Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Stay tuned...

I'm very excited to write-up my time with Giorgio Rivetti for all to read!  I learned so much from Giorgio, about his family, his vineyards, his love of fine wine and of course the business of Indigenous Selections and La Spinetta.   More tomorrow  - I'm on the road the rest of the day! 

Here's a sweet-photo, a group of Texas wine collections and one of Texas most loved Sommeliers' D'Lynn Proctor huddled around Giorgio below at Grailey's last night in Dallas.  Cheers - Ali

Sunday, May 23, 2010


So nice to meet all the new fans and loyal friends of Pellegrini Family Vineyards who stopped by The Austin Wine Merchant yesterday.  It was fun to taste the Unoaked and Olivet Lane Chardonnay's side-by-side and even more fun to learn from many of you that Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet is your favorite California Cabernet. Thank you for spreading the word about these beauties to all your wine-loving friends too!

Keep your eyes out for Pellegrini wines at your favorite restaurants around town, they have a new Texas distributor who's making certain Pellegrini wines are listed on the finest wine lists throughout Texas.  Cheers to seeing you again and sipping the beautiful wines of Pellegrini!   - Ali

Saturday, May 22, 2010

Historical Texas Ties for Pellegrini Family Vineyards

A few weeks ago, I had a fun and interesting conversation via Facebook with Susan-Williams Pellegrini, the wife of Robert Pellegrini. This is the story where Luca, Italy meets the Texas Hill Country. 

"My family (Weirich) first settled in Fredericksburg in 1850. My Oma's family (Hilker), born in Germany, immigrated in 1896 to avoid the on going wars. During the depression my Opa moved the family to Johnson City. My Uncle George, now 96, still lives there. He has been active in city affairs including the school board and bank. Many of my cousins have moved back to Fredericksburg in the last 20 years. Beautiful town. 

Our last family reunion in 2009 was at the original homestead. The Weirichs are related to the Nimitz clan by marriage. My mother married and moved to California after WWII. She is the only sibling (youngest) of seven to leave Texas. I originally had 22 first cousins. 

My fondest memories of childhood are those long summer visits. The heavy August air, wild flowers, red ants and doodle bugs....coupled with the many embraces and laughter of my mother's family. After meeting Robert my Uncle Albert decided he was good ole boy but I had picked up some aires.

At first Uncle Albert wasn't too sure about Robert. He said with a dry humor "Why, Yur the first "I"talian I've ever met."   I think they connected during the deep pit BBQ the morning before the reunion that year...1979. "  -  Susan Williams - Pellegrini.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

East End Wines Presents...

Come out to the shop Monday, May 24, from 6 pm to 8 pm and taste the wines of La Spinetta with the owner and winemaker, Giorgio Rivetti!

Giorgio is part of a family-owned initiative at La Spinetta that believes in "making wines with a passion."  The Rivettis and their vineyard family have gained international fame for quality and style using strict vineyard management, low yields, no chemical products, and are currently 75% bio-dynamic.  Spinetta produces wines both from Piedmonte and Tuscany, from which we will have six bottlings to taste this Monday evening, including the 2006 La Spinetta Barbaresco Bordini.  Light snackage will be provided.

Hope to see you there!


Matt and Sam

Special New Release Tasting in Austin this Saturday

The Austin Wine Merchant  is celebrating the fine wines of Pellegrini - just in time to fill your cellars for summer sipping!  Please stop by for a special Pellegrini Family Vineyards tasting this Saturday afternoon, 12-3pm.  The following Pellegrini wines will be featured:

-2008 Pellegrini Family Unoaked Russian River Chardonnay

-2007 Olivet Lane Russian River Chardonnay

-2007 Olivet Lane Russian River Pinot Noir

-2006 Cloverdale Ranch Alexander Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

-2008 Pellegrini Family "Eight Cousin's" Russian River Zinfandel

512 West 6th Street
Austin, TX 78701-2806
(512) 499-0512

Please feel free to forward this post along to your wine-loving friends and co-workers, a tasting not-to-be-missed!

See you Saturday,  "TexaCali Ali"

Monday, May 17, 2010

The Pearl is in the River - 2009 LIOCO Sonoma County Chardonnay has Arrived

It's here, we've been awaiting the new vintage for months now all over America. Tis' the Season to  go fill your wine coffers and load up on the new release! 

Chardonnay “Sonoma County” 09
After four successive vintages with this wine, we are finally achieving what we set out to do. Omitting fruit sources that haven’t performed and refining those that have, has left us with what may be the most “complete” So-Co to date.

The 2009 is a blend of Stuhlmuller Vineyard (Alexander Valley), Mazzera Vineyard (Dry Creek), Ricci Vineyard (Carneros), and Valentine Vineyard (Mendocino). The wine features a core of citrus (mostly lemons) and chalky minerality. Adding complexity are notes of orchard fruit and miso paste. This is drier and taughter wine that was the 2008. $20 (Distributed by Avante Beverages)

Also...the new LIOCO Indica is back in stock - oh yeah!  Cheers - Ali

Friday, May 14, 2010


I cracked open a beautiful bottle of the 2008 LIOCO Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir tonight with my family.  We are celebrating many new beginnings together and toasting to the past gifts given. Today in Dallas was unusually cold, a few sips of this red wine not only warmed my bones, but provided warmth and friendship with each pour.  I fall in love with certain wines for numerous reasons,  all I can say about this LIOCO Pinot was love at first sight and sip. I'm all yours!  - Cheers, Ali

2008 LIOCO Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
90 points from Stephen Tanzer's International Wine Cellar: "Bright red. Enticing tangy aromas of raspberry, bitter cherry, Asian spices and game. Then suave and creamy in the mouth but with excellent energy and spicy lift toward the back thanks to tangy minerality. Mounts impressively, without giving any impression of weight. The fine-grained tannins contribute to an impression of finesse. Twenty percent whole clusters were used here, according to O'Connor." (May/Jun '10) A selection of sites in Sonoma County compose this wine. The goal is to clearly express the character of the region, which is strongly influenced by maritime variations. Warm days and cool nights, tempered by consistent oceanic fog, yield full and rich Pinot Noir balanced by brisk acidity and tannin. 

Approx: $35 a bottle retail. (Click on the label to read winemakers notes)

PS: I walked through the warehouse of LIOCO's Texas Distributor "Avante Beverages" today.  It's always a true pleasure to see a tiny amount of wine left on the warehouse floor when I take a peek into inventory knowing Texas is soaring in sales for the independent and family owned wineries I assist.  I've been (and so has all of Texas) waiting for months now for the new vintage of LIOCO Sonoma County Chardonnay to arrive   - this Monday people (fingers crossed). Read up on LIOCO

Thursday, May 13, 2010

I'll take the Filet Mignon with my Pinot Noir please...

Spotlighting Oregon's Freedom Hill Vineyard today. Over the past few years in Texas, I've spent majority of my time pulling corks of Lange Estate Freedom Hill Pinot Noir for staff-training sessions in Texas' best steakhouses. The Chardonnay from this vineyard is quite honestly my very favorite Chardonnay from Oregon.

Under 400 cases of each varietal produced, the wines are in
stock at Avante Beverages, so just ask your favorite wine shop for Lange Estate Freedom Hill wines...Cheers - Ali

Freedom Hill Vineyard

"Lange Wineryhas sourced fruit from the Freedom Hill Vineyard since 1990 and began making its namesake single-vineyard Pinot Noir in 1996. Typically, Pinot Noir from this site shows dark, brooding fruitand significant tannin structure. Freedom Hill fruit provides the masculine frame that allows for an ultimately age-worthy wine. The perfect Pinot Noir for a Texas steakhouse!

2004 marked the first vintage of Lange's Freedom Hill Vineyard Chardonnay which showcases Dijon clone 76 as well as Freedom Hill's capacity to produce premium,cool-climate fruit. Warm days and cool nights allow for complete fruit ripening while maintaining essential acid balance. This premier Oregon vineyard delivers exceptional fruit year after year and continues to be an important contributor to the Lange winery portfolio."

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Musical Winemaker

The laws won't allow you to receive a wine club shipment - well, how about a few of Don Lange's CD's?!

Meet Don Lange,
Owner and Winemaker of Lange Vineyards.
Lange's winemaker, Don Lange, graduated from the University of Iowa's Writer Workshop with a Master of Fine Arts degree and then pursued a career as a songwriter/recording artist, winning a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts and recording three albums. His career in wine started with the 1980 vintage and continued in earnest in 1987 when he and his wife Wendy moved to the Red Hills of Dundee and founded Lange Winery.

Known for his even hand, Winemaker Don Lange crafts beautifully balanced wines from fruit grown on the Winery Estate, located in the heart of the prestigious Dundee Hillls appellation. To further supplement their 14,000 case production, the Langes purchase additional fruit from the best vineyards in the surrounding area. Long-standing relationships with these talented and dedicated growers have helped the winery establish a well-deserved reputation for consistency and complexity in the wines.

Currently, Don bottles six different Pinot Noirs, paying meticulous attention to each lot of wine. While guiding its journey through a careful barrel regime, he blends as he sees fit or bottles his favorites as single-vineyard offerings. Don is joined by his son, Jesse, in these endeavors, thus the Lange Estate legacy continues with Jesse's enthusiastic contributions in both the cellar and the vineyard.

Please look for Lange at your favorite wine shop around Texas. If you are lucky enough to eat at Olivia in Austin, Texas, be sure to ask for a glass of the Lange 2008 Pinot Gris - perfect with their mussels on the menu! Cheers - Ali

Monday, May 10, 2010

Winery of the Week!


05 Freedom Hill Pinot label2008 Pinot Gris
"Willamette Valley"

2008 PNWV Talker

"Value Pinot Noir" may seem like an oxymoron, but the 2008 Pinot Noir "Willamette Valley" proves you can eat your cake and have it, too. Its wonderful quality-price ratio gives it big-time cred in the bin, on the shelf, or as a glass pour. TASTING NOTES, SHELF TALKER

05 Freedom Hill Pinot label
2008 Pinot Noir "Reserve"

Lange Pinot Noir "Reserve" is the result of extensive and dedicated barrel tasting by winemakers, Don Lange and Jesse Lange.

Comprised of only the most complex and delicious wines in the cellar, this multi-vineyard Pinot noir is consistently crafted for lush fruit character, seamless balance, and elegance.

Its affinity for food makes it the perfect companion to dishes like cedar plank salmon, wild mushroom risotto, and beef bourguignon.


A little steak with that wine?

I'm so looking forward to tomorrow - a big day lined up seeing wine pros around town with Pellegrini Family Vineyards open! Here's a great recipe from Robert Pellegrini I posted a few years ago - still goes perfectly well with the new 2006 Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet! Cheers - Ali

Sunday, May 09, 2010

Getting Schooled on Corked Wine

This is a must read post by Mulan today on her blog. Corked wine questions come up many times throughout the week. Here in Texas heat plays a big role in messing up wine if improperly stored, but the worldwide problem is TCA...thanks for breaking it down for us Professor MuMu!

Friday, May 07, 2010

A Texas Woman

“There is such a thing as a Texas woman. She is a very particular and recognizable type: independent and courageous, possessed of both frontier survival skill and urban sophistication, fun-loving, forward-thinking, rich in spirit. Such a person may not exist elsewhere. She’s been with us as long as Texas has.” – Evan Smith in Texas Monthly on Texas Women.

A friend who is also a big inspiration and "Shepard" to me in the Texas wine business passed this quote along good to keep to myself. Right on!

In Honor of Mom

Meet "Mom". My Mother taught elementary school for 30 years, retired then within months had a shoulder replaced and a heart attack. I'm so grateful she is here on this planet!

Her Mom & my Grandmother "Theda Jackson" pictured with my Papa here...Grandmother Jackson never spent a day where she wasn't helping others. She was a CPA by day, but had the doors open of her farmhouse in Maypearl, Texas 24/7.

Grandmother made a mean enchilada and always welcomed anyone around to sit down and have a meal with the family. I miss her and wish I knew her in my adult life, I'm pretty sure the tenacity in my soul comes from Grandmother, boy I could use her wise words of wisdom these days.

Even though Mom doesn't drink (oh she's had a few sips), she often helps customers at her local Central Market select the "right bottle of wine" while strolling through the wine department. So Davis Family, Pellegrini and Handley sales are pretty solid there! Mom always asks me about my family wineries and how their business is doing in Texas. Mom cares and is always here for me and my little brother (sometime whether we like it or not). I love you MOM!

One of the great pleasures of helping wineries owned by "real humans" is hearing all about their kids along the way. There are many hours in our week to discuss how the family is doing.

My favorite stories almost always come from Milla Handley of Handley Cellars.

Milla and my Mom have lived very different lives, but they both speak of their kids the same. Proud, excited, bragging a bit, concerned they are making the right choices...all that Mom stuff. Even though she's not the winemaker, Susan Pellegrini recently reached out to me with some solid "mom advice" for this new bride.

Moms are our rock.

So, next time you pick up a bottle of wine, you just might be honoring a Mom. Families are the reason we have wine in this world and families are counting on us to keep their business moving forward.

Thank you Mom and thanks to all the fans of TexaCali Wine Co. producers for making mindful choices this Mother's Day. I'll be in Austin helping promote Handley Cellars and Lange Estate especially. Happy Mother's Day to all! Cheers - Ali

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

Handley Cellars Organic Vineyards

Anderson Valley Estate Vineyard

Our estate vineyard experiences cool foggy nights and bright sunny days, the perfect climate for the 12 acres of Pinot Noir, 13 acres of Chardonnay, and 5 acres of Gew├╝rztraminer planted there. All of our Estate Chardonnay and sparkling wines are produced entirely from estate fruit, as are most of our reserve Pinot Noirs.

Because vineyards in Anderson Valley are interspersed with homes and watersheds, Milla made the decision apply for organic certification, and the Estate Vineyard was CCOF certified in August 2005. Jos├ę Jimenez, our Estate Vineyard manager, Kristen Barnhisel, our co-winemaker, and Bill Oldham, our consultant, work together as a team to keep our vines thriving. They use compost and mineral supplements to build the soil, thus fostering stronger plants that are less susceptible to disease. They avoid using pesticides and herbicides, allowing beneficial insects to flourish.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Winery of the Week!

Handley Cellars Wines are available at your favorite wine shop in Texas - just ask! Reposting my magical trip last March...Cheers to a great week ahead! - Ali

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Last Monday I spent a beautiful day with Handley Cellars in California's Anderson Valley - approx. 10 miles inland from the Mendocino Coast. Milla Handley and her co-winemaker Kristen Barnhisel hosted a group of wine-pros from around the country to learn more about their Pinot Noir program, and to experience blending a bottle of Pinot.

The day begin with touring Pinot Noir vineyards in the Anderson Valley ... Ferrington, Helluva and Handley's Organic Estate Vineyard. A bottle of Handley Anderson Valley Pinot in some years can have as many as 10 different vineyard sites, or as little as 1 - depending on the particular role Mother Nature played. The group spent the afternoon blending a bottle of Pinot using 5 different vineyard sites. "Day Dream" was my final blend, Milla suggested I wait until XMAS to open. I'll report back then.

For now... a few quick facts from Monday:

1. Handley Cellars is located in "Region 1" , a scale the folks at UC Davis created to determine the coolest (the chilly kind) to the warmest climate regions. Region 1 means the most days at 50 degrees and under.

2. Bell Beans and Arugula are grown as cover-crop between the v
ineyard rows. Why? They hold a lot of nitrogen down in the roots which is very good for the soil and grapevines.

3. Most of the
Anderson Valley Pinot vineyards are pruned already this year and are budding early.

4. Soils: Most of the soils are clay and sandy loam, with 5-15% rock.

5. Temperatures in the Anderson Valley
swing can reach 100 degrees by 3pm and dip back down to 45 degrees at night. This is fabulous in creating acidity levels and the high heat days help prevent disease and mildew.

6. How to tell if the vines need water: If you reach your hand inside the canopy (where the grape clusters hang and are surrounded by their leaves) and it's the same temperature as the outside air - they need water. The canopy should create it's own little AC system within the vines.

7. Handley uses a propane
flame to control weeds. It's the shot with the guy on the tractor down below, flames shoot out at the very bottom on the backsides behind the tractor and hit just deep enough to kill the roots.

8. Handley Estate Vineyards (Martini Clone = big fruit flavors, lower tannins and silky smooth texture) were planted in 1987, the water tower and ranch house
were built in 1906. Milla, her husband and their 2 daughters lived in the old water-tower for awhile (great stories about this time in their lives, ask me in person, too long to type now!).

2007 is the current Handley Cellars Anderson Valley Pinot Noir release.

10. Handley uses solar-power and organic growing practices.
You can see the solar-panels in the background of the first picture on the right with winemakers Kristen and Milla.

Handley Cellars wines are available anywhere you like in Texas, Avante Beverages is their distributor and currently has the Gewurztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, Syrah and Zinfandel. Cheers - Ali

(Please click image to enlarge each picture, such a magical place)

Sunday, May 02, 2010

A day in New Braunfels

I've grown up, hit me smack dab in the face as I was driving into New Braunfels passing college kids with inner-tubes under their arms heading towards the river for a long afternoon float. Yes, fond (well somewhat hazy) memories indeed, but WOW - New Braunfels has grown up too!

I had the pleasure of spending the day underneath th
e porch at Gourmage - a wine, cheese and chocolate shop right in the middle of the town square. Saturday was a true All American kinda day. Everyone - kids, dogs, family and visitors from all over the United States strolled by Gourmage and stopped for a tasty "adult grilled cheese" snack and a sips of great American wine. Music blaring from the stage a few hundred feet away, local artisans peddling their wares and a lot of very down-to-earth, happy folks hanging out made the day complete. I can't imagine how New Braunfels feels during July 4 celebrations!

All the wines showed so beautifully, something for everyone, even those who thought they only liked "sweet" wine found something new. Gourmage sold the following bottles all day to folks heading to see the evening Spasmatics concert off the square.

- Handley Cellars Sauvignon Blanc $13.50

- Lange Estate Pinot Gris $16.99

- Storrs "Christie Vineyard" Chardonnay $13.50

- Teira Sonoma County Zinfandel $16.50

I headed home to Austin right before sundown. The day was closed with wine perfection at Gourmage. A VIP Wine and Cheese tasting was lead by Josh "The Wine Guy" with LIOCO "Durell" Vineyard Chardonnay, Pellegrini Cloverdale Ranch Cabernet and Olivet Lane Pinot Noir A few pics tell the day away...Cheers - Ali