Honestly can’t remember when I first met winemaker Rick Pratt, it could’ve been at Sunset in the Vineyard, benefitting the work of our Assistance League, or one of many events he has poured wine at over the years. Rick has donated wines to many non-profits and some that I’ve been involved with, besides Sunset in the Vineyard, include Garagiste Festival, Wine on the Roof and most recently he was extremely generous with Circle of Hope for Vine 2 Wine, To Go.
After this recent Vine 2 Wine event Rick sent me home with two of his latest wines. I waited less than a week after the event to wrap my palate around these two:
2019 Grenache Blanc
Thompson Vineyard, Santa Barbara County, 12.9% alcohol
Picked September 2019, in stainless six months.
Pratt said this wine drinks more like a Sauvignon Blanc and I could definitely see that. I got aromas of lemon and lime peel, white peach, Mandarin orange and a slight powdery creaminess. In the mouth I got that same bursting citrus fruit, homemade lemonade, fresh green apple, a medium acidity that carried over to a medium finish. We enjoyed this wine before dinner, and due to the Sauv Blanc qualities – the bright citrus and mild acidity – it was a great aperitif.
Thompson Vineyard, Alisos Canyon, Santa Barbara County
Rick had advised me to decant the wine for two hours before drinking, and I might’ve gone closer to three. From the nose there was sweet black cherry, plums, blueberry, milk chocolate, white pepper, earth, dried leaves and caramel while the taste delivered a lovely balance of spice, dark fruit, tannin and another medium finish. I did my tasting notes just after I cleansed my palate with a sample of our Bolognese spaghetti sauce simmering on the stove.
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We had the wine just before sitting down to dinner, with dinner and after dinner.
We would definitely like to have both of these wines again. Rick gets great fruit and makes great wine with it. My biggest takeaway is that these wines worked well with and without food, making them accessible to all palates whenever the mood strikes.
I also checked in with Rick during the tasting, and asked him to share his thoughts on the Thompson Vineyard, which he happily supplied, as well as more info on his new Syrah:
Thompson Vineyard sits deep within Alisos Cyn. in northern Santa Barbara County. The canyon runs West to East allowing cool ocean air to flow in over the Solomon Hills, keeping the daytime temperatures mild. As a result, hang times on the fruit are 2-4 weeks longer than your normal SB Rhône Vineyard, fruit is picked no earlier than mid October and often going as long as November 1st.
This long hang time, when handled properly, results in wines with big fruit, great balance and neutral acidity. Thompson, along with their neighbor, Sine Qua Non, are among the most sought after grapes in the state. Thompson produces Grenache Blanc, Grenache, Syrah, Mourvèdre, Petite Sirah and their only non-Rhône, Chardonnay. With the heavy rains this year, the soils received a good cleansing and the 2020 harvest looks again to be a great one. According to Vineyard manager, Jason Grupp, the crop is looking outstanding!
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A little info on the Syrah. The Syrah vines were originally smuggled into the country in 1974 from the Hermitage region of France. In 1988 David Thompson purchased cuttings from the original ‘smuggler’. He took those cuttings and just shoved them into the ground. A very risky move, leaving the cuttings susceptible to disease and insects. Luckily the cuttings survived. As a result of this process you get the purest form of expression from the Estrella clone of Syrah.
Meet The Winemaker (From website)
Rick and Teresa
Rick’s interest in wine-making began in the 70’s but it wasn’t until over twelve years ago that his hands-on education began. Thanks to a high-school classmate who was making wine in his garage, a life-long dream would one day be realized. His journey to becoming a garagiste taught him the skills he would one day need to be able to create wines for all to enjoy.
“Along the road I have had the good fortune to experience mentoring from two of the best. I am most grateful to Wes Hagen and Greg Brewer for their support and insight. The fact that our wines have been so well received is due in large part to their guidance.”
Today we are finally able to share our wines with you. A lot of love went into crafting each one and in creating each label. May you enjoy them as much as we did making them!
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.