Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Just Count All the Stars...

5 Stars - Pellegrini, 2005 Unoaked Russian River Chardonnay

4 Stars - Pellegrini, 2004 Eight Cousins Vineyard, Russian River Valley Zinfandel

4 Stars - Davis Family Vineyards, 2004 Russian River Pinot Noir

5 Stars - Fort Ross, 2002 Reserve Pinot Noir

4 Stars - Pellegrini, 2004 Olivet Lane Russian River Chardonnay

4 Stars - Pellegrini 2003 Olivet Lane Russian River Chardonnay

Please look for these on your favorite wine list!! Cheers - Ali

Complicated and Beautiful

Wow this week is full of sadness regarding the death of Shannon Dean, love regarding the marriage of my brother and his beautiful bride-to-be, happiness due to my Mom's retirement after 30 years of teaching and full of excitement about the arrival of my best friend's second baby due any day now.

Passion is the common denominator here, I'm proud to include myself for creating a passion fueled career, we all have embraced life's little gifts to the fullest. I'm so grateful...Ali

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Memorial Day Weekend - TexaCali Wine Co. Style

Had some friends (PLM's) over Sunday evening to open some mail-orders and K&L goodies then again Monday night to dig into the leftovers and sip on the finale that was not reached Sunday night! Here’s the recap of the YUM –

First Course:
Started the evening off with Italian goats and sheeps milk cheese, olives and dried salame –

Launois Pere & Fils, Blanc de Blancs, Brut Cuvee Reserve this bubbly has been my top choice for many years now, so beautiful and delicious I could bath in it actually but that’s a whole other kind of “recap”. It’s 100% Chardonnay at it’s finest, a bit of minerality but a ton of happy bubbles with rich Grand Cru fruit. From K&L. “This house is from Mesnil, the southernmost Grand Cru in Champagne and home to Salon and Krug's Clos de Mesnil. This Champagne is all chardonnay and all Grand Cru from the villages of Mesnil, Oger, Cramant and Avize... A role call of the finest crus for Chardonnay in all of Champagne and all Veritas-certified for sustainable agriculture.”

Second Course: Spinach and Red Bartlett Pear Salad – toasted honey coated pecans and goat cheese with rich Balsamic and Olive Oil dressing.

2004 Riefle Classique Pinot Blanc this little beauty from Alsace was exactly what I LOVE in a pinot blanc – very well rounded fruit and soft, only a hit of the usual Alsatian minerality. This was the first time I’ve had this and plan on keeping a good stash of it from now on. A perfect summer sipper with light salads and/or just a glass on the porch in the afternoon. Imported by Broadbent Selections.

Main Course:
Stuffed Tomatoes, Gratin potatoes with Gruyere Cheese, Filet Mingnon (marinated over 12 hours in 2000 Ridge Santa Cruz Mountains and Tuscan Herb Rub).

2004 See Smoke “Southing” Pinot Noir: “Hi how ya doing” big ass Pinot Noir from Santa Barbara County! Very extracted deep fruit, but not so much that it was a turn-off. This wine leaves me with the same feeling I get when a hot guy pulls up next to me in a new car that I initially roll my eyes about, but give him a smile as I drive away. A flashy Pinot Noir that will develop more grace as the years go by.

2004 Copain Syrah – Callioux & Coccinelle Vineyards – WOW this was about as rockin' as a wine gets for me. I love Rhone varietals done well, the nose on this baby had me at first sniff! Here’s what Parker says about it “Robert Parker - 95 points: "I continue to be awestruck by the amazing complexity and potential quality of the Syrah grown on the Oregon side of Walla Walla. While most of the fruit from this site goes to Washington State’s Cayuse winery, Copain’s 2004 Syrah Cailloux-Coccinelle (75% whole clusters were used) is riveting, and nothing I have tasted from Cayuse has been as profound as this cuvee. Copious blackberry, tapenade, bacon fat, crushed rock, and flower aromas jump from the glass of this rich, full-bodied, full-throttle, amazing Syrah. The olive characteristic continues in the flavors along with roasted meat, creme de cassis, and blackberry notes. A fabulous wine with undeniable complexity and richness, it should drink well for 10-15 years. "

Desert Course: We decided to continue the meal and save the desert wine for Monday night, it was about 11pmish at this point and we were enjoying our red wines. So for sweet nibbles I pulled out some Ecuadorian chocolates and Danish almond cinnamon wafer cookies.

2002 Davis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley: I’ve has this a few times over the past 5 months and continue to dig it more and more each sip! Guy Davis buys his cabernet from Lewelling and Stagecoach vineyard - which in my opinion is the best marriage of Napa’s blue-blooded vineyards you can count on for a lifetime of happiness together. As always this cab is crazy good, full of blackberry and cassis, layers of coco and a hint of tobacco. We decanted this mid-way into dinner and decided to cover it and place it in the fridge to keep for Monday night.

Monday Night Leftovers and such…

Salad Course: Butter lettuce with toasted almonds, pine nuts, sunflower and sesame seeds along with a touch of goat cheese and vinegar and olive oil dressing.

2005 Mapema Sauvignon Blanc – Argentina: Bright Sauvignon Blanc from Mendoza. It has to be the highest elevation Sauv Blanc produced – the grapes grow at 3900 feet in Tupungato. Killer floral notes with lemony citrus – a hit of melon on the finish.

Main Course: Herb roasted rotisserie chicken (Thanks to le Madeline on 360!), leftover tomatoes and potatoes from Sunday night.

2002 Davis Family Vineyards Cabernet – after 24 hours of decanting this was as silky smooth as I can ever recall a cabernet to be. I actually said aloud “this doesn’t taste like wine anymore – I mean not a hint of alcohol or tannins – just pure amazing fruit”. Exquisite!!

Dessert: OK this was just a very thoughtful pairing – baked polenta with gorgonzola cheese melted on top. My friends had just returned from Italy and were given this treat while in Verona. It was a perfect match for the Finale wine…

2000 MR. K, The Noble Man Viognier – Oh the nose at first, I almost dabbed a drop behind my ears! Heavenly stone fruits with flavors of sunshine drenched in honey and apricots. Just amazing and well worth drinking sober, I’m so glad we waited until Monday to sip…a very fulfilling ending to great company, food and wine over 24 hours!!

Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Hot off the Press...

" Results are in today from the highly regarded LA County Fair Wine Competition

BEST PINOT NOIR,Davis Family Vineyards, Russian River, 2004

That’s right.. Gold Medal and Best of Class for Pinot priced $25+, AND Best Pinot of the Competition!!

Oh…and as if that wasn’t cool enough, the 2003 DFV Napa Cabernet ALSO won Gold Medal and Best of Class for Cab priced $40+", Ed Lehrman, Vine Connections.

The chardonnay pictured here is SMOKIN' TOO! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, May 21, 2006

Friday, May 19, 2006

Crios Tasting this Saturday in Austin

Central Market (S. Lamar @ Westgate Store) will be uncorking samples of Susana Balbo's Crios wines for all to taste before you buy. Noon until 3:00 or so. Please stop by and give these beautiful wines a try! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Wine Spectator Smart Buy

Crios Cabernet Sauvignon produced by Susana Balbo

In stock at your favorite Texas wine store in the Argentina section, also poured by-the-glass at Houston's in Dallas. Oh Yeah!! Cheers - Ali

Perfect Red Wine for the Texas Heat!

So the Pellegrini Carignan has been a HUGE hit among many private wine tastings this year...if you would like a bottle and can't find it on a shelf, just ask your store manager to order it, it retails around $20. In Houston, t'afia has it on the list, because of course t'afia is one of the hippest and most innovative menus in Texas. The carignan flavors are full of ripe dark berries with a hint of cloves. Light enough to keep you cool over the coming hot months in Texas. Here's a little background...

The Pellegrini family has been a part of Sonoma County winemaking since emigrating from Tuscany in 1911. The focus today is on hand crafted estate bottled Pinot Noir and Chardonnay from the Olivet Lane vineyard in Russian River Valley, Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot from the family's Cloverdale Ranch in Alexander Valley, and an old clone Zinfandel from their Eight Cousin's vineyard.

In addition to these wines, Sauvignon Blanc from the Leveroni Vineyard in Lake County is gaining recognition, and a small bottling of Carignan from the Piffero Vineyard in Mendocino has become a perennial favorite. Cheers - Ali

Saturday, May 13, 2006

Houston Racquet Club

No No, for all of you out there that assume the Houston Racquet Club is a bunch of sweatband tubesock wearing fools running around - you've got it completely wrong. HRC is a beautiful prestigious private club located in the Memorial area of Houston. Last night they hosted a TexaCali Wine Co. tasting for their membership in their gorgeous ballroom and created the most delicious food pairings ever!

The stars of the tasting included Pellegrini Unoaked Chardonnay, Eloise Sauvignon Blanc, Handley Cellars Chardonnay, Fort Ross Reserve Chardonnay, Ben Marco Cabernet and BLOCK 16 which was the first to be drained! Big thanks to Stephen G. for coordination and creating such a wonderful event! Cheers - Ali

Friday, May 12, 2006

Mother's Day Reminder...

Crios is the perfect gift for Mom or gift to yourself to make Mother's Day weekend a little more relaxing. Central Market stores have ample inventory in just for the occasion. Please stop by the Plano store on Saturday from Noon to 2:30pm and Dallas Central Market from 3pm-6pm then on Sunday in Fort Worth all afternoon....

I'm off to being a road warrior this weekend, Houston today and back to Austin tonight, Plano Dallas and Fort Worth tomorrow, Fort Worth Sunday, Dallas Monday then back home to Austin Monday night - wheeww the glamour of the wine business! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Sharing the Texas Sunset

Another night of storms ahead, but what a cool view tonight! - Cheers - Ali

And For Moms Who Love 30-Minute Meals...

Check out the Crios Rose of Malbec in the latest issue of "Everyday with Rachel Ray". Maybe you already have this month, Crios Rose sales are off the charts! Power to the 30-Minute Meal lovers in Texas! Cheers - Ali

Monday, May 08, 2006

The Ultimate Mother's Little Helper

Susan Balbo who is South America's TOP female winemaker is also a loving mother of two, has created a line of wines as a tribute to her kids. Like children, the Crios (which means ‘offspring’) wines are charming, more youthful versions of her world class and highly rated estate wines.

The label features a series of three connected and overlapping hands, which represents Susana and her two children, and illustrates the support of each generation.

Crios Torrontes ’05--Enticing aromas that are strikingly similar to Viognier, with hints of peach pit, flowers, and orange citrus fruit. Try with fresh goat cheese and pesto!

Crios Syrah Bonarda ’04—Made with near equal parts of each grape. Dark reddish/purple color. Intense aroma of black raspberries. A fun wine to try with a wide range of food delights and one that will delight even the most sophisticated connoisseur.

Crios Cabernet Sauvignon ’04--Intense, dark ruby color with enticing aromas of ripe, black plums and black currants. The ripe, vibrant tannins give the wine beautiful structure and an amazingly long finish.

Crios Malbec ’05— Brand new to the United States and first for Texas. It has a beautiful purple color bursting with flavors of cherries and spice.

Taste Crios this weekend at Plano Central Market 12p,-5pm, Dallas Central Market 3pm-5:30pm and Sunday in Fort Worth from 12pm-whenever we run out of wine! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, May 04, 2006


April 30, 2006 MSNBC

TASTING NOTES: Our tasting of some two dozen Argentinean malbecs (and one Chilean) spanned vintage years 2002 through 2005 and yielded a handful of quality picks. Blends with under 70 percent malbec weren’t included in the tasting.

Here are 4 wines sold in Texas that made the cut:

Susana Balbo 2004 Mendoza ($26, Vine Connections): The reigning queen of Argentinean wine earns her reputation on what’s in the bottle. This latest release blends in 10 percent cabernet sauvignon, which helps bulk up its structure and aromatics. Dark and tarry, with dried tobacco, nutmeg, leather and a raspberry overtone amid sweet licorice from 80 percent new French oak. Chewy and thick, with the presence of a smoke-filled room. For the budget conscious, Balbo also just released a 2005 young-vines malbec from her second label, Crios de Susana Balbo.

Mapema 2003 Mendoza ($18, Vine Connections): Big, brambly fruit, with cocoa and black plum. The tannins are hefty and mouth-drying. Truly requires food, but the solid fruit still comes forward.

Ben Marco 2004 Mendoza ($19, Vine Connections): The result of Susana Balbo’s husband, Pedro Marchevsky, trying to make a wine that shows off the terroir of Mendoza. Some drinkers might be thrown off by the floral, soapy notes from 12 percent bonarda (an aromatic Italian grape grown widely in Argentina), but it’s complex, with baked cherry and dry mineral character. Fine tannin on the end and a delicate, tapered finish demonstrate its finesse. The blend also includes 1 percent cabernet franc.

Gusto 2002 Mendoza ($24, Vine Connections): The Southern Hemisphere project of Guy Davis from Sonoma’s Davis Family Vineyards. In addition to 11 months in 50 percent new oak, this benefits from the extra years of age. Warm, with black cherry and a green-leaf note. Still packs notable fruit, though there’s a slightly acrid overtone in the finish.

Malbec ROCKS, especially Malbec that Vine Connections imports to the USA! - Ali

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Houston Texas Olivet Lane Extravaganza!!

Come one come all, each Houston Whole Foods store is featuring Pellegrini Family of Sonoma 2003 Olivet Lane Chardonnay and 2002 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir.

Each bottle is on sale and samples will be uncorked for you to doubt about it, the best value Russian River wines on the market!

Here's the schedule:
Saturday - Kirby Location 12-3pm,Woodway location 4-6pm
Sunday - Bellaire Location 12-3pm, Westheimer/Wilcrest location 4-6pm

Cheers - Ali

Monday, May 01, 2006

Celebrate with TexaCali Wine Co.

Exactly 12 months ago I drove to the local Courthouse to file my DBA making TexaCali official. The most fulfilling year of my life, I must give thanks to each and every producer for creating such wonderful wine and sake for TexaCali Wine Co. to spread the good word about.

Here's a short list of TexaCali Wine Co. favorites....

Cool Whites to Chill With…
$14 Crios Torrontes - Argentina
$16 Pellegrini Unoaked Chardonnay – Russian River Sonoma

“Sit down and put your feet up” Sauvignon Blanc…
$14 Eloise - Sonoma
$12 Pellegrini - Lake County California
$16 Handley Cellars – Dry Creek California

Chardonnay for those who either LOVE or HATE this grape…
$20 Pellegrini Family Olivet Lane Russian River - Sonoma
$35 Fort Ross - Sonoma Coast
$20 Handley Cellars – Anderson Valley
$32 Luca – Argentina

Malbec “the new Merlot”…
$16 La Posta – Argentina
$18 BenMarco – Argentina
$9 Budini - Argentina

Merlot, yes a Merlot that ROCKS…
$20 Cloverdale Ranch - Alexander Valley, CA

“Sipalicious” Cabernet Sauvignon …
$25 Cloverdale Ranch - Alexander Valley, CA
$20 BenMarco Cabernet - Argentina
$50 Block 16- Napa

Reds that are total Studs…
$35 Fort Ross Pinotage – Sonoma Coast
$18 Pellegrini Carignan – Redwood Valley
$19 Handley Zinfandel – Mendocino California
$25 Tikal Patriota – Argentina
$32 Mapema Primera Zona - Argentina

Raise your glass tonight and toast to another exciting year ahead for this little company that gets it done!! Cheers - Ali