Thursday, February 26, 2009

From Eric Solomon today..

The Wine Advocate # - The Top 100 Wine Values from Spain | Under $25 and 90+ points

Can you imagine the thousands of wines Dr. Miller tasted for this report (he sat with “at least 40 importers and received samples from at least that many more”) – to narrow down to the Top 100 – wow what a task. Kudos to the Advocate for this incredibly appropriate report given the economic climate – we have been committed from the start, even in the heyday, to bring wines that outperform for their price – this report is an excellent testament to that point.
Just a few of our thoughts:

1. We are ecstatic that every single one of our wines included received a score of 90 or better.
2. Over 50% of the wines were represented by 4 importers. Of those four, Eric Solomon Selections had the most wines included – a total of 16.
3. The LEAST expensive wine in the report – Alto Almanzora Este – you may want to heed Miller’s advice...

2007 Bodegas Alto Almanzora Este | Almeria 90 points “totally over-delivers – buy it by the palette load.”
2007 Celler Cal Pla Black Slate | Priorat 91 points “outstanding depth and concentration and several years of aging potential”
2006 Celler de Capcanes Costers del Gravat | Montsant 90 points “intense and loaded with vibrant red fruits…well balanced, full flavored”
2007 Celler de Capcanes Mas Donis Barrica Montsant 90 points “remarkable depth and concentration for its humble price.”
2006 Bodegas Castano Solanera | Yecla 90 points “elegant, intense, smooth textured…excellent balance”
2006 Casa Castillo Las Gravas | Jumilla 90 points “opulent, dense wine with complex flavors, smooth texture”
2007 Casa Castillo Valtosca | Jumilla 91 points “voluptuous personality, layers of succulent fruit, superb depth and concentration”
2007 Cuatro Pasos | Bierzo 90 points “flavorful, pleasure bent effort.”
2008 Egia Enea Txakolina | Txakoli de Biskaja 90 points “bracing and racy”
2007 Celler de l’Encastell Marge | Priorat 90 points “dense, rich, structured Priorat with aging potential”
2007 Mas Que Vinos Ercavio Roble | La Mancha 90+ points “totally over delivers for its humble price”
2007 Pena das Donas Almalarga | Ribera Sacra 90 points “elegant, ripe concentrated with outstanding balance and length”
2007 Sanclodio | Ribiero 91 points “this elegant effort is impeccably balanced and long”

These blew me away...

The past 2 months have been the busiest first 2 months of the year I've experienced (and lived through) in my entire life. No kidding around. With all this talk about saving your pennies I'm certainly glad the citizens of Texas are making it past this crazy economic time by sipping on great bottles of wine.

Here are a few eye-opening, head nodding and lip-licking wines I've tried over the past few weeks...all worth a trip to your favorite wine shop before the weekend. Copy, Paste and Print! Google and read up - I don't have time to type up my notes, but trust me I doodled a big STAR beside each while out in the market with them - which means I need to make a personal purchase as well!
  • Mendel Malbec, $25, Argentina
  • Handley Cellars Syrah, $19, Anderson Valley California
  • LIOCO Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir, $62, Sonoma Coast California
  • Storrs Lion Oaks Zinfandel,$40, Santa Cruz Mountains California
  • Pellegrini "Olivet Lane" Pinot Noir, $38, Russian River California
  • Davis Family Vineyards Old -Vine Zinfandel, $32, Russian River California
  • Lange Estate Pinot Gris, $16, Willamette Vally Oregon
  • Medlock Ames Cabernet Sauvignon, $55, Bell Mountain (Alexander Valley) California
  • Domaine Stirn Gewurztraminer, $30, Alsace
  • Domaine Vrignaud "Blanchot" Grand Cru Chablis, $110, Burgundy
  • Espelt "Saulo" Red $11, Spain
  • Lewelling Wight Vineyards Cabernet, $95, St.Helena Napa Valley California
Just ask your favorite wine retailer about them and certainly keep your eye out for them at your favorite restaurants around Texas. Cheers - Ali

Sunday, February 22, 2009


My apologies to the contestants...a few indescribable life events interfered with staying on deadline for me. So here they are - please go vote! The winners will be announced on March 5. If there is a tie, then another round of voting will be announced on March 4. Bring on the votes... - Ali

UPDATE: A vote will only be counted if the entire form is filled out and submitted. Multiple submissions with the same name with different email addresses such as,, will only count as one vote. This contest is being monitored closely and all votes will be verified.

Friday, February 20, 2009


Hi everyone, what a busy week up in Dallas and Fort Worth. The past few days have been loaded with TexaCali Wine Co. producer events and tastings - and I'm without a voice! Lost it last Monday and it's been trying to squeak out ever since. Jeesh.

A few things to point out to you all...
Yucatan Taco Stand - OK all you Dallas peeps, here's a real reason to make a full day of visiting Fort Worth - head to the Fort Worth Modern or the amazing Fort Worth Zoo for the afternoon and make sure to stop into the Yucatan Taco Stand for lunch or a hearty dinner. They are located just a few blocks S. of downtown Fort Worth in the hospital district. Check out the Lamb Stew I had for lunch yesterday - delicious!! The wine list is so fun, Crios, Mapema, Crios, Budini from Argentina and Con Class and Espelt wines from Spain. I'm jealous of all the Fort Worthians who live close and can frequent this place, a real restaurant homerun!

E FOR CRIOS! Argentina is soo hot right now...Great mention of Torrontes in the Wine column of Today's online magazine.

From Argentina, I discovered an excellent example of torrontes, the country’s most widely planted white grape that’s getting more (and well-deserved) attention here these days. This one is the 2008 Crios de Susana Balbo Torrontes, made from grapes from Cafayate in the northern province of Salta, where some of the best-quality grapes are grown. This delicious, intensely floral $15 wine is balanced by a core of pear and citrus, especially lemon and grapefruit, and a touch of vanilla that combine to fill the mouth with flavor. It’s also made without oak and, as the label aptly puts it, combines the floral qualities of viognier with the dry crispness of sauvignon blanc. It’s another wine for lighter foods.

And Crios Malbec is recommended in the WSJ by Howard Silverman of Howard's Wine Cellar in Chicago. There is also a video clip to accompany the story. WINE RECOMMENDATIONS:

Off to Fort Worth, Austin, Houston, Harlingen, McAllen, Houston then back to Austin over the next few days - wheewwwwww - just hope I get over this laryngitis! Cheers- Ali

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Crios Malbec in the New York Times Today

Ahh, of course, another great Argentine wine by Susana Balbo, look for it in Texas for around $15 at your favorite wine shop! - Ali

NEW YORK REGION / THE CITY | February 15, 2009
Wine Under $20: A Match With Steak

Malbec is Argentina's signature red wine. The 2007 Crios de Susana Balbo version from Dominio del Plata, an estate below the snowy Andes in Mendoza, is a hearty example.

Also goes well with this!

Wednesday, February 11, 2009

February is for Healthy Hearts

February - "National Women's Heart Health Month" oh and that little day of love on the straight from the Cardiac Surgeon who stood over my Mom this past Christmas Day "start sipping on a little red wine each day, it will help you". My Mom's 61, been healthy her whole life - but whamoo - she had a heart attack because her main artery was 99% blocked. Studies show reducing stress, sleeping more, eating healthy, exercise, a bite of dark chocolate and some red wine will indeed keep your heart healthy!

As for keeping your heart in LOVE...take your sweetheart out to dinner to your favorite local restaurant and order a nice bottle of wine. If you rather stay in and create a nice meal on your own I suggest picking up the following bottles that will add some magic t
o your night. Party for one or 2 - these bottle are all about the LOVE!

Capcanes Mas Donis from Spain $14

LIOCO Hirsch Vineyard Pinot Noir from California $62

Handley Cellars Estate Chardonnay from California $24

Susana Balbo Brioso from Argentina $40

Pellegrini Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet from California $28

Davis Family Vineyards Zinfandel $32

Cheers - Ali

Sunday, February 08, 2009

In the New York Times today...

"36 Hours in Dallas"

People ask me all the time how I like living in Austin, there's this really big eyebrow raising facial expression that happens when this is asked. I admit, I usually say, "Oh I love it. Austin is so beautiful, but you know, I never thought I'd think this, but there are many reasons that make me miss living in Dallas very much." Don't get me wrong, I'm glad my feet are firmly planted in the Capital of Texas, but when I'm in Dallas, I do feel an increased level of energy - maybe it's nostalgia maybe it's just the pure business drive that seeps into every minute I'm there...people in Dallas are out wheeling and dealing all of the time! Gone are the days of "JR and Bobby" - I see many more Cowboys in Houston these days.

Please take a few minutes to read the quite- spot-on NY Times article - it points out some of my very own reasons why Dallas always remains close to my Texas heart...from
The Belmont (my home away from Austin) to Dean Fearings place at the Ritz, all the Argentine wine offerings at La Duni and the article even mentions the premium "sake" list at the new Wolfgang Puck restaurant " Fifty-Six" towering over the Dallas Skyline. Just don't ask me about the "Rich Hippie Shop" - chances are extremely solid that you'll never see me there, Cheers - Ali

Pictured: Top Right: View from the Terrace at The Belmont. Bottom Left: The Gallery Dining room at Fearings - the very table I shared with "my love" over a wonderful dinner and even better bottle of Domaine Jo Pithon Savenierres!

Thursday, February 05, 2009

From the front lines this week...

Hey world, LIOCO is just bad-ass wine. Read a few enthusiastic responses I received from restaurant buyers and wine retailers all over Texas this week...

"The Hirsch Pinot Noir is a Sex Bomb", "LIOCO is revolutionary", "they are spot on - showing off the greatest regions in California", " I taste the rocks, wet flint and limstone - ROCK and ROLL with LIOCO", "First California Chardonnay I've liked in Years", "Give me all the Heintz Chardonnay in stock immediately", "Indica - a perfect glass pour for our list", "We'll sell hundreds of this damn good bottle of Chardonnay here". "I like them all, how do I pick a favorite from this level of quality found in each bottle?", "Are they making more next year - we want to support LIOCO year-round". "How in the hell did you get so much of the Hirsch Pinot Noir into Texas - promise me you won't tell any other accounts this week". "I love LIOCO, I do".

And then there's Friday to still tackle - looking forward to tasting a few new 2007 LIOCO releases with the fine folks in Austin, Texas! Seriously people, if you haven't bought LIOCO - demand it! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Pioneer Wine Company Visits

Argentina this week with Vine Connections. I believe Greg K. is standing in one of the Malbec vineyards that goes into Tikal wines...I certainly know what the cowboy has in his basket...fresh & HOT empanadas baked in a clay oven on the vineyard, possibly one of the best bites of food I've ever had in my life. Cheers to Malbec today! Ali

Sunday, February 01, 2009

Logo Contest Update

Thank you all for your logo submissions! Due to some last minute time constraints with our website host - all logo's will be posted on February 15 for you all to vote. Please check back for more details coming soon - and thank you for your patience! Cheers - Ali