We desert dwellers have the perfect window of time to enjoy our swiftly passing spring with some nice and tasty wines available in the markets right now.  It’s “perfect” in that the weather allows us to enjoy reds, whites—and as always, rosés.  And for those who don’t let outside forces dictate what wines they wish to drink—well, you get to jump ahead three spaces in this game of wine we play.

Brazen or not, we still need a “theme” for this column at this time—and we’re running with veritable spring wines at very reasonable prices.  Now that’s playing the wine game!

And now—allow me to go on with some selections and recommendations for your consideration:


Just a few years ago when I was the wine steward at Rancho Mirage’s beloved (but now departed) Pavilions market, I met a young gentlemen named Chris McMillen who had recently come on board to represent the Riboli Family Wine & Spirits.  One would need a thesis-paper to include their line-up of Stella Rosa wines, San Antonio Winery, San Simeon, Maddalena, Windstream and on and on.

I just met up with Chris again at both the Palm Desert and Rancho Mirage Wine & Food fests the valley has celebrated.  Chris is such a nice guy; I like chumming around with him, and, it’s good to hear he and his family are doing well.  Below are some nice springtime wines in his current portfolio, and serendipitously enough, guess who has these wines at a great price: no other than one of the valley’s go-to wine guys, our good friend, Costa Nichols, owner of  Desert Wine & Spirits located at 611 S Palm Canyon Dr #22, Palm Springs, CA 9226411 (760) 327-7701.

By the way—there’s nothing better in the vino enthusiast’s mind than to feel gratified that they have supported a local wine purveyor who runs his own shop. Costa and his lovely wife, Zola, have hung in through thick & thin, and, in face of the Bev Mos and Total Wines, to give us the best personal service at the best possible beverage prices!  Check the biz out, it’s situated in the Go Deli Market:

As we’ve written previously, Everything’s Coming up Rosés, rosés are the rage!  And why not?  American wineries are now following the South of France/European model in producing thirst quenching crisp, nice and dry, peppy fruit nuanced wines. 

Two perfectly priced primavera rosés showcased at Costa’s place are the 2016 Mariella Rosé, Peninsula de Setubal and the 2016 Maddalena Rosé, both on sale at the best price of $9.99

Costa writes of the Maddalena Rosé: “The warm days and cool nights of Paso Robles are ideal for producing ripe and refreshing Rosé. With bright flavors of raspberry and yellow peach, the Rosé is the perfect choice for warm days and dining alfresco. This highly versatile wine pairs well with a wide array of dishes such as goat cheese salads and fresh shellfish.”

As to the Mariella Rosé, Chris chimes in, “From the Peninsula of Setubal Portugal, a land of flavorful reds and delicious rosés, comes this fresh and lively wine produced from 50% Syrah and 50% Aragonez grapes.”  (Of course you vino lovers may already know that the Aragonez grape is the Portuguese for the Spanish red grape: our favorite Tempranillo—the predominant varietal in red Rioja wine.)

Chris continues, “This rosé is just delicious!—a perfect accompaniment to all seafood, appetizers, and spring and summertime cuisine.  With only 11.5% alcohol, it won’t take you down in the desert heat.   It’s made in a true ‘dry style’, with crisp, elegant, aromas bursting with bright cherry and ripe plum fragrances.  Chill it up!”

Again, these are premium spring wines at only $9.99 at Desert Wine & Spirits

I mentioned to Costa to recommend a charming Chardonnay while we’re at it.  Right now, he has on sale the famed Hartford Chardonnay 2016 Russian River Valley for only $25.99.  This is a stunning wine for the price.

The winery notes state, “This Russian River Chard offers subtle aromas of jasmine flower, citrus oil, green apple and pear. The elegant aromatics are complemented by fresh kiwi, lemon drop and Pippin apple flavors. The fruit-focused mid-palate is followed by subtle mineral notes and a hint of crystallized ginger in the finish.”  Both Costa and I ditto that description.  It’s delicious; it’s a treat!

Chris puts a finale on this spring fling with two tasty red wines he recently poured at the aforementioned Food & Wine Fests; here are Costa’s comments:

2015 San Simeon Petite Sirah, $18.99. “The Petite reveals deep, inky purple color. Aromas of blackberry, ripe plum, and pepper greet the nose. Barrel aging in French and American oak contributed notes of vanilla and spice. The mouthfeel is jammy and full-bodied with firm tannins providing structure as the flavors build to a lengthy finish.  Enjoy with Oso Buco primavera or Korean short ribs.” Yummy!
2011 Opaque Malbec, $19.99. “Dark fruit leads the bouquet of this bottling against a tapestry of dried tarragon and earthiness. It is wondrously smooth and silky in the mouth, with elements of blueberry fruit and other dark fruit, anchored by dried sage and other roasting herbs as well as dark chocolate and espresso flavors.”—Cheers to all!

Rick is the valley’s somm-about-town entertaining and conducting at restaurant venues, wine events and tastings. A member of the Association de la Sommellerie Internationale, he recently moderated at the Rancho Mirage Wine & Food Festival Trade Seminar.  He’s the brand ambassador for the Historic Galleano Winery, and, this April Rick’s off to Verona attending the VinItaly 2018 Wine Trade Exhibition. Ciao Bella! Contact

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