Sunday, June 28, 2009

The Mile High City Break!

Posting from Denver, Colorado this afternoon. I'm here for a few days for a mid-year sales meeting for Vine Connections. Last year about this time I flew into Denver to see Death Cab for Cutie and Rogue Wave at the famous Red Rocks Amphitheater - what a wild venue and amazing time. This visit will be much different, although just as exciting. The Vine Connections portfolio has set Texas wine and ginjo sake sales on FIRE over the years and I just can't help wanting to learn more from this group. We are assembled from all corners of the country, California, Wyoming, Florida and New York to name a few.

So here's the latest BIG NEWS from Vine Connections...ANORO (pronou
nced Ahn-your-o) the long awaited wines of Master Sommelier Ken Fredrickson are now ready to roll into our big State! He teased us a bit last year and sent a few for the Charlie Palmer's account in Dallas, but now we have full steam ahead and plenty of product to show you all. More details later this week - I can't wait to get my hands on the Anoro Chardonnay - just in time in Texas! Cheers! Ali

Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Dog Days of Summer...Already??

What are you doing to beat the heat? I'm talking TRIPLE DIGIT TEMPERATURE DAYS around Texas - so soon this summer!!! No fun, unless you have a bottle or two open of the following cool producers - just ask your favorite wine shop...copy, paste and print this list to go!

Lange Estate 'Willamette Valley" Pinot Gris $16

Handley Cellars "Dry Creek" Sauvignon Blanc $16

Crios Torrontes - Argentina $14

Pellegrini "Olivet Lane" Russian River Chardonnay $24

Davis Family Vineyards "Gusto" Sauvignon Blanc - New Zealand $18

Dom. L'Hortus Rose - Southern France - $15

Teira Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc $14

San Clodio - Spanish Blanco Blend $20

Lioco Sonoma County "Unoaked" Chardonnay $20


So I've had a homemade Spanish Tortilla on my mind for over a week now. Simple ingredients: Thinly sliced potatoes & onions, handfuls of eggs and a little dash of salt and pepper. A few snap shots of my first try at it this morning...

While in Spain, I saw the Tortilla in every Tapa's bar, airport and truck-st
op restaurant along the way. I never took a bite until late in the trip and man it was one of the best tastes of the entire week. I had a few sips of Spanish Rose alongside the Tortilla - Artazuri Rosado to be exact. Now that I'm back, it begs the question...what wine would you recommend with it? SALUD! Ali

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Top 10

Everyday while in Spain, we had plenty of travel-time on the bus. The group of folks I traveled with were all top wine industry professionals across the US - distributors, restaurateurs and powerful retailers. Chatting with this group from sunrise and into the wee-hours of the morning each day was great fun and inspiring.

Throughout the week "Top 10" lists were compiled by my "back of the bus" companions. I won't even go into all the titles, they usually had less to do with wine and more to do with pop-culture. So in remembrance of th
ose crazy-ass Top 10's one for the books - click on the pictures to enlarge.

"Top 10 Mind-blowing Moments of the Solomon Trip"

10. "Professor Xavier Gramona" explained "Mouseability" of his beautiful Cava. "We focus on crafting wines that have a long life without oxidation, the spirit, maturity, balance and complexity can grow-up, the yeast is the most responsible".

9. 84 farmers gave over 1.5million to Capcanes, the man below swimming in his skivvies directed them to do so. True Vision and Courage!
The Capcanes property is situated in the village of Capcanes and served for several years as the village cooperative. In 1995, this vast investment took place and the whole winery was completely restructured and modernized thanks to farmers - true believers of the region.

8. The Priorat - is a small unique pocket of black hills where powerful, deep red wines of superb quality have been made for over eight centuries. Before standing on this schiste ridden hillside, we had NO idea how steep and vertical the vineyards of the Priorat stand. By far the hardest farming and vineyard management we saw in Spain. TexaCali Ali's personal favorite new discovery: "Closa Batllet" created by Sonia and Marc Ripoll.

7. 2005 Clos Eramus. This appeared over dinner in Falset, not often I get to drink (not just taste) a 100 point wine over dinner while sitting next to the winemaker! The vertical vineyard slightly right of center in this photo is the orginal Daphne planted a few years ago in the Priorat. Here's the parker blurb: 'The 2005 Clos Erasmus is produced from three vineyard sites originally terraced by the Greeks. The current blend is 85% Garnacha and 15% Syrah with a long-term goal of making a 100% Garnacha wine. The wine was aged for 18 months in new French oak. It is super-fragrant with aromas of crushed stone, slate, cinnamon, baking spices, cassis, kirsch, blueberry, and wild black cherry. Perhaps a bit tighter than the 2004, on the palate there is a liquid minerality that must be tasted to be believed. Opulent, harmonious, and awesome are words which really cannot do justice to this extraordinary vinous achievement.

6. Scala Dei "God's Ladder" - after sipping the gorgeous 100% Garnacha Blanca from 100+ year old vines of Conreria de'Scala Dei "Les Brugueres", winemaker Jordi Vidal led us on a tour to see
remains of a Carthusian monastery in Scala Dei, Priorat.

5. Bodegas Mustiguillo - their mission is to protect indigenous "Bobal" and nuture it into what has become one of Spain's most fancinating wines. From their Mestizaje red blend of bobal, tempranillo, cabernet and garnacha tintorera to their 100% bobal bottle of Quincha Corral, a true sense of place can be tasted in each sip.

4. Paella! I can't leave this one out, the father who began working at age 6 is now retired but playing golf and has become one of the best amatures on the senior circuit in Spain! This particular paella was an incredible savory mix of roasted green snap peas, grilled artichokes, olive oil and rice. Fire roasted for a few hours and served HOT! Delicious with the wines of Mustiguillo.

3. 16th Century Wine Cellar complete with its Amphora's. Just breathtaking to see the techniques of winemaking that still reign today. This historic site is on the property of Cellar del Roure winery - created in 1995 as a family estate by Pablo Calatayud. Based in the village of Moixent, the property is committed to nurturing and championing the wines and indigenous varietals of the region, most notably the Mando grape. The estate owns three different blocks of vines on the northern slope of the Serra Grossa at 550 meters above sea level.

2. Casa Castillo - Day 5 we visited the newest addition to the Solomon Selections Spanish Portfolio. I had the great pleasure of sitting next to the second generation of the family Mr. Nemesio and his son Jose Vincente who revived this property that was originally founded in 1870. Stylistically the wines are true to their terroir and taste. Very well balanced monastrell, syrahs and cabernet. The 2006 Las Gravas was my personal favorite last spring at the Solomon tasting in San Francisco, still is. 55% Monastrell, 45% Cabernet Sauvignon. Gorgeous wine!

1. Number 1 already? Well I have to give the honors to the 'back of the bus posse" a few members are missing in this photo, but this Friday night in Madrid was the most fun time all week long. Thanks to JT, Arthur, Jeffery and Ronnie for always keeping it real and making me laugh to tears this night. An unexpected & unplanned night of savory tapas (oh that tortilla and octopus plate!) and wines that were full of surprise and adventure.

I took well over 600 pictures and am in the midst of creating a day-by-day photo essay on It's going to take a few more days, I'm off to Dallas and Fort Worth until Sunday. Stay tuned and in the meantime, go click around on to discover your own Top 10 list from Spain...Cheers! Ali

Tuesday, June 09, 2009

Quick Update from Spain

Meet the talented team behind Capcanes. After a tour of the winery and tasting, they hosted us for lunch on the mountain-tops above the vineyards...more details coming later about our time at Capcanes.

Traveling without my laptop this week, so I'm on borrowed time at the hotel Cal Lop in the Priorat.

They say a picture is worth a thousand words...more on under "photos - Spain 2009". Keep checking in, I'll try to upload more very soon. Salud! Ali

Friday, June 05, 2009

Trippin' with TexaCali!

Off to visit Spain and see the lovely families and producers who make up the KILLER Solomon Selections Spanish wine portfolio. I've now met many of these folks who've visited America over the past 2 years, it's going to be great to see them at their homes and wineries.  

If you are in the wine trade you know what I'm in for this week. For those who just love to drink good wine, check out the list that I'll be tasting over the next week: (loads of toothpaste required...) Salud! Ali


Espelt "Vailet" Blanco

Espelt "Corali" Rosado

Espelt "Saulo" Tinto

Espelt "Coma Bruna"


Gramona "Gessami"

Gramona Gran Cuvee

Gramona "Imperial"

Gramona "III Lustros"


Tomas Cusine "El Vilosell"

Tomas Cusine "El Vilosell"

Tomas Cusine "Geol"

Tomas Cusine "Geol"


El Perro Verde

L'Origan Zero Dosage

L'Origan Rosat Zero Dosage

Paisajes V

Paisajes VII

Paisajes VIII

Vina al Lado de la Casa



Capcanes Mas Donis Rosat

Capcanes Mas Donis

Capcanes Val de Calas

Capcanes Costers del Gravet

Capcanes Cabrida

Capcanes Cabrida Calissa

Capcanes Pansal de Calas


Mas d'en Compte Blanco

Mas d'en Compte Tinto

Mas d'en Compte Planots

Black Slate (Porrera)


Roquers de Porrera "Marge"

Roquers de Porrera


Terra de Verema "Triumvirat"

Terra de Verema "Corellium"


Closa Batllet Blanco

Closa Batllet Tinto

Closa Batllet "2 Vinyas"

Black Slate (Gratallops)



Conreria Scala Dei Blanco


Lo Givot


Mas Alta "Els Pics"

Mas Alta "Artigas"

Mas Alta "La Basseta"

Mas Alta "La Creu Alta"


Mas Doix "Salanques"

Mas Doix "V.V."



La Bota #16 Manzanilla

La Bota #10 Manzanilla Pasada

La Bota #15 Fino

La Bota #9 Amontillado



Mustiguillo "Mestizaje" Blanco

Mustiguillo "Mestizaje"

Mustiguillo "Finca Terrerazo"

Mustiguillo "Quincah Corral"


Celler del Roure "Les Alcusses"

Celler del Roure "Maduressa"



Casa Castillo Monastrell

Casa Castillo Monastrell

Casa Castillo "Las Gravas"

Casa Castillo "Valtosca"

Casa Castillo "Pie Franco"


Castano Rosado

Castano Monastrell

Castano "Hecula"

Castano "Solanera"

Castano "Casa Cisca"


Sierra Salinas "Mo"

Sierra Salinas "Mira"

Sierra Salinas "1237"

Casa Marta






Ercavio Blanco

Ercavio Rosado

Ercavio Tinto

Ercavio "La Plazuela"

Ercavio "La Plazuela" (1.5L)


Jimenez-Landi "Sotorrondero"

Jimenez-Landi "Pielago"

Jimenez-Landi "Fin del Mundo"

Jimenez-Landi "Cantos del Diablo"

Jimenez-Landi "El Reventon"



Val de Sil "Val de Sil"

Val de Sil "Val de Sil"

Val de Sil "Pezas de Portela"

Val de Sil "Pedruzos"


Losada "Altos de Losada"




Sitios de Bodega "Con Class"

Sitios de Bodega "Verdejo"

Sitios de Bodega "V3"


Pena das Donas "Almalarga"

Pena das Donas "Verdes Matas"

Wednesday, June 03, 2009

"Ali! Is! Back!"

...makes me laugh every time I even think about the sweet family who hosted me in Guadalajara one long summer while attending Baylor University. Each time I arrived to their home, the father would stand-up, walk to the door and greet me with open-arms while saying "Ali! Is! Back!".  It always made be smile and shake my head and say "well of course I am, I will always be back as long as your family will have me". 

Silly as it sounds, this welcome greeting has followed me through the years, now "TexaCali Ali" is who steadily appears in the doors and tasting rooms of wine accounts all over Texas, and I'm most always greeted with a smile and warm welcome. This small gesture is what keeps me keeping on these days. 

Thank you. You may not even know how much this means, but I'm out here fighting fo
r the families and passionate wine folks - the ones who own wineries, the people that sell the wine on the streets of Texas, the human beings that stand on a cold-concrete floors and perhaps have a chance every hour or so to actually tell a story to a customer about a special bottle and the families and independents who own all our great restaurants and retailers throughout the Lone Star State. I preach this often, so you know what I mean if you've been following this blog since 2005 or hopefully "get it" right away if you've just met me for the first time this year.

After hosting dozens of producers, winery owners and national sales folks like a maniac over the past 5 months... "Ali is Back" to doing a better job with the blog posts - I promise. This year has brought an extra layer of "extraordinary time-wasters" & "empty-calorie snacks" that have eaten up my creativity and desire to burn the midnight oil on here when it's well past my beauty-rest time. So tee up the bookmark again, I've got a lot on my mind and a few thousand Texans who love wine to share my thoughts and wine tips with. 

I'm gearing up for my first trip to Spain this weekend visiting producers from portfolio. We'll visit wineries mostly along the East Coast of Spain from Barcelona to Madrid.   So stay tuned for some over-seas travel tales for sure, in the mean time - DRINK UP the wines and sake of TexaCali Wine Co.  - Cheers! Ali