Monday, September 25, 2006


I'm home for 2 seconds today then off to Houston, Austin and Dallas again this week. Business is good, but I haven't seen my own dog but one day in almost 2 months! TexaCali Wine Brands are selling strong and I'm happy to have Pellegrini of Sonoma in town this week for a trade tasting.

The Pellegrini Family traces its heritage in winemaking to the early 1900s when brothers Nello and Gino Pellegrini arrived in New York City from their native Tuscany. They soon made their way to the West Coast and in 1925 became Sonoma County grape merchants, shipping grapes throughout the U.S. for home winemaking. In 1933 after repeal of Prohibition, the brothers established the original Pellegrini Wine Company, shipping grapes from Sonoma County and producing quality wines for many of San Francisco's finest shops and restaurants. READ ON...

If you are in the wine trade, be sure to stop by the Prestige Tasting and taste the new vintages of Olivet Lane Chardonnay, Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet and Pellegrini Sauvignon Blanc. Cheers - Ali

Saturday, September 23, 2006

The Argentine King of Houston Texas

I've been working the Houston market all week for Vine Connections, too many wines and ginjo sakes to list right now but I'll tell you something - the 2004 Tikal Patriota gets the gold crown! I've always loved this wine, a 60% Bonarda 40% Malbec blend, average age of the vines are 40 years and each grape that went into the Patriota bottles were all hand-harvested.

"Love in a bottle" for sure, the retail price is around $25 and is a perfect pairing for "date night"... oh yeah! Look for it at the Backstreet Cafe and Hugo's next time...Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

Wine Spectator Online this Week

Vine Connections is honored to announce the inaugural release of wines from Mendoza’s newest superstar—Mendel Winery

One of the many things that make Vine Connections the top importer of boutique wines from Argentina is their tireless effort to keep track of who is doing what in Mendoza, and keeping an eye out for those rare, special moments when a new world-class producer comes on the scene...Meet Roberto de la Mota of Mendel .

Winemaker Talk: Roberto de la Mota
Argentinean winemaker followed in his father's footsteps and beyond, to Cheval des Andes, and is now making his own Malbec

Winemaker Roberto de la Mota, 46, has been working full-time in Argentina's wineries and vineyards since he was 19 years old. But he developed a passion for winemaking much earlier, as he often helped his father after school at the Mendoza winery where he worked for more than 20 years. De la Mota joined his father at the winery and they worked together for many years, but eventually Roberto branched out to work as a consultant with Cheval des Andes, the joint venture between Argentina’s Bodegas Terrazas de los Andes and Bordeaux's Château Cheval-Blanc that makes Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blends. De la Mota has since become one of Argentina's biggest champions of the Malbec grape. He is a partner in Bodega Mendel, a new boutique operation that has released a 100 percent Malbec and a Malbec-Cabernet Sauvignon blend, both produced from blocks of old vines located in the central area of Mendoza.

Wine Spectator: What was your first vintage in the wine business?
Roberto de la Mota: My first vintage was in 1979, at 19 years old--my last year in high school.

WS: What got you interested in being a winemaker?
RM: All my childhood was [spent] in a winery. My father was a winemaker for a big winery called Arizu, and every day after school I was in the winery, sharing time with workers and [performing] cellar activities. It's difficult to say why, but I loved the vineyards and wines.

WS: What other wineries have you worked at, prior to starting your own?
RM: My first job was at Bodega y Cavas de Weinert as a winemaker and vineyard manager. I worked there with my father Raul from 1985 until 1994. In 1994 I was contacted for Bodegas Chandon as a vineyard manager, and in 1996 I started with the still-wines project, creating Terrazas de los Andes. In 1999 we developed Cheval des Andes, the Château Cheval-Blanc and Terrazas de los Andes joint venture. In 2003 I started my own project, Bodega Mendel.

WS: Who have been your biggest influences as a winemaker?
RM: Undoubtedly my father, but after him [Bordeaux wine consultant] Emile Peynaud, who was my father’s friend. [Peynaud] visited Mendoza several times. Also my teacher in viticulture, Denis Boubals, in Montpellier, who passed on to me his love for the vineyard.

WS: What years was your father the winemaker at Bodegas Weinert?
RM: My father started with Weinert winery in 1976 and he worked there until 1997. In 1989 he passed on to me a lot of responsibilities in winemaking and operations.

WS: How has it been following in his footsteps? Have the two of you ever compared your wines to his?
RM: With my father I learned about quality, strict in all the details from the vineyards until the bottle, and obviously to love Malbec. Undoubtedly [the Weinert wines made by my father] are very different from mine. My father loves big barrels (25 to 60 hectoliters) and certain evolutions (mature flavors) in wines, but he [taught] me about finesse and elegance. My wines are younger, with more fresh fruit and less evolution, but I continue to try making wines with structure and concentration--but elegant at the same time.

WS: What is your favorite food pairing with Argentinean Malbec?
RM: Like many Argentineans I love good steak--it's simple, but one of the best combinations.

WS: What is your favorite wine (other than one of your own)?
RM: Château Cheval-Blanc St.-Emilion 1982. I had one bottle two months ago and it was spectacular!

WS: If you could be one other person in the wine business for one day, who would it be, and why?
RM: Very difficult question, but probably, Emile Peynaud during his days at Lafite RothschildChateau Léoville Las Cases. Why? Because I love to blend wines. or for more information and tech sheets on Mendel Wines

Cheers - Ali

Monday, September 18, 2006

New Arrival in Texas!!!

Please contact Avante Beverages to find out where to find Duchamp Wines in Texas...972.943.0672.

I'm off to Houston for the remainder of the week and won't be checking emails
until Friday.

The tasting notes and Robert Parker's latest reviews are posted on
TexaCali Wine

You'll be a Duchamp fan for life after just one sip! Cheers - Ali

Indian Summer Wine List

So here's a quick list to print off and take with you next time you do a little wine shopping...

Red Wines

1. $18.99 Pellegrini Carignan The color is the first thing you notice when pouring – deep garnet and blackberry with an incredibly crimson rose petal nose. This carignan is sooo easy to sip – pairs perfectly with our TexMex year round.

2. $24.99 Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon– from the Pellegrini Family of Sonoma, this killer cabernet just beat out 2001 Silver Oak Alexander Valley in a blind tasting in North Texas. If you are a BBQ griller or live with one – keep a case of this around!

4. $16.99 Mapema Tempranillo – no doubt this Argentine red will become your favorite Tempranillo from ANY region. Intense fruit character, with deep color and flavors of ripe black cherries and black raspberries. The wine finishes with captivating hints of cardamom and allspice.

5. $19.99 BenMarco Cabernet Sauvignon - Beautiful deep purple color with perfumed aromas of ripe black cherries and roasted cocoa beans. This wine is full-bodied and incredibly lush for a young Cabernet. It explodes on the palate with red and black fruits, then shows baking spices on its way to a mouthwatering finish. In the Argentine section.

7. $9.99 Budini Malbec – I’m far from a cat person but love this delicious and fruity red. Look for the black label and yellow cat! WOOF!

8. $14.50 Crios de Susana Balbo Syrah-Bonarda - A few facts…Syrah is the well-known grape of France’s Rhone Valley and Australia’s Shiraz. Not well-known outside Argentina, Bonarda is surprisingly second only to Malbec in red grape plantings. The key to producing great Bonarda is finding very old vines growing in the warm, sandy soils of eastern Mendoza, then limiting vigor through severe pruning and irrigation techniques. Luckily, Susana’s husband, Pedro, owns and manages such a vineyard.

9. $21.99 Cloverdale Ranch Merlot – another keeper from the Pellegrini Family. One sip of this Merlot will make you a fan for life! The 2002 Merlot is so delicious, but far from being simple tasting, offering chocolate notes along with ripe red fruit and a touch of coffee on the long finish.

10. $14.99 La Posta Malbec – “Berry Pie”, 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. Goes great with everything from hamburgers and chicken to pasta and mild cheeses.

11. $24.99 Storrs Merlot - bold and full-bodied, yet soo soft on the palate! This Merlot is loaded with black berry fruits and a tiny touch of vanilla oak on the finish, this is great to drink now or to put away for a special treat in a few years!

Rosé Wine

12. $10.99 Crios de Susana Balbo Rosé of Malbec - this one was made for those who think they don’t like “pink” wine. Far from sweet but plenty of ripe and spicy berry in flavor. This is my favorite with King Ranch Casserole!

White Wines

13. $14.50 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes - not for Chardonnay lovers. Fruity, floral and yet still quite dry, this wine has to be tasted to be believed. Prefect with shell fish or light seafood dishes. Keep one in the fridge at all times!

14. $19.99 Olivet Lane Chardonnay – I still can’t believe this bottle doesn’t cost me at least $50 bucks! This Chardonnay is so elegantly balanced with gorgeous fruit and lightly toasted flavors. A tremendous value from the Pellegrini folks!

15. $19.99 Handley Anderson Valley Chardonnay - This wine starts with a subtle vanilla kiss. It is reminiscent of ripe pears and apples right out of a sunlit orchard, with faint floral accents. With incredible length and nice acidity, this Estate Chardonay is lovely with cream soups and complex pasta dishes.

16. $16.99 Pellegrini Unoaked Chardonnay – not very many “unoaked” chardonnays can be found these days. This chard has great citrus notes and a hint of spice on the finish. Perfect with Sunday brunch or kicking back during a fall evening!

17. $12.99 Pellegrini Lake County Sauvignon Blanc- beautiful citrus and crisp fruit. Grown in limestone so wine has intense mineral notes. More French in style, less New Zealand.

18. $9.99 Budini Chardonnay – love this very tropical style Argentine chardonnay, it sees 3 months of French oak that you’ll notice on the finish, easy drinking little bottle! It’s always a “case” buy for many wine loving friends and family.

19. $18.99 Storrs Gewurztraminer - The grapes for this wine were grown on a windy terrace in Monterey County overlooking Arroyo Seco to the north and the fertile plain of the great Salinas Valley below. The flavors are a mix of Lychee nut, honeysuckle and spice with a touch of oak and an underpinning of creaminess.

Prices will vary by retailer...Cheers! Ali

Thursday, September 14, 2006


Last year I had the pleasure of hanging out at the Four Seasons in Austin and saw Coldplay's Chris Martin with his famous wife Gwenyth and baby Apple in tote, also Kate hudson and her famous hubby, child and his band members hanging out. Sigh...this year I'm working in North Texas all weekend sharing the love of many TexaCali Wine Co. producers. Hoping to at least catch the TCU VS. Texas Tech game...

So here's the line up - come by and say hello, it's always great to meet you in person!

Friday - Dallas Central Market, 4-7pm Pellegrini of Sonoma wines are on tap. Their Sauvignon Blanc, Unoaked Chard and Carignan will be flowing.

Saturday Fort Worth Central Market, 12-3pm we're pulling corks on Luca Syrah, Mapema Primera Zona and Crios Rose of Malbec - OH YEAH! Ft. Worth loves these Argentine beauties!

Sunday Fort Worth Central Market - 12 - 5pm Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet, Pellegrini Unoaked Chard and Carignan will be front in center on the Sabbath.

I'm also passing out a list of my favorite "Indian Summer Sippers"...see you this weekend! I'm blocking out the whole ACL thingy, have fun in Austin to everyone lucky enough to see all the shows! For sure it's going to ROCK this weekend in Austin. Cheers - Ali

Don't forget to click on to see the Wines of the Month for purchase at your favorite wine retailer in Texas!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006


Back from Beverly Hills, Silverlake, Hollywood and Malibu – can’t even contain the amount of energy I have after this quick trip out to California. My mind is soo overloaded with new ideas and determination to make TexaCali Wine Co. the most successful wine marketing firm in the Nation - I mean Texas...

Better make room in your cellar now folks, my new running shoes are on and heading full steam ahead to help you enjoy the best wine offerings available to buy in Texas restaurants and fine wine shops. Here a few goodies from the trip - enjoy!

Most beautiful white wine(s) of the trip: 2003 Deux Montille Puligny Montrachet Champ Gains Premier Cru and her 2004 Meursault Les Casse-Tetes…both truly elegant Burgundy wines.

Most exciting and hip wines of the trip: too may too name, just google “Jo and Olivier Pithon” “Deux Montille”, "Hospice de Nuits, Nuits St. -Georges Cuvee des Sires de Vergy - Premier Cru" and “Leclaire-Gaspard”.

Best wine store(s) discovery: Well, 2 very different retailers 1) Silverlake Wines for their great value and diverse selection. Loved the neighborhood feeling and approachable staff. 2) Malibu Wines in the Country Mart shopping center right off of Pacific Coast Hwy. Like Silverlake they carried many of the TexaCali Wine Co. producers, but had one hell of a selection for gazillionaire wine collectors. I saw more Pax wines than ever before and honestly quit looking around after I started feeling overwhelmed buy all the dreamy wine.

Most relaxing day(s): Sunday, I was in Malibu all day putting in some serious time on the beach. The day was sunny and a soothing 80 degrees. I can still feel the warm sand beneath me. Also, after a-way-to-early in the morning hike in Griffith Park (my calves are still aching), I spent the afternoon sipping Rose and gossiping with good friends on Saturday afternoon. It was seriously my first Saturday off in months.

Most exciting meal: Spago Beverly Hills, started dinner at 6:30, best seat in the house – patio actually, walked out at 11:30ish after too many spectacular courses to name, ended with the most luscious Jo Pithon “Quarts de Chaume” sweet and mouth coating sip of wine in the world! Many thanks to John, David and Amy for a wonderful evening together.

Most inspiring moment: Two actually. The first would be sitting with a wine importer while sipping and analyzing the most amazing French wines imported to America, in a penthouse smack dab in the middle of Beverly Hills... Living the Dream Baby!! Second moment, watching and discussing movies and trailers that were written and directed by the person sitting next to me in his house. Yeah, if he can do I can do it, he’s from Texas too.

Only bummer of the trip: Left my digital camera in the darn rental car at LAX!!!! ARGH!! You should see all the gorgeous pictures I took to share with the TexaCali world!

Greatest ending ever: As I stood in the security line at LAX the guy in front of me went into a full-on panic, ruffling through his bag looking for something. With one arm in his " too big for school bag", he stops, turns and looks at me to see if I’m about to jump him, and viola! - it was Dr. Robert Rey from the E! Channel Dr. 90210 – pulling out a big ass sissy pink can of aerosol hairspray that wasn’t allowed on the plane. I laughed so hard and out loud, there musy have been at least 40 others laughing with me within 10 seconds, I couldn’t hold it back, it was early, I was tired and wow – that moment was just so ridiculously funny. What a fool – hot pink shirt and snake skin jacket to boot! Ahahahahaahaahahaa! Still cracks me up so hard!!!

Well, California is my soulmate for certain, but feels good to be back in Texas and share the love. Get ready for a few rockin’ TexaCali announcements in the following days…I can’t hardly wait to share my new friends and producers in the wine business with you all. Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, September 05, 2006


I'm off to Southern Cal for the rest of the week. While I'm out, please forward the TexaCali Wine Trail blog to all the wine lovers you possibly know in Texas. September "Wines of the Month" are posted on the home page of

If you haven't done so already, also submit your email address to the
TexaCali Wine Co. Inner Circle, to receive complimentary insider wine news and events throughout Texas.

Big announcement for TexaCali Wine fans coming soon!


Monday, September 04, 2006

Labor Day 2006

Still recovering from a GREAT college football kick-off weekend. My favorite season of the year.
I'm tired and not working today any longer....

Ohio - shmohio. Ali