Sunday, October 26, 2008
A big thanks to Chad (Pioneer 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
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
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
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
Monday, October 20, 2008
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
Steamed Mussels with chorizo & lemon aioli
Wine: Conreria d'Scala Dei 'Les Brugeres' 2007
Lamb's Tongue with mint aioli
Roast Pork Loin & Braised Pork Cheek with tomato saffron - risotto & wilted spinach
Wine: Bodegas Tomas Cusine El Vilosell 2005
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
(512) 478-2783 - please call to reserve your seats
Cheers - Ali
Wednesday, October 15, 2008
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 "Best 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
2840 Dallas Pkwy
Roy's - Austin
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
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
Dallas - the city apartment on Cedar Springs, the upstairs cottage in Highland Park, a small one-bedroom on Gaston Ave - all bringing back memories of food and wine of course. My Dallas days were full of grilling out just about everything and drinking wine from Italy, Napa and Sonoma. I stuck to the Big Names in the 90's while I began to learn more about the world of wine.
Moving to San Francisco certainly stepped things up in the wine department - the 3 bedroom attic apartment on Broadway (where the rent equaled a small ranch in Texas) was filled with wines from the South of France and Burgundy. Then onto the high-rise at the top of the Fillmore hill and Pacific Ave. - mostly wines from New Zealand, South America and the Rhone Valley (on a serious budget this year). Ahh then last but not least my years living in the Presidio where the house was filled with wines from K&L Wine Merchants - where I worked - Loire, Champagne, Germany, Bordeaux and my favorite California producers like Pellegrini, Storrs and Handley - many of which I represent today.
Life brought me back to Texas in 2004 and more rentals - though a hellava lot cheaper. More money to spend on wine-hurray! Wine tastings, winemaker dinners, and Ginjo Sake - the best new addition to my personal food and wine life no doubt. This past year, I've managed to rent a groovy yellow house a few blocks from Barton Springs where memories of Spanish wine and their makers creating music on the front lawn abound.
I'll be out of here before Halloween - the move sandwiched in between Fort Worths 65 Roses event and a week long visit by Etienne Montille. Off to my new home, just a few blocks away from my LAST RENTAL.
I imagine the first night in the new house christened by 96 Krug...oh yeah! A few shots of the new place...what is your favorite "house wine" these days? Cheers - Ali
Friday, October 10, 2008
Hi Everyone in Austin - this event is going to be a blast and for such a great Charity. I'll be there talking up the first "Tozai Sake Ice Bar" ever created! Oh yeah!
Check out one of the top-selling bottles in Texas.
Cheers - Ali
Tuesday, October 07, 2008
From the San Francisco Chronicle...A few grape varieties do particularly well in appellations within Sonoma County, such as Dry Creek Valley Zinfandel and Russian River Pinot Noir. Though it's somewhat overshadowed by neighboring Napa Valley, Sonoma County also does well with Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2007, the red variety was second only to Chardonnay's acreage and tons crushed. We tasted 75 wines from Sonoma County and its appellations, from several vintages: 2006, 2005, 2004 and a few 2003s. More than half were 2005s, from which our favorite three-star wines emerged.
Rating: THREE STARS 2005 Pellegrini Family Vineyards Cloverdale Ranch Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon ($28) Aged loam and soy sauce aromas add complexity and are lifted by bright, ripe berry-black cherry fruit. Sharp cassis, beautiful fruit complexity and fine-boned, tannic structure with walnut skin hints on the complex palate. Depth, refinement and great balance. Aged 19 months in a combination of French, Hungarian and American oak.
link to complete article
Monday, October 06, 2008
Saturday, October 04, 2008
The question I'm asked the most, contemplated, analyzed and had to discuss in great length "has the wine business slowed down for you?". Comparing this year, to last year and even the year before - my brands are hitting record sales numbers in Texas. Call it the "energy bubble" or just a decent cost of living here, but Texans still have plenty to celebrate and continue to do so - with a lot of wine.
However - I'm very lucky to have the lion-share of great value wines made by family winemakers from all corners of the world. A handful of so-called "collectors-wines" still go quickly. A few days ago Slate published "How has the financial crisis affected the wine world?
I'm just glad Wall St. is in NYC and not in Texas - though I'm mad as hell at the broker who just plunked down 100% cash on a house I finally found in Austin. Wonder if he drinks wine??? - Cheers - Ali
Friday, October 03, 2008
Sitios de Bodega Con Class 2007
The Con Class is a blend of 80% Verdejo, 10% Viura, 10% Sauvignon Blanc - such a delicious combination!
A little background: For six generations, the Sanz family has been making wines in Rueda. In 2005, Ricardo Sanz created started producing his wines under the new Sitios de Bodega label in Rueda. The project distinguishes his modern approach from that of his father, who still produces wines under different labels.
Rueda is located in northwestern Spain - just south of the River Duero and not far from the Portuguese border. Scorched bare by retreating Moors in the tenth century, the region lay fallow for generations. During this period, a wild grape, Verdejo, appeared throughout the district. As Rueda was resettled in the 11th century, the grape was gradually domesticated throughout the district.
In the 1970's, Marques de Riscal initiated a renaissance in Rueda winemaking. Riscal recognized that modern winemaking equipment could produce a fresh and delicious wine from Verdejo, a revelation, since the grape oxidizes very rapidly to produce sherry-like aromas. In addition, the estate introduced other varieties like Viura and Sauvignon Blanc that flourish in Rueda's chalky soils. The resulting wines were completely different from what Spain was used to drinking - totally unlike the heavy and /or oxidized whites the country had produced for generations. To capture the essence of this easily oxidized grape, Ricardo began night-harvesting, putting the delicate fruit into small plastic boxes. Immediately after destemming, the grapes are hit with inert gas (usually nitrogen) to protect them from oxidation. Skin contact is kept to a minimum and overseen carefully. The must settles at a very low temperature (14 degrees C), and the very clean must then ferments for 25 to 30 days, after which Ricardo will stir the fine lees periodically. Bottling takes place after a very light filtration.
I think this is Ricardo's best Con Class yet! Around $10 at Whole Foods in Texas. Cheers - Ali