By Rick Riozza

If you’ve been playing the wine game for any length of time, you’ve come to realize that cases and cases of wines are released around the first of springtime and around autumn. And wine competition is as fierce as ever: As mentioned in one of our recent columns titled, “Wine Madness Marches On!” we alerted you that close to a thousand wines have just been released—and now more are on their way! Don’t be hesitant: just go out and enjoy your spring fling in wine—no one’s watching!

Thank God we’ve had all of the recent rains. It’s time to seize the spring day, for here in the desert, that dominant sun overhead in the next month is poised to squeeze the green right out of our pasta primavera.

So just appearing on my wine-release radar machine, we’re here to mention some of our readers’ favorite wines that are just arriving on the shelves as we spring along:


Those of you who have visited or are at least acquainted Andrew Murray Vineyards up in the Santa Ynez Valley are certainly fans of their Tous les Jours Syrah. It’s one of my favorite California Syrahs: the wine is a tasty collision of Syrah flavors of the Rhone, with its tar, smoke, peppered meat, and black olive, and, the new world notes of juicy black fruits. I personally procured this wine to the shelves over at the Palm Springs’ Ralphs aisle.

Here’s a new release to work on: 2022 Santa Ynez Valley Curtis Vineyard Espérance Rosé of Cinsault ($24) The Curtis Vineyard is planted to about 50 acres of a great selection of Rhône varieties, including a variety that is particularly well suited to Rosé production, Cinsault. It makes up many of the delicious, light, and dry Rosé bottlings.

For you folks who find this interesting—the wine is nearly 100% Cinsault. The grapes were all harvested at peak Rosé maturity (early, with a lower sugar and brighter acidity), in the middle of the night, and then gently pressed off skins as free-run juice. Fermentation was encouraged to start asap, in 100% stainless steel. It is then aged in the same tank, on lees, choosing to only pump it once, as it was transferred to the bottling line.

The winery notes wax romantic: “Espérance Rosé is a sensual experience that engages all the senses. Its delicate pink hue is like a sunset in a glass. The captivating aroma is released with every swirl and sip, with hints of red fruits and flowers that evoke the freshness of a spring morning.

“As you take a sip, the wine washes over your tongue, awakening your taste buds with a balanced and refreshing acidity. The flavors dance in your mouth, with notes of juicy red berries, watermelon rind, delicate florals, and a hint of citrus.

“The texture of the wine is smooth and velvety, like the caress of silk on your skin. It is light and refreshing, yet satisfying, like the perfect balance between desire and fulfillment. As you savor the wine, you are transported to a place of relaxation and pleasure, where worries melt away and the moment is all that matters. It is a sensory experience that fills you with joy and contentment, leaving you feeling fulfilled and refreshed.” Existentially—I guess this wine is all we need!

Another very, very popular winery and wine—one that, for some reason, evokes a sense of cult knowledge; or, maybe we can use that very familiar French phrase that simply says “I don’t know what” (je ne sais quoi), in other words, “I don’t know what it’s got, but I’m all in.” We’re talking about the Austin Hope Winery in Paso Robles which sure has its demeanor and a large fan base. (Troublemaker and Treana are their popular red blends.)

2022 Austin Hope Paso Robles Cellar Select Rose of Mourvèdre/Grenache ($33) Refreshing and crisp, this beautiful salmon colored Rose, of Mourvèdre and Grenache, is equally ideal on the patio or the dining room table. On the palate this dry style Rose expresses flavors of ripe strawberry and watermelon, finishing with a hint of minerality. Try it with Oysters & Mignonette Sauce or—should you dare, with a pineapple pizza!

Aperture Cellars—whom we introduced to the valley’s vino hearts three years ago or so, has just released a slew of wine. And as you may re-call, artist and winemaker Jesse Katz makes fabulours wines. A couple we tried are perfect for our desert patio weather.

Aperture Cellars 2022 Clarksburg Chenin Blanc ($30), These heritage grapes from the Clarksburg vineyard benefit from naturally warm days and brisk, cool nights made possible by the “Delta Breeze” from the San Francisco Bay. These temperature gusts help create a long growing season and beautifully developed fruit. This is a vibrant and bright wine, showing peaches, pears, quince, grapes, and stones.

Aperture Cellars 2022 Sonoma County Sauvignon Blanc ($45). The winery notes include:We work with a combination ofvineyards for this wine. 31% of our estate sémillon and sauvignon musqué in Russian River Valley, 26% sauvignon blanc from Dry Stack Vineyard in Bennett Valley, and 19% sauvignon blanc from our estate property, Farrow Ranch in Alexander Valley.”

This is quintessential California Sauv Blanc for those who love lime, grapefruit, green apple, fig, and melon in a glistening glass. Superb stuff!

Finally—a shout-out to the Papapietro Perry Winery. They were in town pouring at the recent Passion for Pinot, Palm Springs Pinot Noir tasting over at the Westin Rancho Mirage. A wonderful event—catch it next time!

2020 Pommard Clones Pinot Noir ($82) An effusive nose of dark berry, stone fruit, purple flowers kissed with caramel and toast notes. The flavors are a seductive blend of cherry, black raspberry, fresh plum with a well-integrated line of sweet, toasty oak. The wine will impress all on its own.

Here’s to your spring fling—Cheers!