Wednesday, June 25, 2014

On the Road in Austria

Get Ready to here a lot from me soon about FURMINT!
Written on June 20...posted on the 25th thanks to wonderful wifi access in the Mosel (and a day off from meetings for me!).

Right this very minute, I'm typing from the back seat from a rental car on the way to visit Neumayer in Traisental and then onto the Wachau to visit Holzapfel Day 9 of travel, grateful for hot cappuccinos at the Autogrills at this point. It's been much easier to post photos and fun facts through my phone while connecting to wifi along the way than emailing & firing up the laptop to write unfortunately.  Find TexaCaliAli on Twitter & Instagram if you like.

Vie Vinum in Vienna was incredible, beyond the hundreds of wines tasted, it was a fantastic time with many of the Top Wine Writers,  US Sommeliers, Wine Buyers and Importers.  I'm traveling with Winemonger Imports, who is celebrating over 10 years of representing a premium selection of Austrian, German, Italian and French wines - along with Zalto from Austria in the USA.
Winery Dog at Moric with Winemaker Roland...

Many reviews and photos to come soon,  hoping we'll have a bit of a break while taking a train from Salzburg to Munich on Sunday, then a 5 hour drive on Monday to the Pfalz for a week of visiting German wine producers.

For now, here a few of my favorite photos from the past week in Austria. - TexaCali Ali

The Styria Region in Austria, well known for Sauvignon Blanc.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Vintage Albuquerque

Reporting from Vienna today while attending the fabulous Vie Vinum along with American's top wine pros!  It's been an exciting few days and we've only begun.  Taking a little break this morning to catch up on TexaCali Wine Co. correspondence and happenings...

This week is also exciting back in the states for Denier Handal Wines, June 18-22 is Vintage Albuquerque! 

A few reasons why this so cool I say! Owner Dick and Lisa have actually called Albuquerque home for many years, it's also the first state outside of California their wines are distributed AND they are co-hosting a fantastic dinner at Season's on Thursday night.

I tell you, it's been awesome to hear the feedback around the US about these small production wines made in the heart of Sonoma County.  What a treat for all attendees of Vintage Albuquerque this week to meet the dear owners and taste their wines.  Their Rosé, Cabernet Sauvigon, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah are featured throughout the week.

Thursday night - please contact Seasons for the Vintage Albuquerque wine dinner featuring Denier Handal.  Wish I could be there too!

Cheers, Ali

Friday, June 06, 2014

White Wine of the Weekend

Every single time I hear "Domaine Jean Louis Chave" dance into conversation my mind goes straight to the first sip of Hermitage Blanc I ever had, not their legendary Syrah.  Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of Chave Syrah - but that unbelievably beautiful sip of Marsanne and Rousanne was truly breathtaking, a welcomed memory indeed.  

Fast forward to 2014, so very honored to be working with Alder Springs Vineyard and their gorgeous Row 5 White, a blend of their estate grown Marsanne and Viognier.  A cousin in style, certainly not as complex as the great Chave Blanc, but not to be missed by fans of Northern Rhone whites.

At $30 a bottle, the Row 5 White over-achieves in quality with classic Rhone white wine layers of aromatics and elegant flavors of lemon oil, white flower pedals and a tiny hint of anise. A true California white Rhone blend providing a much lower-priced alternative to the wines of the Northern Rhone.

Where exactly is Alder Springs Vineyard?  About an hour North of the town of Healdsburg, California. The property is a 6,000 acre forested wonderland, approx. 120 of which are devoted to vines.  The vineyards are planted above the fog line, between 1700 and 2700 feet in elevation.

Really Cool Fact: An incredible 140 MILES of bird-netting is placed over the vines to protect some of the most sought after rows of grapes in California from feathery predators. A huge job for this sustainable vineyard and their loyal vineyard workers each year.

What to pair?  Well, this bottle goes incredibly well with great conversation among friends while hanging out this summer on a porch or by the pool.  I'm not kidding.  A simple spread of mild cheeses along with a little fig jam and a fresh baked baguette will compliment the Row 5 White.  Better have a few bottles chilled!

For those needing a recipe, try this Pork Tenderloin suggestion from William Sonoma, it looks delicious, might have to give this a try over the weekend.  So don't forget to look for Alder Springs at your favorite wine shop and/or ask your local Sommelier for one of the most exciting white wines I've fallen for this year...  Alder Spring Vineyard, Row 5 White  (purchase direct from the winery). 

Cheers - TexaCali Ali

Monday, June 02, 2014

Auction Napa Valley with THE GRADE Cellars

It's that time of year folks, the 2014 Auction Napa Valley is this weekend. A weekend that the worlds biggest collectors of Cabernet Sauvignon convene together to share in the bounty of Napa Valley.  To keep up with all the instant happenings follow the hashtag #anv14, it'll be quite a show!

So here's the important part...THE GRADE Cellars participation can be found 2 ways:

1) Barrel Lot #290- THE GRADE Cellars

2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, Release Date: March 2015
  • 100% Cabernet Sauvignon from Winfield Vineyard, our estate property in the Calistoga AVA
  • Aged in French oak; this vintage will have spent about 18 months in barrel as of 2014 Auction Napa Valley
  • A blend of two favorite vineyard blocks; reflects the significant soil variation in our vineyard
Winemaker: Thomas Brown

2) E-Auction Lot #449: Stevenson’s Silverado: A Journey up THE GRADE

Put on your hiking shoes, grab your camera and join THE GRADE Cellars in retracing the steps of Robert Louis Stevenson to the site of Napa’s historic mining town of Silverado! This adventurous history lesson is coupled with a cook-out afterwards on THE GRADE’s estate vineyard at the foot of the mountain.

Now listen up! Your experience begins at the Robert Louis Stevenson Museum in St. Helena with a privately guided tour through its collection of “Stevensonia” – the largest of its kind in the world. Louis, as he was known to friends, was a world-renowned writer of such memorable works as Treasure Island, Kidnapped, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde and The Silverado Squatters, written during his honeymoon with Fanny Stevenson on Mount St. Helena near Calistoga. There will be no quiz!

You will then be transported to the side of that mountain, driven up a secret road to the panoramic site of Silverado and escorted to the end of its famous “Silver Street” for a sparkling wine toast to the author at the monument built to memorialize the cabin where he spent his honeymoon. After all this book-learnin’ stuff, Tom & Brenda, owners of THE GRADE Cellars, will take your group back down to their stunning vineyard for a chuck-wagon barbeque served with multiple vintages of THE GRADE Cabernet Sauvignon.

After dinner, and as the sun fades in the West, you’ll kick back at their vintage Airstream and enjoy some films – including of the California’s Forty-Niners (the old-timer ones) and what Silverado mining was really like. That’s as good as gold! To be arranged during the warm season by mutual agreement.

 - TexaCali Ali

Sunday, June 01, 2014

TexaCali Wine Trail 2.0 - here we go!

I've hit a social media content wall of sorts, a level of obnoxiousness has been reached on my Facebook page with my daily chatter - SO reviving the TexaCali Wine Trail Blog is a must!  So many great things to share with the world - those who follow TexaCali Ali and those who might discover all things TexaCali Wine Co. because of this dear old blog.  After a little remodeling on the design, I'm ready to rock this back to surpass past popularity.

I did begin writing on my consulting website earlier this year - so please don't miss these two important posts.   I can't hold back any longer all of the wonderful stories, wines and TexaCali Wine Tales!   Let's start off with an insider's review of last Saturday night...

"Russian River 2nd Annual Paulée Dinner" presented by the
 Russian River Valley Winegrowers Association 

Anytime I'm in the Russian River Valley Region, memories of when and why I fell in love with wine flood my mind and my heart.  Driving through the Russian River Valley is sorta like pulling out that comfy pair of jeans you've had forever - and they still fit and feel great to wear! 

This night was nothing short of a spectacular gathering of fantastic people and passion for Pinot Noir.  Clearly the event to be at if you have an ounce of love in your soul for the Russian River Region. Elegant, delicious and a classic night of great conversation and sipping of course.

A few of my personal highlights truly began once I walked into the beautiful dinner pavilion on the grounds of DeLoach Vineyards.  Such a classy setting, complete with lighting from an epic Russian River sunset.  A glass of Hartford Court Rosé of Pinot Noir filled my glass - first time I'd tasted this wine and was very pleased with the flavor profile and drinkability - a perfect example of a dry rosé!

Dinner guests were a large mix of winemakers, winery owners, grape growers, professional wine buyers, wine writers and very passionate pinot noir collectors who flew in as far as from Japan for the event.

Oh but the wines!!  One of the very first wines poured from me was a 1979 Bacigalupi Vineyards Chardonnay. Seriously, the wine was extraordinary - notes of delicious caramel filled my mouth, I could have stopped with this first sip.

However, the night was just beginning. Mark McWilliams of Arista Winery so generously stopped by my table with a sexy bottle of 1999 Domaine des Comtes Lafon Charmes, Meursault Premier Cru, France.  I'm gonna be bold here  - this was the BEST Lafon Charmes I have ever had. Vibrant, with a mix of citrus and mineral - a real freshness with superb balance - it took me back, oh how I love white Burgundy!

So it's a tradtion to bring bottles to share with others at the Paulée gathering, I've never attended the dinners that are usually attended by old guys in suits with a scattering of young guys in suits showing off their trophies...bottles that is.  This night was such a comfortable setting for everything I believe, by mid-dinner just about all the guests had fluttered around all the tables to pour, sip and chat up other lovers of this great wine region we were all honoring together.

Many older RRV and Burgundy Pinot Noirs were opened, shared and tasted. I have to announce that I didn't get to taste every bottle opened, but the Benovia pictured below was my WOTN (wine of the night), it was also the first time I had ever tried a Benovia wine.

I sat with owners Joe and Mary along with their winemaker Mike Sullivan.  To be honest, I've probably driven past Benovia a few hundred times over the past few years, while taking a short-cut to Olivet Rd. The 2012 Benovia "Martella" RRV Pinot Noir was full of expression, layers of fruit and spice that went on for quite some time after drinking.   Exactly the flavors I felt after drinking my first California pinots over a decade ago, a true classic Russian River Pinot Noir.

The dinner was the eve of my birthday, so I did allow myself to enjoy the evening more than I usually do - it was great to catch up with old friends and meet many new ones that share my passion for fine wine and people.  More taking in the moment than snapping photos this time.

I tell you this - I can't wait for the 2015 Paulée date to release, I'm assembling a table of friends now!

Special thanks for the following wineries who were also in attendance, organized the evening and were so very generous with their wines for the Paulée!

Arista Winery, Bacigalupi Vineyards, Benovia Winery, Bucher Vineyard, C. Donatiello Winery, Davis Family Wines, DeLoach Vineyards, Hartford Family Winery, Iron Horse Vineyards, La Crema, La Follette, J. Vineyards & Winery, Joseph Swan Vineyards, Kosta Browne, Merry Edwards Winery, Russian Hill Estate Winery, Siduri Wines, Thomas George Estates, Trione Vineyards and Winery, and Williams Selyem.

See ya around,  - TexaCali Ali