Monday, January 29, 2007

From the House of Divine Droplets

Yep -shame on me for not posting for over a week, last week was busy - wonderfully busy. I can hardly stand it - seriously last week ROCKED. Last night, a "Sake by Candlelight" dinner at my place wrapped up the best week I've had in years. If you ever - ever need any excuse to try a Sake for the first time or just knock a meal out of the park with a Sake pairing this is what went down....

I simply served a nice chilled bottle of Takasago - Morning Glow along with...Asparagus, Garlic and Tomato Vegetable Risotto & seared (then steamed) Sea Bass that I slightly seasoned with Rice Vinegar,Sesame Seeds, Meyer Lemon Olive Oil, & a pinch of garlic. Total "party on my tongue" happened with this pairing...

Morning Glow was an instant favorite of mine when I first tasted this Ginjo Sake last year. It's a perfect Sake for Sauvignon Blanc and dry white wine drinkers...there's such a clean and spring-like aroma on the nose and the sake tastes a bit like creamy lemon pie - just a hint. Man it is so incredibly delicious. We had to open another after dinner!

Here are the technical notes on Morning Glow:

Quality Grade: Tokubetsu Junmai (at least 30% of rice grain polished away, "Tokubetsu" = "Special")

Seimaibuai: 58% (42% of rice grain polished away)

Rice: Mayama Nishiki

Yeast Iwate: #2

Nihonshu-do: +5

Alcohol: 14.9%

Acidity: 1.3

Tasting Notes: Pleasant aromas of earthy rice and fresh lychee nuts. On the palate, it has a wonderful viscous, creamy texture with hints of lemon peel and sandalwood. The flavors are pure and very long, yet this sake still retains a crispness tot he finish - a remarkable Tokubetsu Junmai sake.

Brewery Name: Takasago Shuzo (founded in 1899).

Brewery Location: Hokkaido Prefecture

Toji (Master Brewer): Tokujiro Sasaki

Notable Facts: Brewed with water born of pure melted snow on Japan's northernmost island of Hokkaido by the producer of Ginga Shizuku "Divine Droplets". Suggested Retail Price: $30

Cheers ( 声援) - Ali

Sunday, January 21, 2007

Today in Austin at 1:00pm

Please stop in to taste La Posta Malbec today at Central Market Westgate! Oh yeah - La Posta is the perfect bottle of red for a cozy Sunday night at home. Seriously folks, it just may be the #1 selling red wine in my portfolio in the entire city of Austin.

I'll also have a few other goodies cracked open... See you later -

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Iced in Austin

TODAY - I'm looking forward to getting out of the house for the first time since Sunday!

This is a shot from my patio this morning...those trees are crispy with solid ice wrapped around each leaf and branch!

Henley bored out of his mind...

Sheets of ice for days...

What a line-up! Yes, I was bored!!!

Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

In the Dallas Morning News Today

A pinotage - from California?

In 1976, Fort Ross Vineyard owners Lester and Linda Schwartz moved to California from their native South Africa with no thought of making wine. He was an attorney. She, a musician who worked with the arts and international trade.

Twelve years later, they were looking to reclaim Lester's agrarian roots and stumbled upon property on back roads north of Jenner on California's Sonoma coast.

"U.S. 1 was closed," recalls Lester on a recent Dallas visit, "and we had to go around, above the fog." They fell in love with the ridge, built an unusual house there, and eventually decided to try grape-growing.

They figured out that pinot noir and chardonnay would thrive in their 44-acre vineyard, and they imported pinotage cuttings from South Africa, nostalgic for the popular pinot noir-cinsaut cross. The cuttings were quarantined in California for five years. The wait was worth it.

The Fort Ross 2002 Pinotage, one of only a handful produced in California, is a marvel. Deep inky purple, it gives off concentrated aromas of dark red fruit – dried strawberries, blackberries, black cherries – spiced with white pepper and infused with smoke. The fruit grows luscious, creamy and mouth-filling but not in a big-wine, jammy way. Rather, it's like dipping through layers of mousse, with dry tannins and nice acidity that roll to a chewy finish.

Wine Enthusiast calls Fort Ross "a lethal combination of terroir, clones, winemaking and, most importantly, the owners' passion." Lucky for Texas, the state is one of its first markets outside California. The pinotage is about $34. Along with the other Fort Ross wines, it's at Mr. G's, Centennial, Pogo's, Central Market, Farpointe Cellar, and Wine Market and More.

Kim Pierce - Dallas Morning News

Sunday, January 07, 2007

What You Get for the Money

They say money can’t buy happiness…but it sure can buy a great bottle of wine! “What You Get for the Money” - it’s the title of one of my favorite shows on television these days. If and when I ever make it to the big-time, win the lotto or marry George Clooney, I’ll spend my time no doubt buying and remodeling homes and buildings. I’ve dabbled in this a bit, but what a dream to have the cash to do things well (yeah, I can turn some Ikea findings into some bad-ass fixtures).

In the meantime, “What you get for the money” rings true among all the wine and sake I represent. I was reminded of this theme last Friday night while leading a Handley Cellars private tasting in the hills of west Austin. I think as wine consumers we get caught up a lot in “oh, this is great for 10 bucks, or this is such a good value”. Yes, I agree that much of the wine world (if you know what you are after) is made up of tremendous values from all over the world. But - and this is a big but - many of the artisan, family owned, boutique producers may not have the financial comforts of bottling oodles of $10 wine. Paying $20 for one of their estate bottled chardonnays or $30 for a low production Pinot Noir IS A GREAT VALUE considering the source of the juice and reputation to say the least.

For example, inexpensive Pinot Noir from California is getting worse – I mean the cheaper the price tag the less likely it’s going to taste like pinot noir. I sipped a very popular $14 pinot the other day and I swore it was syrah – maybe with a few drops of cherry Nyquil blended as well. There are a few good examples on the shelves - go to the burgundy section to find a great value pinot (under $20) any day over the domestic shelf. All in all, you better get use to pony-ing up $25 + for great value California pinots …trust me on this one folks.

As for Ginjo Sake – yes, totally 100%, absolutely the price indicates the q
uality inside the bottle. The popular “Divine Droplets” costs as much as a Kobe steak because it’s worth it – very small production, uniquely brewed and outstanding quality. Yep – the lone star ladies have adorned this bottle of sake their favorite – we can hardly keep it in stock each week.

Of course TexaCali Wine Co. represents incredible values from Argentina that are also incredibly high in quality – the importer – Vine Connections has worked extremely smart over the years negotiating and befriending some of the most valuable vineyards and winemakers in Argentina for the American market to enjoy (consume regularly) each and every day – we are soo lucky in Texas to have ample stock on all these such as BenMarco, Crios, La Posta, Budini and many more….

Ok – enough for now “What You Get for the Money” is coming on in a minute this sunny Sunday morning - the show is comparing $500,000 homes in Austin to Chicago to Raleigh…oh to play in that world!

Bottle by bottle I’m determined…, jot some of these wines down on a list next time you plan on buying wine!

Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

And one for all the gals...

I almost forgot - must be all the supplements I've taken for the Alba morf - ha.

So my favorite Guy - he's been just a little busy over the past few years creating killer good wine.This year he has a few new releases in store for Texas. Get Ready, talking about truly magical wines. Can hardly wait!! Davis Family Vineyards Cheers - Ali

Here's one for all the BOYS...

Oh feeling much better today...after a full night of sleep! So I awoke to read such exciting news today - AWESOME "Snakes on a Plane" is out on DVD finally. OK kidding about that, really. I hate snakes.

There are a handful of items that make me excited for the New Year and I'm going to point them out to you right now...
Crios Cabernet Sauvignon was the #1 selling wine among the TexaCali portfolio in 2006 - the growth of the Crios brand overall is just mind-blowing cool. French Wine - yep, Veritas Imports is ready to roll in Texas and I can't wait to see these beauties all over Texas. Get ready to fall in love all over again ... Vine Connections Ginjo Sake - this category is so popular right now, I even have some old college buddies
sipping the good stuff. Who would have ever thought - old Baylor Boys now drinking $60 a bottle Ginjo Sake - love it! Pellegrini's are releasing their first red blended wine this spring...if you love Cloverdale Ranch you're going to go NUTS over this new wine - I tasted it in barrel last November, incredibly rich and full of big fruit - totally made me smile. Speaking of Pellegrini wines, you'll be able to purchase "Hamel" wines in Texas within a few weeks, Kevin Hamel is the the head winemaker for Pellegrini and has crafted oh so delicious Pinot Noir and Syrah from Sonoma. Vine Connections new releases - I'm keeping this one quiet for now, let's just say that Luis Reginato who is the winemaker for Luca, Tikal and La Posta has been busy! Oh Yeah! Handley Cellars - WOW - the Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc is here and IT IS INCREDIBLE. I just can't say enough about how beautiful the entire Handley portfolio is, there is still Pinot Noir available in Texas too! Storrs - their Santa Cruz Mountain wines just keep coming, look for new releases of their Rusty Ridge Zinfandel on shelves any day now. Also, Christie's vineyard is available - these wines are soo cool.

Oh better stop for now, I'm off to conquer my new years reso
lution - to have a butt and body that resembles Jessica Alba's in any way within the next few months.

Yep - I dream big - but so far so good with chasing my dreams - Cheers and Happy New
Year to All! Ali

(picture credit -

Monday, January 01, 2007

Happy 2007

I'm recovering today from hours of Grand Cru bubbles and big-ass Texas fireworks...check back tomorrow for some really cool news!

Cheers - Ali