The discovery of a new, boutique winery and the tasting of that winery’s premier releases are some of the most exciting and rewarding tasks in the world of wine, especially when the wines are as good as what Alex Holman has fashioned in the past two vintages at J. Rickards. Holman, a graduate of California State University and an accomplished enologist who once worked for the iconic Paul Hobbs, has teamed up with Jim and Eliza Rickards, long time Sonoma County grape growers to launch J. Rickards. The 2005 vintage was J. Rickard’s first commercial release, an auspicious entrance by all accounts, but the winery’s 2006 offerings have managed to best that propitious debut.
This month’s feature, Ancestor Selections Vineyard Zinfandel, hails from a tiny vineyard near the winery. Jim Rickards planted it in honor of Alexander Valley’s ancestors in wine grape growing. Cuttings were taken from the old Zinfandel vines originally belonging to the Pastori, Brignoli, Nervo, Vasconi, Mazzoni, Pachetti, and Osborn families. The vine grafting was done to best represent the old style of planting in the early 1900's, and what a lovely portrait of yesteryear this vineyard and its seductive wines paint.
Sustainable methods of agriculture prevail at J. Rickards. Furthermore, no insecticides have been used on the property in over two decades. Natural predators are used in place of chemicals to control insects. Moreover, composting and respectful land management techniques throughout the ranch help preserve the natural environment and enhance the quality and purity of J. Rickards’ wines.
It is becoming increasingly apparent that boutique operations such as J. Rickards are fashioning many of California’s most compelling wines – flavorful, natural tasting wines that are both intriguing and just plain fun to drink. These wines are being made by a coterie of small boutique wineries that are dedicated to quality and individuality. Some are from long time growers of superlative fruit who have decided to take a turn at winemaking, while others emanate from well-established winemakers and enologists who have simply had enough of commercial formulas. J. Rickards combines the best of both those worlds in Rickards and Holman. The result is a dynamic portfolio of two excellent Zinfandels (Ancestor Selections and Voigt Vineyard), a lusty Petit Sirah from the winery’s Brown Barn Vineyard, a succulent meritage offering called Sisters, and more – all in limited quantities. If these past two releases are any indication of what we can expect from this winery, it is hard to imagine that any J. Rickards wines will remain available for very long. So, let us drink up while we can!
For more information on JR Rickards Winery, visit their web site at http://www.jrwinery.com/.