranate with wisps of rose petals sinking slowly into the palate. The mid palate shows medium intensity with notes of blackberry, bramble and cola that transition into a light creamy core. Hints of sage and earthy spice lick throughout the palate with just a touch of savory mushroom. The finish offers a juicy cherry redness that belies the mid palate with layered tannins and tinges of graphite. The backbone offers salinity that gives it a Bourgogne feel and makes my heart tingle. Barlow Score: 96 Points

#3. Bougetz ‘Amaryllis’ Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Spring Mountain (Napa), California

Cash Price $59.84

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

#4. Quilceda Creek Cabernet Sauvignon 2017

Columbia Valley, Washington

Cash Price $199.99

I tasted this Iconic winery from Washington for the 1st time earlier this year and instantly understood what all the fuss was about. Quilceda Creek was established in 1978 by Alex Golitzin (André Tchelistcheff’s nephew) and has been highly acclaimed for decades. This massive 100% Cabernet Sauvignon is mostly from Champoux vineyard (possibly the finest vineyard in Washington State) in Horse Heaven Hills and aged in 100% new French oak for 20 months. This wine was quite tight from the beginning, but the layers began to unfold rather quickly into the tasting. Robust flavors of dark currant, blackberry and just a kiss of blueberry lift into medium plus intensity. The mid palate softens a touch with tickles of cream that linger into dusted earth and that classic tobacco leaf that I love in Cabernet Sauvignon. The finish is integrated with notes of dark mocha, graphite, vanilla bean, all-spice and graham crackers that linger on the palate for a good long time. Wow. Barlow Score: 97 Points

#5. Lavinea ‘Elton Vineyard’ Chardonnay 2015

Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon

Cash Price $39.89

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

#6. Philip Togni Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Spring Mountain, California

Cash Price $169.99

I’ve heard about the wines of Philip Togni on Spring Mountain for years, but never had the opportunity to taste until this year. The wine has definitely lived up to its reputation and exceeded it in my opinion. I have found that I ‘ve become an avid fan of Spring Mountain Cabernet and this winery is the peak of excellence for what Spring Mountain can offer. Philip Togni is a former student of Emile Peynaud, so it’s not surprising that his wines have a ‘Bordeaux-esque’ quality to them and long ageing potential. The wine has a medium ruby core, with medium legs and an easy sense of alcohol (13.5%). Flavors of dark cassis and currant meld into red cherry notes. The mid palate is classic and tempered with plenty of tannins that don’t necessarily overpower, but instead enhance the fruits and whiffs of vanilla. The finish is refined and polished with dusted earth, dark chocolate, tobacco, and cigar box. Elegant and Beautiful. Barlow Score: 97 Points

#7. Matthiasson ‘Matthiasson Vineyard’ Cabernet Franc 2017

Oak Knoll, California

Cash Price $54.89

I had the pleasure of hosting Steve Matthiasson earlier this year at a virtual tasting and really enjoyed speaking with one of the brightest stars in Napa Valley. He produces wines of purity, depth and character while implementing organic practices and dry farming. I love Chinon wines in France and have rarely found that herbaceous character in the Cabernet Franc wines in California. This wine is produced at Matthiasson Vineyard in Oak Knoll which has a cooler temperature that allows the grapes to retain a slight herbal note that good Cabernet Franc can offer. If you have not found his wines yet, I implore you to seek them out (at Spec’s)! This 100% Cabernet Franc has a lighter ruby core with light legs. Juicy red fruits burst in the nose with those telltale herbs and rose petals. The wine is only 12% which allows for the wine to really speak volumes without being over-burdened by alcohol. Darker fruit races into the palate with notes of button mushroom, underbrush and a hint of smokey goodness. The mid palate offers cranberry and red berries with tinges of black pepper, dust, and freshly picked mushrooms. Whiffs of green pepper fill the finish with touches of currant and graphite. The wine has an electric energy that vibrates through the backbone of the wine. Classic. Barlow Score: 94 Points

#8. Once & Future Oakley Road Zinfandel 2017

Contra Costa, California

Cash Price $49.99

Joel Peterson of Ravenswood fame is the lightning rod for this project. He found some extremely old vines in Contra Costa and decided to produce some of the finest damn Zinfandel in California with them. Oakley Road Vineyard has extremely sandy soils which is key to the survival of the 100+ year old vines that live there. This 100% Zinfandel was aged in 30% French oak for 12 months. Peterson practices organic farming in this vineyard. The wine has neon color with medium legs. Bright red raspberry and bramble pops into the palate with hints pipe tobacco. The mid palate offers a supple creamy texture with nice acidity to balance the big fruits. The wine is silky and aromatic from start to finish. Notes of black pepper and licorice play into the finish with tinges of black cherry and dried leaves that lingers on the palate for a delightfully long time. Barlow Score: 93 Points

#9. Lingua Franca Estate Chardonnay 2017

Eola-Amity Hills, Oregon

Cash Price $49.99

I have had the pleasure to try numerous wines from Oregon this year. As a Bourgogne Wines Ambassador, I am pretty finicky about my Chardonnay. I have found a fondness in the Chardonnay produced in Oregon. I typically look for good salinity in my Chardonnay along with balance and complexity. Oregon is really showing some impressive Chardonnay now! Lingua Franca, under the watchful guidance of Master Sommelier Larry Stone, is producing some of the finest expressions in the state. Their 66-acre estate offers a massale selection but with the main Chardonnay clones hailing from Montrachet in Bourgogne. The wine is finished in 600 liter French oak barrels, then put in stainless steel on the lees for the last five months prior to bottling. Lively flavors of fleshy Granny Smith apples elegantly flow into dollops of lemon drop with medium intensity on the palate. The mid palate offers citrus lemon custard on a weighty, yet weightless mouthfeel. Notes of salinity and wet rocks are weaved into hints of butterscotch, hazelnuts, pecans and praline that are deliciously balanced into the finish. The wine has laser focus and an amazing amount of pop in the glass. Barlow Score: 96 Points

#10. Chateau Branaire-Ducru ‘Duluc’ Red Blend 2014

Saint Julien, France

Cash Price $37.99

I recently re-tasted this wine for the 1st time in several years at the French/American Chamber of Commerce Virtual Wine Tasting. Branaire-Ducru has quickly evolved into one of my absolute favorite Chateau on Earth. This is their 2nd wine called ‘Duluc’ named after Pierre Du Luc, the 2nd owner of the property. Duluc has consistently over-achieved for the price in my opinion. The wine is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon/40% Merlot/3% Petit Verdot/2% Cabernet Franc and aged for 12 months in 20% new French oak. The 2014’s of Bordeaux are drinking beautifully right now. The wine has intense red cherries and currant that lead into an elegantly complex medium intensity. The backbone of this wine has a minerality with notes of tea herbs, dusty tannins and cedar. Hints of truffle play into the finish with licks of exotic spice and smoke. This wine will age wonderfully but tastes amazing in the glass right now! Barlow Score: 93 Points

#11. Lucie Bacigalupi Vineyard Pinot Noir 2016

Russian River Valley, California

Cash Price $54.99

I have found that I’m a sucker for Bacigalupi fruit in the Russian River Valley. This wine is from that estate vineyard. I love Pinot Noir and this easily one of the best I’ve tasted this year from the New World. The vines are planted on alluvial soils close to the river to keep excellent temperature throughout the growing season. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir from the Wente Clone and aged for 17 months in new French oak. Kirk Venge is the consulting winemaker for this wine that is owned by the Janzen family. Lucie explodes into the palate with a decadent texture that gives a toe-curling effect. Flavors of rich black cherry and currant flow effortlessly into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate offers lavender, cola and sweet fruits that encompass the palate with a silky plushness. The finish offers hints of exotic spice, graham crackers and just a touch of minerality. Velvet, seamless and decadently intriguing. Barlow Score: 95 Points

#12. Michel Mailliard ‘Cuvee Gregory’ Premier Cru Brut Sparkling 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 although the family wine tradition dates back to 1894. Michel and Gregory (Michel’s son) take care of their 55-acre estate on some of the more hallowed ground in Champagne. Gregory manages the vineyards and harvest while his father crafts the wines. He is an RC (Recoltant-Manipulant) farmer/grower meaning that all of his fruit comes from their vineyards. This Champagne is 95% Chardonnay and 5% Pinot Noir and aged for 5 years on the lees prior to disgorgement with .05% residual sugars. I had this wine sitting in my cellar for several years and decided to pop it about a month ago with friends and was completely astounded at how well it was aging. Crisp notes of citrus and white flowers danced melodically into the palate with medium intensity. The mid palate fills with yeasty complexity of buttered popcorn, candied nuts, and fresh dough. The finish is surprisingly soft and mellow with hints of butterscotch, lilacs and lavender that are focused with pin-point precision by the underlying minerality and acidity. Barlow Score: 94

#13. La Jota Vineyard Co. Cabernet Sauvignon 2016

Howell Mountain, California

Cash Price $154.84

La Jota has been a dark horse favorite of mine for many years. That said, its been several years since I had tasted their wines. Based high up on Howell Mountain (1,700-1,820 Ft), La Jota has winemaker Chris Carpenter at the helm making premium quality Cabernet Sauvignon. This dangerously sleek Cabernet Sauvignon is unfined, unfiltered and fermented with native yeast then aged for 19 months in 90% new French oak. The wine has a dark ruby core with thick legs. Flavors of black currant and cherry are instantly humming with sweet tobacco encompassing the thick palate. This wine has more elegance than expected with the mid palate being beautifully plush and alluring. Medium plus intensity flows into notes of cigar smoke, tobacco leaf, and dark mocha. The finish is quite inviting with tickles of vanilla bean, cinnamon and oak textures that give way to the underlying licorice note. Almost Saint Julien in style, which is high praise for me. Barlow Score: 96 Points


K Vintners ‘Powerline Vineyard’ Syrah 2017

Walla Walla, Washington State

Cash Price $40.84

I have been an avid fan of Washington State Syrah for quite a while, but this one knocked my socks off with its uniqueness and tip of the hat to the Old World while still staying true to its home. Many call Charles Smith a mad scientist with his wines, but I think quite the opposite. He allows the wine to express itself the way it was intended. This wine is 100% Syrah, 100% whole cluster fermented with native yeasts and spent 40 days macerating then aged in 66% new French Puncheons for 28 months on the lees. 2017 was a fantastic year with moderate temperatures during the summer and a consistent ripening season that allowed the fruit to hang for perfect structure without gaining too much alcohol. Powerline Vineyard is a 30-acre estate located over 1,200 feet elevation in the Walla Walla Valley AVA. It was planted on the foothills of the Blue Mountains just south of Walla Walla in 2012. The soils are well drained with cobblestone river rocks, underlying layers of sand and gravel deposits which allows the vines to dig deep for their nutrients. The elevation allows for the acidity to hold strong while the grapes optimally ripen. The wine has a neon blue/purple core with medium plus legs. Aromas of lavender, blueberry, and black raspberry smack into the palate with medium plus intensity. The mid palate offers secondary notes of olive tapenade, salty ham and beef jerky that is lifted into a plush, balanced mouthfeel. The finish offers a medley of spice with hints of potpourri, coffee grounds, and black pepper. The backbone of this wine offers plenty of smoked meat, cracked pepper and dried flowers. Very Northern Rhone-esque. A Powerhouse wine with layers and texture. WOW. Barlow Score: 98 Points

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Rombauer Live Virtual Tasting with Reagan Rombauer this Thursday Dec. 3rd at 7pm

Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Please join us for this rare opportunity to taste with the Iconic Rombauer Vineyards. Learn about their history and wines this Thursday! Please stop by your local Spec’s and support this winery by purchasing some wines and joining us for this tasting! Looking forward to seeing you virtually!

What: Rombauer Virtual Tasting

Where: Your Home

When: Thursday, Dec. 3rd at 7pm

Zoom ID: 607 703 7280

Zoom Password: 838185

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Twelve under $12 for November 2020

Girasole ORGANIC Zinfandel


Cash Price $11.99 with Your Spec’s Key

This focused and enjoyable Zin offers flavors of ripe blackberry and plum on the palate with hints of black pepper and exotic spice. 100% Organic. Pair with turducken!

Tomich ‘Grace and Glory’ Shiraz


Cash Price $4.97 (#00 Smith Street Only)

Racy flavors of black currant and dark cherry integrate into a plush palate.  Blackberry, black pepper, and spice flow into the finish with hints of dark mocha. Pair with smoky honey baked ham.

El Portillo Rosé


Cash Price $9.99

This 100% Malbec Rose is fresh and flavorful from start to finish.  Flavors of strawberries, cherry, and fresh jam tickle into zesty acidity. The finish is lip smacking. Pair with All the Turkey Day Fixings!

Pigmentum Blanc


Cash Price $9.99

This charming dry white is deliciously aromatic with flavors of exotic fruits, grapefruit and citrus. Hints of pear and melon sit on the clean finish. Pair with celery and turkey stuffing or as an aperitif.

Duc de Paris Brut Sparkling N/V


Cash Price $5.99

This party sparkler has seductive notes of tree fruit and floral wisps. The wine is elegant and fresh with white flowers, apples, and light bubbles.  This is a ‘go to’ party sparkler!

Introvert Cabernet


Cash Price $8.99

A new addition to our portfolio. Rich flavors of blackberry and currant zip into balanced hints of mocha and dark chocolate.  It’s a great everyday pleaser that is sure to make the family happy!

Adorn Chardonnay


Cash Price $7.99

This is a wine that is built for the everyday Chardonnay drinker that is sure fire pleaser. Flavors of lemon citrus and cream flow into white flowers, butter and just a kiss of honey.  Pair with a butterball Turkey.

Labet Rhone Red Blend


Cash Price $10.99

Rhone is one of the better Thanksgiving Day pairing wines. Its extremely versatile. This yummy Grenache based red blend that offers flavors of strawberry and bramble with just a whiff of pepper and spice.

Le Versant Pinot Noir


Cash Price $10.99

Versant should be a staple for your Thanksgiving Day feast. The wine offers aromatic red raspberry and violets with a soft, creamy core and touches of oak.

Liberation de Paris Sauvignon Blanc


Cash Price

Sauvignon Blanc is a great pairing for Turkey as the acidity can cut right through the white meat on your plate. This wine offers notes of fresh apple, pear, and orange blossoms with a fresh, easy acidity.

Sant’Anna Pinot Grigio


Cash Price $11.99

A Classic style of Pinot Grigio with light flavors of citrus, lemon peel and pear. Un-oaked and fleshy, notes of green apple roll into easy acids.  Pair with all the ladies and gossip.

Indomita Pinot Noir


Cash Price $9.99

Chile is offering some of the best value Pinot Noir anywhere. Dark cherry and blueberry flow into a soft intensity.  Delightfully oaky notes of cedar and clove show on finish.  Pair with friends, family and fun!

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Image may contain: text that says 'BROOKS VIRTUAL TASTING with Managing Director, Janie Brooks Heuck FEATURING 2018 Runaway Red 2018 Willamette Valey Pinot Noir 201 Janus Pinot Noir 2018 Willamette Valley Riesling 2019 Amycas White Blend PEACE Est. 1998 BREAD LAND WINE TUESDAY NOVEMBER 17 7PM CST Zoom Meeting ID: 869 3697 8518 Passcode: 370186 Certified B Corporation lio-dynamic" FORTHE PLANET GET A HEAD START ON OUR STORY: WATCH AMERICAN WINE STORY ON AMAZON PRIME WhiteWin 發 BROOKS BROOKS PinotNoir BROOKS VILLAMETTE VALLEY Riesling VILLAMETTE VALLEY'

Hello all,

Please Join us for this event. Go to your Local Spec’s or have the wines delivered from our App! These wines will be a great addition to your Thanksgiving Day table! I am extremely pleased to have Janie Brooks Hueck (Jimi Brooks sister) to talk about their history, commitment to our Earth, and their AH Mazing wines. Psst…They make 21 different Rieslings!

Zoom: 869 3697 8518

Passcode: 370186

See you there!

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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Join Us for this very rare and special opportunity to learn about the history of this Iconic winery and have a fun Q and A session with Plumpjack. You can find all the wines at Spec’s. Please RSVP to the zoom link eary, possibly buy a bottle or 3 (Not Required to join) and sip some of the finest wines that Napa Valley has to offer this Thursday! See you (Virtually) there!

Image may contain: text that says 'PLUMPJACK COLLECTION OF WINERIES CADE PRIVATE VIRTUAL TASTING with the PLUMPJACK COLLECTION PLUMPJACK ESTATE WINERY CADE ESTATE WINERY ODETTE ESTATE WINERY 3TH VINEYARD Featuring: .CADE Napa Valley Sauvignon Blanc •PlumpJack Reserve Chardonnay, Napa Valley •Adaptation Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley •CADE Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, Howell Mountain THURSDAY NOV 12, 2020 at 7:00PM CST via Zoom MEETING ID: 890 9604 9436'

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

Thanksgiving is right around the corner! This is obviously my favorite holiday as I get to geek out on what wines I’d like to pair with all my Gobble Day festivities. I get an EXTRA treat this year as my beloved Steelers play on Thankgiving! This holiday is truly about family, friends and unity. Here are my selections to help unify your Table this year. Blessing to you all and happy Gobble Day! Don’t forget, you can shop Spec’s in store, online, on our app, pick up curbside or even have it delivered!

Brooks Winery Pinot Noir 2018

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $29.99

The winery is fully sustainable with most being organic or biodynamic.  Chris Williams (the winemaker) is hands off in his approach to making the wines and allows the terroir to show. 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. This wine is a no brainer for your Turkey Day festivities ! Barlow Score: 93+

J.Moss Chardonnay 2016

Carneros, California

Cash price $41.79

I met James Moss (a fellow Texan) when I visited Napa Valley a couple of years 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. His Carneros Chardonnay is quite exquisite with the New World fruit burst and cream, but also give good acidity and structure on the backbone to make it a well balanced wine. Flavors of crushed pineapple, lychee and melon gush into the palate with layered hints of vanilla creme brulee and baking spices. The finish is integrated and lush with hints of lemon zest, toasted almond and creamy butterscotch. Barlow Score: 93 Points

Bougetz ‘Jovana’ Red Blend 2015

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $49.99

I decided to add this wine to the mix because I love Cabernet Franc with Thanksgiving feasts! A blended wine can really show what a wine maker is made of as it is their chance to express passion and versatility with a number of grapes in one wine.  This blend has (and needs) only two grapes.  The wine is 59% Merlot/ 41% Cabernet Franc and I couldn’t be happier with the final result. The Merlot comes from Andy Beckstoffer’s Orchard Vineyard in Oak Knoll and the Cabernet Franc comes from the Yates Vineyard on top of Mt. Veeder.  The wine was whole berry crushed then aged in 67% new French oak for 22 months.  Jovana shows excellent structure and depth from beginning to the delicious end. Flavors of black cherry and currant flow into medium intensity.  The mid palate offers blueberries with an underlying current of black pepper and spice. The finish is pure and elegant with touches of cinnamon and vanilla bean. Balanced and layered. Get this on your Table! Barlow Score: 93 Points

Blue Rock ‘Baby Blue’ Sauvignon Blanc 2019

Alexander Valley, California

Cash Price $20.89

Blue Rock produces luxury wines on their 100 acres nestled in the hillsides of Alexander Valley (right next to Silver Oak).  This wine is a deliciously succulent 94% Sauvignon Blanc with 6% Viognier added to give the wine a touch more viscocity and flavor pop.  I was stunned at the complexity in the glass with this Sauvignon Blanc as it layers itself beautifully.    Flavors of crisp lemon citrus leap into the palate with medium acidity that is layered into a soft, round viscosity that coats the palate. Notes of apricot and peach seep into the mid palate with touches of Meyer lemon and hay.  The finish is stunning with a pop of Viognier that adds hints of wild flowers and bees wax. This will make Momma’s Turkey flavor go off the charts!  Barlow Score: 93 Points

Chablisienne ‘La Sereine’ Chardonnay 2014

Chablis, France

Cash Price $22.99

I love Chablis!  I recently taught a class on Chablis and was reminded at how much I really do enjoy Chardonnay from this region. It is some of the most exquisite Chardonnay produced in my opinion.  Granted, I do enjoy higher acid wines so keep that in mind.  Chablis expresses true terroir in their wines.  This Classic example is named after the river that runs right through the heart of the region.  Flavors of ripe green apples and chamomile zing through the palate with medium plus acidity.  Touches of stone fruit show in the mid palate with linear complexity and hints of crushed rock and chalk.  The finish is clean with touches of cream and wild flowers.  This wine will cut through dry turkey like a hot butter knife.  Barlow Score: 90 points

The Diver Sparkling Brut Rose N/V


Cash Price $17.99

This is a new addition to our portfolio. I’ve been looking to grow our American sparkling portfolio and this was an easy ‘Yes’. The wine is 80%/20% Pinot Noir/Chardonnay traditional blend made in the Charmat method (Think Prosecco) with 1.1% Residual Sugar which is not really perceptible on the palate, but does soften the mouth feel. This delightful bubbly offers a beautiful salmon color and zips into the palate with flavors of bing cherry, strawberry and whiffs of citrus. Diver plunges into deliciously ripe, crunchy red fruit from start to finish. This would be a great apertif for your family festivities. Barlow Score: 89 Points

Brooks Winery Logsdon Ridge Pinot Gris 2019

Willamette Valley, Oregon

Cash Price $16.99

I am an ardent fan of well made American Pinot Gris and this is one of the best in our portfolio now. Brooks wines are completely built for food as they have zesty acidity that is perfect for fowl. This single vineyard wine is from the estate in Eola-Amity Hills. The wine is 100% Biodynamically farmed and only 100 cases were produced. This 100% Pinot Gris offers a pale straw core with light legs. Flavors of soft lemon zest and cream waft into the nose. The palate has a weighty core with notes of pear, melon and orange blossom that softens into a beautiful salinity and electric acids. The finish is pure and elegant with a roundness that offers fleshy green apples and no oak. Yum! Barlow Score: 92 Points

Republic of Pink Dry Rosé

Central Coast, California

Cash Price $17.99

This is also a new addition to our portfolio. I was enamored with this wine because this winery only produces 1 wine. They have decided to make the best damn Dry Rosé they can and that’s it. They nailed it! The wine is not done Saignee, these grapes were specifically chosen to be made into a Rosé. This Rhone style (Grenache, Mourvedre, Syrah) blend hails from the several single vineyards in the Central Coast. The color of this wine is pale salmon, much like the Rose’s of Provence. Ripe cherries and strawberries burst into the palate with a light creamy core on the mid palate. Taut acidity makes this a great food wine as the finish shows touches of candied watermelon and citrus zest. This wine is downright gulpable! Barlow Score: 90 Points

Girasole Pinot Noir

Mendocino, California

Cash Price $14.99

I love this VALUE, ORGANIC winery. Every wine they make is spot on tasty. Don’t be afraid to get this one by the case. The wine is 100% Pinot Noir from their estate in Mendocino. Juicy flavors of cherries and pomegranate pounce into the palate with medium intensity. Whiffs of red roses and sandalwood hit the mid palate with a velvety texture. The finish is refined and silky with hints of oak and vanilla. Barlow Score: 88 Points

Dr. Frank Semi Dry Riesling 2018

Finger Lakes, New York

Cash Price $14.49

Konstantin Frank is producing some of the best wines in New York and were, in fact, the first to successfully implement vitis vinifera into New York.  Riesling is a specialty for this winery and their semi dry version is absolutely stunning!  This lightly off dry wine offers flavors orange blossom, green apples with tinges of ripe pear that balance effortlessly through the palate.  The wine is un-oaked and has medium plus acidity that is tamed by the licks of sweetness.  The finish offers notes of honeysuckle and wild meadow flowers combined with hints of wet rock minerality.  Riesling is one of the more versatile wines to pair with food and the hint of sweetness will make it a favorite at the table! Barlow Score: 91 Points

Ca’Momi Cabernet Sauvignon 2018

Napa Valley, California

Cash Price $18.99 (On sale for $17.99 with your Spec’s Key through November)

Ca’Momi is one Spec’s gem Napa Valley Cabernet’s for under $20.  This American winery with Italian roots produces excellent value wines across the board.  The 100% Cabernet is wonderfully complex with flavors of ripe cassis and black cherry.  The wine has been aged for 18 months in oak and it shows on the palate.  Notes of spice integrate through the balanced tannins and acids.  The finish offers plush hints of currant, cream and toasted oak.  Chocolate mocha sits on the palate for a good long time.  This is a great value Cabernet Sauvignon, if you must pour Cabernet this holiday.  James Score: 89 Points

Domaine Montcy Red Blend 2016

Cheverny, France

Cash Price $19.94

Montcy is such a perfect pairing for all things Thanksgiving.  I love the clean, refreshing flavors and structured body that keeps my palate craving more.  This Domaine is located in a fairly unknown area in the Loire Valley, Cheverny, and focuses on high quality whites and reds on soils of clay and limestone.  The red wine is a blend of 60% Gamay, 35% Pinot Noir, and 5% Malbec.  I know….not typically grapes you see used in blends, but boy o boy this wine is delicious!  Bursting red fruit flavors of freshly picked bing cherries and raspberries sing into medium plus acidity and minimal tannins.  The wine is completely unoaked, instead choosing to focus on pinpoint red fruits with hints of spice.  The finish is silky and mouth watering with touches of white pepper, cranberry and violets.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Barons de Rothschild (Lafite) Blanc Reserve 2019

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $13.99

Most everyone has a ‘go-to’ wine for the holidays that you just know is going to be terrific every time you pop the cork.  This is ‘that’ white wine in my home.  The wine is a 55%/45% Sauvignon Blanc/Semillon blend that is completely unoaked. Flavors of citrus lemon lime zing through the palate with medium plus acidity.  The mid palate offers a soft creamy complexity with whiffs of white flowers and orange blossoms.  The finish is chalked full of minerality with tinges of crushed rocks.  I have found myself gravitating towards French Sauvignon Blanc for quite sometime now and this is a classic example of why it has occurred.  Barlow Score: 90 Points

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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J. Moss Winery Virtual Tasting This Thursday, November 5th at 7pm

Hey all!

Please join me for this awesome tasting with one of the few Black Owned Wineries in all of California. I had the pleasure to meet James a couple of years ago in Napa Valley and have enjoyed selling his boutique wines that are absolutely delicious! So, Go support him and purchase some wines for this event and join us for an in depth discussion on wine and Napa Valley passion!

Time: This Thursday, November 5th at 7pm

Zoom Meeting ID: 343 782 4452

Password: 1990

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Perelada Brut

Cava, Spain

Cash Price $9.99

This diamond shows clean citrus notes and plenty of apple and pear.  The palate shows touches of bread pudding and confection.  The finish is refreshing with touches of almond and white flowers.  Pair this with brie filled paté.

Fog Bank Cabernet Sauvignon


Cash Price $9.99

A California Cabernet extraordinaire with ripe flavors of plum and cassis that are enveloped by hints of caramel and vanilla spice with a medium body. Pair with herb crusted lamb shanks.

Long Barn Chardonnay


Cash Price $9.99

Deliciously rich with flavors of pear, apples, and apricot. The finish flows easily into hints of pineapples, vanilla, and toasted oak. Pair with Turkey sandwiches and tomato soup.

Chateau Lavagnac Red Blend

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $11.99

The wine is Merlot dominant and offers stunning value in Bordeaux. Flavors of plum and cherries lead into excellent structure and whiffs of vanilla on the finish. Pair this with sausage and brisket.

Chateau Galochet Red Blend

Bordeaux, France

Cash Price $11.99

This 100% Merlot wine is a super value from Bordeaux. Flavors of red currant and plum flow into of vanilla and spice. Pair with blood sausage and onions.

Vit Vane Chardonnay

Western Cape, South Africa

Cash Price $10.99 But with a $2.00 Specs Key!!

South African Chardonnay is super surprising! Flavors of tropical mango, pineapple, and citrus pop into notes of cream and hints of oak. Get this in your basket today!

Big August Gruner Veltliner


Cash Price $11.27 ON SPECIAL!

Gruner Veltliner is a wine with Big Flavor that not many people have heard of. Flavors of lemon lime, punchy grapefruit and minerals bounce into a clean, refreshing finish. Pair with salty pretzels.

Laborie Sauvignon Blanc

Western Cape, South Africa

Cash Price $11.99

Zesty flavors of lime, cut grass, and candied jalapeno jump into the palate with clean notes of sliced melon and papaya. Pair skeletons and ghouls for Halloween!

Monte Campo Montepulciano D’Abruzzo

Abruzzo, Italy

Cash Price $7.49

Here is your perfect lasagna night pairing! Flavors of strawberry, wild berries, and caramel flow into a surprisingly complexity that lingers throughout the finish.

Casa Ceccato Pinot Grigio

Delle Venezie, Italy

Cash Price $5.99

This fun, fresh and fruity wine offers citrus on the palate with touches of white flowers and tropical fruit that tango through the finish. Pair with friends and festivities!

GEA Tempranillo

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $6.99

Argentina’s hidden gem comes to light in this value wine. Flavors of dark cherry and currant rock into notes of fig and plum with just a hint of spice. Pair with a slab of meat slathered with all the fixings.

Felipe Rutini ‘Trumpeter’ Cabernet Sauvignon

Mendoza, Argentina

Cash Price $9.99

This wine Trumpets quality! Flavors of blackberry and black cherry jump into notes of toasted vanilla and hazelnut. Pair with dry aged beef slathered in a portobello mushroom cream sauce.

Thank you,

James C. Barlow CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

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Hello Ladies and Gentlemen,

As you all know, I have become an ardent fan of Willamette Valley wines and am extremely excited to offer this Virtual Tasting from one of the better wineries in Willamette Valley. Please go pick up some of these wines at your local Spec’s and Join us Next Thursday, October 29th at 7pm.

Join Us on
ID: 856 3323 0599
Password: 973514

Patricia Green Accolades:

*Founded in 2000 with one of Oregon’s first woman winemaker
*All fruit is sourced from organic, dry farmed vineyards
*First 100pt score for OR Pinot Noir in 2018

Please join us for a Virtual Tasting with Patricia Green Cellars!

The producer of more individual bottlings of Pinot Noir than
any winery in America.

National Sales & Winery Ambassador: Melissa Groshong

Thursday, October 29th, 2020 at 7pm CST.

Tasting Wines
2017 Patricia Green Sauvignon Blanc
2018 Patricia Green Reserve Pinot Noir
2018 Patricia Green Balcombe Pinot Noir
2018 Patricia Green Volcanic Pinot Noir

Thank you,

James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

Spec’s Fine Wine Buyer

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment


Hello All,

It is my distinct pleasure to offer this next virtual tasting! As you all know, I am an ardent fan good farming IE Sustainable, Organic, Biodynamic, etc… Steve Matthiasson is on the forefront of good farming in Napa Valley. He has become of one the the more famous winemakers in Napa Valley with his ‘hands off’ approach to vintning wines, letting the varieties speak for themselves.

Ya’ll should not miss this event! It’ll be an amazing learning experience to talk about farming, sustainablity, and rules of organics. This also gives us the opportunity to go buy some his wines and support Napa Valley (They need all the help they can get this year).

Please Join me!

Zoom ID: 831 3450 7984

Password: 2003


  1. Matthiasson Dry Rosé 2019
  2. Matthiasson Village Chardonnay 2019 *Brand New to the Texas Market*
  3. Matthiasson ‘Linda Vista Single Vineyard’ Napa Valley Chardonnay 2018
  4. Matthissson Village Cabernet Sauvignon 2018 *Brand New to the Texas Market*
  5. Matthiasson Napa Valley Cabernet 2016 (ONE OF MY FAVORITE CABERNETS!)


James C. Barlow, CWE, CSS

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