Monday, February 22, 2010

Friday Night Reds Unveil Pork Belly and a Rather Loose Cab

One of my favorite ways to end a long work week is a visit to PS Wine & Specialty Foods in downtown Palm Springs. The low-key Friday night tastings hosted by Vern and Paulette Wright always provide an excellent opportunity to catch up with friends and taste some extraordinary wines.

This particular visit was all about reds, and as my fellow wine lovers know, I am enthralled with the deep, inky kind. First up was a 2006 Duas Quintas, a light red made from the Touriga Franca grape grown in Portugal's breathtaking Duoro region. The fruit was whispy on the tongue, with a nose evocative of dark raisins.

Our next taste was a Paso Robles Cab from Laurel Cellars. This 2006 gem was one of the most aromatic wines I have encountered in a while, with musky sandalwood and spice redolent of my favorite Caswell-Massey cologne. This wine had really ripe tannins, which prompted my friend Danny to remark "This makes you wanna chew!" His wife Julia concurred, pronouncing it "a slutty steal."

I really thought I'd stuck my face in a jar of my mother's homemade blackberry jam by mistake when I encountered our third taste of the evening. St. Francis Winery & Vineyards produces some of the most elegant wines in Sonoma County, and their 2006 Cabernet proves that theory. The tannins are tight and indicative of a young Cab, while the nose is reminiscent of a ripe Zinfandel.

The final sip of the evening was a rich offering from Lodi's Klinker Brick Winery. I have a particular affinity for Old Vine Zin, and their 2007 vintage received 91 points from Wine Spectator and is a spectacular combination of black licorice and jelly bean. Vern was proud to note that his palate screamed "bacon!" upon tasting this one. Personally, I thought it had more of a pork rind appeal...but to each his own...

PS Wine & Speciality Foods: 188 South Indian Canyon Drive, Palm Springs 760-322-4411

Thursday, February 18, 2010

Cupid's Arrow Lands Squarely on Cozy Wine Nook in Downtown Palm Springs

While Valentine's Day has historically been reserved for lovers, it can also be an opportune time for friends to catch up over a great glass or two of wine. For me, the latter was the option of choice this year, and I wasn't at all disappointed with the tasting location.

Wild For the Vine is a quaint jem of a wine shop tucked off of the main strip of stores between Alejo and Amado on Palm Canyon Drive in downtown Palm Springs. Inside you will find an array of eclectic collectibles that are all things vino, in addition to an impressive collection that is at once a collection of known producers peppered with a few cult picks here and there.

I opted to sip on a delicate Cava as I waited for my friend, perusing that evening's selection of flights. We both decided on a series of wines that kicked off with a Viognier called "Coquelicot" from France's Loire region. The name means "poppy" in French, which was fitting since the wild type of this flower grows right alongside the grapes in some instances, and the wine itself was floral and a bit exotic with an even, spicy finish.

While I wasn't crazy about the dry, overly tannic quality of the Germano Angelo Nebbiolo, I did marvel at the gorgeous ruby color that is characteristic of this Italian creation. I enjoyed the fragrant and dark Bleasdale Cabernet, which had subtle notes of mint and eucalyptus and a smooth hint of oak on the palate.

My favorite of the four was the final wine of the evening, an inky and ripe Syrah from Broman Cellars, a Napa Valley producer. Being a sucker for the jammy and 'full on fruit' versions of this varietal, I was pleasantly surprised to find I also enjoyed Broman's contrasting earthiness.   

Wild for the Vine has a full calendar of in store events, even wine book club meetings, for everyone from serious oenophiles to those who are just learning about the charms of the grape. Just don't be disappointed if your glass isn't accompanied by a chocolate-covered strawberry...a good reason to look forward to the next Valentine's Day...

Wild for the Vine: (760) 325-9930 or visit