Friday, July 30, 2010

Sharp & Nutty

On the road in Northern California this weekend, celebrating the 5th Year Anniversary of The Cheese Shop in Healdsburg.  Congrats to my dear friend and owner - Doralice! My favorite gifts to send to friends all over the USA come from her beautiful store - check it out:

Here's the view from her Pop's front porch in Dry Creek in the springtime...

Cheers to a great weekend everyone! Ali

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

More Free Flow - Wine on Tap Making it Happen!

"Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants, which has 55 restaurants and bars across the country, has launched a new Wine On Tap program. Emily Wines, master sommelier and director of wines at Kimpton Restaurants, (yes, her name is wildly apt for the job) is leading the draft wine program through a partnership with Free Flow Wines.

The idea is to provide fresh wine by the glass, strengthen relationships with local vineyards and reduce waste. No bottles, no corks, just refillable kegs, generally made of stainless steel or food-grade plastic, that use a mixture of argon and nitrogen gas to push the wine out.

"Every glass that we pour is just as fresh as the first one," said Wines.

Texas Keg Info Link Here - distributed by Avante Beverages

Monday, July 26, 2010

Wines of the Week - 2 More from Italy

2009 La Spinetta Toscana Vermentino 
La Spinetta's Tuscan gold is one to buy by the case.  This vermentino is a brand new release and it is gorgeous white wine, perfect quencher for our summer heat!  A few facts:

 - Aged 4 months in stainless steel on yeast, released 6 months after harvest
 - Soils - mixed clay and sand, vines approx. 10 years old.

Vermentino is an indigenous grape of Sardinia, thriving best near coastal waters and more recently in Tuscany and near the Amalfi Coast.

Bottle Notes: Rich, lush, yet elegant on the palate, it is a light golden color with a rich bouquet and complex aromas of citrus, rosemary and pine. You can almost smell the coastal water influence in the glass. The aromas are so inviting it draws you in brimming with fruit and floral notes adding minerals at the end. Medium-bodied the wine's core reveals notes of fresh apricot and white peach. The crisp acidity and long finish help show this wine's Tuscan terroir.  Suggested Retail Price $18-20

BiancaVigna Prosecco DOC Brut NV

BRUT-style, DOC-status, Non-Vintage -All estate-fruit from old vines (20-50 yr old vines)
Small production
Conegliano-based vineyards (San Pietro di Felleto)
Traditional Charmat production method

100% estate-grown Glera fruit; 27 year-old vines (average). Vinified by gently pressing the grapes, still decantation and fermentation at a constant temperature. Aged in stainless steel vats.

Foaming: Second fermentation in stainless steel tanks (cuvée close) at controlled temperatures, with selected ferments, for a minimum of 60 days. Tartaric stabilization at a low temperature.
Bottling: Isobaric bottling, after sterile filtration

Bottle Notes: Color: Brilliant straw-yellow with green reflections, fine and persistent perlage. Flavor: Creamy mouthfeel, yet dry in style; pleasant acidity, lovely fruitiness.  Suggested Retail Price $14-16

Read all about them on Cheers - Ali

Friday, July 23, 2010

Rocca Del Principe 2009 Fiano - Wine of the Weekend

Rocca Del Principe 2009 Fiano di Avellino DOCG

- 100% Estate-grown Fiano di Avellino fruit from Arianiello
- Refined in stainless-steel tanks for 7 months, following by another 5-months of bottle aging.

Fiano, meaning vine "beloved of bees," is a grape indigenous to Campania and is one of the most interesting white grapes of southern Italy.

Bottle notes:  A beautiful straw yellow color with very clear and of good consistency. All the olfactory impact is intense and delicate, smokey, floral and fruity notes of fresh citrus fruit. This Fiano is full bodied, fruit driven wine redolent of pears and hazelnut with balanced acidity and a creamy, rich finish.

Campanian husband and wife winemaking duo Aurelia Fabrizio and Ercole Zarrella have instantly commanded the attention of critics and consumers alike, through the sheer breadth of aromatics, minerals and compelling nuances displayed in their substantial Fiano di Avellino.

Their philosophy is a focused one: low production in the vineyards and minimal intervention in the cellar, translate to high quality in the bottle. This principle informs all their decisions throughout production.

Though their first estate-bottled vintage was only in 2004, these gifted, longtime growers have managed to garner "Tre Bicchieri" from Gambero Rosso for their stellar Fiano on more than one occasion. (Including the 2008 vintage!) Their success was even further highlighted by the award of Up-And-Coming Winery of the Year 2009... Suggested Retail Price $17-19

Please ask your favorite wine shop for a few bottles - perfect chilled with anything from grilled fish to roasted chicken this summer.  I prefer mine sipped while boating on Lake Austin! Also - click to read more about Rocca Del Principe from their importer,  Indigenous Selections. CHEERS! Ali

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

Howdy from Italy's Piedmont Region Today!

Ahh, this photo was sent a few minutes ago from Kannika, our dear friend and fellow wine lover from Austin's Royal Blue.  We are so happy she's traveling through Italy this summer -  but INSANELY jealous!  Here's the latest on Giacomo Borgogno wines.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hirsch, Medlock Ames, Teira & Pellegrini - Vintage 2008

Ahh, day dreaming a bit today, well thinking of summers past.  2010 so far has been all work and no play - but no complaints here. You are loving the wine I'm out their selling to your favorite bars, restaurants and wine shops more than ever and I am thankful! 

I can almost smell the fresh veggies picked from the organic gardens at Medlock Ames here...check out this post from July 2008:

Oh how I love Sonoma County, the grapes, the food and most of all the good friends and winemakers I've come to know so well.

Cheers - Ali 

PS - talking Italian Whites on the next post - so stay tuned.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Wine on Tap in Texas

Brought to you by the guys at Free Flow Wines.  Please contact me and/or Avante Beverages for details. Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc and Merlot are in stock now!

It's a quick and easy set-up...

Cheers - Ali


Sunday, July 11, 2010

Talking LIOCO, Handley Cellars and Pellegrini Family Vineyards

Good Morning Everyone!  Whew, last week was jumping with the wines of LIOCO in Austin. Thanks to all of you who came by the tastings and attended the wine dinner at TRIO.  I am in love with their 2008 Carneros (Sonoma side) unoaked Chardonnay and the new 2008 Sonoma Coast (Petaluma Wind Gap side) Pinot Noir right now.  Kevin O'Connor and Matt Licklider - the founders of LIOCO are well into living the dream of building "sense of place" for these fine California designated wines.  

I can't end this without giving props to their 2008 INDICA blend, old vine carignan, mourvedre, and petite sirah blend from Redwood Valley in Mendocino County California - this is the ultimate summer BBQ wine, you should all buy this by the case, a phenomenal value too $ 19 bucks.  Before Kevin took off for his homeland of LA, we took a drive out to the Salt Lick for dinner, 2004 Bandol in tow.  This wine was thick with dry black olives, heavy herbs and earth.  IT ROCKED, but we both smiled as we sipped and agreed the Indica would have been a perfect pairing for our finger-licking-good Salt Lick BBQ.  

So next week, I'll be driving around North Texas with a few wines bags and coolers full of great summer wines.  The month of July the beautiful wines of Handley Cellars have a special promotion running by their Texas distributor - Avante Beverages.  If you are reading this and are in the wine trade, please don't hesitate to ask to taste all the new Handley Wines in stock this month.   Special pricing for summer stacks and wine list placements are very low, so please take advantage.

Monday night will end with me leading a delicious Pellegrini Family wine dinner in Flower Mound at Rouge - please click here to see the menu and call to RSVP.  And the week will end with my friends in Round Rock at Vino 100 for a fun-filled and also incredible food and wine night flowing with the bombastic wines of  Pellegrini Family Vineyards.   Please give Bryan at Vino 100 a call to save a seat, I can't wait! 

Off Subject...thank you for your best wishes and prayers for Henley! He's made a full recovery and has received a clean bill of health from the VET just 2 weeks after the surgery. She said "he's the youngest old dog I've ever operated on",  very happy to have a made the choice to perform the surgery.  "Laryngeal Paralysis" in older dogs is life-threatening, so glad to have a vibrant and energized companion again to play with!  Cheers to a great week ahead - Ali

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Who, When & Where!

Hi everyone, seems that you all had a fun and relaxing July 4th holiday, thanks for all the emails asking about where to find wines for your parties and BBQ meals.   I hope you saved some festive energy for this week...many events scheduled over the next week.  Hope to see some new faces and old friends!  

Please visit for more details.  Cheers - Ali

Friday, July 02, 2010

Dignity 124 Miles North of San Francisco

...lies the Piffero Home Ranch in Redwood Valley, Mendocino. To be exact - it's the site of the Pellegrini's Redwood Valley (Old Vine) Carignan fruit.  CARE-N-YAWN is how we say it around Texas by-the-way.  Quite possibly the most loved wine of all the Pellegrini offerings among wine professionals in Texas too. You'll see this bottle on the geekiest of wine lists and offered at your most ecliptic wine shops. For me, this bottle signifies the American wine spirit, planted in the early 1930's by the same family that owns the land today. 

Only 405 cases produced, this 2007 Pellegrini Redwood Valley Carignan ($18) is a perfect choice for July 4th BBQ's.  I'm sipping on a bottle right now after a delicious fresh grilled angus burger (thank you Whole Foods for the AWESOME $1 burger) with homemade guacamole and baked sweet potato fries.


The Piffero Ranch Carignan is located on a rocky, reddish soil bench, the old head pruned vines were planted in 1934 by the grandparents of Ric Piffero. The vineyard is composed mostly of Carignan, but is also interspersed with Zinfandel and Barbera. 

It is dry farmed and averages a little over two tons per acre. We have come to the conclusion that to refer to this wine merely by its variety is not giving it full credit. As with the old plantings of Grenache and Carignan from regions like Priorat in Spain or the southern Rhone, these relics of California's viticultural past can produce some rather interesting wines if the grapes are treated with dignity. For this reason, we will be moving toward vineyard rather than vertical designation in the future.

Winemaking notes from Kevin Hamel @ Pellegrini:

Grapes were de-stemmed and pumped to tank. The fermentation was allowed to go wild and fermented through successfully. This wine's exceptionally low pH and high acidity make it a refreshing, even racy, medium bodied wine. Aging: The wine was aged for nine months in a combination of three-to four-year-old French and American oak barrels.

Acidity: .73 g/L
Alcohol: 14.1%
Appellation: Redwood Valley
Sub-Appellation: Redwood Valley
Bottling Date: May 08, 2009
Harvest Date: October 27, 2007

Fireworks for your tastebuds!

This deep red colored wine bursts with dark cherry and plum notes of flavor. If you're into big tannins or some earthiness pass on this bottle and go for the Cloverdale Ranch wines. This is such a refreshing style of red wine, it's dancing in my mouth right now! Chill it down a bit, sip along with your burgers or walk with it to your local park to sip-on while watching the July 4 festivities. It is DELICIOUS! 

God Bless The Piffero and Pellegrini families for making this an American original for all of us to enjoy! Cheers to a Happy 4th of July - Ali