By Rick Riozza

By the time you readers check this column out, February 14th, St. Valentine’s Day may have just passed. Not to worry here: as we mentioned in our two prior pre-Valentines’ articles, there is a real movement out there (prompted by this very column) to expand the singular Day of Love to a full week. And whether you believe it or not, I’ve got a lot of local restaurants and gift shops encouraging me to write to the end of love!

If you are unaware, the entire month of February is already deemed National Heart Month. I know it’s more of a medical precaution thing to prompt folks to get their heart checked—or, to lay off those pounds of bacon we universally enjoy. But not to fret: we wine columnist would lay a red blooded dagger to our craft if we wrote an entire month on Valentine wine recommendations—can you imagine that! Geez—even I’d get bored!

But there is something to say about all of the wine we couldn’t get to in time for Valentines. Thus, we’re “expanding” our coverage post hoc. And since we threw in a little Latin here, let me also express mea culpa, ero sum paenite. I’m saying “sorry” ahead of time so that I don’t have to read your emails chiding me for beating a red horse or some wilted red roses. In other words, you’re sarcastically thinking, “thanks for the heads-up!”


And now: some of our favorite wines to continue the fun February festivities.

For those of you guys who forgot to throw in some French vocabulary in your Valentine’s love maneuvers, we’re recommending the Lucien Albrecht Crémant d’Alsace Brut Rosé which sells for around $20 or so, and tastes oh so French and fantastic. The very popular Brut Rosé is pure Pinot Noir with a panoply of aromas and flavors of dried fruit, apricot, citrus, orange peel, and herb notes. It’s robed in beautiful salmon-copper blush, has good acidity, and works as a wonderful aperitif, or will also go great with most dinner fare. It’ll work for the entire Valentines’ Week!

One of our favorite Sauvignon Blancs can be found at every supermarket in town: the 2021 Joel Gott Sauvignon Blanc that sells for around $12 to $15 bucks. Wine Spectator scored this 91 points, saying “This light, fresh white is overtly citrusy, with lime zest, tangerine and makrut lime leaf flavors that are light on their feet but plenty intense, showing notes of lemon verbena and lemongrass on the finish. Drink now.” (We’re taking that to mean, during all Valentines Week).

This Gott Sauv Blanc is quite tasty—so here’s the interesting buzz on the wine: It’s truly a California product. Fruit from vineyards in Sonoma add good flavor, minerality and complexity. Lake County fruit adds citrus notes while grapes from Lodi lend concentration to the wine. Monterey fruit offers tropical aromatics and well-balanced acidity. Within Santa Barbara, fruit from the cooler, marine-influenced vineyards add crisp, clean minerality and well-balanced acidity.

One would wish to try this wine just to get in on all of the California land love that’s out there. Why not have blind tasting at one of your parties and quiz your wine savvy group to opine on where they think the Gott Sauv Blanc sourced their grapes. Hopefully after a couple of glasses and some wine reparté—and maybe some wagers, you can spring on the group, the wine’s pedigree. Or maybe not—it’s your party!

Another white wine we love to raise attention to is Chablis. We love this wine because so many Chardonnay haters actually like Chablis; and, because they know that it is a white Burgundy, that adds to the allure. Of course a true Chablis, from the most northern region of Burgundy, is in fact 100% Chardonnay.

The 2020 Drouhin Vaudron Chablis, at around $25, is a dry but fruity wine; it’s a fun and easy wine to drink—as long as you’re not a Chard hater. But even if you are a staunch member of the ABC bunchAnything But Chardonnay, you’d have to give it credit that it is a rather fresh and lively wine. It’s something that very nice and light-bodied for our hot desert afternoons and warm evenings.

Its color is pale gold with greenish hues. Very fresh aromas reminiscent of lemon and /or grapefruit citrus; further, you super-smellers may find a small pleasant touch of fern or coriander as well. On the palate, dry and fruity, fresh apples with mineral notes.

Turning to a nice red wine, we like the 2019 Kendall-Jackson Merlot Sonoma County Vintner’s Reserve, at around $20. And here’s our story: As your friendly neighborhood wine steward at the Palm Springs Ralphs Market, I saw with horror—okay, not that much on the drama, but I saw a lady unfortunately drive her shopping cart right into a Kendall-Jackson wine display in front of our wine aisle.

“Of course”—I said to myself, when she missed the white wine (easy to mop up) but rather plowed into the red bottles—“clean up on aisle two!” A couple of the red wine bottles that broke were the 2019 KJ Merlot. As the red wine ominously crept slowly around the crime scene, aromas from the spilt Merlot gave me pause, and serendipitously put a pleasant smile on my face. Man! Did that wine smell fantastic! It’s a tough way to sell a bottle of wine—but it worked, and I’ve recommended the Merlot to many a happy customer. Cheers & Love, all week long!