By Rick Riozza

C’mon guys and girls—Did you really think we’d get through the month of July without commenting on the most famous extreme bicycle race—La course cyclist—around the country of coq-au-vin and wine?  Of course not, thank you—Vous-êtes tres doux!

Hopefully, you wine & cyclist enthusiasts caught a few if not many of the 21 stages of races of the La Tour de France which just completed last Sunday.  Simply watching the final race into Paris on the famed Avenue des Champs-Élysées gets the wine a-flowing for the celebration anywhere you’re at!


It’s been a busy summer, so if you missed out on the three-week event and/or forgot to DVR the final surge into Paris—not to worry.  I know there are still some wine & Tour de France snobs around who would want us to get the total race experience with partying and festivities.  But our local wine-wise guy, Costa Nichols, owner of the Palm Springs Desert Wines & Spirits, which sits inside Go-Deli Market, has us riding high—back-in-the-saddle again!

This last weekend, Costa hosted a terrific Tour de France wine tasting at the store.  As is always the case with his late-afternoon Saturday tastings, he was spot-on with an array of excellent wines, this time, selected from French wine country that are perfect for summer consumption, light, refreshing and of course quite charming. 

And with you CV readers and vinophiles especially in mind, he’s made sure to have kept plenty of stock for you to enjoy a gustatory La Tour de France at your own time and leisure. Allons-y!  All of the below listed wines are available at Desert Wine & Spirits with the special sale price that you won’t find anywhere else.  Take it away—Costa . . .


2012 Dopff & Irion Pinot Blanc, Alsace.  Lists at $15; Sale price $13.95   The Dopff and Irion family traces its vineyard origins in Alsace to the 16th century. This winery located near the Rhine produces lovely dry Pinot Blanc with enjoyable fruit. This wine with a pale yellow color is fresh and fruity showing white plum and peach, with some smoked flavors. It is round and soft, well balanced, with a nice freshness; an easy-drinking crisp wine.

2014 Millet Freres Sancerre, Loire.  List $28.00; Sale $24.95  The upper Loire Valley is known for two iconic wine growing sub-regions: Pouilly Fumé, and Sancerre. Nearly all wine cultivated in these areas are from the Sauvignon Blanc variety. Crisp, appropriately acidic, and aromatic, these wines are an amazing experience on both the nose and palate. They also tend to be somewhat more expensive compared to Sauvignon Blancs from other regions, for good reason.

2013 Minuty Rosé, Côtes de Provence.  List $16; Sale $13.95  Château de Minuty is located on the St Tropez Peninsula, with its vineyards virtually overlooking the Mediterranean. This rosé is quintessential of the local style, with the blend employing the little-known Tibouren grape, a variety grown almost exclusively in Provence. The aromatic harmony of Grenache and Cinsault, too, are much in evidence, with notes of peach and candied orange. The wine offers a clean nose of citrus fruit, offset by subtle floral and candied notes. Fresh acidity makes for an incisive and lively palate, with a rounded feel. The mouth is fresh and round.

2014 Château du Puget, Côtes de Provence.  List $16.00; $Sale13.99

The climate at Puget is Mediterranean and along with the terroir makes typical Côtes de Provence rosés that are fresh and fruity. This pale orange-pink colored wine offers ripe fruits, spice and a tangy orange and pepper character. The Grenache, Cinsault and Rolle blend is full-bodied and rounded, offering a good opportunity to be paired with food.

2013 Kermit Lynch Red Côtes du Rhône List $13.50; Sale $11.75

Louis Barruol is actually the winemaker of this delightful red. He is the fourteenth generation in his family to be making wine in this sixteenth-century Domaine in Gigondas.  He selects the best parcels he can find from his own and from other northern Rhône producers, then Kermit shows up and either has a cuvée bottled unfiltered, or he blends to find the assemblage that satisfies his esthetic criteria. Sounds like fun.

2014 Domaine de Cristia Grenache, Vin de Pays.  List $29; Sale $23.99

The property of the Grangeon family for many generations, Domaine de Cristia is located in Courthézon, on the eastern sector of Châteauneuf-du-Pape and spreads over 58 hectares. This 100% Grenache is from vieilles vignes—old vines, 65 years old. It over-delivers for the price.

All right then Costa…thanks much for your time and your Tour de France picks. And I’d like to remind everyone that his Saturday wine tastings are $10 per customer, with $5 credited towards purchase of the featured wines of the day.

Desert Wines & Spirits 611 S. Palm Canyon Drive, Suite #22, Palm Springs, 92264  760-327-7701

This was the 102nd annual Tour de France covering a total distance of nearly 2,100 miles including seven mountain stages with 5 summit finishes.  It was the 21st time that the race began in another country besides France and the 6th  time from the Netherlands—which is a record.

Champagne_de_Castelnau_2015This year’s winner was the Brit Chris Froome for a second title.  British riders have won three of the last four Tour de France races.

And the official Champagne Chris Froome toasted with was the Champagne de Castelnau Brut Réserve Tour de France Limited Edition 2015

The brand’s limited edition yellow and black bottle design pays homage to this great race and the famous jersey worn by the winning cyclist.  Cheers & Félicitations!