By Rick Riozza

As many of you loyal readers found out, our beloved publisher and editor-in-chief, Tracy Dietlin, made the executive decision a couple of weeks ago to forego the “Best of 2018 Awards” that so many other publications partake in. This time, Tracy felt it would be fun and particularly interesting for you folks to hear from the CV Weekly team as to their top five favorite things in and around the Coachella Valley! The publication was indeed a hit as we heard from the staff and writers we’ve come to love.

Unfortunately, I didn’t get the memo!! Believe it or not, I hadn’t read my email in over a week! No one likes excuses, but as you vino fans know, I’ve recently taken the position of wine steward manager at Ralphs in Palm Springs; during these last few weeks, thousands of bottles of champagne and wine have been figuratively flying out the door.

So—from the files titled, “Better late than Never,” here are some of my favorite things (wine-wise) in the valley:


Of course you guys were as busy as me over the last couple of holiday months, but did anyone take the time to smell the rosés from the 2018 Beaujolais Nouveau?

Actually, this year was the first time a Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé had ever been shipped to the U.S. For you rosé devotees, the 2018 Georges Duboeuf Beaujolais Nouveau Rosé will be the freshest pink available anywhere for the new year!you’ll wish to try it. I have it at the shop, so come on by.

And further, it’s the first time I’ve seen a Beaujolais Nouveau Villages on sale in this valley. Cheers! to Costa Nichols at his Desert Wine & Spirits shop in Palm Springs for carrying this Georges Duboeuf 2018 Beaujolais Nouveau Villages, which is one of the best new Beaujolais I’ve ever tasted.

After tasting this 2018 Duboeuf Nouveau Villages, I had to pull up the Gamay grape region of France, just north of Lyon, to read for myself about this 2018 vintage—and I wasn’t surprised: “The ripening conditions were ideal: no weather incidents, plus great sun and heat allowed the grapes to ripen slowly and gradually. Drawing on the water supply stocked up in the soil in the Spring, on the whole, the vines did not suffer from the lack of rainfall. Consequently, the grape crop was in outstanding health. The winemakers make the most of the warm, sunny September weather and later harvested healthy, nicely concentrated grapes, rich in sugar.”

As many of you know, a “villages” wine from the Beaujolais region is generally the best of the area, (absent specific areas—which are then classified a “crus”). This Villages is a testament to that notion—simply delish with tasty fresh vibrant red fruits, such as strawberries and currants on the palate with an intense perfume which makes the wine a perfect accompaniment for cheese, charcuterie and almost anything to munch upon.

A final point on this wine: It’s always a harbinger to the 2018 Burgundy vintage. You guys who love and buy high-end red Burgundy will have your hands full of the stuff and it appears it will be stellar!! And that’s good for us trickle-down folks who can purchase the $20-$40 Burgundies as the wine will be excellent as well.

For you Zinfandel fans, my last column touted the 8 Years in the Desert wine from Orin Swift, which will keep you busy chewing on the intense wine along with your char-grilled steak—Yummy!

And on to the Bubbly: I just can’t hide it: I simply love the bubbles and have a passion for French Champagne. (Yes—we just wrote on the flavor profiles of many of the Champagne houses, giving you perspective on your choices.)

New Year Alert! I am pleased to announce that Champagne’s most iconic Houses, Moët & Chandon, has new offerings to accompany your new year outlook, and, the wines are available in our valley

Moët & Chandon Impérial Brut, $40. This is the House’s iconic champagne, available in a new limited-edition bottle, decorated in golden festive elements to celebrate art-de-vivre for the 2019. Realize this: the bubbly is a blend from more than 100 different wines, of which 20%-30% are reserve wines specially selected to enhance its maturity, complexity and constancy. Unless you’re in the business, most folks don’t actualize the amount of time taken produce this Champagne. Moet Impérial Brut also comes in Moet Minis, which are wonderful to have around for a quick quaff!

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage 2009, $65. This is the Champagne that must be experienced by any bubbly lover with its more than fair share of Pinot Noir taking the spotlight with 50%—the highest it’s been in a vintage wine since 1996, with Chardonnay and Meunier making up the other 50%. At the price, it’s well worth the treat of the season.

As it begins to pour into the glass, notice the pale yellow color with initial aromas of vanilla, roasted almonds and mocha, followed by hints of juicy, fleshy fruits of peaches and apricots. Now that’s a wine you’d love to experience! In the mouth, the wine is welcoming, full-bodied and smooth with additional notes of honey and mild spices.

Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage Rosé 2009, $70. Another joyous and delectable champagne that bespeaks the Moët & Chandon Grand Vintage spirit, while adding a touch of style and sophistication. With Pinot Noir making up 59% of the wine, we find initial notes of ripe berries, rhubarb and violets, followed thereafter by wild strawberry, vanilla, toast, smoke, exotic spices and pink peppercorn. The complexities abound in this fabulous rosé. This is the Champagne rosé to pair with either game or red meat. Yes—you’ll surely impress your dinner guests, serving this bubbly with roasted duckling & fruit, or, beef tenderloin in red wine Dijon sauce. Another treat of the year!

Bon Appétit & Cheers!

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