J. Rickards Winery, 2019 One Lone Row, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County Grenache


Is your Thanksgiving feast an embarrassment of wealth?

Not if you have the right red to control these hedonistic dishes. The flavor profile of the “good” red is that of tangy, tangy fruit supported by crisp acidity. While grape varieties with this profile span the gamut, strong candidates include Pinot Noir, Rhône red blends and Grenache.

The winner of the recent Press Democrat Thanksgiving Red Blind Tasting is a Grenache – the J. Rickards Winery, 2019 One Lone Row, Alexander Valley, Sonoma County Grenache at $ 29. This wine can stand up to the most decadent dishes – foods high in complex carbohydrates and rich, fatty sauces – with its crunchy acidity and tangy fruit. Red weighted, it has aromas and flavors of cherry, pomegranate and cranberry. Racy with a spicy background, it has a nice length and is impressive from start to finish.

Other awesome Thanksgiving picks include: Benovia, Pinot Noir Tilton Hill Sonoma Coast 2019 for $ 70; Antiquum Farm Juel, Pinot Noir Willamette Valley 2019, $ 50; Rams Gate, 2018 Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir Cellar Note, $ 58; and Pedroncelli, 2019 Bench Vineyards Sonoma County Dry Creek Valley Merlot at $ 20.

As for Grenache J. Rickards, winemaker Blaine Brazil said it was the perfect Thanksgiving wine because it has fruity flavors paired with crisp acidity.

“The standard roast turkey is obviously a good choice, and our tasting room manager is roasting a goose again,” Brazil said. “Our King Salmon Wellington recipe is another excellent pairing, served cold as a starter. Any salmon dish would be great.

The winemaker said that J. Rickards’ small batch production brings out the best in Grenache.

“We use a light touch of French Burgundy barrels, allowing the brilliant fruit flavors to shine,” Brazil said. “And Alexander Valley is an exceptional region for growing Grenache, with vines dating back 80 years or more. “

The winery has been growing and selling wine grapes in Alexander Valley since 1976, when winemaker Jim Rickards worked full time as a registered nurse in the intensive care unit at Memorial Hospital in Santa Rosa. Rickards started making wine in 1991 for his family and friends, then opened his commercial winery in 2005. He now produces around 5,000 cases a year.

This year marks Brazil’s 11th harvest at the cellar. The winemaker, 41, holds a Bachelor of Science degree from Cal Poly SLO in Fruit Science with a minor in Wine and Viticulture. He spent six years with BR Cohn in Sonoma Valley before joining J. Rickards.

Grenache, Brazil said, can be finicky. But he doesn’t mind the challenge, especially during Thanksgiving, as wine is at its best as a food pairing.

“Grenache is a difficult grape to grow because it usually produces a large harvest and needs to be managed with care to reduce the fruit load at the right time,” he said. “The management of the vine is very important to have the potential to make a great wine. Gentle processing and the best barrels of French Burgundy create a remarkable, fruity, complex and silky wine.

Wine writer Peg Melnik can be reached at [email protected] or 707-521-5310.


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