Sunday, January 31, 2010

Houston Livestock & Rodeo Wine Grand Champion

Please join Guy Davis of Davis Family Vineyards in celebration of winning the biggest award given this year from the HLSR International Wine Competition. Guy's 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon from Napa received the Grand Champion and Best of Show.

I'm looking forward to seeing many of you during the Rodeo Uncorked Wine events and the 2010 Rodeo Roundup & Best Bites Competition on February 21.

All Davis Family Vineyards happenings in Texas are posted on Cheers - Ali

Saturday, January 30, 2010

Keeping things Chilly this Winter with Daiginjo Sake!

Introducing a new Daiginjo from the Vine Connections portfolio today!

KONTEKI - Pearls of Simplicity

From one of Japan’s smallest breweries, this Daiginjo is made with Japan’s highest quality rice and local Fushimi mizu, the soft, pure water from Japan’s Eastern Mountains. Highly-respected rice farmer Masayasu Tanaka carefully works the naturally fertilized soils of his farm in eastern Tottori prefecture to grow some of Japan’s best quality Yamada Nishiki, considered the pinnacle of premium sake rice.

Quality Grade: Junmai Daiginjo
Seimaibuai: 50% (50% of rice grain polished away)
Rice: Yamada Nishiki
Yeast: Brewer's Original #1 & #6
Nihonshu-do: 2
Alcohol: 15.5%
Acidity: 1.5

Tasting Notes/Food Pairing:
A bouquet of bright floral aromas is the perfect beginning for this crisp Junmai Daiginjo. Clean flavors of honeydew and lemon dominate but a subtle hint of licorice sneaks up once you get to the long and elegant finish. This is a great sipping sake but also a wonderful companion to a scallops, pork and other light meats.

Brewery Name: Higashiyama
Brewery Location: Kyoto
Toji (master brewer): Mr. Takakura
93 Points, Exceptional, Gold Medal, Beverage Testing Institute, 2009

"Clear. Aromas of banana custard and praline follow through on a supple, silky entry to a dry-yet-fruity medium-to-full body with excellent smoothness and integration of flavors. Finishes with nice interplay of spice, dried apples and bananas, toffee, and earth notes. A rich, flavorful daiginjo that will shine at the table with spicy sushi."

Friday, January 29, 2010

eRobertParker Wine of the Day

2008 BenMarco Malbec

The 2008 Malbec, which contains 10% Bonarda, spent 11 months in 50% new French oak and 50% first use American oak. Purple-colored, it reveals an expressive nose of wood smoke, cinnamon, incense, and black cherry. Round, ripe, medium-bodied, and savory, this layered effort has a lengthy, fruit-filled finish.

Enjoy it over the next 5 years. BenMarco is the personal project of renowned viticulturalist Pedro Marchevsky.

Importer: Vine Connections, Sausalito, CA; tel. (415) 332-8466 Rating: 90 Estimated Cost: $16-$21

Distributed by Pioneer Wine Company in Texas, just ask your favorite fine wine shop for it too! Cheers - Ali

Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Argentina here I come...

Working on a big presentation tonight and flipped through a ton of old pictures from my 2005 trip to Argentina with Vine Connections. I'm counting the days...come on February 23! A few of my favorite shots, can't wait for more to share with you soon! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Seeing Wine in a Whole New Light

Welcome to Heliotrope Wines.

23 Jan 10 is a fruit day.

This is a great day for wine.

Introducing to the fans of TexaCali Wine Co. Heliotrope Wines was founded in 2009 by local Austinite Daniel McKeever who I've known through the wine biz around here for years. Daniel's website focuses on the "biodynamic" calendar.

"This biodynamic calendar is broken down into fruit, flower, root, and leaf days, and each plant performs different tasks each corresponding day. The sap of the plant moves into that specific area on that day and produces fruit, flowers, roots and leaves.Wine too performs differently on the days of the bio calendar.", says Daniel on his website.

Be sure to bookmark and sign up for their Wine of the Week video blast as well.

Daniel picked Pellegrini Family Vineyards 2006 Olivet Lane Pinot Noir this week - go take a look! He heard I had this wine out in the market last week during a root day which usually calls for drab tasting wines, but this one, maybe because it's an 2006 that was released over two years ago showed very well. This wine tends to show earth with layers of bright cherry and red apple peel...singing right now!

Welcome to the world of online wine education! We love what you are doing and most importantly making us a little more curious about biodynamic farmers and producers. Cheers - Ali

Friday, January 22, 2010

Saint Vincent

This morning I heard one of my favorite bands on the radio Bon Iver. The song "Rosyln", a collaboration with St. Vincent which is marvelous...listen to Rosyln here.

The station was playing Rosyln in honor of today -
January 22 is a celebration of St. Vincent "Patron Saint of the Vineyards".

Found online on Burgunday Today...

Every year in January, the winegrowers in Burgundy celebrate and give thanks to their patron, Saint Vincent. Legends abound as to the origins. It is said that one day St Vincent stopped at a vineyard to chat to one of the wine growers. His donkey started nibbling the young shoots on the vine with the result that the following year, the crop was far more productive. The Saint’s donkey had invented pruning!

Maybe it is just that the time of the celebration corresponds climatically to the transition between the hibernation of the vine and the beginning of the new growth or ’Vincent’ is a derivation of ’vin sang’ or blood of the vine. However you like to interpret it, this is a celebration which has been going on since Medieval times.

There are ‘confréries’ or associations of vignerons in each wine village but the grandest of all is the Confrérie des Chavaliers du Tastevin founded in 1938. On the Saturday morning, dressed in their scarlet robes and full regalia carrying banners, the members process through the streets leading the statue of their saint to celebrate mass followed by a wine tasting and banquet.

Well, I'm not in Burgundy today or going to be anytime soon, so here's the closest thing to being there...hello Volnay! We'll raise our glasses and toast to St. Vincent tonight! Cheers - Ali

Thursday, January 21, 2010

Wine Producing Areas of Mendoza

Wonder where the lovely wines of Susana Balbo, BenMarco, Mendel, Luca, Tikal, La Posta and mapema come from? Check out this updated map of the main wine producing areas of Mendoza, Argentina. Just click on map to enlarge...Cheers - Ali

Sunday, January 17, 2010

Saturday, January 16, 2010

And we're off!

The New Year has started out with a Texas travel bang! January is usually a month where I stay put in Austin in attempt to gather my wits that start taking off during the OND sales season. Well that went out the window this year - 1000 new miles on my car just last week.

But no complaints, 2010 holds exciting new plans for TexaCali Wine Co. in regards to new online features, new producers & partnerships and finally after 5 long years I
'll be visiting Mendoza, Argentina in late February with Vine Connections. It was a visit to Mendoza in spring of 2005 that changed my life and became the heart of TexaCali Wine Co.

Until then, I'll be on the TexaCali Wine Trail full-force with trips to San Antonio,
Dallas, Houston, a week with the LIOCO owners and then Houston full-throttle with Guy Davis. The Davis Family Vineyards Napa Cabernet 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon swept the International Houston Rodeo Wine Competition with Grand Champion and Best of Show! The biggest honor a wine could receive in Texas. OH YEAH! See you on the trail....Ali

PS. Follow me on Twitter - texacaliali

Friday, January 08, 2010

Argentine Superwomen

BUENOS AIRES (Reuters Life!) - Susana Balbo is to Argentine wine what Martha Stewart is to homemaking and Oprah Winfrey is to media in the United States.
Together with Laura Catena and Anabelle Sielecki, she has helped to change the focus of the Argentina's centuries-old industry from quantity to quality.

Inspired by the altitude of the Andes, the diversity of the grapes and a passion for what they do, the three women have brought back an artisanal approach to winemaking.

Balbo, president of the trade group Wines of Argentina, which represents more than 170 wineries, earned a degree in enology in 1981 and has made wines on four continents. "Each time, I have learned something new," she said during a visit to New York. "I try to bring it back and see how to incorporate it in my vineyards." After creating one of Argentina's most famous winemaking facility at Bodega Catena Zapata, Balbo, along with her husband Pedro Marchevsky, in 1999 designed her own winery -- Dominio del Plata.

Catena is the daughter of Nicolas Catena, the owner of the Bodega Catena Zapata winery. She wanted to be a doctor but in 1999 began to take a more active role in the company. Now she is responsible for much of the research for its top blends.
She started making her own wines after the birth of her first son using grapes from small growers who owned some of Mendoza's oldest vineyards.

"In a certain way, we are very lucky in Argentina," Catena said. "Mendoza is a very particular place, with high altitude, poor soil, low yield ... and that makes the grapes very unique." She is pleased by how far Argentine wines, particularly Malbec, have come given the country's political and economic instability. But Balbo believes the world will also learn to appreciate the country's other wines.

"Our country has such diversity in soil. There's the Bonarda, the Tempranillo and (Cabernet) Sauvignon and that has been a major push not only for ourselves, but for other wineries in the country to experiment and work with other grapes," Catena said.
"When I hear comments such as 'Ah, no way this Argentine wine is as good as a Barolo or a Bordeaux,' I say, 'OK, let's try the wine and then you tell me.'"

While Balbo visits other countries seeking new techniques and markets for Argentine wine, Catena has focused on new winemaking regions of Argentina such as Rioja and Patagonia.

Although Sielecki did not come from a wine family or study viticulture, she bought a small vineyard with 80-year-old vines in the Lujan de Cuyo district of Mendoza. The theory is that older vines' lower yield means greater concentration and quality for the fruit. She convinced winemaker Roberto de la Mota, who made a name for himself at Chandon and then in a joint-venture with Chateau Cheval Blanc, to join her to create Mendel Wines.

"It was very clear to us that if we couldn't produce great, top quality wine from that small vineyard, we wouldn't produce it at all," said Sielecki, who is the wife of Argentina's ambassador to the United States.

The boutique winery makes about 80,000 bottles a year of three different wines all based on Argentina's iconic grape, Malbec. Like Balbo, she exports about 90 percent of the production.

So what is the future for women winemakers in Argentina?

"It is true that men are still the majority in this business, but the sure thing is that there's a lot of women now among the younger generation. I expect the number will keep getting higher and higher," Catena said.
(Additional reporting by Leslie Gevirtz in New York)

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

Trusted Hands

My phone rang yesterday morning from a wine industry friend from Dallas who I haven't seen in awhile. Our friendship goes back to 2004, I was managing the wine department at Central Market up in Plano and he was one of the hardest working distributor managers I dealt with, I could totally count on him to help make my wine selections shine.

He called yesterday to share a story about his visit to Austin with his family over the holidays. Being a wine geek that he is, he told me that he spent a healthy amount of time visiting many of the accounts I work with in Austin. While shopping for a "good bottle of wine" he was shown LIOCO and Davis Family Vineyards within seconds of asking the wine steward for suggestions. He told me this with a smile on his face, I could feel it over the phone, "job well done Ali".

And that's what it's all about. Mission accomplished after countless hours (ie: supply chain - distributor pitches, pitches to the account, distributor inventory management, distributor staff training, account education & support) of making certain "good bottles of wine" are placed into the right kind of accounts and left into the trusted hands of "good wine ambassadors".

I appreciate him telling me the story, created a smile on my face. Another year, see on you the TexaCali Wine Trail. Cheers - Ali

Sunday, January 03, 2010

2009 Top 5 Blog Posts

Hurrah! 2010 brings Year 5 for TexaCali Wine Co. and I'm back to spreadsheets and sales meeting planning. Also working on some killer new online applications and fun reasons to keep checking this site and learning more about our special producers. So stay tuned...

The TexaCali Wine Trail attracted a few thousand new readers in 2009, here are the Top 5 posts of last year...Cheers - Ali