Monday, September 28, 2009


the last few days of September have finally arrived after a horribly hot summer in Texas. All year long those of us in the wine-trade speak of OND (October, November, December). OND usually represents half of the wine sales for the year - yes 3 months of wine bottles and cases flying off the shelves and double if not triple reorder business from our restaurants. I don't know anyone in the business this year that doesn't have all their fingers and toes crossed for a strong end to 2009. There is plenty of wine to buy folks, take advantage of a few bargains on old favorites and keep supporting those special small production bottles too.

So - this week is HUGE. Matt Licklider (the LI in LIOCO) is here all week, Matt's hitting the streets with Avante Beverages in Austin, Fort Worth, Dallas (with Centennial Fine Wines) and Houston. Our LIOCO focus is on their new releases from the best vineyards scattered across the California wine country. Check out Who, When & Where for our LIOCO events.

On top of having the best new California winery in town, I've got the best from Argentina coming into Austin tomorrow to visit. The teams behind Luca, Tikal, La Posta and Mendel Wineries are here to educate the Austin area wine trade for a night at the Alamo drafthouse with Malbec tomorrow night. It's an important stop, Austin is the biggest region in Texas for these brands and I'm so glad to have these guys in to show some appreciation to all of those who have worked so hard over the years to build these brands. BTW - I've seen a few bottles of the 2007 Luca Malbec on a few shelves around town, this was a Top 100 wine of the Wine Spectator last season ...for under $50 too!

Off to the races this week, another 1000 miles + on the road driving the TexaCali Wine Trail. Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Texas Welcomes Rafa Soto from Mustiguillo today!

Bodegas Mustiguillo
Bodegas Mustiguillo is located in Spain, about 100 kilometers west of Valencia. The vineyard sits on a high plateau 700 meters above sea level.

In Food & Wine Magazine's annual Wine Issue (Oct. 2004), Mustiguillo was named as one of 20 "Best New Wineries." Richard Nalley wrote of the 2002 Mestizaje, "From Valencia in eastern Spain, this palate-caressing red is a blend of the local specialty -- the sappy, fruit-sweet, big-bodied Bobal grape -- plus 5 others. Mustiguillo's version, with its polished and seductive texture, pushes Bobal to its limit. Give the wine time in the decanter to unfold."

Mustiguillo has four vineyards in different locations in the region, which specifically is near two towns called Requena and Utiel. The principle variety grown is Bobal, and the others include Tempranillo, Cabernet Sauvignon, Garnacha Tintorea, Syrah, and Merlot. The vineyards range from two to 70 years old.

The Bobal vines are healthy and very productive, but the winemaker keeps their number down to 1600 plants per hectare, which helps produce more concentrated grapes. The perfectly ripened fruit is hand-harvested and is placed in small 12-kg boxes. (And grapes that are harvested on plots further away from the winery are kept in refrigerated trucks.)

At the winery, the grapes are re-sorted before they are allowed to ferment in small barrels of French oak. After that, the wine ages in new oak barrels for 15 months before bottling.

* Information gathered from the Polaner Selections website. Cheers - Ali

Friday, September 18, 2009

Lewelling Vineyards

"Our family is proud to present this wine that celebrates 144 years as one of the oldest continuously-owned family vineyards in the Napa Valley." - Wight Family

Last call on for Texas on the remaining 2005 Vintage: (Pioneer Wine Company is the Texas distributor).

Robert Parker Reviews: 2005 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard 94+ points $90 retail

2005 Lewelling Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon 92 points $50 retail

A super winery, Lewelling merits considerable attention for their Cabernet Sauvignons that are reminiscent of top-class Bordeaux Pauillacs possessing the extravagantly rich fruit of Napa. The 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon exhibits a dense purple color along with a lovely perfume of burning charcoal embers and exceptionally pure creme de cassis fruit. Full-bodied with sweet tannin, stunning purity, a layered mouthfeel, and a long finish, it is an excellent Cabernet available at a bargain price by Napa Valley standards. Moreover, it should drink well for 15+ years. Boasting even more intensity, aromatic complexity, and a fuller, longer mouthfeel and finish, is the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Wight Vineyard. Sharing the same black/purple color, purity, and personality of its sibling, it should have 20-25 years of longevity. If Pontet Canet were making Cabernet Sauvignon in Napa Valley, it might taste like this. Don't miss these wines if you love great Cabernet Sauvignon. RP

The vineyards of the historic Lewelling estate were established in 1864 near the western foothills in St. Helena by pioneer winegrower and horticulturist John Lewelling. Janice Lewelling Wight, John Lewelling's great-granddaughter, and her husband Russ built a home on the family property in 1950 and quickly became involved in operating and replanting the vineyard. Today Russ, together with his three sons, Alan, Doug and Dave, farm a 28-acre vineyard on a portion of the original estate, one of the oldest continuously-owned family vineyards in the Napa Valley.

During the 1870's and 1880's the vineyards of the St. Helena area established a reputation for producing some of the finest wines in the United States, a reputation that is now acknowledged world-wide and is attributed to the unique combination of soils and climate found here. Over the years Lewelling Vineyards has consistently harvested exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon grapes that have been sold to such fine Napa Valley wineries as Caymus, Viader, and Beaulieu. In 1992 the Wight Family began production of their own vineyard-designated wine.

My favorite Napa Valley producer, I served Lewelling at my wedding, damn good Cabernet. Cheers - Ali

Saturday, September 12, 2009

LIOCO in the news again!

A very in-depth article in the Wall Street Journal on California's well worth the money killer's what they said about LIOCO

" Lioco 'Charles Heintz' 2007 (Sonoma Coast).Very Good. This is how Chardonnay can taste with super-ripe fruit, a caring winemaker and no oak. Complex and interesting, with great texture. Complete and soul-satisfying." Read the entire article here:

So cool, I was lucky to taste this one at the winery last year. And well well, there's a bottle chilled in my fridge right now...this will go perfect with fresh Halibut for dinner in a few hours! Cheers - Ali

Rainy Days...FINALLY!!

Oh as I look out the window of my office, I'd so love to capture the sound of this beautiful rain storm in Austin right now. We desperately need this rain, nature's soundtrack to relax the day away.

This past week was a hectic one, I was honored to host Jurgen Wagner, the winemaker of Spain's Cellar Capcanes winery for a few days in Austin and Dallas, spend an evening with a wonderful group of wine enthusiasts at The Wine Rack in Midland and wr
ap the week up on Friday with the knock-out Avante Beverages team back in Dallas for their state sales meeting.

Today and tomorrow I'm going to focus on a little R&R for sure. Back to Fort Worth on Monday for an Avante portfolio trade tasting then a few days in Houston to talk shop and pump up the volume with loyal supporters of all things TexaCali Wine Co. A few wines of note I sipped over the past few days: - the Mas Donis $15 - RED $25 - Luca Beso de Dante $50 - Barn D'Or $24 - Sauvignon Blanc $12 - Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet $28
- LIOCO Indica $20 - Merlot $15
- Rusty Ridge Zinfandel $34 - Crios Syrah Bonarda $15 - Freedom Hill Pinot Noir $65

Go click around on their websites today, read their stories. I always learn something new when I read up on these fine wines and others they make. Ahh, loving this rainy day, I almost forgot the sound of rain drops. All tucked in... Cheers - Ali

Monday, September 07, 2009

and one for the little guy!!

...2008 Teira Dry Creek Sauv Blanc $15 suggested retail price.

Nice one. 112 cases just landed in Dallas for the State of Texas. You'll find it on the wine list at all DFW Fireside Pies too.

Bravo Bill Knuttle and Dan Donahoe on the first time Wine Spectator review! 88pts. Light-bodied, with pretty lemon-lime, floral, Key lime and passion fruit flavors that are bright, ...ripe and extremely refreshing. Candied pear drop and orange blossom notes give this a kick on the finish. Drink now. 1,500 cases made. –MW

Ahh last summer was so much fun at Teira...

Cheers - Ali

Cellar Capcanes

The next two days will be spent alongside Jurgen Wagner of Cellar Capcanes, I've met him a few times now in the states during Eric Solomon's National Tastings in San Francisco and Dallas, most recently at the winery in the Montsant Region of Spain. We'll be in Austin for 24 hours and then Dallas for about 6...if you're in the Austin wine trade, come by the Hotel San Jose fro 5-7pm tomorrow night to meet Jurgen and taste a few new releases with us.

A few words about Cellar Capcanes from the European Cellars website: The property is situated in the village of Capçanes and served for several years as the village cooperative. In the 1990’s, the co-op began making kosher wines for the Jewish population of Barcelona, and from that exposure in the much larger city, the property began to attract a greater level of interest. In 1995, a vast investment took place and the whole winery was been completely restructured and modernized. Eric Solomon was quite impressed with the quality of the wines and saw the potential for even further improvements and launched several custom cuvee projects with Capçanes, building the strong foundation on which their close relationship is built.

This bottle is my personal favorite...Costers del Gravet 2006

Appellation of Origin: D.O. Montsant

Varieties: 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 30% Grenache, 20% Cariñena

Vineyards: Sourced from different vineyards throughout the valley

Age of Vines: 30 - 60 years old

Altitude: 200-550 meters above sea level

Soils: Clay and granite with several plots of slate, slopes and old granite terraces

Aging: Aged for 12 months in new and one year old mainly French oak barriques

Rating: 90WA

Cheers - Ali

Saturday, September 05, 2009

August 8, 2008

REPLAY. Sipping on some great Davis Family Vineyards wines tonight with a few wine collectors in Austin. Davis Family Vineyards of course - are available in Texas, but if you really want a few treats for your cellar and table, you've got to sign-up for the the "Friends of the Family" here to get the year-round wine goods.

Last week Guy was in Dallas with me as well as his new 2007 releases. PHENOMENAL Vintage for DFV! I'm telling all the TexaCali Inner Circle members to sign up directly with his club or else, these 2007's wines will not be available much longer in regular distribution around here. Supply and demand at its best.

So my point is, invest in the future here and wines you'll
be proud to serve to your dear friends and tell this "dream-come-true" story about. Do you know about his old vine Zinfandel Vineyard at the bottom of this slope? Epic! Enjoy the video I filmed while sipping

glass of DFV Russian River Chardonnay while visiting the Davis Family home last year... Cheers - Ali

Thursday, September 03, 2009

LIOCO "2009 Winery of the Year"

speaking of the LIOCO Indica Old Vine Carignan below...

Job well done by the men of LIOCO! Cheers to Kevin, Matt and Kevin! Available at your favorite place to buy wine in Texas. Cheers - Ali

(please click picture to enlarge).

name that vine!

Is it Garnacha from Spain? Malbec from Mendoza? Syrah from France? Post your guesses, it's a fun one!

HINT: this was taken from an iphone in July from a producer I represent. Cheers- Ali

UPDATE: Thanks to all the comments on Facebook, Steve Edmunds was the first to guess the correct grapevine - Carignan from Redwood Valley in Mendocino County, California.

Found on "a selection of benchland vineyards in mendocino’s redwood valley compose this wine. the fruit comes from predominately old-vines which are dry-farmed and head-pruned. t
his cool, upland valley supports gradual (and often late) ripening. the soil is red clay strewn with fist sized rocks. the combination of vine age, an extended growing season, and tougher soil conspires to produce complex, intense wines.".

Next Post...2009 Wine & Spirits "Winery of the Year" LIOCO! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

New Reviews from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate #184

Please click on image to enlarge.Bravo to the winemakers of Vine Connections. Argentine wines are ON FIRE in Texas (oh in a very good way!). Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, September 01, 2009

A transitional wine...Crios Malbec from Argentina!

Featured on NBC's Today show with Ray Isle. Cheers t0 2008 Crios Malbec "My transitional wine from Summer to the Winter, a lot of dark fruit, black berry and spice...drink this now with sausages on the BBQ". Kathy Lee Loved it, we all know she's a boozer : )