By Rick Riozza

With the 2013 Palm Springs Restaurant Week upon us, I’m hearing from you readers the usual lament, “so many wines…so little time.” Well we can remedy that—and I know a great place to start.

In her article two weeks ago, Judith Salkin alerted our valley to the extravaganza that gets a kick-start with the May 29th & 30thpre-event“Uncorked! Here, multi-course wine pairing dinners are in the offering and more and more eateries are jumping in on it. And although Restaurant Week will end June 16th, wine will continue to pour forever.

Figue Mediterranean in La Quinta is revealing their version of Restaurant Week by featuring the Tastes of Italy: A 3 course rustic Italian dinner for only $38. And for you vino lovers, sommelier Celeste Cotta, further enhances the celebration with wine pairings at an additional $15 for light to medium-bodied wines, and $25 for the more full body quaffers.


Figue is the new fashionable, sexy, and friendly restaurant in town that is hitting the gastronomic mark with their presentation of the wildly versatile cuisine that rims the Mediterranean. Based around the context of Southern French cookery (after all la figue is French for fig), Chef François de Menlogue ducks in and out with the inventive and tasty traditional cuisine & influences of Spain, Italy, Greece, Lebanon, and Morocco.

I recently sat with Celeste to get a taste and take on her wine picks for the fortnight’s special menu. She’s really a kick who loves her vino and is out front in providing the diners with a stellar array of both their tried & true favorites and all of those new labels and bottles—local and international.

Hey—I feel an article coming on, simply covering their regular wine list! Besides the range of inventive cocktails and craft beers available, Figue’s listing includes over 30 wines by the glass and over 100 bottles of wine for uncorking.

So, Celeste and I are going over the Restaurant Week menu and wine list when I mention my recent three-article series on Rosé; she immediately goes over and grabs me a glass of a Priorat Grenache Rosé. Yes—it was a delicious and hearty Rosé that can match any meal on the entire menu.

Now this Buil & Gine Rosat Priorat Rosé isn’t on the regular wine list, but it was Celeste’s Wine Selection of the Week. This is exactly what we like to see: great tasting wines that come her way which she has no reservations to showcase to her patrons. So not only is she able to work “outside of the box” but this summer she’s putting together some fun wine programs that will include wine blending classes. Stay tuned on that one—and feel free to check in on her picks for the next Wine Selection of the Week.

Okay—let’s get on to Figue’s Restaurant Week wine pairing menu: The first antipasti course choices consist of GARDEN VEGETABLE PANZANELLA, SEAFOOD BRUSCHETTA, CHICKEN AND RICOTTA POLPETTINE, and SAN DANIELE STEAMED MUSSELS.

As mentioned, there are two wine pairing flights. Ordering from the “Pianissimo” $15wine accompaniment, I’m loving the La Marca Prosseco from Veneto with any of the antipasti. This versatile Italian sparkler carries ripe citrus, lemon, green apple, and touches of grapefruit, minerality, and some toast. The finish is light, refreshing, and crisp. Perfect for the food, mood, and weather.


Harmoniously, the 2011 Badia a Coltibuono “Cetamura” Chianti is full of red and black cherries as the palate expands to cranberry with touches of pomegranate and minerals. A perfect balance of that Sangiovese acidity will continue to partner-up and refresh after each delicious mouthful of fare.

A variety of three Italian dessert dishes will receive the honors to accompany Celeste’s “home-fashioned”limoncello [LEE-mon-CHELLO, not lemon-Chello]. Sweet success on these pairings as Celeste was keen on providing light and summery beverages to the lighter qualities of the offered plates.

The “Fortissimo” $25 wine pairings—again, for those wishing heartier wines,include a beautiful white2011Brolia Gavi La Meirana from Piemonte. I’ve had this un-oaked Gavi previously which is beautifully round, supple white flowers laced with yellow peaches, subtle hints of ash and crushed rocks. The Tuscan 2010 Ciacci Rosso di Montalicino is a dead ringer for its neighbor Brunello, and the 2006 Roccolo Grassi Recioto is a delicious off-dry vino with notes of kirsch, chocolate liqueur and ground spice mix. Sweet dreams.

Buon Appetito! e Salute!

Figue is located at 47-474 Washington St. in La Quinta. For information or to make a reservation call 760.698.9040 or visit

Rick conducts & entertains at wine tastings & events. Contact