Friday, June 30, 2006

Celebrating the 4th of July

So what should you sip this weekend in celebration? Ahh, always start off with a bone-dry sparkling prosecco from Italy, skip the $10 bottles and reach for ones on the shelf at $13 and above, I'm a prosecco nut and can't seem to find a great bottle for less than so.

Here's the short list to print and take shopping with you over the weekend:

Crios Torrontes - $14 best white wine made in Argentina - hands down.
Budini Chardonnay - $9 a tropical fruit bomb from Argentina.
Handley Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc - $16 a more sancerre style Sauv Blanc.
Pellegrini "Lake County" Sauvignon Blanc $13 from California & a favorite of mine for years!
Crios Rose of Malbec - $12 well, you may want to grab 2 bottles - you'll see why after the first sip.
Fort Ross Chardonnay - $30, this Chardonnay is rich & delicious, not for the faint of heart.
Now I'll leave you with a little "Texas Humor" sent by a good friend this week...
  • The trees are whistling for the dogs.
  • The best parking place is determined by shade instead of distance.
  • Hot water now comes out of both taps.
  • The temperature drops below 95 and you feel a little chilly.
  • You discover that in July it only takes 2 fingers to steer your car.
  • Your biggest bicycle wreck fear is, "What if I get knocked out and end up lying on the pavement and cook to death?"
  • You realize that asphalt has a liquid state.
  • Farmers are feeding their chickens crushed ice to keep them from laying boiled eggs.
  • The cows are giving evaporated milk.

The Stars at Night are Big and Bright...Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Slightly off subject tonight

so it's been awhile since I've written from the heart. The past month has been extremely eye-opening, exciting, painful and full of hope. I've received calls from friends traveling in all parts of the world, Germany (World Cup Freaks), South African wine makers, Wine tourists in Spain, dear friends touching base from Ecuador and just a pleasant "wish you were here" from a wine country wedding in Sonoma. Man I'm blessed.

I went for a run tonight in Austin, far exceeding my usual 90 minute yoga class or 30 minute walk with the dog down by the lake. I ran my guts out tonight, after sitting behind my computer for 12 hours straight today I had to let it go. One does not get into the wine business to sit on ones tush all day.

So I received a gift tonight, the most brilliant sunset and sky I've seen in years, it made me stop in my tracks and thank God above for giving me the guts to do my own thing and allow me to bring happiness to so many folks who dig good wine and Sake in Texas. All BS aside, it's a moment that will forever keep moving me forward. The same sunset kissed the grapes I represent all over the world tonight. Kinda cool.

For those who know me well know I have a passion for painting - or attempting to do so, here's a peek at the work I created this evening. No canvas, just a piece of cardboard I had hanging around after a run to Ikea weeks ago. Enjoy tomorrow - Ali

Bring out the Cab!

Current Temperature 71

So I walk outside this morning with my eight year old lab Henley and am greeted by FALL weather! Wow! Austin will be hopping outdoors tonight, go ahead and open that Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet or the Crios Syrah Bonarda - a perfect compliment to a summer "cool-front". Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, June 21, 2006

More Big Scores for Vine Connections!

The latest Wine Spectator reviews...

Susana Balbo 2004 Malbec received 91 points, 90 points for her husband Pedros' BenMarco Malbec.

Luis Reginato also receives 91 points for his latest Malbec bottling - La Posta "Pizzella Vineyard".

Read all about these delicious wines on Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, June 20, 2006

IT'S OFFICIAL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

The TABC just gave final approval for Storrs to sell wine in Texas!!! OH YEAH!!! It's taken a long time but now let's rock and roll!!!!!!!! We'll start with the '05 Gewurztraminer, 2002 Merlot, 2003 Zinfandel and their famous 2001 Bordeaux blend.

OHH YEAHH! Can you tell I'm HAPPY this morning???!!! Cheers - Ali

Monday, June 19, 2006

Sake to the HEAT!

Tomorrow night at Fuse, downtown Dallas please join me for a 5 course Sake dinner prepared especially for the Vine Connections premium sake collection.

6:30 poolside reception with a 7:00pm sit-down start to the evening.

A look at the menu:

First Course:
Tex Asian gazpacho avocado puree and seared bay scallops

Wings of Fortune - Junmai Ginjo

Second Course:
Tunatartare tacos summer melon, caviar and crème fraiche

Bride of the Fox - Junmai Daiginjo

Third Course:
House made ravioli of roasted corn brown butter, shiitake mushrooms Parmesanesan cheese

Moon on the Water Junmai Ginjo

Fourth Course:
Braised veal breast edamame puree, Japanese eggplant and cippolini onions

Hawk in the Heavens Junmai Ginjo

Fifth Course:
Candied ginger panna cotta roasted Texas peaches and pecans

Silent Stream - Junmai Daiginjo

OK - one for all the Mavs fans, FUSE will have a very large screen with the game projected all night. $65 per person, 20% discount to industry folks. Please call FUSE to RSVP 214.742.FUSE Cheers - Ali

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Austin Cool

A big shout out to the men of Porter Davis! I first met Mike and their manager Brandon last year at an Austin Recording Artist wine tasting party then again as special guest at my TexaCali Grand Tasting last February. I finally saw them live over the weekend and WOW they rock.

If I had to compare their music to a certain bottle of wine...the La Posta Malbec, impressive packaging but mindblowing complexity as you sit back and enjoy every last drop.

From the perfectly pitched vocals to intense African beats and kick-ass harmonica notes, Porter Davis is a must see - even cooler that these guys are into a little fine wine! Cheers - Ali

Friday, June 16, 2006

Better than a Tie

Owner and viticulturist Pedro Marchevsky may be one of the most educated, experienced viticulturists in Argentina (if not the world). He has degrees in Agriculture & Enology and Agricultural Engineering, and is a Professor of Irrigation and Drainage at the Universidad Nacional de Cuyo. He has managed premium vineyards for over 30 years and also owns his own vineyard in the district of Los Campamentos in Eastern Mendoza. He is at the forefront of the transformation of Mendoza into a region of world-class vineyards. His philosophy is a simple one gained from experience: make wines that are true to their place. He feels his wines should express the wonderful, powerful fruit flavors, the ripe tannins, the incredible length and balance that can only come from this one place—Mendoza.

The name BenMarco means "son of Marcos" in Hebrew. Pedro produces his wines as an homage to his father, Marcos who taught him how to plant, tend, and love the vineyards. He currently makes three wines, BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon, the V.M.S., which is short for "Vineyard Master Selection"—Pedro’s lifelong grower relationships give him the pick of the best old-vine grapes (including those from his own vineyard), and Malbec which is in the soul of all true Argentines.

The grapevine illustrated on the label is modeled after the wide-trellised vines that Pedro has planted on the borders of his vineyards (instead of unattractive fences). The BenMarco wines are crafted by his talented wife and winemaker, Susana Balbo. BenMarco wines are also produced under Dominio del Plata's code of sustainable agriculture. Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Where Wine Rocks

So I'm on hold today on the phone with Grape Vine Market in marketing eyes and ears totally lit up by their on-hold message, I'm sure this is playing over radio waves too - it's just that clever. It truly explains who Grape Vine Market is and why they are a warm and inviting wine shop to visit.

Call the number and hopefully you'll be put on hold for a few seconds, or a minute if your lucky. Their message is this "Grape Vine Market - where wine is our thing, I mean ever kissed your sweetie and said "what a rich tapestry of textures that blanket the pallet, NO - b/c nobody likes a pretentious blow-head. Grape Vine Market will help you with all your wine questions without sounding like Thurston Howell III!" Ha! Sounds a lot more clever when you hear it for yourself.

Go for it - call them and ask them to chill down a bottle of Fort Ross Chardonnay, Pellegrini Unoaked Chard or even your favorite Ginjo Sake! 512.323.5900 Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

A Toast to Cara and Colby!

So I couldn't resist getting the background shot at the church after my brother's wedding last weekend.

What is their favorite wine to sip? Cloverdale Ranch Merlot and Crios Rose of Malbec of course!

Cheers and congrats to the newlyweds! Ali

Saturday, June 10, 2006

Update from the Vineyards of Fort Ross

GREETINGS FROM THE SONOMA COAST: After a winter and spring filled with storms and floods, the grape vines decided to sleep in. The first shy leaves emerged at the beginning of May, three months later than usual, but the vines then began growing with such a passion that bloom has just arrived - and is only two weeks later than the usual mid May date. We are now cautiously waiting to see how many of the clusters will form into bunches of grapes. In 2005 it rained during bloom so we ultimately harvested only half a ton per acre! This year we are not dropping any clusters until we can evaluate the fruit set and then will groom each vine individually. All of our grapes are estate grown and are picked only when they are full flavored, even if this means harvesting a single block two, three or four times to allow all the grapes to reach maturity. We offer full valet service!

We routinely keep our wine in barrel through the following harvest, once bottled we wait, and wait and wait for the wine to show us when it is ready to be released. This extended cellaring allows the vineyard's characteristic minerality, acid, tannin and phenolics to come into balance producing a seamlessly integrated wine.

We have some great new reviews to share with you from: Ron Wiegand, RESTAURANT WINE, May 2006.

PINOTAGE 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 5 STARS ---EXCEPTIONAL: Exceptional Pinotage, in a Pinot Noir-like style (supple, aromatic, complex): it is full bodied, intensely flavored, and very long on the palate, with a crisp finish. It tastes of vanilla, plum, tobacco, blueberry, and black licorice. Unfined, unfiltered.

PINOT NOIR 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 4 STARS-- EXCELLENT: Uniquely styled wines from this coastal vineyard. The standard bottling is aromatic and very distinct; a full bodied, finely flavored wine, with a crisp finish. It tastes of blueberry, cherry, red currant, toast, ginger, and vanilla.

PINOT NOIR RSV 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard,Sonoma Coast 5 STARS EXCEPTIONAL:
The RESERVE is fine and complex in style; a full bodied, crisp Pinot Noir, with a long persistent finish. It tastes of cherry, blueberry, tobacco, toast, and vanilla. Not far in style from fine red burgundy. Both are unfined and unfiltered

CHARDONNAY 2002 Fort Ross Vineyard, Sonoma Coast 4 STARS---EXCELLENT: Softly textured and full bodied, a wine with restrained fruitiness, modest new oak character, and medium length. An understated yet rich wine. Unfined, unfiltered. -ISSUE #107 JULY, 2005

Cheers to Linda and Lester Schwartz of Fort Ross! Ali

Thursday, June 08, 2006

Nice - Very Nice!!

1 game down for the Mavs and at least 30 new wine-lovers turned onto the wonderful wines of Pellegrini Family Vineyards. Super great turnout tonight at Corner Wines in Plano, if you haven't stopped in yet, please do - introduce yourself to Lynn and Jim the owners - they will take care of you!

Tonight we tasted Pellegrini Sauvignon Blanc, Olivet Lane Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Cloverdale Ranch Merlot and Cabernet....They are all winners! I think to most folks surprise, the Olivet Lane Chardonnay had the most 3-pointers of the night.

Congrats to a sold-out house for Corner Wines and the Dallas Mavericks tonight. I just love it when life works out like this! Cheers - Ali

My biggest conflict yet...

So I turned down tickets to the first playoff game tonight in Dallas, I committed to a Pellegrini Wine tasting at Corner Wines in Plano weeks ago before the finals came about. Those of you that know anything about me other than what I write on this blog is that I'm a huge Mavericks fan, in fact there are a few hilarious stories about watching the Mavs in Oakland while living in San Francisco - so fun! So work conquers play once again, but this one is like being punched in the gut, almost like the feeling I had as a teenager being "grounded" for something that was out of my control.

Not to take anything away from this tasting, not everyone is a Mavs fan in this town (so I'm told), so if you are a bigger fan of sipping wine than the Mavericks, please join me at 7:00 at Corner Wines, just north of Spring Creek off of Preston Rd near the Mi Cocina for a delicious Pellegrini Wine tasting. And for those who love the Mavs, stop in and purchase Pellegrini Wine on your way home tonight and stay tuned to Mark Cubans crazy blog

We should make it home by the 4th quarter - Go Mavs!!! Ali

Thursday, June 01, 2006

This just in...

91 pts.– Susana Balbo Brioso 2003

91 pts. – Luca Syrah 2004

90 pts. – Tikal Patriota 2004

89 pts. – mapema tempranillo 2004

88 pts. “Smart Buy” – Crios Cabernet 2004

For more on each producer visit or send me an email to to find out where to buy or sip off a list! Cheers - Ali

Lanny's Kitchen

I'm so excited to finally have a chance to sit down and experience Lanny's in Fort Worth this weekend with my family. For those of you who have heard but want to know more, Lanny is pretty "bigtime" in the culinary world - but chooses to keep things humble.

Here's a brief bio -

Lanny is an innovator as well as culinary genius with both his food and wine list, he supports many Vine Connections wines from Argentina and the Baja of Mexico on his list. I've been waiting for a long while now to taste what all the buzz is about...I'll give you a full "taste report" next week! Cheers - Ali