Friday, August 31, 2007

New Releases are in the HOUSE!

Remember a few months back when we watched Guy's vineyard documentary "It's a Vine Life"? Well, now is your chance to taste what he was talking about! Just ask your favorite fine wine shop for Davis Family Vineyards!

2005 Davis Family Vineyards Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley

2005 weather was incredibly consistent in Guy’s little pocket of the RRV. Winter rains were moderate, so the vines were
very balanced between bud break and set. With no real hot or cold periods during the growing season. the vines matured slowly but uniformly right through veraison. A cool and consistent September gave the grapes some extended hang time to develop extra flavors and aromas. The wine is very consistent with Guy's style - balance and complexity searching for the essence of Pinot flavor (no alc. bombs here!). If there is any difference in character from prior vintages, it may be the extra push in the beautiful aromas—
the wine seems to have even more floral and brown spice than in the past (if that is even possible!). The balance, from alcohol and acidity to the mouth-coating
richness, is again spot on. The signature leather and cola hints traditionally found in great Pinots from around the world seem to really grow when this wine is in the glass. The amazing length on this 2005 has been commented on in almost every tasting we’ve had. As always, these wines are a perfect match with almost any meal and will create legions of fans in its wake!
Cases produced: 889 Alcohol: 14.05% pH: 3.56

Highlighted DFV Pinot Noir Awards and Reviews 2001: Gold Medal – 2004 SF Wine Competition 2002: 91 Points – Wine Enthusiast 2004 2003: Silver– 2005 Sonoma County Harvest Fair 2004: Double Gold & Best In Class – 2006 Sonoma County Harvest Fair

2004 Davis Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon, Napa Valley

From the same 2 vineyards as in years past: the Lewelling Wight Vineyard, near the border of St. Helena and Rutherford, brings the brighter fruit and exotic spice to the blend, and Stagecoach Vineyard, almost a half mile above the Valley, brings black fruits and mocha notes. 2004 was a warmer year than 2003 in the Napa Valley, and the result is a darker, fuller wine. The fruit profile is more focused on black cherry and black currant fruits that create a juicy core and richness through the finish. Although the warm season in 2004 fostered a lot of density and size in this wine, there is still that distinctive balance and food friendly character that has always been a signature of Guy’s wines. This 2004 shows the pure Napa character of ripeness, yet never approaches over-ripe – Guy delivers “power through complexity” rather than an overblown monster wine. Excellent structure and tannin levels lead the way into the mouth-coating finish. This wine is incredibly enjoyable now and should also age beautifully for many years to come. Cases produced: 588 Alcohol: 14.25% pH: 3.60

Highlighted DFV Cabernet Awards and Reviews 2002: Double Gold– 2004 SF International Wine Competition 2002: Double Gold– 2005 Pacific Rim Wine Competition 2003: Double Gold & Best In Class – 2006 L.A. County Fair 2003: Silver - 2007 SF Chronicle Competition Fair

Davis Family Vineyards is distributed by Horizon Wines in Texas! Cheers - ALI

Thursday, August 30, 2007

learn about premium sake here folks...

If you read one thing today - it better be this page about Vine Connections Sake portfolio.

Stephen Tanzer just published this very simple and very in-depth review. - Ali

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Cloverdale Ranch - Alexander Valley

Just a nice view from the top Cabernet and Merlot vineyard in Sonoma these days...ahh the Pellegrini Family wines are in the spotlight once

On the road again...Cheers - Ali

Saturday, August 25, 2007

Destination Argentina!

Does this look familiar? It's the feature this week at all the World Market's!

Mapema Sauvignon Blanc
This loveable white starts out with enticing aromas of lemon, fresh herbs, honeydew rind and a hint of oak. Once you swirl it around your mouth, you'll get a vibrant blast of lemon zest acidity along with lemongrass and a slightly creamy texture. This wine delivers a lot of body without losing its lively acidity, and the crisp finish doesn't keep this wine from lingering on your palate. Hard to find this kind of complexity and flavor intensity at such a reasonable price. Great all by itself, but this one will match up nicely with grilled tuna and swordfish, seared scallops, sautéed white-flesh fish like sole, or even lighter chicken dishes. A real winner.

More About Mapema
Mapema is a combination of the first two letters of the partner's first names-Mariano seemed to think that he was more important, so his appear twice! The label displays three grape vines following harvest-vines that have done everything in their power to produce grapes that will go on to create a great wine. It is a feeling that the two winemaking partners share with each other and express in their wine.

Whew - What a Couple of Weeks

Hello to all the new friends of TexaCali Wine Co. I've met over the past few weeks. Here's a list of wines that were uncorked at various tastings.

All of these bottles are available at your favorite wine shop - just ask for them!


2004 La Posta Bonarda: $15
- Spec's on Brodie in Austin "Tuesday Tasting"

2005 Susana Balbo Crios Syrah Bonararda; $14 - Spec's on Brodie in Austin "Tuesday Tasting"

2006 Budini Chardonnay
$10.99 - Spec's on Brodie in Austin "Tuesday Tasting"

2005 Budini Malbec $10.99 - Whole Foods Downtown Austin Tasting

2007 Susana Balbo's Crios Rose of Malbec $11.99- Whole Foods North AustinTasting

2005 Susana Balbo Malbec $30 - Texas Sommelier Conference Grand Tasting

2005 Tikal Patriota (Bonarda/Malbec) $25- Texas Sommelier Conference Grand Tasting

2003 BenMarco Expresivo $38 - Texas Sommelier Conference Grand Tasting

California: Fort Ross Winery and Vineyards - Vino 100 Lakeway Tasting
We tasting the 2003 FR Chardonnay, 2002 RSV Chardonnay, 2003 Symposium and the 2003 RSV Pinot Noir.


2004 Ch. Puligny Montrachet "Clos du Chateau" - $25 Texas Sommelier Grand Tasting

2005 Domaine Jo Pithon "Savennieres" Le Croix Picot - $30 Texas Som Grand Tasting

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Hot off the Press in Houston!

Houston Chronicle Gives "2002 mapema primera zona" 4 Stars!

• History: Twenty-five years ago, Argentine wines were made the old-fashioned way, with too much oak and too much time in the aging cellars. The results were not for the American or even international palate.

All that's changed, and now Argentina is trying to outperform its neighbor, Chile, in the global marketplace. It has monster production, plus a niche for malbec, a red-wine grape that thrives south of the equator better than in Bordeaux.

Two winemaker friends, Mariano di Paola and Pepe Galante, recently teamed to produce Argentina's Mapema wines, using the first two letters of their first names.They make malbec, sauvignon blanc, tempranillo and a red-wine blend. The 2002 Mapema "Primera Zona'' - **** - is a red Bordeaux mix of cabernet sauvignon, merlot and malbec, made in a restrained Bordeaux style, with good red and black fruit, a hint of leather and tobacco. At 5 years of age, this wine is at its peak and drinking very nicely, indeed.

• Pairings: The winery suggests veal chops, duck with fruit sauce, beef, lamb, chicken and game birds.

• Retail: $28.

• From: Horizon Wines; 713-413-9463. Link to Article

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

on the 30-Second Wine Advisor Today!

Very cool, this is the lastest release from La Posta - it's a big hit in Texas. Give it a try next time you are out shopping! Cheers - Ali

La Posta 2006 Mendoza "Cocina Blend" ($15.99)

La Posta

This red blend, a mix of 60% Malbec and 20% each Bonarda and Syrah, shows an opaque blackish-purple color in the glass, with glints of garnet against the light. Black plums and fragrant pepper come together in the aroma. Flavors are juicy and ripe, fresh and plummy fruit and zippy acidity, mouth-filling and appetizing, with soft but substantial tannins in the finish. Very nice wine indeed, and it's great with rare beef. U.S. importer: Vine Connections, Sausalito, Calif. (Aug. 17, 2007)

FOOD MATCH: Made to go with Argentina's excellent beef, it was fine with a comparative tasting of rare, pan-fried grass-fed natural beef steaks from two regional farms, a rib eye from Dreamcatcher Farm in Kentucky and a strip steak from Fiedler Farm in Southern Indiana.

VALUE: No complaints with the mid-teens for a wine that delivers this kind of enjoyment and food-friendliness.

WHEN TO DRINK: It's hard to predict ageworthiness in unfamiliar blends, but the excellent structure, acidity and firm but well-integrated tannins here certainly suggest that it will keep for several years and could evolve under good cellaring conditions.

The importer has a short fact sheet about La Posta Cocina Blend at this link:

TexaCali Ali, 9 wines, 30 Master Soms...whew!


Master Sommelier Dinner

2007 Texas Sommelier Conference

Austin, Texas August 19, 2007

Featured Wine Selections for the Evening

LeClaire Gaspard Champagne Grand Cru

Not a drop leftover of this gorgeous blanc de blanc bubbly from Champagne! Finally, I have my first champagne to represent in Texas! And oh yeah - this is a good one! 100% Grand Cru Chardonnay displays notes of ripe citrus fruit and silky honey with just a touch of toast. Structured and balanced on the palate - I’d say it’s in the “seductive” category.

First Course: prince Edward island mussel and wine bacon roast

2005 Domaine Jo Pithon Savennieres La Croix Picot

Always a crowd favorite Chenin Blanc. Rich aromos of baked apples with a touch of ginger. The Loire star is very full-bodied, dry with a nice balance of minerality. Incredibly long finish, I wish I could put a few bottles away for a few years, fat chance, it’s perfection right now.

Second Course: dayboat scallop and gulf shrimp ravioli in lemon-parmesan reggiano broth with tomato powder.

2004 Ch. Puligny Montrachet – Les Folatieres Premier Cru

Such a pretty wine. Slightly floral nose with hints of white pear and touch of toast on the finish. Of the three whites tasted, this is the most versatile and could easily become a nice wine for some serious porch-sitting at sunset.

2004 Ch. Puligny Montrachet Meursault Les Poruzots 1er Cru

I couldn’t make up my mind about this wine, it was so fullbodied compared to the other whites and I was really warm when this was served (long-story). Here’s what Meadows wrote: A surprisingly elegant and high-toned nose for this cru that features pure orchard fruit and floral aromas that introduce pure, rich and sleekly muscled medium full flavors that offer a terrific combination of intensity, depth and finishing complexity, all wrapped in a backend touch of pain grillé. In a word, impressive.

Third Course: duck confit, purple hull pea and hamhock vol au vent

2004 de Montille Volnay Premier Cru

The first sip brought me back to my very first sip of pinot from Volnay. Very ripe but also elegant – extremely lady-like and polished – the texture was like spring rose petals. Not a Paris Hilton – more like a Katie Holmes. Will love to open this again in a few years to see the true beauty inside.

2003 Hospice de Nuit-St. Georges Premier Cru

So Veritas Imports obtained two barrels of this macho beauty! Deep dark berry and spices hits you right in the face when pouring, the texture is so smooth but full of rather large flavors of cherry and clove. A tremendous example of Nuit-St. Georges. I also tried this 48 hours later…it was singing!

Fourth Course: grilled lamb loin on potato boulangere with lacinato kale and black trumpet mushroom ragout.

2005 Susan Balbco Malbec

As always, Susan’s Malbec is full of fresh fruit. She uses a little French Oak – so it’s not a big thick wine at all. Still a baby, this wine is almost “refreshing” in style. Nice violets on the nose with round juicy blackberry fruit flavors that party on! Can’t wait to open this one up in a few years as well.

2004 BenMarco Expresivo

Ahh, the combination of Malbec, Cabernet, Syrah, Bonarda and Merlot may sound scary – but this is a extremely well made red wine by Susana Balbo and her husband Pedro Marchevsky. Everyone should have a 6 pack of this in their cellar (yeah, the wooden box is from staves and has the wicked vine burned on the top lid). It’s a great fun wine to pull out for a cozy night and goes awfully well with typical Argentine fare – but also is a favorite with fresh baked brownies.

Dessert Course: orange and lavender risotto tart with mexia peach compote

2004 Jo Pithon Quarts de Chaume Les Varennes

Oh, I held out just to have this glass of sweet Chenin Blanc in all it’s glory. Paired perfectly with the fruit tart – it was like liquid crème brulee. Jo Pithon only made 25 cases of this – the perfect ending to a great wine evening! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, August 19, 2007

A look inside...

My fridge is mighty happy today, had to chill down our white wines for the Master Sommelier dinner tonight at Wink. These cool bottles are...

LeClaire Gaspard Champagne Grand Cru

2005 Domaine Jo Pithon Savennieres La Croix Picot

2004 Ch. Puligny Montrachet Meursault Les Poruzots Premier Cru

2004 Ch. Puligny Montrachet – Les Folatieres Premier Cru

2004 Jo Pithon Quarts de Chaume Les Varennes

Ahh, the red wine line up is to die for as well! Full report tomorrow! Cheers - Ali

Saturday, August 18, 2007

A Splashing Goal

Those who know me well, know that I'm working like a mad woman to have a nice sparkling infinity pool in my own backyard - one day. Silly little thing I have about a pool, I guess it brings back memories of life as a teenager in the backyard without a worry in the world.

So I'm reading the NY Times today and just so happens they have a great (somewhat ridiculous) article on custom made pools. WOW. Guess I'll gas up the tank and get back to selling more wine out there...

This is Joseph and Bobbi Moran's two-story pool above Lake Austin., I wonder if they'd trade wine for a dip or two in their pool each week!? Ha. This picture is also my new screensaver. Maaaarco - Pooolo! Ali

Friday, August 17, 2007

Veritas Imports in Texas!

Funny - I am searching for bottle images on the web tonight and ran across the tasting notes of my friend Keith, who was very instrumental in teaching me the basics of Burgundy during my days at K&L Wine Merchants. Ch. de Puligny Montrachet is featured this weekend at the TexSom Conference at the Austin, Four Seasons hotel. The wines are also available to buy from Sigel's in Dallas and the Austin Wine Merchant.

Hope to see you all at the Grand Tasting on Monday night! Cheers and thanks to Keith for the following tasting notes...

Château de Puligny Montrachet

The rebirth of the Château de Puligny Montrachet since my visit there in 2002 is astounding. Since Etienne de Montille took over, the yields are down, farming is organic or biodynamic and attention to detail shows from top to bottom. The result has been extremely fine wines, all estate grown.

A particularly good bargain is the 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet Bourgogne Blanc, Clos du Château Made from 100% estate-grown fruit from the walled vineyard around the Château, this is a Puligny Montrachet in all but name, with bright fruit and lovely focus.

The 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet Monthelie Blanc has lovely mid-palate balance, with bright creamy notes and good weight. The pretty floral notes on the nose add to its charm.

The 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet St. Aubin 1er Cru, “En Remilly” is a rich wine with elegant minerality and a lemon-cream note. The finish is long, persistent and balanced.

The 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet Puligny Montrachet shows very pretty pine and mineral notes, with fresh, bright fruit. The wine has a precise focus to it, and is lovely, fine and lingering on the finish.

There are also small quantities of the 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet Meursault 1er Cru, “Poruzots” , the 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet Meursault 1er Cru, “Perrieres” and the 2004 Château de Puligny Montrachet Puligny Montrachet 1er Cru, “Folatieres”, as well as tiny quantities of their spectacular Grands Crus, Chevalier, Bâtard and Montrachet Á Santé. —Keith Wollenberg

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Now at Whole Foods Downtown Austin

Right next to the organic eggs for ya....Budini Malbec! Lip-smacking good juice from Argentina.

Two tastings last week alone, people were going nuts over Budini! Chill it down a bit before you pop it open.... $10.99 while supplies last! Picture taken from the Camera phone - so it's a little fuzzy. Cheers - ALI

Vacation Highlights...

2006 Domaine Tempier Rose – Bandol: The REAL DEAL folks! I recently bought a few bottles of this for my house based on a solid recommendation, so I was glad to see it on a wine list in San Francisco. Summer berries brought on such great flavor - pale pink in color that totally packs a punch.

Handley Cellars Brut Rose - Anderson Valley California: This bottle of bubbles christened the first night of vacation. As always, this sparkling is so elegantly done. Tiny silky bubbles, with a hint of cherry and brownie dough on the finish. You can only buy this from the winery. : (

Syncline Viognier - Washington: Ahh, a choice that was made over a lovely sunny lunch outside in Mendocino (pictured above). This viognier gave me exactly what I was looking for – crisp stone fruits with a hint of minerality, honeysuckle and an incredibly long and delicious finish. I had the server bring out the bottle so I could see the label. Not sold in Texas .

2006 Handley Cellars Rose of Pinot Noir - Anderson Valley California: WOW! I did a double take after the first sip. I was sitting on a cool deck overlooking the most famous Sonoma Merlot vineyard of all time – but the Handley Rose made all of us stand to attention. The aromas and flavors reflect its breathtaking coral hue: strawberries, raspberries, and cherries, with a hint of orange peel. No wonder this bottle has won a couple of Gold Medals this year!

2006 Robert Sinskey Pinot Blanc Caneros, California: I’ve always loved this Pinot Blanc. It was a perfect pairing at the Albion River Inn along with heirloom tomatoes stuffed with fresh crab and avocado.

1997 Rene Engel Vosne Romanee 1er Cru “Les Brulees”: After a few minutes of indecision, I went for it. Very pleasing flavors of soft, ripe red fruit on the nose with delicious smoky overtones. The red fruit characteristics are mirrored on the palate with fine balancing acidity and a very pretty finish. I saved enough to try a glass the following night – OH YEAH I’m glad I did!

2005 St Innocent Pinot Noir Oregon: I walked into an old favorite wine bar of mine in San Francisco up on Hyde St., tiny place, I think it seats 12 people max. First time I’ve had this wine in years, and now totally remember why I LOVE ST INNOCENT!! This pinot has an unusual flavor of cherry cheesecake and I LOVE IT. Slutty little wine, I must get some for the house!

2006 Acorn Rosato Dry Creek Valley, California: Picked this one up from “The Cheese Shop” in Healdsburg one day to sip by the pool later on during vacation. Glad I did – this was a wonderful dry Italian rose made up of a handful of varietals grown by the sweet folks at Acorn. It was a perfect pairing under the sunshine and during a competitive game of rummy.

2005 Ulysses Valdez Sauvignon Blanc: Dang this is good. I first had the 2005 a year ago during the release up at Rockpile Vineyard above Lake Sonoma. Super acidity and very strong grapefruit flavors hit as soon as I sipped! This was a perfect pairing with Sonoma goat cheese and rosemary crackers. Paul Hobbs made this for Ulysses.

2006 Medlock Ames MerlotAlexander Valley California: The rumor is true, Medlock Ames is making OUTSTANDING wines. I’ve been sipping their 2003 Merlot and Cabernet that is now available in Texas for a few months now - truly well made and beautiful wine. But I got a sneak sip from the 2006 Merlot harvest that is now in barrel – Supercalifragilisticexpeialidocious!!!! Cheers - Ali

Friday, August 10, 2007

I'm Back...

and off to lead a Malbec Tasting at Whole Foods - Downtown Austin now.

Check back for a complete list of "vacation wines" this weekend... OH YEAH! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, August 08, 2007


I get in late Thursday from the vacation folks. Huge mistake of checking my email last night - I've been up all night. SIGH. ALI