Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Palm Desert Wine Tasting at Dan's

Five bucks doesn't get you much these days. So when Dan's Wine Shop in Palm Desert announced a six-wine tasting for $5 that included Mer Soleil, we were all in.

Dan's tastings are informal and friendly. Choose the 5-6 PM or 6-7 PM time slot and show up with your five-spot. Dan greets you with a wineglass, your passport to the wine bar in back. Chat up the wine rep or head into the wine room to compare notes with other wine lovers.

We got going with a blast of grapefruit refreshment delivered by Pomelo 2007 Sauvignon Blanc. Pomelo is the second line by Napa's Mason Cellars, one of our favorite California sauv blanc producers.

One taste pegged the gently-oaked and pear-scented Merryvale 2006 Starmont Chardonnay as a great dinner-party wine. Rounding out the whites was golden, buttery Mer Soleil 2006 Chardonnay from Monterey County's Santa Lucia Highlands. Lovers of creamy, full-bodied Chardonnay were in tropical fruit and vanilla-bean heaven. Winemaker Charlie Wagner II knows luxe wine – the Wagner family makes Caymus, Conundrum and Belle Glos Pinot Noir.

A few crackers readied us for the first of three red selections: Laetitia Estate 2007 Pinot Noir from Arroyo Grande Valley in San Luis Obispo County. The dark-fruit and bright acidity screamed out for food, and perhaps a bit of decanting.

We finished up with two powerhouses, Cline Ancient Vine 2007 Zinfandel and Layer Cake 2008 Shiraz. Cline's Contra Costa vines produce wines with spiced blackberry fruit and mocha flavors. It's a zin for Memorial Day barbecue.

Napa-based Layer Cake goes global to source grapes for their wines. Their Shiraz made from South Australia's Barossa Valley fruit delivers the Aussie fruit bomb with tobacco and spice. It'll taste even better with some time in the bottle.

Start your weekend off on the right foot the next time Dan hosts a Friday wine tasting. Call 760.674.0305 or e-mail him at to get on his mailing list. Find Dan's Wine Shop on a north-sided frontage road off Highway 111 west of San Pablo Avenue, across and just west of Jensen's. You'll not only discover great wines to suit your budget but you might also make a new friend or two. Cheers!

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