By Rick Riozza

There’s nothing more exiting on the vino horizon than seeing the multitudes of millennials soaking in the wine.  At last week’s Rancho Mirage Wine & Food fest, we saw the younger set take charge.  Tats, frats and pussy cats—we loved it all!  We baby boomers are thrilled to be handing over the bottle and baton to the next generations of vino savvy sippers.

I dunno about all that, but the rain during the event couldn’t keep the oenophiles and foodies from enjoying all the wine and tasty bites.  And I particularly noticed so many of the young enthusiasts engaging with the wine makers and winery representatives.  They’ve caught the bug; they wish to dig deeper as to why they’re enjoying the levels of complexities.  As we always write: once you play wine game, you’re pretty much always in.

For some reason, one of the first European wines new wine lovers are drawn to is the Châteaneuf-du-Pape.  Perhaps they enjoy the opportunity to speak a little French—as it is pronounced: Sha-Toe-Neuv-Doo-Pop, which translates to “new castle of the Pope”.

And there’s the enchanting story behind it, of when in the 14th Century, the Roman Pope got chased out of Dodge and found refuge and very fond vineyards in the south of France near Avignon.

But no pronunciation, nor endearing stories get close to the real enjoyment of the wine itself.  And double that notion! For there are two types of CDP, Châteaneuf-du-Pape—there’s white and red.

Readers of this column already know our affinity to the E. Guigal brand.  We’ve written on their Cotes Du Rhone, Gigondas, and Crozes-Hermitage, especially during the winter season when these delicious red wines warm our hearts and stomachs along with classic comfort meals.  And we have written on E.Guigal’s CDP as well, with most of you well recognizing their label.

But E. Guigal was predominately a Northern Rhône vineyard owner—with the esteemed Syrah grape at their call.  For their CDP, they would “source” from great Southern Rhone vineyards where Grenache is king.  Recently however, making wine news all around the world, Guigal became the owner of one of the best vineyards in CDP.

Enter now: Château de Nalys.  Strengthened by four centuries of history, the wines of this grand estate are the expression of an exceptional terroir. For many years, the vineyards have been carefully looked after in accordance with the exacting methods of sustainable viticulture. Conscious of the rich history and traditions of this prestigious appellation, the culture of the thirteen grape varieties is maintained with care and rigor. Now this jewel of the south is managed under the keen eyes of Marcel and Philippe Guigal, who are passionately involved in the making of the Nalys’ wines.

And what attracts so many wine newbies to this wine, and keeps the die-hards loyal, are those thirteen grape varieties.  How exciting is that—to be following century old traditions to make a wine that we can enjoy in this day and age.  Not only is it history in a glass—it’s world class wine in a bottle. (Yet another reason to like: the glass bottle of estate CDP still bears the embossed logo of the papal coat of arms.)

Château de Nalys Grand Vin Blanc Châteauneuf-du-Pape 2017.  So many wine enthusiasts think CDP is only a red wine.  That fact alone makes the white a very sexy choice for lunches and for romantic dinners that focus on seafood or chicken.  The wine is blended with Roussanne, Grenache Blanc, Clairette, Bourboulenc, and Piquepoul. And that makes for a complex palate of aromas featuring white flowers, citrus and vanilla which move into the flavor profile showing orchard fruit with light pineapple and saline notes.  It’s full-bodied with lush creamy texture, succulent, and elegant.

We enjoyed the wine with pan-fried breaded rockfish, and, it went surprisingly well with fresh artichokes.  By the way, there aren’t many wines that can handle the artichoke.  This wine is high-end, bringing class to the table.  It’s pricey but it’s a treat worth the experience.

Chateau de Nalys Châteauneuf-du-Pape Grand Vin 2016: All right! No one has to sell red CDP to wine readers. There are so many of you that simply cherish this wine. Perhaps it was the first one that impacted you—an epiphany quaff that brought you to the game.  Well—this wine defines the Châteauneuf-du Pape style with a precision of fruit, spice and minerality. To boot, this first vintage for the Guigal winemakers is regarded as one of the best CDP vintages in 30 years! It’s been heralded as an auspicious debut for the Guigal team.

For those especially in tuned to varietals, this wine is a blend of 59% Grenache, 32% Syrah, 5% Mourvedre, 3% Counoise, and 1% Vacarese.  For you nerds, half of the blend comes from La Crau: the famous vineyard of galets, the large round pebbles derived from the Rhône River.

It’s what you’d expect from a world class CDP: With aromas of red and black berries and spice, its palate is full-bodied, velvety, loaded with ripe, spicy, luscious, rich red fruits—especially dark cherry, with subtle notes of cinnamon, clove, allspice, herbs, lavender and kirsch. It’s still very young and fresh; the more it sets out, the more layers of flavors come to light. It’s cheers to the world—treat yourself to a bottle.

Valentine’s Dinner Alert!! For those yet to solidify Valentines dinner plans, do consider one of our favorite eateries in Palm Springs: Johannes Restaurant.  Executive Chef Johannes Bacher is one of the best and has a great menu for lovers of great and delicious cuisine.  The selections of appetizers, entrees, and desserts are so varied, you must go on-line to view his Valentine’s carte du jour! Bon Appétit & Cheers 196 S. Indian Canyon Dr., Palm Springs 760.778.0017