Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Parker's Wine of the Day - today.

2006 Susana Balbo Malbec
A Malbec Dry Red Table wine from
Mendoza, Argentina
Wine Advocate #174
Jay Miller
Drink 2007 - 2020 $25-$31

This wine was bottled without fining or filtration. The 2006 Malbec (which contains 10% Cabernet Sauvignon) received the same oak regimen as the Cabernet. It is dark ruby-colored with a lovely nose of cedar, smoke, cassis, and black cherry. Medium-bodied with an elegant personality, it has layers of ripe fruit, nicely concealed tannins, and a pure finish. It will continue to develop with a few more years in the bottle and provide pleasure through 2020. The pioneering Susana Balbo was the first female graduate of Mendoza’s top school of Enology in 1981. Importer: Vine Connections, Sausalito, CA; tel. (415) 332-VINO

Distributed in Texas by www.pioneerwine.com

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Time Flies

This year is pretty wild so far, one hellavu busy one; many epic wine meetings, superstar winemaker dinners, conversations about the world economy of wine, laughing until I cry over the silliest thing while unwinding after a successful wine event, first time sips and introductions, screaming arguments about getting things done correctly - you name it, wild.

2008 is going down in the TexaCali Wine Co. record books for sure merely because for the first time since starting my company all of my producers have "partners" throughout this big-ass state of Texas to support their family businesses. It's taken 3 years of building trust for the sake of a really good - I mean really good bottle of wine reaching a dinner table somewhere in Texas on a nightly basis.
The first 6 months of 2008 have flown, and I'm looking forward to the next 6 months of just selling wine with all the tremendous retail, restaurant and distribution partners of TexaCali Wine Co. I'm blessed to be supported by hundreds of great people these days.

It's an
exciting time, the only thing I am shaking my head at is the price of gas. At $4 a gallon, Austin, Texas will be seeing a lot more of
TexaCali Ali than the other Texas regions. It's serious, my dog-walker just added a $2 surcharge! I finally bought a bike in honor of the TexaCali 3rd year anniversary this month. I soo look forward to spending a few hours a week peddling along side my guy and his new bike instead of talking from behind the wheel while guzzling gas down a Texas highway. Check it out!

Most popular wine this year in the TexaCali Wine Co. portfolio:
Crios Malbec! Most overlooked: Le Claire Gaspard Champagne! Off to see my first Red Rocks show this week in Colorado - a full report next weekend! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

On May 16, we lost one of the most important leaders in the world of wine, Robert Mondavi. Robert Mondavi paved the way and created opportunities for thousands of folks over the years who followed their own passion in the wine industry. So many tributes online this week - I think his own words say it all...

“Wine to me is passion. It's family and friends. It's warmth of heart and generosity of spirit. Wine is art. It's culture. It's the essence of civilization and the Art of Living…When I pour a glass of truly fine wine, when I hold it up to the light and admire its color, when I raise it to my nose and savor its bouquet and essence, I know that wine is, above all else, a blessing, a gift of nature, a joy as pure and elemental as the soil and vines and sunshine from which it springs.” Robert Mondavi, “Harvests of Joy”

(photo copyright: Thom McDermott Photography)

Monday, May 19, 2008

While we are working the Texas market this week...

Check out Davis Family Vineyards owner & winemaker Guy Davis while he takes you through one year in the life of a winery's vines.

Click Here For "It's A Vine Life"

Cheers! Ali

Monday, May 12, 2008

Wilco at Stubbs

What a way to end the week...last night rocked with Jeff Tweedy in the house. After a week of high humidity and Texas travel - watching Wilco live in Austin was just about perfect. Here are a few pics from the show - they are playing again tonight - score tickets if you can.

I must get sake2me into the Stubbs outdoor bars for sure. Cheers - Ali

Sunday, May 11, 2008

A Report from the Gang of Pour

Austin hosted this same Seminar - give or take a few different wines on May 5 - enjoy the recap from the 2008 HdR!- Ali

Conquistadores: The Reign in Spain

Eric Solomon Imports

Jurgen Wagner, Eric Solomon, Philippe Cambie, Adolfo Munoz,Javier Munoz, Daniel Castano
From left: Jurgen Wagner, Eric Solomon, Philippe Cambie, Adolfo Munoz,
Javier Munoz, Daniel Castano.
Photo © Mel Hill Photo

The first seminar was a collection of wines imported by HdR’s 2008 Person of the Year, Eric Solomon. Eric has elevated his company, European Cellars, to be one of the top importers of Spanish wines from virtually every region of that remarkably diverse country. To present what turned out to be a very good selection of the wines he imports, he brought with him some of the top winemakers in Spain: Jurgen Wagner of Cellar Capçanes, Daniel Castaño of Bodegas Castaño and Bodegas Salinas, Javier Muñoz of Bodegas Cigarral Pago del Ama (accompanied by his highly-acclaimed father, chef Adolfo Muñoz of Restaurant Adolfo in Toledo), and Frenchman Philippe Cambie of Bodegas Mas Alta, and also the consulting winemaker for many of the top wines in Chateauneuf du Pape, including Pegau and Vieux Donjon.

Each of the winemakers has some interesting things to say about their wines, and each believes passionately in their respective appellations. My favorite story came from Jurgen Wagner, who explained how the region of Montsant was essentially kept from dying out when a group of rabbi’s from Barcelona come to the local cooperative and asked them to create a Kosher wine for the Jewish community in Barcelona. The deeply conservative (and Catholic) winemakers of the region agreed, and the resulting wine provided the fame and financial security to encourage growers in the region to expand and improve quality, launching a revival of the Montsant appellation. Fascinating stuff.

The wines:

Reign in Spain
Photo © Mel Hill Photo

2006 Celler Mas Gil, Clos d’Agon White, Emporda Made by Peter Sissek of Pingus fame. 45% Viognier, 40% Roussanne, 15% Marsanne. Stony, lemony nose with real minerality, a combination of Chablis and Muscadet. There is surprising richness on the palate to round out the intense minerality. A bit of pit fruits, citrus, flint, and straw all in a beautifully balanced wine with great cut. Nothing like a white Rhone blend from France, but a fascinating take on the varietals, if atypical. Excellent. Find this wine

2005 Celler de Capçanes, Cabrida, Montsant From chalky soils in four different terroirs, 100% Garnacha, 85-105 year old vines. Meaty fruit with plums, black figs and a hint of earthiness. The palate is rich with black fruits and earth, rather tannic and ripe, but with excellent structure from firm acidity. The overall impression is a bit brooding and heavy, but the wine is actually very well balanced. A couple of years of aging should bring significant improvement, but the wine is pretty good now. Find this wine

2005 Celler de Capçanes, Cabrida Calissa, Montsant As contrast to the regular Cabrida, this is primarily from limestone-based soils, and is much smaller in production (1000 bottles vs. 4500 for the Cabrida). Brighter fruit with some new oak, truffle, complex herbs and forest notes. A bigger, richer wine, still quite tannic, but more complex and less heavy feeling than the Cabrida. Some pit fruits and dark berries with less earthiness. Very intensely flavored with great acid/fruit balance and depth. This is delicious now but should age effortlessly for quite a while based on its impeccable balance and depth. Find this wine

2005 Vinedos Cigarral Santa Maria, Pago del Ama Syrah, Toledo 100% Syrah from a small vineyard in Toledo, and due to small production, virtually unobtainable outside the famous restaurant owned by the winemaker’s father, Adolfo Muñoz. The nose is all bacon fat, ripe apricot and bloody meat. Medium bodied and not a blockbuster in terms of texture, the wine has a light, elegant feel despite the intensity of its flavors. Smooth tannins, meaty fruit with lots of spice and great length. There is richness here but in a suave, elegant package. Could pass for an excellent northern Rhone wine. Find this wine

2005 Sierra Salinas, Mira, Alicante 65% Monastrell (Mourvedre), 25% Cabernet Sauvignon, 10% Garnacha Tintorera (Alicante Bouschet). Rather closed nose with dark fruits, but not showing much. Rich, smooth and creamy fruit on the palate, the wine shows it spent 20 months in French oak. Black cherry dominates the fruit and smooth tannins are supported by firm acidity, yet the wine seems rather heavy and brooding at this time, and rather one-dimensional. Maybe time will help? Good, not outstanding. Find this wine

2005 Bodegas Castaño, Casa Cisca, Yecla 100% Monastrell from 55-75 year old vines, aged for 14 months in American oak. Yecla has a higher elevation than Alicante, and it shows in the brighter feel and crisper acids. The fruits are at the red end of the spectrum, and the creamy vanilla American oak flavor is apparent, although not dominant. Some wood tannins come out in the finish, suggesting the wine needs some time for the oak to integrate. The American oak gives this wine a more international character, and overall it was probably my least favorite of the tasting, although still nice on its own. Find this wine

2005 Bodegas Mas Alta, La Basseta, Priorat 50% Carinena, 40% Garnacha, 5% Merlot, 5% Syrah. Deep black fruit and licorice. Very intense flavors of meat, earth, black fruits and licorice with strong acidity and tannins. This has 50% new oak, giving a creamy texture that balances the tannins. A big wine with a lot of stuffing, if not much complexity at this point. Seems balanced for aging. Find this wine

2005 Bodegas Mas Alta, La Creu Alta, Priorat 60% Carinena, 40% Garnacha. This wine seems much more complex than the La Basseta, with brighter fruit and savory herbs. Fresher, with even better balance and surprising elegance, smooth tannins, a touch of citrus gives lift to the aromatics and an overall brighter feel. Much less rustic than most Priorats of my experience. Excellent. Find this wine

Saturday, May 10, 2008

Today in Austin - at the Austin Wine Merchant

2-5pm Meet Matt Licklider of LIOCO!

I've had the pleasure of working with Matt and tasting the beautiful stainless steal chardonnays, Indica and single vineyard Pinot Noirs of LIOCO.
We are currently in Dallas after a couple days of working the market up here...and a night of amazing sushi at Kenichi and shakin' it at the Ghost Bar. Somehow over the past 5 months - which have been completly jam packed - I've managed to squeeze in plenty of dancing! Love that! See you later today - Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Cinco de Mayo TexaCali Style...

Yesterday was so huge! We blew it out with a packed-house in Austin for our Eric Solomon Spanish Seminar at beautiful Starlite! The producers were quite impressed with the wine list and the Spanish Table of food prepared by Chef Josh. Thanks to everyone who attended - literally standing room only among a handful of the TOP Spanish wine producers. May 5th was celebrated among new and old friends from all over the world right here in one of the best cities on the planet.

We dined at Fonda San Miguel over mole, tacos and ceviche - thanks to Danny and our wonderful servers for accommodating 20 folks and 2 cases of vino!

Check this out - world renown Chef Adolfo Munoz Martin and winemaker of Pago del Ama joined local Austin favorite Neal Kassan
off for a little late night jamming at my place in South Austin - yes that is Adolfo using a drum stick on an Austin Pizza box! Along with Adolfo (while he lit up cigar after cigar) Eric Solomon sat in on the drums...I only wish that my camera battery was charged, I had to snap these pictures from my phone. Sigh.

"La Cocina de Sancho Panza" and a beautiful jar of Spanish Saffron were gifted by Adolfo - can't wait to create one of his recipes to pair with his incredible wine!

A great way to also celebrate the 3rd Anniversary of TexaCali Wine Co. Oh yeah!! This certainly goes down in history as one of the nights that will always be remembered - a great benefit of being in the wine business most certainly. Off to Houston and back today with everyone - hope to see a few of you at Catalan for the Solomon Tasting. Cheers - Ali

Sunday, May 04, 2008

IT'S HERE - All 92 luscious Parker points of it!!

2006 Tikal Patriota

60% Bonarda / 40% MalbecRight-click here to download pictures. To help protect your privacy, Outlook prevented automatic download of this picture from the Internet.

Back in December, Jay Miller of Robert Parker's " The Wine Advocate," gave it 92 POINTS, BUT the wine wasn't yet scheduled for release. SO NOW we are tickled as Malbec grapes that this amazing wine is in stock and shipping!

Ernesto Catena, owner of Tikal Winery, pursues everything pleasurable in life. This hedonism (in the very best sense of the word) shows through in his wines. Ernesto strives to produce wines that are obvious in their power, yet reveal much more to the attentive palate. (They are also known to drink very well late into the evening---and sometimes until dawn!)

Suggested Retail Price: $25

Saturday, May 03, 2008

This Monday and Tuesday - Wine Trade Only

conquistadores!the Reign in Spain!

Please do whatever it takes to attend the Eric Solomon events in Austin and Houston this week. All details here...