By Rick Riozza

So, as we can tell, eateries and bars are opening up all over our valley as they follow safety protocols. And, for the wine enthusiasts out here, the wine bars are beginning to open up as well. Cheers! to that!

This week, over at the Desert Wine Shop in Palm Desert (you wine folks remember this place—it’s where Dan Sullivan had his venerable wine shop selling wine to anyone with a palate—as long as it wasn’t Sicilian Marsala), Lisa Wherry—yet another wine gal about our town, poured some of her favorite wines, I liked her selection and here are some reviews below.

Iovine Falanghina, Campania, Italy $13.95. A vibrant nose of Sorrento lemon & nectarine are highlighted by subtle nuances of white flowers. On the palate, the weighted fruit notes of quince, orchard fruit & ripe lemon is balanced by an underlying current of exceptionally integrated acidity. This is clean and focused. Food Pairing: Sushi, grilled fish, summer salads and Neopolitan pizza.


Horse & Plow North Coast White Blend $16.95 An Alsatian-style blend of varieties from organically farmed, cool climate vineyards in California’s North Coast appellation. Each lot is fermented separately, in a mix of neutral French oak and stainless steel, then assembled to create an aromatic wine with rich texture and crisp acidity.

For those so interested, the interesting blend is: 48% Pinot Blanc, 21% Pinot Gris, 19% Riesling, 12% Gewurztraminer.

Cavalchina Bardolino Veneto, Italy, $15.95. I’ve always been a big fan of Bardolino. Indeed, when I traveled to Verona, I took a drive around Lake Garda and made a special stop in the Town of Bardolino where the local grapes are processed. This wine is not too deep in color but with an intense bouquet, nuances of cherries and marasca. On the palate it has a persistent peppery, spicy character.

For you wine nerds, during production, the temperature of the grapes reaches the 25° C and then the temperature is lowered to 22° C. The alcoholic fermentation ends in the following 10/12 days followed by the malolactic fermentation. The wine is kept in stainless steel vats and bottled in March.

For you fans of Barbera and Dolcetto from the northwest side of Italy, give this northeastern side of Italian red a try.

Enkidu Cuvee JM Red Sonoma, California, $17.95 With 43% Grenache, 38% Syrah and 19% Mourvèdre, this Rhone-style red is thick and jammy, with general flavors of dried fruit and raisin. Sourced mainly from Sonoma Valley, the JM offers intriguing warm aromas of crushed red and blue fruit, lavender and roots. On the first taste the thought is of velvet – smooth and soft when brushed in one direction – course with texture, in this case dry tannins, when moving in the opposite direction. The mouth feel has a rich entrance, but with a finish that simmers with astringency and acid that gives this pretty wine a backbone. The plum skin gives this wine an unctuousness that makes you return for glass after glass.

This wine definitely seeks out some grilled fare. We drank this bottle without much aeration. One wonders where this wine will go if left in the fridge for a day or two or three. Often these GSM blends take off in different directions—given the time.

Board Track Racer “The Chief” Cabernet Sauvignon Walla Walla, Washington
$29.95. The Board Track Racer The Chief has classic Cabernet flavors of blackberries, cassis and blackcurrant at the core of the nose, which is ripe without being overly sweet. This was crafted with skillful usage of oak to lift the Cabernet tones across the medium to full-bodied palate, showing balanced tannins and supporting acidity. It ends with softly sweet, oaked finish, paired with structuring mineral tension and a lively core of juicy fruit that lingers on the aftertaste. This is a wine that over delivers for the price.

Winemaker’s Notes: “80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 18% Merlot, 2% Cabernet Franc. The 2017 Chief is a blend of 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot, and a splash of Cabernet Franc. Dense aromas of blackberry and black currant mingle on the nose with crushed violets and cedar. Lush, dark fruits continue on the palate and lead into subtle oak and vanilla notes. The generous mouthfeel extends to a lasting finish.”

As I mentioned earlier, the “wine gal” Lisa Wherry has been out here in the desert for as long as I’ve known here—over 10 years. The last time I checked in with her, she was with the Venture Wine Group. Those interested in the wines she’s pouring can reach her often at the Desert Wine Shop or at Bouschet Fine Wine in Palm Springs.

Next time, I’ll request that Lisa give me a heads-up of her pouring line-up so I can alert you readers to an up-coming tasting. Cheers!

Rick is your somm-about-town. You can reach him at