Tuesday, December 30, 2008

Best Bubbles for under $20

Reginato Blanc de Blanc & Reginato Sparkling Rose of Malbec for New Years Eve!

The Reginato Sparkling Argentine Wines are new to the American market this year, wow have we all been missing out! The Reginato Family in Mendoza has been making these beautiful bubbles for over 20 years for the South American market. Here are some facts:

Robert Parker Jr.'s "The Wine Advocate", December 2007
"These two value-priced sparkling wines are made by Jose Joaquin Reginato and his son, Jose Alberto. Everything involved in the production of these sparkling wines is done in-house, including the grape-growing."

Reginato Blanc de Blancs Sparkling 2006 - $15

Vintage: 2006 Varietal Composition: 70% Chardonnay, 30% Chenin Blanc

Secondary Fermentation: Charmat Harvest Method: Hand-harvested

Press Handling: No press wine Sur lies bottle aging: 3 months Alcohol: 12.8%

Total Case Production: 1,000 cases

Tasting Notes: When you think of a partying wine, you want something bubbly, light, refreshing, but certainly not boring or tiresome. The Reginatos feel the same way, so they pack lots of fresh fruit flavor onto a crisp, refreshing frame.

Reginato "Celestina" Sparkling Rose of Malbec 2006 - $19.99

Vintage: 2006 Varietal Composition: 100% Malbec

Secondary Fermentation: Metodo Tradicional Harvest Method: Hand-harvested

Press Handling: No press wine Sur lies bottle aging: 14 months

Alcohol: 12.8% Total Case Production: 500 cases

Tasting Notes: As soon as it hits the glass, you can see with your own eyes that this is no “salmon-hued” sparkler. It has a vibrant, rich, red color that suggests something heavy, but pop it in your mouth, and you will feel the crisp, dry and refreshing mouth-feel that you want with your meal. It has some light berry flavors, just a hint of tannin structure, and an amazing elegance. It speaks of the rich Malbec grape, but never loses its light, refreshing nature. It will also give you a good reason to drink sparkling wine with your main course.

About the Winemaker
“CJR” are the initials of Celestina and Jose Reginato, the matriarch and patriarch of the highly regarded Reginato winemaking family. Jose and his son, Pepe Reginato, have been making sparkling wines since 1986. They produce both Charmat and “Metodo Tradicional” (bottle-fermented) sparkling wines and they are known to craft some of Mendoza's most sought-after limited-production, boutique bubbly.

The Philosophy
Unlike many other “factory” sparkling wine producers in Mendoza , the Reginatos personally manage the whole process themselves, from grape to bottle. They manage the vineyards, select the grapes, harvest at the optimal time, make the base wine, and then do secondary fermentation at their own winery. They produce both Charmat and “Metodo Tradicional” (bottle-fermented) sparkling wines, and if you ever get a chance to meet Pepe, you'll see what kind of hand muscles you can develop after years of hand-riddling bottles to remove the yeast from sparkling wines.

Ask for them both at your favorite wine shop! Cheers and Happy New Year! Ali

Monday, December 29, 2008

What a year...

Well it's the last Monday of the year, finally one last Monday. I don't ever mind Mondays really, this job is 7 days a week, so Mondays are cool with me. Looking back on this year - it has really kicked my ass - but what does not kill you makes you stronger right? Where is all this coming from this morning? I'm working on the 4th annual TexaCali Wine Co. Year in Review for the Inner Circle this morning. As I'm looking back at the calendar and all the moving parts of 2008, I can hardly figure out where to start. 2008 was full of wonderful business happenings, new challenges, beautiful personal memories but marked heavily by business associates that are huge assholes. No I'm not going to call them out here, you'd be surprised.

I encountered the best and worst in human beings this year, all in the name of "helping" market and sell wines and saké that I truly believe in with all my heart. I'm incredibly thankful and fortunate to represent some of the finest folks in the wine and saké business, and even more fortunate to have asked some jerks to please step out of my way. As far as I'm concerned, we (the entire wine supply chain) are all in this together, it takes good choices, solid respect and even better people behind the effort for all to profit. I often think of a certain "buyer" in Texas who sets the BEST example of this every minute of his day. Boy how we can all learn from him, he's in a place where he could be a real SOB, but never ever hangs his hat on that hook.

I know I'm going to hear it from my Mom today about the "tone" of this post. (Sorry Mom) But hey, she just survived an heart-attack on Christmas Day and is home now recovering. That makes me the most happy of all. Our scary Christmas this year with Mom also makes me want to scream from the highest peaks - "Be good and kind to everyone you encounter (and cut out all the BS)."

Life's too short to deal with the egomaniac, selfish, greedy assholes in this beautiful wine business that take advantage of the little guys (or girls). There I said it. Be good to others from here on out - if you are not capable of kindness, integrity and professional respect, then go hole up in a fancy house in the middle of no-mans-land where you can own your little manipulative & pathetic world.

TexaCali Wine Co. has beat all odds, we started up in May 2005 with nothing more than a few bucks from vacation time not taken. I've slept on more couches than I can count to save a buck for that retailer that needs high-margins and for that winery that has children of vineyard workers to feed. More than ever they need you and me to buy their bottles, it is their life, their history, genius wine and
saké making skills and their blood, sweat and tears that are golden. The families behind the wine and saké bottles are what keeps me in this game.

Since day one, I've had to make smart choices and difficult decisions about the people I must to work with daily - these decisions were and have been the biggest and the most significant part of my success. I'm far from perfect, but I will work my ass off again in 2009 to continue to bring my best, hope to inspire others and always, I mean no matter what - make choices based on sound ethical business decisions in the New Year. Fired up this Monday Morning...Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Robert Parker's Wine Advocate "Wine of the Day"

2006 La Posta Bonarda 89pts. around $17 - just ask your favorite Texas wine shop for it!

WA Tasting Notes: The 2006 Bonarda was sourced from the 44 year old Estela Armando Vineyard, and was aged for 10 months in 70% French and 30% American oak, 20% new. Deep crimson-colored, the wine is fruity and fragrant with notes of cedar, spice box, red and black raspberries. Medium-bodied, on the palate notes of pepper, chocolate, and mint emerge. Ripe and tasty with gobs of flavor, this hedonistic and well-priced effort can be enjoyed over the next 5 years. All four of the La Posta wines are outstanding values.

A Merry Christmas comes early for the Argentine Families of Vine Connections

Please Click Image to Enlarge - Merry Christmas!! - Ali

Thursday, December 18, 2008

The 2008 Holiday Wine Shopping List is now available
on the
TexaCali Wine Co. website.

Happy Holidays! - Ali

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

Teira Zinfandel News

I'm in San Francisco now finalizing 2009 plans for TexaCali producers...how fitting is this little story I'm about to tell?

I ask my dear friend Mulan where I can find a great french wine list and early dinner near my hotel last night...she suggests Cafe Claude. Cafe Claude is just a few blocks away tucked into a little alley. The last time I walked down this alley way was Bastille Day in 2002 - oh actually "sipped" my way through the alley for a few hours...but that's a whole other story to tell someday - maybe.

Anyhoo - back to last night. As we walked up to the Cafe Claude patio I expected to see some eclectic bottles from the south of France, maybe some great labels from Burgundy and Bordeaux. Nope - all three tables had a bottle of Teira Zinfandel sitting front and center! So Cool. Turns out that Cafe Claude rolls through a couple dozen cases of Teira Zin each month...oh those crazy french people. Overall, our experience at Cafe Claude was spot on - the service, food and wine list were exceptional. We did choose to sip on a few glasses of great French wine though! I can't wait to go back for a treat of pomme-frites and Pinot Noir at the bar!

Even bigger news for Teira Zinfandel... Jancis Robinson, one of England's (and the world's) most respected wine critics, recently rated 2005 Teira Zinfandel in her Top 100 Wines list. "
Teira Zinfandel 2005 Sonoma County - Drier and more sophisticated than most Zins. Fruit from old vines in Dry Creek and Russian River Valleys. 13.5% .

Around $16 in Texas - you can ask your favorite wine shop for it anytime!
Cheers - Ali

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Front Lines - Every Bottle Counts

I’m out visiting Texas wine shops, wine bars, restaurants and wine distributors each and every day. Everyone asks “are you seeing a slow-down?”… Well no, actually sales are good and absolutely growing stronger each month.

Two things I hav
e built TexaCali Wine Co. business on over the years 1) offer Texas wine consumers accessibility to high-quality, independent, family owned wineries and breweries and 2) offer bottles that are of great value to the Texas consumer.

The only segment that’s hit a wall in this cra
zy economy is the 2006 Burgundy offerings…hard to follow the VERY expensive and HIGHLY acclaimed 2005 vintage to start, seems that consumers and collectors are still sitting on 2005’s (for good reason) and buying wines from other regions to consume now at the dinner table. Patience is kicking in with this one…

The doom and gloom I read about online, hear about on the TV, Radio and etc…it’s out there, but I am so very thankful for … the hard work we’ve done to create solid distribution in Texas, all the Texas wine lovers and supporters of TexaCali Wine Co. and solid, thoughtf
ul planning…the wine and Sake of TexaCali Wine Co. are selling like crazy!

However, more than ever before I do ask you to support our wineries and sake breweries when shopping and choosing wines while eating out. The families and independent producers we represent don’t have corporate marketing budgets, access to “bail-out” money, and a list of share-holders to please. They have kids to feed, vineyard workers to provide for, and mortgages to pay just like us. The East and West coasts are feeling the pain much more than the Lone Star State – so let’s help out these families and make up for the down-sales in other regions of the US. Texas sales are strong – let’s keep it up.

What’s the easiest way to find TexaCali Wine Co. producers? Click around www.texacaliwine.com and jot down wine and sake bottles that peak your interest and keep it with you while out and about. I receive a dozen emails or so each week asking “where can I find…? I will always get back to you - so keep your requests coming.

The TexaCali Wine Co. winemakers and brewers are true wine pioneers, from Japan to France to Spain to Oregon to California to Argentina – each winery is proud to have wines available to purchase in Texas – let’s make them even more proud to be here during this unbelievable economic time. Cheers - Ali
(pictures: 3rd one - Mr. T of Dreamy Clouds and Wandering Poet, last one - The Angel Paulucci family of La Posta Malbec fame)

Friday, December 12, 2008

Winemaker to Watch (again!)

Last year it was Robert Pellegrini of Pellegrini Family Vineyards, this year please meet Kevin Kelley from LIOCO...published in the San Francisco Chronicle today and pictures I took while visiting with Kevin last December.

Most wine loves start with a memorable glass. Kevin Kelley's started with a memorable book. As a history-obsessed high schooler in south San Jose, he dove into Charles Sullivan's "Like Modern Edens," about the Santa Clara Valley's wine roots.

"Little did I know he was an English teacher," points out Kelley, now 32. "He was Mr. Sullivan, teaching English at my high school."

The Pinot Noir long grown on nearby slopes at Saratoga's Mount Eden Vineyards intrigued the science-minded Kelley enough to abandon his medical ambitions and head for UC Davis, though not before marrying his high school sweetheart Jennifer Hatley, who attended UC Berkeley.

If Davis loaded him with practical winemaking skill - he researched topics like the presence of multiple fermentation yeasts in wineries - he increasingly found Burgundy on his brain. When a visiting professor from Dijon arrived, Kelley pounced. "The first day I met him, it was like, 'Hi, I'm Kevin Kelley. I want to go work in Burgundy.' " He began a student internship at Domaine Meo-Camuzet in Vosne-Romanee just after graduation in 2000.

Back on these shores, he became assistant winemaker to Wells Guthrie of Copain, and eventually ran Copain's custom crush facility, working for more than a dozen clients while starting his own label, Salinia Wine Co., in 2003.

Through one of his growers, Charles Heintz, he met the founders of a new project called Lioco. Kelley's goal with Salinia was "to try and find colder and colder sites, and make leaner and leaner wines" with little oak influence. Lioco's founders, Matt Licklider and Kevin O'Connor, wanted to express the flavors of specific Pinot Noir and Chardonnay vineyards with the least intrusive winemaking possible.

"When we sat down and started talking," Kelley recounts, "it was like, 'You really want to do this? Great.' "

Kelley now views his time at Davis as "learning the rules so I know what and when to break." So not only does he insist on no added yeast but he doesn't raise the tank temperatures to spur fermentation. His 2005 Salinia Heintz Ranch Chardonnay took 10 months to ferment, with another eight for malolactic fermentation. The 2006 was just bottled, two years later.

The resulting wines won't appeal to partisans of the extracted California style. But they have a rapidly surging popularity among younger customers who prefer the higher-acid, red-fruit flavors that come from picking as early as Kelley prefers to - often two weeks before fellow winemakers. The Lioco wines, too, have gained attention for their clean, pure expressions. (Kelley also makes more traditional Pinot Noir for Heintz himself, plus several wines for Spot-On Cellars.)

The Kelleys reside in Windsor with their 2-year-old son, Kian, with their winery across from a Baptist church in a generic Santa Rosa industrial park, complete with a long communal table made from the pallet that contained his winery's glycol cooling unit.

Though Salinia produces a mere 350 cases, the tiny footprint allows Kelley to keep breaking more of those rules. So when a slightly murky white he pours draws a puzzled look, he's quick to explain. It's skin-fermented 2008 Chardonnay. He plans to sell it for quick drinking in reusable bulk containers that require only carbon dioxide, not sulfur dioxide, to preserve the wine.

"We're right here in Wine Country, and you can't get fresh wine," he continues. "The freshness is something I want to capture."

The wines

2006 Lioco Michaud Vineyard Chalone Pinot Noir ($45) This Central Coast vineyard shows itself distinctly in this finely toned, almost coppery wine, with dusky cherry, a fascinating hibiscus-like note and moist loam.

2006 Salinia Heintz Ranch Chardonnay ($45) Powerful and mineral-focused, with real punch, a fine example of Kelley's style. Lots of tart Meyer lemon, mango and peach, with honeycomb and salted almond highlights, surround that expressive mineral core.

What he does: Demonstrates the ability of Pinot Noir and Chardonnay to reveal their terroir using cold-climate fruit and almost no new oak.

Weeknight wine: Cru Beaujolais like the Domaine Chignard Les Moriers Fleurie

Quote: "Bringing in fruit at the levels I do is not typical. It doesn't appeal to a mass audience like the riper fruit-forward Pinot Noirs do."

(LIOCO is distributed in Texas by Avante Beverages)

Sunday, December 07, 2008

Hot off the press today...

Congrats to all the TexaCali Wine Co. producers who made the San Francisco Chronicle 2008 Top 100 Wine List this year! Ask your favorite wine shop to point you to these on their shelves - all are available in Texas...

2006 Lioco Charles Heintz Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay ($45) Lioco founders Matt Licklider and Kevin O'Connor want to demonstrate the character of individual sites through their Pinot and Chardonnay. This somewhat polarizing wine hails from the fog-shrouded Heintz Vineyard outside Occidental. Signs of botrytis (noble rot) give a distinct honey note in what is a completely dry wine. Add in fresh orange, yellow apple and Anjou pear, and its leesy weight, and you have an exotic creature, something more like dry Sauternes than Chardonnay. It's the very definition of terroir expression, though certainly not to every taste.

2005 Pellegrini Family Vineyards Cloverdale Ranch Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($28)
The Pellegrini family and winemaker Kevin Hamel keep showing off Alexander Valley's potential for refined, refreshing Cab and Merlot. Here, loamy, perfumed notes add complexity to ripe black cherry and cassis, with structure from fine, broad walnut-skin tannins that hint at more aging potential than the price might reveal.

2007 Lioco Sonoma County Chardonnay ($20) - We selected 20 terrific values under $40, all from wineries that produced some of our Top 100 selections. — Jon Bonné

Saturday, December 06, 2008

In "Better Homes and Gardens" this month...

Crios de Susana Balbo

Second label wines often have somewhat poetic names—Bordeaux’s Fleur de Fonplégade comes to mind, as does Crios by Susana Balbo.

Argentine winemaker Susana Balbo chose the word crios (which means offspring) to express the idea that these wines are not quite as “grown up” as her first label wines. While Crios wines may not exhibit the same level of maturity as Balbo’s more renown (and expensive) Signature wines, Balbo assures wine-lovers that Crios wines have received the same loving care and attention throughout the winemaking process.

Bottles to look for include:

  • Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes ($15) A fascinating wine—floral, feminine, and a bit racy, it’s a like a cross between Sauvignon Blanc and Viognier. It’s made from the Torrontes grape, the most widely planted white wine grape in Argentina.
  • Crios de Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon ($15): Tastes like an expensive Cab—but at a moderate price. Find classic Cab flavors of black currant and cedar in a rich, ripe package.
  • Crios de Susan Balbo Malbec ($18): Ruby-garnet in color, this is a classic Argentine Malbec, exhibiting dark-red fruits, pronounced tannins, and toasty-oak. Like many Malbecs, it’s dry—a good companion for a juicy steak or burger.

This just in...

Please visit the home page of www.texacaliwine.com to watch a quick video narrated by Laura Catena about Mendoza, the Rossa Family and the beautiful wines of LUCA. Cheers - Ali

Monday, December 01, 2008

Winemaker Dinner in Austin

First Thursday's Winemaker Dinner Series at Starlite - Featuring Davis Family Vineyards

Call your sitter, tell your wine-loving friends, invite your best client, round up a "girls night out" or just show up hungry!

This Thursday night: 6:30-9:30pm at Starlite (www.starliteaustin.net) 407 Colorado St. Guy Davis is flying in to host this amazing night of incredible wine and food.

Chef Josh is pairing 5 courses along with Guy's Award Winning New Zealand Sauvignon Blanc, Russian River Chardonnay, Russian River Pinot Noir, Guyzer Block Syrah, Old Vine Zinfandel and Napa Valley Cabernet.
All new releases.

RSVP - This dinner will be held in the private dining room so seated is limited. $75 a person plus tax and tip.

mail dsaukam@gmail.com (Deana is the events mgr.) to save your seat. Hope to see you there! Cheers - Ali

Friday, November 21, 2008

Copy and Print...

Quick Thanksgiving Holiday Wine Shopping list

Under $20 – Save a few bucks on each bottle, but load up on a case or two for your parties.

  • Lange Estate Pinot Gris Oregon
  • Las Rocas GrenacheSpain
  • La Posta Malbec Mendoza, Argentina
  • Pellegrini Family Blend (Zin, Merlot and Carignan) Sonoma California
  • Teira Zinfandel – Dry Creek, Sonoma California
  • Chateau Pesquie Les Terrasses – Southern Rhone, France
  • Handley Cellars Gewürztraminer Anderson Valley,California
  • Lioco Un-oaked Chardonnay Sonoma County, California

Between $20 & $30 – these bottles offer a little more complexity and are smaller production wines.

  • Handley Cellars Pinot NoirAnderson Valley,California
  • Luca ChardonnayMendoza, Argentina
  • Fort Ross SymposiumSonoma Coast, California
  • Storrs Christie Vineyard ChardonnaySanta Cruz, California
  • Gramona Gran Cuvee – Sparkling Cava from Spain
  • Lange Estate Willamette Valley Pinot Noir - Oregon
  • Olivet Lane Russian River ChardonnaySonoma, California
  • Medlock Ames Red BlendAlexander Valley, California
  • Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon Alexander Valley, California

Over $30 wines for Collectors and "I'm Drinkin’ the Good Stuff Now" folks!

  • Davis Family Vineyards Syrah – Blockbuster syrah from Guy’s vineyards in the Russian River.
  • Lewelling Napa Cabernet – the new vintage is now on shelves, well on a few...
  • Domaine De Montille – (any bottle you can get your hands on) Burgundy France
  • Susana Balbo Cabernet Sauvignon – blind any of your “old-world” wine friends and they will be pleasantly surprised at this high quality Cabernet from Argentina.
  • Pellegrini Milestone – Cab, Merlot, Petite Verdot, Malbec and Cab Franc 75th Anniversary Blend.
  • Fort Ross Reserve Chardonnay – the most complex and rich Chardonnay among all TexaCali Wines.
  • Lange Freedom Hill Pinot Noir – a phenomenal Pinot for all the tough guys out there.
  • LIOCO – Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir – a top California vineyard, known for its elegant fruit.
  • Jo Pithon AnjouLoire, France – a cult winemaker’s groovy little white wine to bring out for your most discerning guests.
Gobble Gobble - Ali

Tuesday, November 18, 2008


Special Greetings from Luca and Laura Catena today in San Francisco to their Texas distributor "Pioneer Wine Company". Pioneer's sales force set a new Luca sales record in the state of Texas in 2008!

Monday, November 17, 2008

Wine Spectator Top 100

93 points $35 retail price
Ask for Luca at your favorite fine wine shop in Texas!

Sunday, November 16, 2008

Save the Date...

and save some room after stuffing yourself with Turkey. This night of food and wine will be a dazzler!

Click picture to enlarge for details.


Saturday, November 15, 2008

Rewind: Last July in Sonoma and Dry Creek

Sitting in sunny San Francisco this morning talking shop with my dear friend Mulan Chan about the future of marketing wine...So here's the quickest and "best of" FLIP Videos from our adventures in Sonoma last summer.

www.teirawines.com Skeet Shooting with founder of Teira over the Dry Creek Zinfandel and Merlot Vineyards

A dip in the Pacific about 10 miles South of Fort Ross Vineyards...

More next week, I'm about to sit in a conference room with fellow Vine Connections sales and marketing folks for a few days...ah, the highlight will be hearing from Laura Catena and tasting her lastest offerings from LUCA! Cheers - Ali

Friday, November 14, 2008


I spent an entire week with Etienne de Montille in Texas and his new 2006 release. I adored our time together, learning about Etienne’s philosophy in the vineyards and winery. He has a profound sense of “greatness’ – I couldn’t soak it up quick enough.

The Montille labels are fairly new to the shelves and wine lists in Texas – even the Chateau Puligny Montrachet label. Time to elevate the education a bit and make sure if you are buying burgundy pinot noir and chardonnays that you are seeking out Etienne’s bottles. The wines are hand-crafted, made by a family and are limited in production.

Here’s a little background I dug up that sums up our conversations with Etienne last week…

Etienne is one of Burgundy's great purest, his long-lived wines may need time but they are some of the most honest and terroir-driven wines in Burgundy. The wines are fermented using partial whole vinification, élévage is long in slow in their cold cellars and percentages of new oak are low.

Now modern day filmstars, Etienne de Montille and his family need little introduction! Having starred in the remarkably entertaining docu-drama ‘Mondovino’ that came out three years ago (championing the small, terroir loving producer) Etienne, his sister, Alex, and their legendary father, Hubert, confirmed their position in Burgundy as one of the most important family domaines. Based in Volnay, Etienne, has recently overseen some ambitious developments at the domaine.

Having bought some vineyards in Corton Charlemagne in 2005, he then joined forces with the Seysses family at Domaine Dujac and acquired several hectares of vines both in the Cote de Beaune and, more interestingly for Etienne, in the Cote de Nuits, including a wonderful plot of Vosne Romanee Malconsorts.

Virtually doubling the size of the domaine overnight has ensured that the already busy Etienne (he is regisseur at the resurgent Chateau de Puligny Montrachet) has even less time on his hands now. However, his sister, Alex, works ever closer alongside him (they also have a negotiant label together called Deux Montille) and together they are really upping the ante at the domaine.

Prior to 1997 the wines of de Montille were known for their austerity, an austerity that in great years and given enough time, would blossom into beautifully graceful Burgundies of great class and poise. Etienne was keen to maintain their purity and typicity but he was also anxious to get the wines to express a little more fruit in their youth. This he appears to have done over the past ten years and in the great years of 1999, 2002 and 2005 the wines have been stunning. 2000 and 2001 were much more difficult in the Cote de Beaune than the Cote de Nuits because of pre harvest storms but the 2003s could turn out to be crackers (the elegance of the house combined with the richness of the vintage might just be a winning combination) and the 2004s will make lovely mid-tern drinking.

So all in all Etienne agrees that the future looks very rosy for the domaine and is delighted to be able to offer a few of the 2005s Texas has left and suggest you look out for the 2006s landing in your favorite retail shop and wine list by December 1! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, November 06, 2008

Recently Reviewed...

A quick post from Vine Connections this morning... September press seemed to be all about the Wine Spectator and October proved to be no different. And as they did in September, VC wines continued to shine! Check it out.

Wine Spectator.JPG


93 pts, 2006 Mendel Unus
91 pts, 2006 Mendel Malbec

91 pts, 2006 Luca Laborde Double Select Syrah

90 pts, 2007 Susana Balbo Malbec

90 pts, 2006 mapema Malbec

90 pts,
2007 La Posta Malbec, Paulucci Vineyard
89 pts, 2007 La Posta Cocina Blend


91 pts, 2007 BenMarco Malbec -Est. Release: Spring 2009
90 pts, 2006 Susana Balbo Brioso - Est. Release: Spring 2009
91 pts, 2007 La Posta Malbec, Pizzella Vineyard - Est. Release: Jan 2009
89 pts, 2007 La Posta Bonarda, Armando Vineyard - Est. Release:
Jan 2009

(Some of the scores were available online prior to the November 15 issue date.)

Click on any wine above for additional review and product information or visit www.vineconnections.com. If you are in the Texas wine trade - shelftalkers for the wines are also available and in a new easier-to-cut format.

Tuesday, November 04, 2008


I know, I know, I've fallen behind on posting over the past week. I'll catch up with you all over the weekend. Typing this from a rest-stop on I-35 just North of Austin this afternoon! Hope you are drinking American wine tonight in celebration of this exciting election! I've got plenty to chose from www.texacaliwine.com - Cheers - Ali

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Texas Coast...

Posting from the Harlingen airport this morning, after a big night in South Padre "Wine by the Sea" event. Great crowd in attendance to support Planned Parenthood. Many thanks to Ben's Liquors who orchestrated a very successful event. Folks were incredibly curious, enthusiastic and fun to talk with at the event.

A big thanks to Chad (Pio
neer Wine Co.) and Dale (Avante Beverages) for their hard work and efforts in South Texas! These guys log even more miles than I do each month to make sure the wines of TexaCali Wine Co. are on the shelves from El Paso to the South Tip of Texas.

The stars of the show : Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet from Alexander Valley, Fort Ross Sonoma Coast Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, Storrs "Christie Vineyard" Santa Cruz Mtns. Chardonnay, Teira Zinfandel out of Dry Creek, Argentina's La Posta Pizzella Malbec, Crios Cabernet and Malbec and last but not least - folks were totally gushing over Olivet Lane Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from the Russian River estate of Pellegrini Family Vineyards. A very tasty night (at least at our tables) of superior wine!

Off to a big week ahead with Lange Estate from Oregon's Dundee Hills visiting Austin and Dallas...Avante Beverages just received their new Willamette Valley Pinot Noir release - oh yeah! - Ali (pictured: jumped out the car on the way to the airport with Chad this morning - a few shots of the S. Padre Island Coast)

Friday, October 24, 2008

TGIF - Sorta

"Oh no, I don't drink white wine", said to me by a women that could easily win the "biggest hair in Texas award" a few days ago. Jeesh. Just when I think barriers have been broken, corners have been turned, minds have expanded and everyone at a wine event "gets it". I am proved wrong. This woman said this to me with a disgusting expression while shaking her head...like I just accused her of buying her jewelry at Kmart. I began telling her that she's missing out, but then just shoved a full bodied, American oaked, Napa Valley Cabernet in her hand and let her be.

There's this column in my life called "the S*&# I have to do to sell a bottle of wine"...she is now listed - maybe close to the very top. I don't have time today to write a 59 page dissertation defending white wine - wish I did, her statement is so offensive to me and to true wine connoisseurs across the universe. But I will walk from this one...
Today is jam packed and will be for the next 3 weeks straight, the temperature outside is a cool 43 degrees which I am thankful for finally! I'm closing on my first home today and moving everything in within hours then off to Wines by the Sea event in South Texas tomorrow night. Surely the
"people down by the Sea" like to drink white wine. : )

In the meantime check out these two bottles you should stock up on this weekend - great values and excellent wine. Please ask your favorite wine shop anywhere in Texas for them - Cheers - Ali

2006 Handley Cellars
Anderson Valley Estate Vineyard $24

The fruit for this Chardonnay comes from Handley's Anderson Valley Estate Vineyard, which was organically certified in 2005. This wine exhibits many of the characteristics you have come to expect from Handley’s Estate Chardonnay: pear aromas and flavors predominate, enhanced by vanilla and a touch of lemon. Texture is an important component in the overall impression of this wine. Its complexity and pleasant acidity will complement rich buttery foods.
A few accolades...
90 POINTSWine & Spirits Magazine (October 2008),
HIGHLY RECOMMENDED, California Grapevine (August-September 2008), EXCEPTIONAL Dan Berger's Vintage Experience (September 11, 2008),FOUR STARS - HIGHLY RECOMMENDED Santa Rosa Press Democrat - Michele Anna Jordan (September 10, 2008)

In today's SF Chronicle:

2005 Las Rocas de San Alejandro Calatayud Garnacha ($11)

The hook: A gentle, Spanish red for that last warm-weather barbecue.

The details: We're always drawn to this well-balanced Garnacha (or Grenache), for its soft, smooth mouthfeel, good balance between acid and fruit, and low tannins. With rich strawberry on the nose and just a hint of spiciness, it's complex without being overbearing. We'd never guess that it has 14.5 percent alcohol content - it goes down easy with very little heat. Grilled meats, sausages or even chicken would pair well with it. This particular vintage doesn't need anything big and bold food-wise, but would stand up well to dishes with a little bit of spice.

Found at: Whole Foods (San Francisco) Oh and the Wine Advocate gave it 91pts!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

In Memory ...a Friend to All

I was stopped in my tracks this week. Anyone that knows me or at least follows this blog knows this doesn’t happen to TexaCali Ali. I learned about the death of Mike Friend and it took the wind out of my sails in one giant swoop. The last 24 hours I’ve gone over many memories of Mike…the first time we were introduced when I worked for a wine distributor in 2004, the luncheon where Mike and I sat side-by-side together while tasting pinot noir from Anderson Valley, the way he smiled each time I walked into his store or department. Every single memory of Mike Friend is pleasant, inspiring, humbling and just flat good. He was a dear friend and confidant to so many of us rookies in Dallas over the years.

After doing a search in my inbox last night, I found an email from Mike back in October 2005 “Ali, always a pleasure to see you in the Dallas market. In all my years in the wine business I’ve never encountered someone quite like you. Your tenacity, enthusiasm, sales-know how and over all spirit is a rarity (and a breath of fresh air). Keep up the good work – those family owned wineries need you more than ever. Look forward to tasting with you again soon, Mike”. And that’s the way he was.... to everyone, especially my young peers in the world of wine sales.

I always looked forward to seeing Mike, listening to his thoughts, opinions and of course always getting out of him what “new discovery” he might have encountered since the last time we spoke. I will miss Mike, it was a true honor to know him - he was a "wine-angel" to many in this business and most certainly earned his wings. A rarity indeed. - Ali

Read more about Mike and Celebrating his Life...

Monday, October 20, 2008

At Taste Select ...

Click to enlarge and read the post below for details!

Spainish wine dinner - Austin

If you haven’t heard about Wednesday night yet – here is the scoop…I have not seen this caliber of a wine-dinner in Austin in a while folks, drop your plans and sink your taste buds into Spain for a night.
Taste Select
is hosting a very special Spanish wine-dinner featuring the award-winning wines of Solomon Selections. The menu is absolutely
divine! Erika Elliott is leading the dinner and is full of in-depth information about these beautiful wine producers from Spain. Details below:

1st Course:

Steamed Mussels with chorizo & lemon aioli

Wine: Conreria d'Scala Dei 'Les Brugeres' 2007

2nd Course:

Lamb's Tongue with mint aioli

Wine: San Alejandro Las Rocas "Vielles Vignes" Garnacha 2006

3rd Course:

Roast Pork Loin & Braised Pork Cheek with tomato saffron - risotto & wilted spinach

Wine: Bodegas Tomas Cusine El Vilosell 2005

4th Course:

Apple turnovers with marcona almonds & olive oil ice cream

Wine: Gramona Gran Cuvee 2005

After dinner bonus wine: Artadi 'Pagos Viejos' 2005

7-9pm, $75per person + tax and gratuity

202 W Cesar Chavez St
Austin, TX 78707

(512) 478-2783
- please call to reserve your seats


Cheers - Ali

some things never change

Vintage TexaCali Ali

January 2006...it came up in conversation over the weekend so here it is folks... "Breathtaking Beauty & Grace"

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Chilled out at Roys...

Make a Wish - A night of fundraising and Tozai Living Jewel at Roy's Hawaiian. Vine Connections - who imports premium Japanese Sake and Argentine Wines had the honor of sponsoring the Sake ice bar at Roy's annual Make a Wish night in Austin.

I can't decide who enjoyed the sake more...the guests or the chefs and Roy Yamaguchi himself! I'll have the tally in soon on how much was raised last night.

Here's a little background... In 1984, he opened his own restaurant in Los Angeles called 385 North. However, the desire to further expand his culinary horizons while getting closer to his roots led Yamaguchi to move to Hawaii in 1988 and open Roy's. Soon after the original Roy's opened in Honolulu, Food & Wine Magazine dubbed it the "crown jewel of Honolulu's East-West eateries," and it was named one of Conde Nast Traveler's "Top 50." Gourmet acknowledged Yamaguchi as "the father of modern East-West cooking" while the New York Times described him as "the Wolfgang Puck of the Pacific." Yamaguchi is now regarded as a pioneer who mastered a distinctive style, which brought his cooking to the forefront of contemporary gastronomy.

As testimony to his success, there are now 37 Roy's, including 28 in the Continental US, 7 in Hawaii, 1 in Japan and 1 in Guam.
Honored early in his career with the prestigious James Beard "B
est Pacific Northwest Chef" award, Yamaguchi has hosted six seasons of the PBS-TV show, Hawaii Cooks with Roy Yamaguchi seen on more than 300 stations in all 50 states, as well as in over 60 countries. Equally notable, he was a featured chef on the acclaimed TV Food Network program, My Country, My Kitchen which takes viewers back to his roots in Japan.

Yamaguchi has also published three cookbooks,
Roy's Fish and Seafood, Roy's Feasts from Hawaii and Hawaii Cooks: Flavors from Roy's Pacific Rim Kitchen.
Two locations in Texas:

Roy's - Plano
(972) 473-6263
2840 Dallas Pkwy
Roy's - Austin
(512) 391-1500
340 E. 2nd St
and the Tozai Living Jewel can be found at Whole Foods, The Austin Wine Merchant, The Whip Inn - just ask your favorite shop for a bottle! A 720ml is around $20 bucks...oh yeah! Cheers - Ali

Monday, October 13, 2008

Italian Wine, Duck and Rock and Roll...

Friday night - had a super delicious dinner at Starlite - and possibly one of the best bottles of Italian wine I've tried in years - 2004 Le Pergole Torte [100% Sangioveto] If you haven't been to Starlite lately, you have been missing out. The menu has changed - fancy foods and intimate seating upstairs while a bistro-style menu is offered in the main dining area. The crabcakes are unbelievable - $7 for two and I highly suggest ordering the duck - amazing!

After dinner we
saw The Walkmen at The Parish. By far - the very best small venue live show I've seen all year...they totally rocked the house. I saw them a few years back in San Fransisco at Slim's. This past Friday night they sounded soo GREAT! I even got a shout-out from the lead singer "who's that hell-fire woman out there?" Only those who have attended concerts with me or a basket-ball game can truly understand. What a show!

Saturday was filled with Texas-OU excitement around the house...a loss for my OU sweetheart did not lead to a festive day whatsoever. Cheers - Ali