Thursday, July 8, 2010

Dan's Wine Shop Shakes, Rattles and Rolls

Yesterday's earthquake rattled through the desert a few minutes before the first shift was scheduled to arrive at Dan's Wine Shop in Palm Desert for two special tastings for WinewomenPSP and friends. Owner Dan Sullivan was relieved everyone and his shop escaped injury and grateful that the shaking stopped when it did. A couple more seconds and it might have been ugly.

Instead, the tremor seemed to create a chummier, more intimate tasting experience for all, perhaps because everyone was OK with no heebie-jeebies from aftershocks. Or was it because we figured if we were going down, at least we'd go down with some great wine? Whatever the reason, wine and warmth flowed.

With a cheery intro to each pour, Derek from Young's Market helped us feel at ease and eager for the rest of the lineup. Northeast Italy's Zenato 2008 Pinot Grigio gave us a great start. It's a crisp refresher with delicate green pear fruit, clean minerality and a light, lemony finish. For contrast, Ponzi 2009 Pinot Gris – a New World version of the same grape from Oregon – delivered a heftier mouthfeel with brighter fruit and a lingering finish. Growling tummy triggered pairing thoughts: Aperitif or whitefish for the first PG; heavier fish dishes, chicken or pork for the second.

Rustenberg Stellenbosch 2008 Chardonnay was a delightful surprise, especially to those new to South African wines. Medium-to-fuller bodied, it rocks the palate with rich melon, apple and pear flavors wrapped in toasty oak. Many tasters agreed with Wine Spectator's anointment as a smart-buy and 90-pointer.

Deloach Russian River Valley 2007 Pinot Noir kicked off a trio of reds. The terroir-driven and value-priced Pinot delivers a mouthful of earthy yet restrained plumy and blackberry-dark cherry fruit. Next, an Argentine that might benefit from a little more time in the bottle: Marraso 2008 Malbec with soft, jammy fruit and sweet smoke on the finish.

Dan and Derek picked a perfect closer: Incognito 2006 Red Blend, a luscious load of Lodi fruit. Dark and fragrant in the glass, this rogue rouge is a smooth blend of Mourvèdre, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Cinsault, Carignane, Tannat, Malbec, Cabernet Franc and Grenache. Guests goaded by its supple taste or mysterious red masquerade bottle were loading up on this one too.

We heard raves and rants for each wine – you know, that taste thing. But the hands-down winner was a souvenir bottle many just had to have, even though it wasn't included in the tasting – Earthquake Petite Sirah, a wine that promises to "rock your world." We think we'll wait for our jitters to settle before we pop the cork on that one.

1 comment:

Unknown said...

See how to open a good bottle of wine if you are caught in an earthquake without a corkscrew.