Friday, December 29, 2006

K & L Wine Merchants buyer Mulan Chan says the best values are found in Spain and southern France.

So I've written about my dear friend Mulan a few times on the blog over the past few years, she's quoted today in a very cool article in the San Francisco Chronicle...MULAN is a wine expert on wines of Southern France and a hand full of other wine regions around the world! Smart and Pretty - Mulan Rocks!!

Cheers - Ali

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Packing it Up Today

So I'm trying to motivate this morning, I'm heading up to Dallas and Fort Worth for the Christmas Holiday. First things first, I've got my case of wine and bubbles already tucked in the car. Like all of us in the wine business, this time of year is exhausting and over the last few years Christmas Day has been somewhat a blurr from the 365 days leading up to Dec. 25 each year. I love the current BMW commercial running on the television - you know, the one where the 2 little kids scream at the top of their lungs when they open Santa's gift on Xmas morning - makes me laugh so hard each time I see or hear those screams of joy! This will be the last "grandkidless" year in our family, my brother and his beautiful wife are expecting their how the world spins madly on. I'm in the midst of setting goals for my wineries, distributors and for myself for 2007. So much to accomplish and look forward to in the next set of 365 days. The TexaCali Wine Co. Year in Review will be posted soon...

Here's hoping all of you have been a little naughty and nice...wishing everyone a very Merry Christmas and Cozy Holiday week ahead!

Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Spec's In Austin - SNAP!

Well Well, a big shout out to the new Spec's team in Austin. It's not everyday this single girl gets marriage proposals and hugs from a dozen or more guys! Oh - count me in to help out anytime fellas! Big Smile!! And thanks for supporting TexaCali Wine Co. family owned producers - always.

The new store is located within a stones throw from 290 off of Airport Blvd. I've received quite a few emails asking where this is...coming from the Westlake and North Austin areas - take 183 and exit Lamar - turn right and then left at Airport Blvd - Spec's is on your left - Hoover's Online headquarters is right across the street.

5775 Airport Blvd. Ste. 100 Map
Austin 78752
Web site

See you there! Ali

A few remaining cases left in Texas

Wow - I can hardly believe this- here's a real treat. There are a few cases of the 2002 Fort Ross Chardonnay available in Texas. It's around $29

This is not a typical California Chardonnay, but is more in the style of a Burgundian grand cru. Layers of luscious white peach, ripe apples, and honeyed aromatics, interlaced with the vineyard’s signature minerality evolve into a smooth, elegant finish. The generous flavors of this graceful Chardonnay are balanced by just enough acid to create a lively, well-structured wine that can be enjoyed now or cellared for several years.

Please send me an email asking where to find this gorgeous wine! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Gifts for Under the Tree

For all you collectors out there, this list is what is currently on the shelves in Texas - let me know if you need help searching!


  • 2004 BenMarco Malbec 90 Points, Wine Spectator
  • 2003 BenMarco Expresivo 90 Points, Wine Spectator – 91 Points, Tanzer
  • 2005 Crios Malbec 90 Points, Top 100 Wines of the Year, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2005 La Posta Paulucci Malbec, 90 Points Wine Spectator
  • 2004 Luca Chardonnay 91 Points, Tanzer
  • 2004 Luca Syrah 91 Points, Wine Spectator
  • 2002 Mapema Primera Zona 90 Points, Wine & Spirits
  • 2002 Mendel Unus 92 Points, Wine Spectator
  • 2002 Mendel Malbec 90 Points, Wine Spectator
  • 2004 Susana Balbo Malbec 91 Points, Wine Spectator
  • 2004 Tikal Patriota 90 Points, Wine Spectator
  • 2004 Tikal Jublio 91 Points, Wine Spectator


  • 2002 Fort Ross Reserve Pinot Noir 92 Points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2002 Fort Ross Pinot Noir 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2002 Fort Ross Pinotage 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2003 Fort Ross Chardonnay 90 Points, Wine Enthusiast
  • 2003 Davis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Gold Medal, Best of Class, 2006 Country Fair Wine of the World Competition
  • 2004 Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir, Best in Competition, Gold Medal, Best of Class, 2006 Country Fair Wine of the World Competition
  • 2004 Davis Family Vineyards Syrah Gold Medal, 2006 San Francisco Wine Competition
  • 2003 Duchamp Estate Winery Syrah Cuvee Trouvee 90 Points, Robert Parker
  • 2004 Handley Cellars Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc Gold Medal, Sonoma County Fair
  • 2003 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Gewürztraminer 93 points, Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wines of 2006
  • 2003 Lewelling Napa Cabernet Sauvignon 91 Points, Robert Parker
  • 2003 Lewelling Wight Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon 94 Points, Robert Parker
  • 2004 Pellegrini Family of Sonoma Carignan 4 Stars (out of 5), Restaurant Wine

New Zealand

  • 2005 Davis Family Gusto Sauvignon Blanc 91 Points, Beverage Tasting Institute

There are numerous high-scoring wines among TexaCali Wine Co. producers who were not included on this list because wines have already sold-out. Not to worry – I’ll keep you posted when the next vintage arrives!

Cheers - Ali

Where to Buy...

Well, I've received just under a hundred requests this week asking where certain TexaCali Wines are available in Texas. Here's a short list (and I mean short since the wine and sake is available to each and every retailer in Texas - just ask for it if you don't see it).

I've narrowed the following list down according to the amount of TexaCali Wine Co. wines they've brought in for the Christmas, Hanukkah and New Years Holidays...

  • Centennial Fine Wine and Spirits - especially the one on Preston Rd. near NWHY.
  • The Wine Therapist
  • Pogo's
  • Whole Foods - Loma Alto location.
  • Central Market Dallas - but get there before Saturday afternoon b/c the wines sell out fast!

North Dallas
  • Mr. G's - best collection of TCWC producers in the state!
  • Far Pointe Cellars - Frisco (great wine bar too!)
  • Corner Wines - West Plano off of Preston Rd. near Spring Creek Blvd.

MidCities -
  • Far Pointe Cellars - Southlake

Fort Worth
  • Central Market - ask for JR
  • Put a Cork in It - ask for Chris

Waco -
  • Dicortes on Lake Air - ask for Lori

San Angelo -
  • In Vino Veritas - everything over $25 can be found here

Austin -
  • Cork & Co. - by the glass or take home a bottle.
  • Beverage World - next to the Whip In
  • Central Market - both locations.
  • Austin Wine Merchant
  • Grapevine Market - check out the Sake!

San Antonio
  • Central Market
  • Joe Sag's
  • Beeman's on I-10
  • Bootleggers

Houston -
  • The Tasting Room
  • Spec's various locations - the motherload is at their Smith store - sake too!
  • Central Market
  • Houston Wine Merchant
  • Le Chateau - big POINT wines here

Again - this is just the short list, there are hundreds of great wine shops and stores that support all TexaCali Wine producers across the Lone Star State - just ask!

Happy shopping - Ali

Sunday, December 17, 2006

Have you been here lately???

It's 80 degrees in Austin today - breaking out the Crios Rose of Malbec this afternoon for sure!

Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

For the TexaCali Wine Inner Circle promised from the email that went out today -
here's what the Crios wines look like. Yes, we all need help
remembering what we are looking for once we walk into the wine store!
Cheers - Ali (more informaton on

Keep "La Posta-ed"

Meet Erika - she's a PLM, knows her wine, mother of the cutest little boy ever and one of the best wine peeps in the Lone Star State - the real deal!

The following is what is currently on her myspace page for all to see! Enjoy - Ali

Monday, December 11, 2006

Keep "La Posta-ed"
Category: Food and Restaurants

From Mendoza, Argentina comes 3 distinct single vineyard wines. Their name is La Posta del Vinatero , "the tavern of the winegrower". The company that imports them asked the growers to stop selling their spectacular fruit that they used to sell to other wineries to blend, and make single vineyard wines. Two Malbecs and 1 Bonarda. They are all absolutely fantastic. First, the La Posta "Estela Armando" Bonarda Vineyard. 43 yr. old vines, that offer a perfect bacon smokiness, crushed berry fruit and dark chocolate richness that carries through on the palate. AWESOME Bar-b-que wine. It will be on the list at the new LAMBERT'S. Retail $15.99

The more demure "Pizzella Family Vineyard" Malbec makes you feel like you just discovered your first perfume that actually smells good on you, or her as the case may be. Beautiful fruit notes, with hints of sandalwood and spice. Its like a glass of love. Not much left of this one Retail $15.99 And last but certainly not least, the if you want to cheat on another wine, cheat with this one...

La Posta 'Angel Paulucci Vineyard' Malbec 2005 Right out of the bottle animalistic and provocatively wanting to be Spanish. But it comes back home with that crazy mineral, iron rich, salt driven Argentine earthiness, with intense fruit and backbone. I would put this up against 'Anime Negra' for a test drive just to see what happens. It has a great balance you won't find in any other wine for under $20. Retail $17.99 and worth every sipping penny.

Friday, December 08, 2006

'Tis the Season

Please join me at Central Market - N. Lamar today from 4-7pm and on Sunday 1-6pm at the Westgate Central Market locations. I'll be uncorking many Fine Wines for you to try...Cheers - Ali

Austin, Texas

Holiday Wine Selections

Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon

This Alexander Valley California classic is a must have this season, perfect as a gift to your boss or by the case as your house-wine! Beware – not for the faint of heart – this bottle is BIG and RICH with Dark Fruit Flavors. With firm and velvety tannins, the wine shows elements of black pepper and crushed bay leaves, while capsicum and red peppers present hints of toast and spice $25

La Posta Malbec

This Malbec is one of the highest rated Argentine reds under $20. Vibrant red color with aromas of red cherries, raspberries, and blueberries wafting from the glass along with notes of caramel from the oak. On the palate, the fresh berry flavors mingle with spice notes in the finish. This is a medium-bodied and well-structured wine that is incredibly full of life. It’s in High Demand for the Holidays in Texas. This 90-year old vineyard has created a lovely red sipper that will keep you warm over the winter months – great with Pizza too! $18

Olivet Lane Chardonnay

This beautiful Russian River white is one of the top values on Texas shelves today – don’t spent the big-bucks on brand names, the Pellegrini’s are pioneers in Sonoma winemaking – a beautiful artisan chard that should be enjoyed year-round. The 2004 Olivet Lane Estate Chardonnay has classic Burgundian notes of mineral, flint and wet stones evolving into hints of toasted bread crust. The mouth is rich and full-bodied with firm acidity, and the lingering finish is long and seamless. $20

Susana de Balbo Crios Torrontes

Ahh – this is perfect for all your pre-holiday snicky-snacks! Goes incredible well with spicey nuts and crackers – even better with goat cheese and pesto. Susana Balbo put torrontes wine on the map and we ALL love her for it – no oak, just amazing floral and leychee fruit flavors abound. Austin’s #1 selling white wine from Argentina! $15

Tikal Patriota

An absolute favorite among Ernesto Catena’s Tikal wines, this Bonarda and Malbec blend incredibly elegant and smooth red wine. Take this to your pinot noir lovers – they will be pleasantly surprised with this outstanding Argentine producer. Aromas of bright berry/cherry fruit and electric-purple color. Like swallowing a whole bowl of mixed ripe berries at once. Big body yet very balanced, with luscious layers of raspberry, cherry, and cocoa flavors. $25

Mapema Sauvignon Blanc

This loveable Argentine white starts out with enticing aromas of lemon, fresh herbs, honeydew rind, and a hint of oak. Once you swirl it around your mouth, you’ll get a vibrant blast of lemon zest acidity along with lemongrass and a slightly creamy texture. This wine delivers a lot of body without losing its lively acidity, and the crisp finish doesn’t keep this wine from lingering on your palate. Hard to find this kind of complexity and flavor intensity at such a reasonable price. $14

*please note prices vary by retailer

Thursday, December 07, 2006

For all the Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Lovers!

Robert’s Roast Sirloin of Beef

"Cabernet Sauvignon with fur, Merlot with feathers”

--Old Bordelais saying

Pairing food and wine greatly enhances the dining experience. Although some of the old rules--red wines with red meat and white wines with seafood--may be an oversimplification, there is some basis for the theory. While it ultimately comes down to what you like, some food and wine combinations are hard to beat, like simply roasted beef and wines based on Cabernet Sauvignon. The weight, tannins, and flavors of the wine bring forth the rich flavors of the meat; in return, the natural, unadorned flavors and texture of the meat showcase the complexity of the wine. The following is less of a recipe than it is a marriage of great elements.
- Robert Pellegrini

Robert’s Roast Sirloin of Beef

This cut of beef, also called a New York Strip, is the king of roasts and would be an excellent choice for serving a dozen guests at a holiday dinner.

1 12 lb. sirloin roast of beef, boned
4 tablespoons Olive Oil
4 gloves garlic, halved
Rosemary, in sprig
3 teaspoons sea salt
3 teaspoons pepper
A rack and a low-sided roasting pan to just fit the roast

Dry the faces of the roast with a knife. Make 8 small incisions throughout the roast and press in a half clove of garlic. Coarsely chop the rosemary leaves and with the olive oil, salt and pepper, rub all over the exterior of the roast.

Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Place beef on a rack in the roasting pan, fat side down (so you only have to turn the roast once), and place in the oven to brown. After about 15 minutes, turn the roast fat side up. When that side is browned, turn down the heat and complete the cooking at 400 degrees.

Use a meat thermometer to test for doneness. At 120 to 125, the meat will be rare. Allow the roast to rest in a warm place for twenty minutes before slicing.

If desired, pour off the fat in the roasting pan and deglaze with a cup of beef stock and a cup of Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon. Scrape the bits on the bottom of the pan, reduce by half, and serve along with the roast in a sauceboat. Serve this dish with crisp oven-roasted potatoes and sautéed green beans.

Delicious! I just may whip this up for Christmas dinner! Ali

Tuesday, December 05, 2006

December Wines of the Month

Greetings this sure to read about Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet and Fort Ross Vineyards and Winery on the home page of

20 days until Christmas - so check back for quick updates regarding Holiday gifts within the next few hours! Cheers - Ali

Friday, December 01, 2006

Try it - you'll LIKE it!!

Please stop in and try a little chilly Sake at Centennial with me – we are opening…
  • Kanbara Bride of the Fox - Junmai Ginjo
  • Fukucho Moon on the Water - Junmai Ginjo
  • Tozai Well of Wisdom
  • Tozai Voices in the Mist - Nigori

This Saturday afternoon from 1:00pm-4:0pm, Centennial Fine Wine and Spirits, 8123 Preston Road, Dallas, Texas, 214-361-6697

I'll be explaining the basics of Ginjo Sake along with the tasting...

Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Happy Thanksgiving

So I've been out in California for a few days, many business meetings, many bottles of wine, many laughs, many good friends sharing great times with TexaCali Ali! It's been a very big year, so it's nice to begin the holiday season among the special producers, importers and friends I've trusted my life with over the past few years.

Here are a few pictures taken over the past few days - I promise more later. It's an amazing time to be in the California wine country - it's like driving through an Autumn patch-work quilt.

Last weekend my dear friend Mulan
Chan celebrated her birthday along with 40 or so other foodie friends in San Francisco. It was a food and wine feast that would make you salivate just seeing the pics, we had everything from black truffle linguine to butter cream frosted cupcakes. The San Francisco good-weather Gods were on our side - giving us a clear night with no fog or wind.

I've been staying up at the Handal Vineyard, enjoy the pics and check in for a complete Thanksgiving Day tasting report by Saturday.

Cheers - Ali

Saturday, November 18, 2006

The Fray , Fish and Chips

Classic night in San Francisco - I found tickets on Craigslist for "The Fray" in concert at the Warfield. AWESOME group of guys just playing music together. You can check out a tune of theirs on

Afterwards, we hit up my favorite pub in the city for a pint,
fish and chips - delivered in a nifty wrap of newspaper. I miss this city. Off to prepare for a darling b-day celebration this evening - bubbles all day for all! Cheers - Ali

Friday, November 17, 2006

Parties with Turkeys

Thanksgiving festivities are here - everyone is loading up on the goods this weekend, so please don't forget to support TexaCali Wine Co. producers! Enjoy the pics....(I went on a fabulous hike in Marin, visited Woodhouse Chocolates in Napa Valley - how cute are the Chocolate Turkeys playing football?)

Thanksgiving Wines to Buy - these are a must - just ask for them at your favorite wine store....

*Luca Chardonnay from Argentina $30
*Handley Pinot Noir from Anderson Valley California $25
*Fort Ross Symposium Pinot Noir from the Sonoma Coast $25
*Pellegrini Olivet Lane Pinot Noir from the Russian River $25
*Storrs Chardonnay from the Santa Cruz Mountains $18
*Crios Torrontes and Rose of Malbec from Argentina $14

Stay tuned for more soon, this is the biggest food and wine weekend of the year...

Gobble Gobble! Ali

Monday, November 13, 2006

I lost at bowling tonight -

but I was able to taste Davis Family Vineyards wine this afternoon - so it's a wash baaabyyy!!!

This is the deal according to Guy "
I made Sauvignon Blanc for years in California, and it has long been a favorite wine to drink because of its crisp, refreshing character. I have always preferred my Sauvignon Blanc in the more vibrant style, without the heavy character of oak barrels, a style I started to admire coming out of New Zealand wineries in the 90’s.

Well, the seasons in New Zealand are opposite those here in the Northern Hemisphere, so when my California vineyards are sleepy and quiet, awaiting the arrival of Spring – it is Fall in New Zealand and the grapes are starting to ripen! In 1998 I arranged to work the harvest in the Northern tip of New Zealand’s South Island, in a region called Marlborough. I went to study and experience the winemaking styles and techniques, although what I discovered is a microclimate that turns the Sauvignon Blanc grape into distinctive and delicious flavor reflections. The Cook’s Straight which separates New Zealand’s two islands, creates a constant funnel of marine breezes, continually cooling the coastal vineyards. The soils are rich in calcareous deposits, the benefit of the island geography. This translates into vigorous vines and long growing seasons – layers of aromas and flavors that push the envelope on true Sauvignon varietal character. Since that first harvest I have stopped making Sauvignon Blanc in California and return each and every vintage to craft a reflection of Marlborough. I have secured grapes from 2 of the older vineyards in New Zealand both planted in the 1970’s by true pioneers in the New Zealand wine industry. The first block is right on the coast in a sub appellation called Brancott – this piece keeps very crisp acidity and pronounced aromas of fresh herbs.

The second vineyard is about 10 miles inland from the first in another sub appellation called Rapaura. This vineyard is slightly warmer and dryer and gets flavors of grapefruit, passion fruit and other tropical notes like guava and lime depending on the vintage. That Rapaura vineyard also gets riper so the acidity is tamed a bit and the body of the wine is more mouthcoating. I craft the two blocks separately in individual stainless steel tanks at very low temperatures to highlight and never mask the character of each vineyard. Once the fermentation is finished I return back to California to begin farming the new vintage in the Russian River Valley. In the middle of our summer, their winter, I return to New Zealand to assemble a final blend of the two tanks – a layered combination that creates a harmony between the tropical notes and the fresh herbs,-- the bright, crisp acidity and the rich mouthcoating texture that leaves the flavors hanging on your palate. A unique, exciting expression that can be achieved no other way and from no other place.

I think by the end of the first bottle you’ll see its worth traveling half way around the globe to make!
- Guy Davis.

Yep - no kidding, you all know that I love Sancerre and extremely well made 2005 SB - here's my one token from NZ, it was chosen #1 from (in) New Zealand from the Beverage Tasting Institute - YES THIS IS A BIG FRIGGIN' DEAL - I MEAN THE BIGGEST....drink it up with a side of goat cheese and pesto - ALI

Friday, November 10, 2006

Killer Sake

I'm running off to dinner in San Francisco, but quickly wanted to copy the following for you all! I met Alder last Wednesday night at Wine 2.0 and thanked him for being such the pioneer for the world of wine blogging - Vinography. Groundbreaking sight for wine and sake content and the most excellent website and blog to learn about other bloggers like me out there...

So posted below is a great entry Alder posted on November 7th about one of the Vine Connections Ginjo Sake breweries that I actually had the pleasure of visiting last February while in Japan.

SOOO COOL - check it out - Ali

Daimon Brewery, Katano City, Japan: Current Releases

Filed under: Boutique Wines , Sake , Wine Reviews

I'm a sucker for a good story when it comes to what I'm drinking. Of course, what I'm drinking has to be good, but it becomes so much better for the addition of a great story about where it came from and how it was made. Quite often, however, the story also comes from who made it. The people behind the wine we drink are literally the reason it tastes so good, but the stories of winemakers, vineyard workers, winemaking families, and vineyard owners can add a special dimension to the understanding and appreciation of what's in the glass.

Especially when the folks who make what we're drinking defy the odds.

Philip Harper is a man going where none of his kind have gone before. Specifically, he is the first and only Toji, or master brewer of Japanese sake, that also happens to be not Japanese. Harper is the sort of modest unassuming Brit that still hasn't gotten used to answering the question that everybody always asks. His answer to how the heck he ended up where he is today is "purely by accident."

What started as a personal passion for sake led to volunteering for the backbreaking work associated with the sake making process, eventually getting paid for it, and then, after a long road of apprenticeship, being certified as the first foreign-born Master Brewer in the country. The author of several books about sake, Harper recently published The Book of Sake: A Connoisseurs Guide, which is a handy combination of instruction, history, and recommendations for those interested in exploring the higher-quality realms of sake.

Harper works for a brewing company called Daimon Shuzo (the shuzo just means "brewery") near the city of Osaka in western Japan. Confusingly, the brewery is also known as Sakahan Shuzo. Don't ask me why.

Founded in 1826, Daimon has been run by a single family for 6 generations. The brewery sits at the foot of the Ikoma mountain range in a town called Katano city, an area that has been renown for centuries as a destination for viewing the cherry blossoms and other seasonal scenery.

Sake production in the area began in the Edo Period (between 1600 and 1850) and Diamon is one of only two remaining brewers that have survived since that time. Its longevity can certainly be attributed to making a great product and sensible management, but may also be a consequence of the brewery's modest aspirations. Diamon has never made much sake. It produces about 90,000 liters of sake per year (the equivalent of 10,000 cases of wine), which makes it rather small by Japanese standards.

Harper works alongside another Master Brewer named Yokomichi Toshiaki to produce the brewery's various different sakes for domestic and export markets. Most sake breweries have a large portfolio of different sakes that are made in various quantities, some large, some miniscule. I've never seen a sake brewery that didn't have at least several different products and several different sub-brands. Diamon offers its products under the Diamon, Tozai, Mukune, Sakahan and Rikyubai.

The Tozai line of products, both of which are reviewed below, is a special collaborative project between Harper, the brewery's US importer, and artist Daniel Kelly, who provided the artwork for the labels. The name Tozai appropriately means "East-West."

The existence of these products, not to mention the employment of a British guy with wild curly hair and a penchant for wearing hooded sweatshirts and tie-dyes, totally impresses me. It's quite inspiring to see even just a single example of such innovation and open-mindedness in an industry whose complex traditions and convoluted laws make the French AOC system look like kindergarten playground rules.

Below you'll find tasting notes for the four sakes that the brewery currently exports to the US. Full disclosure: I received these sakes as press samples.


Tozai "Well of Wisdom" Honzojo
Colorless in the glass, this sake has a yeasty nose of wet wood and malted milk. In the mouth it is silky, with subdued acid levels and somewhat straightforward flavors of chocolate milk and cedar. Score: 8. Cost: $22.

Mukune "Shadows of Katano" Junmai Ginjo Nigori
Cloudy white with a fine sediment and just the tiniest hint of bubbles, this sake has a very unique nose that has the lightest yeasty notes of Vegemite mixed with more dominant aromas of freshly baked bread, and sweet wet earth. In the mouth it is lightly sweet, with a nice satiny feel on the tongue, and can best be described as tasting like what you might imagine milkweed to taste like before you actually give it a try (the real deal is somewhat bitter). There is something magically organic and essential about the milky earthy flavor and its accompanying notes of floral tones. This is the first Junmai Ginjo Nigori (unfiltered) sake I have had, but it has me itching for more. Score: 9. Cost: $40.

Mukune "Root of Innocence" Junmai Ginjo
Crystal clear in the glass, this sake has a very light, nearly imperceptible nose of light rainwater and mineral aromas with a hint of floral complexity. In the mouth it has a somewhat unusual combination of woody flavors and a richer butterscotch aspect that is quite pleasing. The sake is very balanced with a fine texture and weight on the tongue. A solid Ginjo that most people would have to try very hard to dislike. Score: 9. Cost: $40.

Tozai "Voices in the Mist" Nigori
Dense and milky white in the glass, this unfiltered sake smells classically of warm bread. In the mouth it is lighter than its thick cloudiness would suggest, and has a surprising peachy and citrus aspect to it, hinting at oranges at times as it moves across the palate, with only a tiny bit of sweetness to it. This is a more classic nigori-style sake, uncomplicated and approachable. Score: 8.5. Cost: $22.

Now go buy some sake - located at Central Market, Spec's, Centennial and your favorite wine shops who "get it". Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Fort Ross Winery

Linda and Lester, the owners of Fort Ross Winery and Vineyards are visiting Dallas this Friday. Oh how lucky you will be if attending the amazing Fort Ross Dinner at the Park City Club Friday night!

Check out the recent reviews from the Wine Enthusiast - oh yeah!!! Read more about Fort Ross here.

Cheers - Ali

Monday, November 06, 2006

Insider tidbit.

For the thousands of you that check the TexaCali Wine Trail each day...Yep, here it is, so glamorous! This is the first day in almost 7 weeks I've been home all day - so after sending and replying to over 900 emails, I'm sipping on a little Crios Rose of Malbec tonight, still in my pj's from this morning, and totally sucked into the CMA Awards on TV - and I don't even like country music (but think it's fun to eat crackers in bed anytime baby!). Seriously! I've logged over 18,000 miles on my car in Texas since July - where is the high-speed train I need???

What's on tap over the next few weeks???

I'm out in Cali, talking to investors, trying a few new wines, making sure Texas keeps buying the great wines of TexaCali Wine Co., partying with lovers of European butter, laughing with cheese-mongers, sleeping on
my favorite couch, walking through vineyards, hiking a trail or two in the Marin headlands, hearing some super-cool music in San Francisco, drinking some great draft beer, eating the best organic Thanksgiving meal in the world, running the show from the Bay Area, maybe even taking a day off to go fishing, hanging out on my favorite porch in Dry Creek Valley (pictured on the right), driving over the Golden Gate Bridge at least 10 times and hugging all the folks that helped TexaCali Wine Co. make a nice, deep and successful mark of greatness in the Lone Star State!

Check out these links for a little peak into the Holiday Season, 2007 and beyond...

Oh and Stay tuned for updates along the way and don't forget to ask for TexaCali Wine Co. wineries when buying wine in Texas! Cheers - Ali

Saturday, November 04, 2006

A Week with Handley Cellars

So Handley Cellars "cool climate" wines certainly fit the bill this week in Dallas, Fort Worth, Georgetown and Austin! It's COLD in Texas (not kidding in the slightest). What a wonderful week of talking up, sipping on and being reminded how wonderful Handley Cellars portfolio of wines are - I'm stocking up myself, just LOVE their wines. On Thursday, we had a very "cool climate" lunch. A big shout out to Rudy, Paul, Eric and Andrea for a very fun time!

So here was the line-up this week, each hour of each day the wines changed and became more interesting and exciting to taste. Talk about perfect fall weather wines and absolutely incredible compliments to Thanksgiving Dinner...

2004 Anderson Valley Chardonnay - an owner of a Plano retail shop asked me why I like this wine and why I think his customers would..."it's the anti-Rombauer", I replied without skipping a beat. Those who like finesse and elegance without the extra squirt of butter totally dig this Chardonnay - in fact, it reminds me of so many Grand Cru Burgundies...

2005 Handley Gewurtztraminer
93 points, Wine & Spirits Top 100 Wines of 2006
There's beautiful fruit clarity to this coastal gewürztraminer, an exotic flavor like ripe cherimoya (what the heck is this?) and fresh litchi. It feels luscious and gentle in the middle, then constricts around steely acidity, a tense balance that leaves the mouth refreshed.

YIKES - More later - running out for the afternoon - Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, October 31, 2006

Points and more points...

The November 30th Issue of the Wine Spectator just dropped - Argentina was's a list of my Vine Connections Beauties! Yep - this collection of wines are a rockin' can find them on the Argentina shelves at your favorite fine wine shop in Texas!

New Wines section in Buying Guide (pg 158 -160)

Luca Beso de Dante 2003 – 92 pts

Mendel Unus 2004 – 92 pts

Tikal Jubilo 2004 – 91 pts

La Posta Malbec Paulucci 2005 – 90 pts

Mendel Malbec 2004 – 90 pts

Susana Balbo Cab Sauv 2003 – 89 pts

Mapema Malbec 2004 – 88 pts

La Posta Bonardo Armando 2004 - 87 pts

In the Aphabetical guide to ARG wines section (pg 180)

BenMarco Expresivo 2003 – 90 pts

BenMarco Cab Sauv 2004 – 87 pts

BenMarco Malbec 2004 – 90 pts

Crios Cab 2004 – 88 pts

Crois Malbec 2005 – 88 pts

Crios Rosé 2006 – 81 pts

Crios Torrontes 2006 – 84 pts

Budini Chardonnay 2005 – 82 pts

Budini Malbec 2004 – 85 pts

Luca Beso de Dante 2003 – 92 pts

Luca Chardonnay 2004 – 88 pts

Luca Syrah 2004 – 91 pts

Mapema Malbec 2004 – 88 pts

Mapema Sauvignon Blanc 2006 – 84 pts

Mapema Tempranillo 2004 – 89 pts

Mendel Malbec 2004 – 90 pts

Mendel Unus 2004 – 92 pts

Susana Balbo Cab Sauv 2003 – 89 pts

Susana Balbo Malbec 2004 – 91 pts

Susana Balbo Brioso 2003 – 91 pts

Tikal Jubilo 2004 – 91 pts

Tikal Amorio 2004 – 92 pts

Tikal Patriota 2004 – 90 pts

Always trust this logo when picking out Argentine wine and Ginjo Sake! Cheers - Ali

Spooktacular Wine

Yes - Halloween is the busiest pizza night of the year - forget football games, Halloween is the biggest evening of all among our favorite pizza parlors! How else can you get all the kids to eat dinner with all the candy lurking (and for parents to relax during the tricks and treating)???

Perfect Pizza Pairings...
  • Pellegrini Carignan
  • Budini Malbec
  • BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon
  • La Posta Bonarda
  • Crios Syrah/Bonarda
  • Handley Cellars Zinfandel
  • Storrs Merlot
It's a fact - Check out the article on

BOOO - Ali

Sunday, October 29, 2006

Vintage TexaCali Ali

Click on this link from last came up in conversation last week so here it is folks... "Breathtaking Beauty & Grace"

Cheers - Ali

30 Hours with TexaCali Wine Co.

Friday at 5:00pm Robert Pellegrini landed in Austin - exactly 24 hours after harvest ended for Pellegrini Family Vineyards! Talk about running on adrenaline...his trip to Austin wrapped up the most "high-energy" week TexaCali Wine Co. has accomplished yet! Whewwww- we made it!

So back to Bob's visit...Friday night I whisked him quickly from the airport to Spanish Oaks CC, for a beautiful sit-down winemaker dinner with members of the club. I'll let the pictures do the talking...

As for
Saturday, I'd like to thank the accounts we visited for their support and time with Robert while in Austin. Texas is a VERY important market for Pellegrini Family Vineyards and your enthusiasm for Cloverdale Ranch, Olivet Lane and Pellegrini wines are so appreciated!

Also, thanks to everyone who came by the Austin Wine Merchant to meet Mr. Pellegrini and taste
through his Olivet Lane Chardonnay, Olivet Lane Pinot Noir, Pellegrini Carignan and Pellegrin Zin...a total treat for all!

We ended the 30 hours with a stop into Cork & Co., these guys were fortunate to have visited the Pellegrini Winery a few weeks ago and caught the passion-bug for Pellegrini wines like I did many years ago. Nothing like watching a great college football game in the coolest wine bar on Congress Ave.!

Cheers - Ali