Saturday, October 31, 2009

Not so spooky night

Tonight after the sun sets and the "trick-or-treating" is all done, a group of 30 will be sipping "blindly" on a few wines from around the world in Austin. My old college friends Shane and Lisa are hosting this gathering for their friends and neighbors and have invited me to lead the night away. Here's the lineup... please play along if you like! Cheers - Ali

Blind Reds:

1. This grape is known for its elegance. This wine exhibits unmistakable characteristics typified by brilliant color, silky texture, delicate mouthfeel, and upfront flavors of framboise, cherries and spice. Burgundy, Oregon, California, New Zealand are leading the way in production of this fine wine. Retail $38

Name the Grape: ___________________________________

2. A wine “Altitude”. The grape was sourced from a 45-acre parcel of 80-year-old vines at an average elevation of 3300 ft. above sea level and aged for 12 months in French oak. Purple-colored, it displays an alluring bouquet of cedar, spice box, violets, and black cherry. Medium-bodied and elegant on the palate, it has plenty of savory fruit, cinnamon and allspice notes, excellent depth and concentration, and a fruit-filled finish. Retail $27

Name the Grape:___________________________________

3. This is a blend of (76% and 24%) 2 grape varietals. This bottle delivers notes of toasty oak and cedar from the oak barrel aging, along with concentrated fruit flavors of strawberry, red cherry, and raspberry. This traditional blend and style shines from Bordueax, California, Chile, and Washington State. Retail $25

Name the Grapes:_________________________________

4. Made by a rising star in the wine world, this is a blend of 2 grapes traditionally found in Bordeaux, France, Australia, California and Washington State. This blend shows the nice structure and aromas of “first varietal” up front, and then the more you drink it, the plump, fruit-packed “ second varietal” flavors come welling up from underneath. The firm grip and structure makes it a perfect match to hearty foods and juicy red meats. Retail $25

Name the Grapes:__________________________________

5. Composed of 70% “name the grape” with the balance equal parts Tempranillo, Garnacha, and Cabernet Sauvignon. The fruit comes from vines planted on chalk and limestone at high altitude. Purple in color, the wine offers aromas of pain grille, damp earth, vanilla, black cherry, and black currant. Thick and chewy on the palate, the wine has excellent depth and concentration leading to a tannic finish. You will only find this main varietal in the heart of Spain. Retail $15

Name the Grapes:_______________________________

Friday, October 30, 2009

News from Davis Family Vineyards...

If you've been following the TexaCali Wine Trail over the past 4 years or just became a recent fan, you know how much I enjoy drinking (and selling) the beautiful wines made by Guy Davis and his son Cole of Davis Family Vineyards in the Russian River Region of Sonoma. Guy is a HUGE fan of Texas and is dedicated to making sure we get a fair amount of his wine here too. Thank you Guy!

If you live near Fredricksburg, Austin or College Station - you're in for a real treat on Dec.3, 4, and 5 - Guy's leading winemaker dinners in all 3 places. So excited to have him here to kick-off the December Holidays!

This just in from Davis Family Vineyards: We are thrilled to announce that Davis Family Vineyards won FIVE gold medals and a Best of Class at the Sonoma County Harvest Gala! Only one other winery received more golds than we did with over 1200 wines entered in this competition; from Alexander Valley, Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma Valley and our very own Russian River Valley. Vineyards known all over the world for wine excellence. It is the largest and, in our
opinion, the most prestigious regional wine competition in the United States.

Whooo-hooo! We are celebrating!

There is no doubt we are going to run out of all these wines very quickly.

GOLD and BEST OF CLASS (beating out 78 other Pinots and a runner-up for
the Sweepstakes Red): 2007 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

GOLD: 2007 Russian River Syrah

GOLD: 2006 Barn D'Or Cab/Syrah Blend

Read more about his wines & Guy on his website here. Oh and of course - please look for or ask for Davis Family Vineyards at your favorite place to buy wine in Texas! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, October 28, 2009

Patience, Passion and Hustle.

Last Wednesday I spent a few hours with Gary Vaynerchuk while he was visiting Austin for his book tour of Crush It! Boy, I needed that shot in the arm, Gary led an inspiring chat after the book signing for anyone who is or wants to be an entrepreneur. After growing his family's wine retail business from 4 to 60 million dollars in a handful of years, he's going for it - he wants to own the NY Jets one day (and I bet he reaches this goal). Gary's big picture is driven by passion for business, while urging all of us to "stop doing things you hate" and start living your passion.

When did I decide to take control of my career and turn my passion into a living? Year 2002 - While sitting in a cubicle facing out a window with a beautiful view of a red-brick wall while working for CNET Networks in San Francisco. I remember telling all my co-workers and managers that I was leaving to go work in the wine business and suddenly became everyone's hero at the office. I did it. It certainly hasn't been the easiest road, but thank God for my DNA (which Gary talks about having in Crush It!) of Patience, Passion and Hustle.

TexaCali Wine Co. turns 5 years old in 2010, Patience, Passion and Hustle are abundant! Take a few minutes to watch Gary speak at the Web 2.0 Expo in NYC last month. See ya on the TexaCali Wine Trail soon! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, October 15, 2009

White Hat Trick for Texas this Fall

Handley Cellars - an Anderson Valley Legend...

My day did not go as planned, ended up running around town more than I scheduled. I was suppose to talk to Handley Cellars today (among others), so their wines where top of mind and a fun topic discussed throughout the day. I've had a long love affair with Handley Cellars - from their Brut Rose (only sold at the winery) to their pretty Syrah - I love them all. For now I'm very excited about the 3 whites that are in stock in Texas this fall, you will fall in love like I did - I promise.

2007 Handley Anderson Valley Chardonnay:

Each component of this Estate Chardonnay adds another layer of flavor. It offers aromas of fresh pear and apple compote with a hint of nutmeg. Clean and bright flavors of ripe apple are nuanced by lemon cream and vanilla. This wine is nicely balanced with a graceful texture and lasting finish. It is perfectly suited for food pairing. Excellent matches might include herb roasted chicken, shrimp risotto, sautéed scallops, or mushroom lasagna.

2007 Handley Dry Creek Sauvignon Blanc:
The 2007 Dry Creek Valley Sauvignon Blanc offers aromas of daffodil and lemon zest with forward fruit, tropical flavors, and a creamy finish.This is an ideal wine to serve with a goat chevre. The tangy acidity of the cheese complements the balanced acidity of the wine; the chevre’s creamy texture lengthens the wine’s presence on the palate. approx. $14

*2008 Handley Gewurztraminer: Most of the fruit for this Gewürztraminer blend comes from the Boonville end of Anderson Valley, where the warmer weather tends to encourage tropical fruit and floral aromas as well as ripe tannins for this "spicy" grape. This vintage offers enticing aromas of rose petals, honeysuckle, peaches, and orange zest, which are complemented by the balanced palate, with flavors of pears, melon, lychee, and a hint of nutmeg on the finish. Our 2008 Gewürztraminer is balanced and fresh enough to be served as an aperitif or with many dishes. It has a rich texture that pairs well with a variety of cheeses, Thai curries, or Chinese food. approx. $18

3 Cheers for Anderson Valley's Handley Cellars! - Ali *for all you "sweet wine" lovers - go for this one!

2009 Top 100

Hats Off to Spain's Gramona and LIOCO from California for being honored by Wine & Spirits Magazine this year!

If you haven't picked up a bottle or a case of these beautiful wines yet - head straight to your favorite wine shop this weekend - they are selling like crazy in Texas so collect them while you can and drink up! Cheers - Ali

Friday, October 09, 2009

News from Block 7 Wine Co. in Houston

This week's Saturday Tasting...Sake to me

Join Block 7 every Saturday from 2-5pm for a free tasting in our retail store. This week, get educated on Japan's historical beverage from sake expert, Alison Smith ("TexaCali Ali" or @texacaliali on twitter). Taste through 4 different styles of sake and learn the history and production techniques of this great drink.

Sake included in the tasting are:

Takasago Ginga Shizuku, “Divine Droplets”, Junmai Daiginjo
300 ml - Bottle Price $34.99 / Case Price $31.39

Sato No Homari, “Pride of the Village”, Junmai Ginjo
300 ml - Bottle Price $25.99 / Case Price $23.99

Rihaku, “Wandering Poet”, Junmai Ginjo
300ml - Bottle Price $17.99 / Case Price $16.19

Tozai, “Snow Maiden”, Junmai Nigori
300ml - Bottle Price $12.99 / Case Price $11.59

Wanna brush up on your sake education before the tasting? Check out some tips on Vine Connections Japanese Sake Education Center.

*Any 12 bottles at Block 7 can be purchased at the case price. We encourage you to expand your palate and mix and match.


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Thursday, October 08, 2009

Hunting Season

Another early morning for TexaCali Ali. Off to work with Ana Lopez of Gramona in Houston over the next 48 hours then talk Ginjo Sake at Houston's newest and most hip wine bar and boutique retail shop. I don't know why I'm up so early, it's a ponytail day, no need for the hour of washing and blowing-out the hair today - the weather channel tells me the humidity is 84% and already 82 degrees at 5am. "It will feel like 103 today folks", BLAH.

What's coming out of the woods this season? It's been a interesting year so far, the ridiculous & unreasonable humans have far outweighed the sane
and happy humans in month 10 of 2009. This week I've had the living daylight knocked out of my spirit, the joy of what I am so blessed to do each day sucked away like the strength of an airplane door opening in mid-flight.

What a difference a few days make, last Thursday I was humbly honored to hear unsolicited praises and encouragement from one of the most important humans in the Texas wine business. He concluded his kind words by calling me an old-s
oul, I'll take that, I've lived through a few more lifetimes than anyone could ever know. From the West Coast of California to the eastern hills of Spain, I thank God for the gray-haired wine warriors who 1) have taken notice of this new girl in town with the utmost respect 2) have set a fine example of how to treat others and run their business. Their time & support given to me over the last few year is priceless. I've learned so much from them and continue to thrive on their enthusiasm and inspiration. My eyes are on the staffs of the wisest shepherds who've invited me to join their flock. The wolves in sheep's clothing will always lurk from afar.

After a dinner-less evening, I fell into bed last night with tears of fear, anger and exhaustion in my eyes. I'm on meeting 40-something by 11am today for the month and mile 1500. You know what though? I'm in it to win it, TexaCali Wine Co. is my life, it's my family's future and this wine-loving girl is Catching a Ride on a Smile today. The wine-making families I am so honored to represent here in Texas are counting on day at a time. Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, October 06, 2009

Only $65

Next Tuesday night in Dallas - please join me for a fantastic evening of culinary delights! I'm leading a Pellegrini Family Vineyards of Sonoma Wine Dinner at Steele...check out the menu and call Steele to RSVP 214.219.9908

Steel Restaurant & Lounge

Pellegrini Family Winery Dinner

Tuesday October 13th, 2009


Clear Dashi Wild Mushroom Soup “Shooters”

Eel, Salmon, Hamachi and Tuna Sushi

Spicy Tuna Roll and Shrimp Tempura Maki Rolls

Pellegrini Sauvignon Blanc, Lake County

1st Course

Seared Jumbo Sea Scallop with Jade Sauce

Pellegrini Unoaked Chardonnay, Russian River

2nd Course

Roasted “Hacked” Pheasant Finished with Cognac, Served with Soba Noodles

Olivet Lane Chardonnay, Russian River

3rd Course

Grilled Salmon with Dried Cherry Genevoise and Braised Baby Bok Choy

Olivet Lane Pinot Noir, Russian River

4th Course

Vietnamese “Shaken” Beef

Wok Sautéed Tender Pieces of Beef Tenderloin

Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet Sauvignon, Alexander Valley


Asian Rice Pudding

Tozai, Snow Maiden, Nigori Sake

Sunday, October 04, 2009

Next...Holiday Bubbles!

Whew - made it through last week, just barely though during my last hour of driving yesterday to train the fine staff of MIZU in west Austin. Cheers to Matt Licklider of LIOCO for his time in Texas last week as well as Luis and Santiago from Argentina to blow through Austin for us last Tuesday.
Resting a bit this morning - well finally working on my wedding video from July and Thank You cards. I've managed to shove off all my personal things to do for over 2 months now. Tonight I'm heading out to see Bon Iver at the Paramount in Austin. 2 tickets for me and Eric given by our close friends Carson & Jen, I've been looking forward to this show so much!

This week, a very special guest will be visiting Austin, Dallas and Houston from Spain. I've been sipping on this beautiful aged Cava for years. From the Solomon website " Gramona’s history is long and storied and the property has been a quality reference point in the zone for decades. As far back as 1816 a member of the family has been making wine in the Penedes. 1921 marks the year when the Gramona name began to be put on bottles of “Cava Champagne”. Today, the house is one of the few remaining family-owned estates in the region, with many having been bought by large companies.

At Gramona, time is never an issue. The wines receive perhaps the longest average ageing than any other cava and are never released until they are pristine. 70% of the cavas produced in the zone are released after 9 months. Gramona ages a minimum of 18 months, and an average of 4 years.

Gramona is, unfortunately, one of the last remaining family-owned cava houses of the Penedes. Here, elderly ladies from the village carefully wrap each bottle before being packed for transport and the entire operation is carried out by people who love the family and the estate."

Visit the website here: Cheers - Ali