By Rick Riozza

At start of our celebratory season here in the valley, CV Weekly is happy to continue with the Thanksgiving tradition of presenting a couple of the desert’s venerable wine purveyors with their wonderful vino selections.

Both Dan Sullivan of Dan’s Wine Shop in Palm Desert and, Costa Nichols’ Desert Wine & Spirits in Palm Springs, each take the helm of driving this column, respectively, and of course, respectably!   Costa will offer next month’s selection of holiday choices; Dan will now do the de-lovely deed for the Thanksgiving meal—and, may I add, that I definitely approve this message!

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


As I’ve mentioned in previous columns, Dan maintains that Paris “La Boutique des Vins” wine shop 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.

Or, if you’re like me, things are very casual there and you can take your time to dream about buying almost everything that delights—and, did I mention the background music?  Like love and marriage, wine and jazz keeps the world boppin’.  Music has always been a way of life for “steely” Dan and he is not shy entertaining us with some tasty notes, from straight-ahead jazz to fusion.

I didn’t know, but come to find out that we both grew up around the Huntington Beach area and back in the day, we went to the same jazz haunts all along the coast, such as The Lighthouse in Hermosa, Concerts by the Sea in Redondo, and the Golden Bear in H.B.  We also share great admiration for some particular musicians such as pianist McCoy Tyner, saxophonist Wayne Shorter, and guitar great John McLaughlin. Cool—man!

And now, please enjoy some of Dan’s delicious wine recommendations for your Thanksgiving gathering:

At this time of year, everyone will be looking for that satisfying Riesling to match most of the flavors appearing on your festive table.  At only $9.95 a bottle, you can showcase the famed 2014 Dr. Loosen Riesling all meal long.  Known for its elegant but racy style of Mosel Riesling, it’s refreshing, fruity, with notes of stone fruit along with a nice mineral edge you’d expect.

No need to break the bank with an over-the-top Chardonnay.  At only $7.99 a bottle, the 2014 Carmenet provides all the rich apple & spice, butterscotch & coconut, all cradled about with vanilla notes.  Served this chilled as an apéro to get things started and serve again for dessert!  You’ll find a bunch of Chard lovers wanting more, so at this price, better pick up half a case.

Keeping with those rich fall colors decorating the table and more, a flavor profile to match is the lovely Viognier [vee-oh-NYAY] wine.  Very distinctive and highly aromatic with flavors of apricots, honeysuckle, flowers, and peaches, the wine is luscious, rich, round, silky, soft but lively.  The 2014 Alban Vineyards Viognier will be the viscous overture for this holiday season.  Whether this wine brings memories of home & family, or, ushers in a romantic feel, Alban is one of California’s best in bringing the French white Rhone varietal to our table.  A delicious treat at $24.95.

There’s no surprise when a Pinot Noir appears at this meal.  Lots of pinot to choose from out there, but don’t get bogged down.  Simply reach for the 2012 Melville Pinot Noir from Santa Rita Hills and be happy and grateful for the experience of enjoying a fabulous wine at the $29.95 price.  A beautifully deep bright red bottle on the table pricks your desire to immediately grab a couple of quick gulps before the turkey arrives (but don’t do it!—take the time savor the quaff).   A sexy wine of raspberry and floral scent, complicated by subtle anise nuances and dusty pie spices, like cinnamon and clove.  Great meal cleansing acidity, with a long, intensely perfumed finish.  Sin-sational!

Another memorable red for the day will be the 2010 Gregory Graham Grenache at only $19.99 a bottle. Another Rhone varietal that gets star treatment at Crimson Hill Vineyards in Lake County where elevations are over 2,000 feet.  Blended with 7% Syrah, the wine exhibits aromas of ripe cherry and rose petal with highlights of white pepper and cigar box. This gentle wine bursts with flavors of ripe cherry, cinnamon and spice.  There’s just a limited supply of this (only 326 cases were produced) so why not pick up three bottles for the spread.
Of course we always have those brave-hearts who when the holidays are here, wish to celebrate them big time with some big wine, where bigger is better.   To satiate to these lovers of the bold stuff, look no further than to the Opolo Mountain Zinfandel that’s forever known as an aggressive, fruity, dark, rich wine.  dans wine_jazzIt’s an incredible buy at $18.95.  Jammy aromas of raspberry, plum, cranberry, pomegranate and fig lead to a similar lush flavor profile with a long finish of vanilla & cinnamon spice and a surprise whiff of cayenne pepper.  At 16.1% alcohol, it also works well as a dessert wine—don’t be shy, give it a try.

Sounds like a warm, comfy and tasty Thanksgiving. And with all that said, the most important thing, of course, to bring to the table, is a grateful & humble heart. And bless you all who contribute meals to the needy.

Bon Appétit & Cheers!