By Rick Riozza

At start of our celebratory season here in the valley, CV Weekly is happy to continue with our holiday tradition of presenting a couple of the desert’s venerable wine purveyors with their turn to recommend some wonderful vino varieties. And if I get in on it—well, we’ll certainly be covering the Hwy 111 waterfront corridor from Palm Springs to Indio.

During the holiday season both Dan Sullivan of Dan’s Wine Shop in Palm Desert and, Costa Nichols’ Desert Wine & Spirits in Palm Springs, each, in the past, have taken the helm in driving this column with their stellar wine picks for food festivities and holiday cheer.

With time being the precious commodity that it is, we’re running short of it. So let’s get this thing wrapped up!—and let the guys talk turkey. I recently reached out to them; here’s quick info on them, and, some of the selections that are all available at their store.

One of the most respected and admired wine enthusiast in our valley is Costa Nichols.  He and his wife, the culinary maven Zola, are owners of the venerable Desert Wine and Spirits, 611 S. Palm Canyon Dr., 760.327.7701,that is now located within the larger venue of GO-DELI MARKET, located at the Sun Center in Palm Springs—where South Palm Canyon and Indian Canyon Dr. converge to become a two-way street.  Special wine tastings each Saturday from 4 to 5:30 p.m., is the way to taste the wine before considering buying the bottle!   $10 per customer with $5 credited toward the purchase of select wines.

Even though we all think of a nice red wine at the holiday dinner table, Costa’s centering us a bit with a couple of great white wine picks.  These whites are the perfect prepping wine for those laboring in the kitchen; for those munching and watching the games on TV; and they carry well onto the dinner table with so many dishes to choose from:

Janvier Jasnières Chenin Blanc, $19.99: This 2012 Chenin Blanc from the Loire Valley is the dry and acidic version of Chenin Blanc with fantastic citrus notes of lemon and lime and even a touch of orange blossom to give it a tiny pinch of sweetness. This is a bit softer than American Chenins — You won’t be bowled over by lemon pucker. Very lightly aromatic with varying scents of melon and apple.

Another delicious white wine for the table Fritz Müller “Perlwein” Müller-Thurgau Trocken Rheinhessen, $14.99:  This lightly sparkling wine is meant to be the German answer to Prosecco. From the winery: “Light straw yellow with lovely green highlights. Fresh-fruity aromas of pear, apple and grapefruit. Mild and well balanced on the palate with exotic aromas and a delicate nutmeg tone. Sparklingly refreshing.” As mentioned, this is the bubbly that can fuel the full morning meal prep—everyone’s just as happy as can be simply sipping and keeping busy.

Costa then comes up with a delicious red, Carpe Diem Pinot Noir Anderson Valley. This is the perfect delicious red wine that provides a lighter tone to a meal that may become heftier and last longer than expected.  Lighter, leaner flavors like cranberry, rhubarb and tart cherry light up this wine from the first sniff through the tangy finish. Balanced on the fresher, crisper side of the spectrum, it has firm tannins, an appetizing dry texture and medium body. The focused fruit flavors and light spicy accents make it distinctive.

I always have a great time over at Dan’s Wine Shop, where his usual end of the week—or as some patrons put it, “Thank God it’s Wine Friday!”—wine tasting often takes place. 73360 CA-111, Palm Desert, CA 92260 (760) 674-0305 www.danswineshop.com

As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, Dan maintains the “wine shop”—total  charm,  where much of the wine is still displayed in their original cases and the pleasant scent of some of the wood casing wafts about the locale.  And it’s the perfect venue to peruse, within minutes, a professionally fashioned and varied selection of wine from all over the world, and, especially from California.

2015 Lewis “Napa Valley” Chardonnay, $44.95: Grapes for the 2015 Napa Chardonnay came in early and the wine centers around ripe Bosc pear and Fuji apple with delicious caramel custard, pie crust and hazelnut. Thickly textured and satiny smooth like Deux-Sevres butter, the richness and weight are buttressed with native acidity and subtle minerality bringing complexity and length to this delicious wine.  Definitely the Thanksgiving Chard!

2013 Caymus “Special Selection” Cabernet Sauvignon, $149.95: This zeroes in on a rich, hedonistic core of wild berry, blackberry, plum and currant flavors, with a graceful, elegant mouthfeel and supple, caressing tannins. The long and powerful yet refined aftertaste keeps reverberating fruit generosity while maintaining Cabernet’s strength of personality. Drink now through the holidays of 2030!!

2014 Orin Swift Cellarsa “Machete“, $39.95: Concentrated yet light-weight, fragrant and juicy, with aromas of toasted cumin, gingerbread and Earl Grey tea surrounding the core of wild blueberry and huckleberry flavors. The firm tannins stay in the background, allowing this to finish on the juicy side. Petite Sirah, Syrah and Grenache.  A sexy pick for the holidays!—just check the label.

As for my quick pick, I’m going with a delicious brut rosé sparkler that’s off the tasting charts at $18.99, the Louis Bouillot Cremant de Borgogne  Brut Rosé.  Available at Total Wines & More, 760.346.2029.  It’s made from 100% Pinot Noir from Burgundy.  Indeed, this is a “Champagne-style” bubbly produced there.  Beautiful fresh red fruits come alive in the pour of this dry sparkler.  This goes with everything on the holiday table!

Bon Appétit! & Cheers!

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