Friday, March 31, 2006

What are you drinking this weekend?

Since I'm moving this weekend in the Texas warm weather, this is a no-brainer. Pellegrini's new 2005 Russian River Unoaked Chardonnay and Handley Sauvignon Blanc is just the ticket for me come Sunday night when all the strength I have left will be saved for pulling a cork or 2.

You can ask for both of these at your favorite wine store anywhere in Texas...both under $20 a bottle.

Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, March 29, 2006

It could be worse...

as sorry as the Texas Liquor and Wine laws are - look what's happening in other parts of the world. Pictured here...Like the legendary Hindu juggernaut, a roller smashes 22,000 bottles of whiskey, rum, wine and other liquid under its wheels in the dry Indian state of Gujarat. So be thankful we can at least buy wine and beer on Sunday afternoons! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, March 28, 2006

Hook'em with mapema Sauvignon Blanc!

2005 mapema sauvignon blanc: IN STOCK!! Vine Connections' incredibly talented winemaking duo, Pepe Galante and Mariano di Paola, have really made an impact since adding Malbec to their original solo effort, primera zona (and a great Malbec at that). Their tempranillo has also been widely loved by consumers and press alike.

When Nick was down working (skiing?) in Argentina last summer, he called Ed (Ed and Nick own Vine Connections) about how the mapema boys had whipped out a fantastic Sauvignon Blanc during his visit. So Ed tasted it last October and, well, it was super!! Mendoza is generally too hot for good SB, but mapema has tracked down a small, old-vine parcel at 3700 feet in Tupungato and made a delicious, crisp, beautifully textured wine.

Production was 1,000 cases and America gets 800, but at $12.99 suggested retail, supply will not be endless, so don’t delay. Great package too (similar to the current wines, but on a really cool, deep orange background color— no, you don't have to be a Longhorn to enjoy this beauty!). Cheers - Ali

Monday, March 27, 2006

Russian River Values...

Whenever I'm in search of great Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, I always turn to wines produced from the Russian River area in Sonoma. My two favorite wines under $25 are Olivet Lane Chard and Pinot made by the Pellegrini Family in California. I've been sipping these for many years and am so proud to be helping them spread the love in Texas! Look for them in your favorite fine wine store or wine list.

As I posted last week - Whole Foods across Texas has the 2002 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir library edition and 2003 Olivet Lane Chardonnay on sale right now. Look for the stacks or just ask a wine specialist for direction...Cheers! Ali

Sunday, March 26, 2006


It either takes you down or makes you stronger. Hard knocks - A breaking point for sure, you either get past it or die. That is how deep adversity strikes a human heart. Those of you, who think you are better than the rest, remember how you affect others with your actions and words. I’ve always tried my best of leading by example – treat others how you want to be treated. In recent weeks and days I’ve encountered the most mean-spirited humans in the wine business for sure. Thousands of you reading this who are not in the “wine business” must be shaking your heads from side-to-side.

We are not saving lives; we as wine pros are adding happiness and enjoyment to lives – boy we have it really good! I look at each day as a true blessing. Greed and power can really mess up the clear picture, maybe the deepest valleys and ditches I’ve climbed out of over the past 33 years keeps it real for me. What keeps it real for you I ask? If being in the wine business is just a job – then move along. Being a part of the wine industry is too special to not appreciate and enjoy its deepest and most respectful past and future joys.

Remember no matter who you are or what you are in charge of – the person in front of you may have conquered a world of adversity before ever meeting you. Keep it real folks. As a wine professional, I believe we should always keep in mind what generations before us sacrificed and gave their blood, sweat and tears for…we have it really good, in each and every sip…My 2 cents - Ali

Saturday, March 25, 2006

Crios Tasting in Dallas

Just in time for Sunday night sipping (love the Sopranos and Grey's Anatomy)...Please stop by Whole Foods in Dallas (the one located off of Loma Alto and Lemmon) to taste Susana Balbo's Crios Wines. Crios is the #1 selling premium Argentine Wine in Texas. All four varietals will be open for tastings...Rose of Malbec, Torrontes, Syrah-Bonarda and Cabernet.

Crios Cabernet was also recently selected by Wine & Spirits Magazine as the #2 choice for the most popular Argentine wine poured while dining out! (Luca Chardonnay took the #1 spot!) Great Wine and Incredible Value!! Cheers - Ali

Friday, March 24, 2006

Whole Foods Features...

Pellegrini Family Vineyards 2002 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir. Yes, Whole Foods stores across Texas has the 2002 in the spotlight this spring. TexaCali Wine Co. is conducting tastings each weekend throughout April.

This Saturday afternoon please stop by the Whole Foods in Plano where I will be tasting the crowd on this special 2002 Vintage Pinot Noir and the current 2003 Olivet Lane Chardonnay. Both wines are on sale - so load up! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Featured on Good Morning Houston Today!

Tikal Patriota was selected by Spec's resident STUD, Mr. Bill Coates as a great value wine from Argentina. "Argentina has arrived and is a wine region to take seriously", said Bill this morning on Channel 4's Good Morning Houston TV Show. Too bad he was interrupted for a segment on men's shoes...have you seen his vintage Harley Davidson boots he sports by the way - they are the coolest...

Tikal Patriota facts:
Varietal Composition: 60% Bonarda, 40% Malbec
Vineyard Locations: Rivadavia, La Consulta, Gualtalary
Avg. Vineyard Elev.: 2,840 feet
Avg. Age of Vines: 42 years
Rootstock: Ungrafted
Harvest Method: Hand-harvested
Press Handling: No press wine
Oak Regimen: 12 months in 20% new French, 50% second-use French, and 30% second-use American barriques
Fining: None
Filtration: None
Alcohol: 13.9%
Case Production: 3000 cases

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Houston Chronicle Features Fort Ross

For all those living in the Houston Greater Area today check out the BEAUTIFUL picture and article about Fort Ross Vineyards and Winery inside the Flavor section. Each wine was given at least 4 is the link:

Cheers! Ali

Monday, March 20, 2006

Quick Davis Family Vineyard FACTS:

Davis Family Vineyards Cabernet is made with 2 of Napa Valley's top cabernet vineyards (email me and I'll fill you in). As for Guy Davis' Chardonnay- it comes from Dutton Ranch, Pinot Noir is his baby right off his back porch in the Russian River, Syrah is from a small lot on his Russian River property too, but if you are a Zinfandel lover - get this - his vines are more than 110 years old and his Zin ROCKS.

Under 3500 cases produced, so grab'em now while there is plenty of inventory in Texas! Cheers - Ali

Back in STOCK...

The 2005 Pellegrini Unoaked Chardonnay SRP $ to Houston for the rest of the week - short and sweet for now. Cheers - Ali

Friday, March 17, 2006

NO Kidding...the National Release!!!

It's almost 1 in the morning and we just uncorked the new release of new Davis Family Wines. We are killing it at In Vino Veritas in San Angelo - the HEART OF TEXAS. Picture the shot on the left with over 12 Texans and 1 California Winemaker hanging out...GREAT STUFF! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, March 16, 2006

That's What I'm Talkin' About!

Wine & Spirits Magazine’s 17th Annual Restaurant Poll issue came out recently, and LUCA and SUSANA BALBO were the #1 and #2 brands on the list of “Most Popular Argentina Wines” at restaurants across the U.S.

So if you are in charge of your restaurant's wine list, I hope you have Luca and Susana Balbo standing tall. If you are a regular on the restaurant scene, you can count on Luca and Susana Balbo wines to impress.

I've been trying my best to tell everyone this for a long time now!!!!!!!!!!!! Cheers - Ali

Guy Davis arrives tomorrow...

for a big night in San Angelo! Yes, many folks love Davis Family Wines in West Texas - our biggest demand throughout the state actually.

In Vino Veritas is featuring Pinot Noir, Syrah, Chardonnay, Zinfandel, and Cabernet Sauvignon new releases. The fee is $50.00 per person and the event starts at 6:30, with a meal served at 7:00. Spaces are limited so call and make your reservations soon!325-223-1045 This event is going to ROCK! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Hey Texas! You are invited...

to meet Guy Davis, one of the years most talked about boutique California wine producers! Each fine dining establishment has selected a fabulous menu to pair with the Davis Family Vineyards Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Cabernet, Syrah and a few extra surprises each evening.

Austin: Saturday March 18, @ 7pm, Mirabelle, the cost is $85.00 per person (inclusive of gratuity and tax). Reservations only, 512.346.7900. Limited Seating.

Southlake: Tuesday March 21st, Michael Anthony’s @ 7pm, the cost is $125.00 per person Reservations 817.749.0377 Limited Seating.

Houston: Wednesday March 22, @ 6:30pm, Capital Grille on Westheimer, please call for reservations and cost 713. 623. 4600. Limited Seating.

Cheers - ALI

Monday, March 13, 2006

Guy Davis - the winemaker, the California Cool and the legend is...

visiting Texas this weekend and next week! Davis Family Wine dinners and tastings are being held in Houston, San Angelo, Austin and Southlake...I'll have all the details for everyone tomorrow - Inner Circle - stay tuned, Ali

Tuesday, March 07, 2006

Sorry - a little off subject...

but this little fella is just too cute to withhold from the masses! "Griffin" is 7 weeks old and my brother and his girl Cara are the proud owners...Cheers to this mushpot itty bitty Golden Retriever! Ali

Bill Coates Wine Consultant

If you shop at Spec's downtown Houston location you probably know Bill Coates. Bill is the KING of the sales floor at Spec's and is mighty helpful to everyone who crosses his path or aisle! He just returned from a trip to Argentina and Chile and spent some time meeting the Vine Connections is a small excerpt from his website and link. Say hello to Bill next time you see him, he has a very honest palate and will always steer you in the right direction!

After Tasting many wines from loads of wineries, here are some highlights with my ratings.
(Bill Coates and Laura Catena pictured on the left)

Ben Marco Malbec 2004-Beautiful purple color with perfumed aromas of ripe red fruits and roasted coffee beans. It is lush, bull-bodied and penetrating on the palate with loads of chewy, currant jam flavors, bright acidity, and a touch of grip on the almost savory finish. 92 rated

Luca Chardonnay 2004-Beautiful pale-gold color with enticing aromas of lemon crème, baking spices and lightly grilled brioche. The aromas carry through to the palate, and are joined by hints of tropical fruit, spiced baked pear, and a stony/mineral flavor that creates a stylish wine that seems part New and part Old World. Finishes long with just a kiss of oak. This Chard has a lot of flavor, but manages never to lose its balance. 94 rated

Crios Torrontes 2005-Enticing aromas that are strikingly similar to Viognier, with hints of peach pit, flowers, and orange citrus fruit. On the palate, it has a beautiful structure and acidity along with enticing fruit flavors that keep you coming back for another sip and plenty of body for a wine that shows such delicate aromas and flavors. Fruity, floral and yet still quite dry, this wine has to be tasted to be believed. 91 rated

Tikal Patriota 2004-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. Just a hint of baking spice at the end brings it all together. Pairs well with grilled meats such as beef and pork, smoked ham, and even pizza with meat toppings. Incredibly fun to drink! 93 rated

Tikal Amorio Malbec 2004-Aromas of smoky oak and cherry. Mouthwatering, penetrating flavors of ripe red and black cherries, red berries. Quite rich and velvety on the palate. 95 Rated

LUCA PINOT NOIR 2002-Beautiful medium-red color and aromas of wild strawberries, saddle leather and grilled nuts. A complex Pinot with notes of leather, spice, grilled toast and cherry/raspberry confiture on the palate. Amazing aroma and pure Pinot flavor such a young-vine Pinot. Pairs well with foods such as lamb chops, grilled salmon, roasted duck or chicken, and game birds. Pinot lovers may just go ahead and drink it by itself.

BUDINI MALBEC 2003-Dark red/purple color. Very perfumed with aromas of ripe black cherries. Full and fleshy in the mouth with loads of ripe and spicy red and black fruits. Great structure with loads of ripe, fleshy tannins, and a long, long finish. Wow!

Read more here Cheers! Ali

The Wandering Texan Part II

Well, I'm back from Japan after quite an adventure! I brought back so much knowledge about Sake and it's makers that I don't even know where to begin. I'll break it down with a shortlist for now. Highlight of the trip: standing in the Koji rooms during brewery tours all week...the Koji rooms are heated like a dry sauna - it's still winter cold in Japan. Low point of the trip: sittting down to a breakfast of seaweed and sea "creatures" after a night out at a Japanese pub.

All in all the trip was a wonderful experience, I"ll upload pictures on later today. The shot above is me at Kaetsu Shuzo brewery stirring some fermenting Sake in guest slippers. More soon, I'm dealing with a great big wave of jetlag right now - Ali