Our friends at Maggy Hawk were kind enough to forward an invitation to this event. So on January 7 we checked into the JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa in Palm Desert right next to Palm Springs. Our goal: “A Passion 4 Pinot” – The Palm Springs Pinot Fest held the next day.
Yes, we know it’s mid-March. Life stuff happens. And we waited for our order from one winery to be delivered so we could be sure it was as good as we thought. We’re just happy to have attended and get to write about it. This is part 1. There will be several more forthcoming.
We’ll start with the two we rated best in show. One, Beau Marchais, is a joint venture between the late Philippe Cambie and Adam Lee, founder of Siduri and one of the first to develop small-batch single-vineyard techniques. The second, Domaine Della, is a project of David J. Hejl, former CEO of Kosta Brown. A warning: these wines are not cheap. Most Beau Marchais wines are $95 per bottle. Single-vineyard pinots from Domaine Della are a relative bargain at $85. While we would never call that price point a bargain, all the wines we tasted deliver value for the money. Regular readers know this is quite an exception for us. Our taste buds usually give out around $75 a bottle. These wines were eye-openers.
We’ll start with the wines then take a look at the venue. But first, a quick look at some of the tasty bites on the menu.
You may have noticed this article has been revised. Our coverage of events will henceforth be broken into several parts. There will be an introduction — what you’re reading now — followed by a list of wineries we plan to review. Each winery will be linked to its home page and our review. We hope this will be more convenient for both readers and winery owners. Click here to see the list of wineries.
In January California still required masks for indoor events. The organizers solved this problem by moving onto a patio at the Marriott.
The JW Marriott Desert Springs Resort & Spa is truly spectacular. A moat runs through the lobby, with boat service available to some of the restaurants and other ground floor amenities. And the place is huge. Our bellman said he walks about fifteen miles a day. We did not match that, but we did walk 3 miles the day we arrived just exploring. The following day we “only” managed 1.6 miles as we spent most of the afternoon at the Pinot Fest.
We would be remiss if we did not mention Saturday dinner at the Rockwood Grill. Weather permitting, try to sit outside as the room is noisy even when only a few tables are occupied. The staff could not have been more helpful and accommodating. And the food was terrific. While it’s not cheap, you can spend a lot more at other places with food that is not as good. We paid $100 excluding tip and wine.
We only hope the organizers do this again next spring. We recommend this even for anyone who wants to taste pinots that are hard to find and/or very high priced.