By Rick Riozza

I readily admit to be very fortunate to have four generations living in the same residential community here in Rancho Mirage.

My dad lives a minute away—we have a “license” to cut through our neighbor’s property to assist, visit, and dine at our leisure.  Most of you often read about my son Paolo’s food & wine antics in this column—he and his family, including our irrepressible four year old grandson Hunter, live just a minute’s drive from us.

Recently we moved Paolo’s wine cellar from Irvine with intent to store at the friendly Wine Vault of the Desert in Palm Desert (760)345-3000—the perfect place to store your valuable wines and get them out of the heat!  And we came upon the oldest vintage wine in the collection—which I guess is owned by the four of our family men & kid.


After purchasing four cases of 1850 Pereira D’Oliveira Verdelho Madeira back in the late 80s, I (or we) have just one bottle remaining.  And Father’s Day is coming up!!—what do you think?  It’s a wine trifecta: Besides celebrating 4 generations, on Father’s Day—to boot, every wine enthusiast chimes in with the sentiments expressed by Maya in the famed wine-movie, “Sideways”, that the day you open the bottle of a great vintage wine, that’s the occasion of celebration.

By the way—the purchase price in 1989 was around $250 a bottle—which I thought was a steal. Back then, Vintage Port wine was in its U.S. heyday, so I wondered what great dessert/or classic sweet wine would be next on the investment horizon.  Capturing all the 1850 Verdelho Madeira in the States—those four cases, and thinking I could name my price upon re-sale, was my plan.

For some reason, 19th Century Madeira never took off.  But unlike the Hunt Brothers, who could not even eat a bit of their failed investment silver, our family at least got to enjoy the best tasting dessert wine in town.  Made from the rain water of 1850, the Madeira was stellar, gorgeous, delicious with fresh citrus notes, complex nuttiness, and a haunting honey and magnificent maple finish lasting over five minutes.  It was a tonic! It was an elixir! Ethereal!

Coming back down to earth, I think it would be nice to hear from our local wine purveyors on one of their own Happy Father’s Day wine picks.

I just phoned Dan Sullivan, owner of the venerable Dan’s Wine Shop, 73360 CA-111, Palm Desert, CA 92260 (760) 674-0305.  As you readers know, I have him drive one of my holiday wine columns with holiday wine picks.  And he tells me he’s planning on expanding his shop later this summer to include by-the-glass wine offerings, so no doubt we’ll be covering that momentous occasion.

Anyway—after a little thought-time on a Father’s Day pick, he tells me, “how about the 2013 Jeff Runquist Petite Sirah “Salman Vineyards” Clarksburg.  I laugh, “You’re kidding me!—I was going to pick Jeff Runquist’s Barbera “Dick Cooper Vineyards” Amador County, or, Runquist’s Petite Verdot from “Damir Ranch” Stanislaus!”

Now I don’t know if it’s “great wine minds think alike”—don’t want that moniker, and I don’t think that wine-wiseguy Dan parades himself as a “great wine mind” either, but the Runquist wines are certainly on a roll here in the desert and all over the wine competitions in State.  Google it!

Dan continues, “That Petite Sirah sits like a glacier hanging in the glass—it’s inky—gooey,  full of tasty dark berry fruit—but it’s very easy on the tannins, you can keep drinking this all day by itself or with a Father’s Day meal.” It is a great selection, and at around $24 a bottle, it’s the perfect 3-bottle or 6-bottle gift for the old man.

Next, I call over to the other side of town and speak with Costa Nichols at his shop, Desert Wine and Spirits & Go-Deli Market, 611 S Palm Canyon Dr., Ste. 22 Palm Springs, CA 92264 (760) 327-7701.

I offer the same Father’s Day inquiry on a wine choice, and before I know it, he’s already recommending two selections.  But no one says “No” to Costa, so he indeed gets in two Father’s Day Wine choices.

First he tells me about Reckless Love Red Blend from Rebel Coast Winery. The wine made from “the finest Sonoma Cab of the Alexander Valley region and blended with vivacious Paso Robles Syrah.”

There’s no question that Cabernet Sauvignon and Syrah blends are really happening in California these days.  I know the Cab can be clobbering at times and Syrah a bit syrupy; but, the sum of these heavy parts—in the right winemakers’ hand—can really construct a lighter and livelier wine.  So certainly I’m trusting Costa on this blend.  He has it for $20 a bottle.

Next I hear about Big Guy Red Wine. Hadn’t heard of that one yet until Costa tells me it’s one of Anthony Bell’s wine. This gentleman is a master winemaker who besides spending time in Bordeaux, was at the BV Winery for 15 years before commencing his own Napa winery in Yountville.  No question here, a definite stamp of approval—indeed! I’ll be picking a bottle or two at the very reasonable price of $16 per.

Here’s is Bell Winery’s comment on the wine: “Anthony’s own favorite wine for those lovely BBQ dinners he so enjoys.  It’s a blend of the Bordeaux varietals along with Syrah.  These lots display lively fruit aromas and flavors; enjoyable while young. The tannin structures will allow the wine to develop gracefully for several years.”

My best to you and yours, Cheers!