Wednesday, December 30, 2009

so long, goodbye, see ya 2009!

Two days left, and this image perfectly sums up how I feel about the past 12 months.

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Christmas Wines

So here we are a few days before Christmas, last minute errands abound. Thanks for reading "The List", according to my web stats over 3000 folks have taken time to read it and hopefully pick out a few of their own favorites. So what did I pick up and stock up on from the list? Hum, here are a few bottles I couldn't resist!

2005 Gramona Gran Cuvee - Spain, $22 (I love to open this while cooking up a storm in the kitchen with friends and family fading in and out all day).
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. The Gran Cuvee is aged for 24 months (longest aging of a Dry type in the world of CAVA), and is a beautiful blend of equal parts Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Chardonnay. Incredibly rich with tiny tiny bubbles "Krug, the expensive alternative to Gramona" and I'm not kidding here. Gramona is a must for any celebration or relaxation.

2007 Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Estate Chardonnay - Anderson Valley California, $20 (I've alreaded picked out the Red Hawk Triple Cream Cheese to go with this delicious Chardonnay). A perfect California Chardonnay - seriously folks but down the big-brand-name bottles of sappy chard and reach for Handley Cellars. You'll never go back. This Chardonnay has become a staple on popular wine lists all over Texas. 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. My pick each time I roast a chicken.

2007 LIOCO "Michaud" Pinot Noir - Chalone AVA, Monterrey County, $45

(this is one I'm selfish with, only opening this puppy up with my husband to enjoy)
Winemaker extraordinaire Kevin Kelley notes "...what it is about pinot noir from
this windswept, elevated swath of dirt, full of limestone deposits that makes for superior cellaring?" Matt Licklider and Kevin O'Conner add ""The limestone speaks," we often cry when tasting this wine. This 07 Pinot Noir "Michaud Vineyard" may our wine of the vintage. It's been likened to Ambroise Le Corton (one of Burgundy's greatest Pinot Noirs). Stephen Tanzer adds, "potent, exotic, mineral." Need I say more?

2004 Luca "Nico" - Argentina, $125 (for Christmas Dinner, because I fell in love with Argentine Malbec) 95 points from Robert Parker's Wine Advocate: "The 2004 Nico by Luca Malbec (100% Malbec) raises the bar. It offers a heady perfume of pain grille, scorched earth, mineral, black cherry, and black raspberry preserve. Loaded on the palate, the wine has great depth and incipient complexity. This superb Malbec will evolve for 8-10 years and drink well through 2035 in the manner of a top classified growth Bordeaux. Luca is the personal project of Laura Catena, daughter of Nicolas Catena. Luca takes its name from Laura's oldest son."

2005 Pellegrini "Milestone" - Sonoma County, California, $45
( this was such a hit last year with Chateau Briand Beef Tenderloin we're doing it again!).

Only a few hundred cases produced. I first tasted this in barrel after Milestone was conceived by selecting special lots of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Verdot, Malbec, and Cabernet Franc to form a mosaic that would be defined by its depth of color, richness, complexity, and supple texture. This wine is meticulously barrel selected to make what they think is their best wine ever - homerun! Flavors of milk chocolate, vanilla bean, black cherry, oolong tea and cigar smoke overtake your senses. The Milestone wine commemorates the 75th anniversary of Pellegrini Family Vineyards.

For the complete list please click on my website here:

Cheers and Merry Christmas to all, thank you for supporting the wines of TexaCali Wine Co., I truly am blessed to represent all these amazing producers! Alison

Saturday, December 19, 2009

a new Pinot Noir discovery

Thanks to all of you who came by to talk TexaCali Wines in Fort Worth today. Feels like home tasting and helping out all the foodies on the hunt for great wines at Central Market. Wine Manager - J.R. Clark (who we all know and love) is always a breath of fresh air to see and work with in the wine department in Cowtown. After leaving Central Market (holy COW did you see the pyramid of Argentine Crios wines $15 and PHENOMENAL Amarone for $25 - a delicious buy!) I stopped into one of my favorite North Texas family and independently owned wine shops - Put A Cork In It on Park Hill off of Forest Park Blvd. and the TCU area.

The street Park Hill holds a special place for me, it was years ago that I accepted a scholarship to Baylor University from the Fort Worth Girls Service League, a scholarship trust on a home in the Park Hill neighborhood allowed so many of us to get a little ahead in college. So I'm more than thrilled after all these years to be doing business in the neighborhood with the Keel family of Put a Cork In It.

My point is... I picked up a few wines I've read/heard great things about and owner Chris Keel highly recommended as well. So tonight, I'm 2 glasses into my first ever Australian Pinot Noir and loving it! I too highly recommend the 2008 Innocent Bystander and I AM SO HAPPY ABOUT MY PURCHASE! What a great bottle to sip on tonight...bright fruits and juicy - just what I needed to ooze into my comfy brown couch for the night curled up with the my loved ones at home.

Innocent Bystander Pinot is about $18 a bottle and imported to the US market by Old Bridge Cellars. I know Denise, she does what I do for a living in the great state of Texas and has extremely good taste too, so even cooler that this bottle is making my night!

Years ago, living atop of the Fillmore Hill in Pacific Heights, I had a roommate from Melbourne who raved about wines from his native land. I truly learned so much about Aussie wines from Jim at K&L Wine Co. , here's what he had to say about it: "The nose explodes with dark cherries, cranberries and fresh raspberries backed by subtle nutmeg and cinnamon spices. Underlying truffles and meaty, wet earth and mushroom notes add complexity. The juicy palate displays fresh berries with a slippery, rich and slightly tart finish. "Innocent Bystander? I think not!" says K&L Australian buyer, Jim Chanteloup. "More like a good Samaritan who, for the fourth year in a row, has brought outstanding Pinot Noir at an affordable price with true varietal typicity. All the fruit for this wine was hand harvested, destemmed and then gets a 3-7 day cold soak followed by fermentation with primarily wild yeast. The nose is lifted with notes of cherry, raspberry and spice. On the palate, the the wine is bright and vibrant with a juicy middle, soft tannins and very nice length."

For those who need more...90 points from Stephen Tanzer's IWC: "Vivid red. Sexy, highly perfumed bouquet of strawberry, raspberry, potpourri and minerals. Impressively pure, with fresh red berry flavors and seductive sweetness. The finish strongly echoes the raspberry note and leaves a tangy trail of minerals and flowers behind. A super value for pinot."

ENJOY - I'm stocking up on more of this great Australian Pinot Noir...Cheers - Ali

Friday, December 18, 2009

The Gift of Cheese

Here's one of my favorite places in the world to shop for gifts anytime of the year. The Cheese Shop is an American Foodie Treasure tucked away in the pictureisque wine town of Healdsburg, CA.

Doralice Handal and I go way back - we were roommates in San Francisco - both hustling our passions into our own businesses! At the time Doralice would bring home leftover pieces and scraps from Cowgirl Crea
my and I would have various samples bottles left from my post at K&L Wines. We certainly didn't know it then, but those short years were probably our last time of total freedom to play after-work! Running our own business now certainly beats the heck out of the alternative, but boy did we have fun together talking about love, life and adventures after closing time. Our daily troubles were easily washed away with those leftovers...yum.

So back to my favorites - you'll make anyone jump for joy this Holiday Season with the outrageously cool gifts from The Cheese Shop! A click away to order and ship to 48 states: Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

This just in from Vine Connections...

Good News for the Producers of Vine Connections! They just sent out a bundle of Holiday Cheer... "We hope you all are staying warm and surviving the rush of the oncoming holidays. Christmas came early for us this year with a slew of great accolades from Wine Spectator, Robert Parker, and even Oprah Magazine!"

PRESS + REVIEWS Fresh off the press from Wine Spectator:
92 points, BenMarco Expresivo 2007, Wine Spectator Insider Nov '09 (Est. March Release)

91 points, Susana Balbo Malbec 2008, Wine Spectator Insider Nov '09 (Est. Jan Release)

91 points, Luca Laborde Syrah 2007, Wine Spectator Nov '09
88 points, La Posta Paulucci Malbec 2008, Wine Spectator Nov '09 (Now Shipping)

Wine Spectator Daily Pick, 91 points, Luca Malbec 2008, Nov '09 (Est. Jan Release)

Here are links to a preview of James Molesworth's articles on Argentina mentioning Mendel, Luca, and Dominio del Plata:
Too Much of a Good Thing?
Malbec Madness:

Robert Parker's Wine Bargains: Of our 19 Argentine wines under $25, Robert Parker named 15 in his new book "World's Best Wine Values Under $25".

Reginato Celestina Sparkling Rosé of Malbec Makes the BIG O:
The 'O List' that is. Each year, the folks at Oprah's Magazine handpick a selection of fabulous and well-priced items to add to your holiday gift list. This year, Reginato Celestina Sparkling Rosé of Malbec made the front page of the list (turn to page 65 to check it out). This will be on New Year's Eve shopping lists all over the country, so get ready for it. Salut!

Crios is a HIT on's 100 of 2009: No, you're not seeing triple. Crios Cabernet Sauvignon, Malbec, and Torrontes all appeared on the third annual 100, a top 100 list based entirely on customer preferences. Of over 3500 wines they sell, these are the customer's top 100 picks and Crios took 3 of these spots!

Great Press for Guy Davis in Wine
Enthusiast and the New York Times: 90 Points & Editors' Choice, Davis Family 2007 Riesling (Santa Lucia Highlands), Wine Enthusiast "Best of Year 2009" Buying Guide. Guy Davis causes a stir in the Big Apple with his 'Apple-ation' Apple Brandy! Click here to read the New York Times article.

For full reviews of all products, visit
our Press Page

Monday, December 14, 2009

The List

TexaCali Wine Co. is proud to announce the 5th Anniversary of The List! In honor of the many great producers we represent in Texas, we've chosen 50 wines this year on The List. It's broken down into five categories to help guide your wine shopping. All prices are approximate, you may find a better deal or have to spend a few bucks more, without online wine shopping in Texas finding exact prices can be difficult. Anyhoo...Tis the Season, Chestnuts Roasting, Deck the Halls, Ring a Ling, and Have a Holly Jolly Christmas and Happy New Year.

A sneak peek of ...THE LIST ...Thank you all for supporting these outstanding producers from many corners of the world, with your strong buying-power and ongoing enthusiasm in Texas we all look forward to a bright and exciting future here in the Lone Star State! Please feel free to forward "The List" to your wine-loving friends and keep it handy when shopping at your favorite Texas wine retailer.

Buy the Case
2007 LIOCO Indica - Mendocino County, $18 Ohh the hipsters favorite wine of 2009! SNAP! Much sexier than the 2006 production and deeply loved in Texas. A nice blend of old-vine Carignan (78%), petite sirah (10%), mourvedre (9%), and grenache (3%), this wine is an exceptionally tasty value for the table - a true "bistro wine". Indica is made with the same standard of care and quality one expects from the Lioco team, the 2007 is punchy, smelling of ripe berry fruit flavors and a hint of smoke and baking spice. From a cool-climate, northerly site (actually Redwood Valley is the northernmost planting of Carignan in California), the acidity and freshness is preserved and balance of flavor and texture maintained. Swirl! 90 points Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright red. Flamboyant aromas of raspberry, cherry preserves and incense. Lively but supple red berry flavors are given depth by anise and cherry pit qualities.

Unique & Rare

2008 Conreria d’Scala Dei Les Brugueres - Spain, $30
On of the most memorable stops while in Spain with the Solomon team last June. A lovely WHITE wine from the Priorat?! 100% Grenache Blanc: One of the region's premier white wines, Les Brugueres is produced from 100% Garnacha Blanca from a single vineyard with 100+-year-old vines planted in Priorat’s famous llicorella soil. The wine is aged in stainless steel tanks and is left on its fine lees to impart a creamy texture and complexity.

Read, Print & Shop from the Complete List Here

#1 Spanish WIne Rated at Spec's

2007 Losada! $21.80 per bottle at Spec's...their Top Spanish wine pick of 2009!

(click on image to enlarge)

Wednesday, December 09, 2009

The Annual Holiday Wine List coming soon! Oh and the list is sooo full of amazing finds to place under the Christmas tree from Spain, Argentina, France, California and Oregon - big bottles for your cellar too. Stay tuned. Ali

Buy Local

The Kocureks are dear friends of TexaCali Wine Co. in Austin. If you are looking for holiday nibbles or a unique gift to others this holiday season please give them a call and/or visit them at the local farmers markets. A foodie's dream! - Cheers, Ali

The Kocurek Family Charcuteri at three local farmers markets in Austin now...
Triangle (N. Lamar on Wednesday 3-7pm)
Sunset Valley (Burger Center on Saturday 9-1pm)
Hope (5th & Waller on Sunday 11-3pm)
All products prepared with locally raised, hormone-free, and free-range meat and game.

*Greetings from the Kocurek’s*

We hope you will be pleased with this weeks offerings.

Special Market Offering

Traditional Louisiana recipe, loaded with our smoked Andouille sausage, roasted duck, white wine, peppers and herbs all slowly simmered on a dark roux.
32 oz. for $14 Quantities are limited. Please return this e-mail with your order. We will hold it aside for pick up at any of the three markets you prefer.

This Weeks Offerings

Charcuterie Menu

Duck Rillettes ½ lb - $7
Pulled roasted duck meat, stock, spices, and duck butter blended to be spreadable.
Sweet Roasted Garlic Sausage ½ lb - $6
Pork, thyme, oregano, and slow roasted garlic til they are sweet and golden. This is a fresh sausage prepared in a natural casing.
Anjou Christmas Sausage ½ lb - $7
This is a Boudins Blanc du Mans sausage. Richardson’s pork, heavy cream, and fresh herbs are the main flavor tones of this holiday delight. This is a ready to eat poached sausage.
Smoked Spanish Style Chorizo ½ lb - $7
Pork, smoked hot paprika, red wine and spices.
Mushroom Pate ½ lb - $7
Crimini, button, and oyster varieties prepared with almonds, herbs and sherry. This is a smooth pate that vegetarians may enjoy.
Hand-cut Pork Bacon ½ lb - $8
If you love our Duck Bacon, then this is for you. Marinated for 7 days and smoked.
Duck “Bacon” ¼ lb - $8
The breast cut is brined for 24 hours and slow smoked
English Style Game Pie - $4
Roasted rabbit, turkey, mushrooms, leeks, and carmelized onions stuffed in a buttery, flaky pie crust. Individual serving portion
Smoked Pork Belly – ½ lb - $8
Marinated in our own spice blend, cooked confit style, then slow smoked – it doesn’t get any more decadent then that!

For Your Pantry

Duck Stock 32 oz - $6
Simmered for hours with herbs and a little red wine
Pickled Beets 8 oz - $3
For the beet lover in your family. Thinly sliced beets, red wine vinegar, sugar, chili’s, and mustard seed.
Butternut Squash & Ginger Marmalade 8oz - $6
Sweet butternut squash, ginger, oranges, chili flake and a touch of sugar.
Onion & Apple Marmalade 8oz - $6
Onions, apples, port wine, exotic spices make up this compote. Slow cooked so all the sugars in the onions and apples are just golden brown and ready to pair with any game meat.
Pickled Radishes 8oz - $4
White wine vinegar, sugar, chili’s, mustard seed, and allspice.
Italian Style Spicy Fruit Mustardo ½ lb - $7
Figs, peaches, golden raisins, mustard seeds, white wine, sugar and chili flakes.

We look forward to visiting with you at the market. Please notify us if you need quantity of any of these items in advance. 512-291-4461 or Kocurek Family Charcuterie (at)

Eric Solomon Selections

Please join me at for a very special dinner at El Meson Thursday evening at 7pm. The complete menu is posted on We'll taste the following wines from the Eric Solomon portfolio...

Gramona, Gran Cuvee 2005 (Cava)
Equal parts Xarel.lo, Macabeo and Chardonnay/24 months Cava aging

Gramona, Gessami 2007 (Penedes)
30% each of Muscat of Alexandria, Muscat of Frontignan and Sauv Blanc and 10% Gewurtraminer/stainless steel

Mustiguillo, Mestizaje 2005 (Vino de la Tierra El Terrerazo)
70% Bobal, 10% Tempranillo, 10% Cabernet, 10% Garnacha Tintorera | 8 months one year old French oak barrels

Mustiguillo, Finca Terrerazo 2005 (Vino de la Tierra El Terrerazo)
85% Bobal, 10% Tempranillo, 5% Cabernet | 20 months new French oak barrels

Mustiguillo, Quincha Corral 2005 (Vino de la Tierra El Terrerazo)

100% Bobal | 22 months new French oak barrels

CLOS I TERRASSES, Laurel 2006 (Priorat)

65% Garnacha & 45% Cabernet/ 16 months in on year old French oak

CLOS I TERRASSES, Clos Erasmus 2002 (Priorat)

75% Garnacha, 25% Cabernet & Syrah/ 22 months in new French oak

Monday, December 07, 2009

red wine of the week

2006 Handley Cellars Pinot Noir - Anderson Valley, California With aromas of cocoa, cloves, and cinnamon, this wine offers rich forward cherry flavors,with good length and soft texture. The forward fruit and texture of the 2006 Anderson Valley Pinot Noir make it an ideal accompaniment to a mildly spiced duck curry. (oh and pork tenderloin too!).

Always a fan favorite and can be found in your favorite Texas wine shop for around $25. If you are in the trade and not working with this Anderson Valley Legend - please contact your Avante Beverages sales rep. Cheers - Ali

San Diego International Wine Competition

National Women's Wines competition
West Coast Wine Competition
San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition