By Rick Riozza
So what happens when the unstoppable force of a wine steward who heads a thousand labels meets up with the immovable presence of a wine gal who carries the best rock n’ roll array of wines around town?
Well—I guess physics aside, they both exist in a loving wine world. And so it is that the lovely and bubbly Debbie Lee—owner of her eponymous Classic Creations gift shop—fashions a fun and inventive selection of gift baskets and more at her Rancho Mirage Marketplace location. Just a few doors down from Pavilions (soon to be Haggen Market), her shop has been around since late 2013.
I first met Debbie Lee when she came over to Pavilions to browse some wine. Catching her reading the labels was a clear indication that she was a wine gal and we quickly made conversation. I had been in her shop previously but had only met her assistant, Nelson. I saw the display of wines with rock n’ roll labels—thought it was cool and have enjoyed ever since referring my wine customers with eclectic tastes to check-out her line.
But Debbie’s is first and foremost a gift shop. And she specializes in custom crafted gift baskets for all occasions. You can see where the “wine” aspect came in where bottles of wine are often desired and included in the craft. Of course the sky’s the limit with what can be included in the gift carriers—from jams, jewels to jollies.
Debbie first began her gift/basket business on-line around 2009. Anyone interested in her featured projects and selections can go on-line at Betterthanfruit.com to check out her collection; then come by the shop to actually see and feel one’s way around. Debbie personally constructs her baskets, and, as she puts it, “the customers name their own price”.
An active member of the Rancho Mirage Chamber of Commerce, her business was just named the Small Business of the Year Award for 2015. Often times she’ll showcase the work of artists and artisans with their specific items available for purchase. Debbie is also on-board with food and wine tastings. I mentioned to her about perhaps planning a rock n’ roll wine tasting event at her place—where we can all experience and enjoy tasting these new wines on the market. “Sounds good to me!” she responded.
Covering the Wines that Rock Wine Company at various events previously, I recall them claiming to be “The Official Wine of Rock ‘n Roll”. Their website states, “As passionate wine lovers and die-hard music fans, Wines That Rock is creating its own category in the industry—“Great Tasting Wines Inspired by Music”. Debbie utilizes the portfolio of this very “green” and eco-friendly Mendocino County wine company that continues to apply sustainable vineyard practices.
No doubt her line up of wines and vintages thereof will vary from time to time, but currently she has the following wines on display for both arts & crafts, and, for your quaffing enjoyment:
2012 Pink Floyd The Dark Side of the Moon Cabernet Sauvignon. Aromas of black currant and cherry are followed by rich flavors of cassis, toasted vanilla bean, and hints of chocolate. Winery notes: Listening to Pink Floyd’s The Dark Side of the Moon on his iPod, Winemaker Mark Beaman ventured into new territory in winemaking. To capture the intense, brooding, timeless character of Pink Floyd’s masterpiece album he turned to Cabernet Sauvignon, a classic varietal with a deep, complex character that takes a relaxed environment to fully appreciate.
2013 Woodstock Chardonnay. An enjoyably eclectic mixture of rich pear, mineral, and papaya aromas are followed by fresh flavors of Asian pear, citrus, and tropical fruit on the finish, or, as our winemaker likes to say, “sunshine in a bottle.”
2012 Rolling Stones Forty Licks Merlot. Winery & Tasting Notes: To capture the essence of Forty Licks, the 40 tracks that cover the Rolling Stones’ career, Winemaker Mark Beaman chose to work with Merlot. This varietal captures the comfort of turning to a solid classic that stands the test of time. Much like the band itself, Mendocino County winemaking stays true to its roots with a consistent and confident character not caught up in fads or trends
The Merlot captures the attitude of Mendocino County’s style. Aromas of cherries with hints of apricot are followed by bright flavors of raspberry and strawberry and a creamy black cherry-vanilla finish. This dry red wine is a fine match for herb-roasted chicken, grilled beef or smoky chili.
2011 The Police – Synchronicity Red Wine Blend – “Quite literally, this wine represents and manifests the notion of ‘Synchronicity’ as it was interpreted by The Police with their classic album and this wine’s namesake. The term “synchronicity”, Sting’s magnetic vocals and the theme of light and dark in the music were the main influences on Mark while making the wine. The playful, seductive, and haunting union of Carignane, Zinfandel, Syrah, Petite Sirah, Grenache and Viognier make this wine a compelling and delicious study.
“Aromas of fresh rose petals and wild berries. Flavors of juicy strawberry, bright raspberry, with a lush lingering finish. The Grenache and Viognier definitely lighten up the heavy hitters making this a delicious, approachable, and very food friendly wine.”
Definitely wines to rock on with! Cheers!
Join Debbie Lee’s email list to receive special offers and new subscribers get 20% off their next order. Debbie Lee’s Classic Creations 36101 Bob Hope Drive, Suite D-4 Rancho Mirage, CA 92270 (760) 424.8502
Visit their website www.betterthanfruit.com