Skip to main content

Wines for Thanksgiving – The Royal Gazette

By November 10, 2022Sports events

Created: Nov 10, 2022 08:00

Theresa Heredia, the winemaker at the Gary Farrell winery in the Russian River Valley (Photograph provided)

There is such a range of wines that can go well with a turkey dinner – a well-aged Bordeaux, a Barolo, a Chateauneuf du Pape or a Beaujolais cru.

Back home on American Thanksgiving Day, we only have one option and that is wine from the United States of America. From there, it’s obvious to top the list with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir and luckily we have a few newcomers added to our list that are appropriate. Here are a few that you might like to associate with the bird.

In 1982, even before the Russian River Valley in Sonoma was established as an AVA (American Viticultural Area), Gary Farrell crafted his first pinot noir in this cool place often called “the Burgundy of the West” because ideal for growing pinot noir and chardonnay.

Winemaker Farrell is now Theresa Heredia, a specialist in pinot noir and chardonnay. Even in the progressive New World state of California, only 14% of primary winemakers are women. She has worked for top producers in Burgundy and California and earned her doctorate in oenology from the highly regarded and respected University of California, Davis.

The Gary Farrell Chardonnay Russian River Selection 2019 is rich and golden, yet vibrant and tangy. This beautiful orchestra of Russian River Valley vineyards offers tantalizing aromas of ripe nectarine, honeysuckle, lemongrass and freshly baked brioche. Flinty, brackish and spicy, the palate is full-bodied and rich, yet remarkably mineral, with flavors of roasted Meyer lemon, grapefruit, ginger and just a kiss of lightly toasted oak. The Passionate about wine gives it a score of 94/100 and says, “This outstanding wine offers a full range of complex flavor, texture and depth, with grapes sourced from a who’s who of sites.” $45.25 (Stock #6479).

A woman’s touch gives us Pinot Noir Gary Farrell Russian River Selection 2019 which gets a splendid 95/100 from James Suckling and these words: “Aromas of wild cherry, plum, crushed stone and sea breeze. A palette of fresh red fruits and colorful flowers fills the palate. Persistent finish. Attractive.” $53.75 (Stock No. 6480).

In 1988, Lester and Linda Schwartz purchased a section of virgin forest and grassland in the high coastal ridges of the Sonoma Coast overlooking the Pacific Ocean. Academics told them it was too risky to plant a vineyard on these cool, misty coastal ridges so close to the ocean, but they were undeterred. After experimenting for several years with various clones, rootstocks and training systems, they concluded that the property had the potential to produce exceptional Pinot Noir and Chardonnay.

In 1994, after carefully sourcing exceptional heritage clones, whose attributes they believed would reveal the terroir and varietal typicity, they began to prepare and plant the first plots of vines. Lester and Linda spent many days personally digging plant holes and planting vines as they meticulously landscaped their 53-acre vineyard with roads, tile drainage and irrigation systems while developing and building a tank and designing a custom truss system.

We will discuss their 2020 Fort Ross Vineyard and Winery Pinot Noir first, and their winemaker puts it this way: “A rich garnet hue, this coastal pinot noir has seductive notes of raspberry, blueberry and blackberry with a hint of pink peppercorn. Bright layers of dark cherry, plum and gooseberry with a hint of clove are framed by plush tannins. Crisp acidity and irresistible characteristics of pure pinot noir fruit linger through the lingering finish. The Passionate about wine awards him an admirable 94 points. $49.50 (Stock #6482).

The 2020 Fort Ross Sea Slopes Chardonnay was selected as an “editor’s choice” by the Passionate about wine, and the winery describes it this way: “Sea Slopes Chardonnay is inspired by the majestic Sonoma Coast and the rugged, craggy ridges perched on the golden edge of the continent. Here, the cool maritime climate produces fruit of exceptional quality and allows us to produce wines of great elegance and purity. $43.50 (Stock #6483).

Ken’s Wine Reviews thinks so of the 2019 Head High Sonoma Pinot Noir: “This dark red Pinot Noir from Head High is very good. It opens with a bouquet of blueberry and strawberry rhubarb. On the palate, this wine is medium-bodied with a slight acidity. It is balanced and easy to drink. The flavor profile is a blend of red currant and loamy earth with hints of pomegranate. I also detected notes of strawberry, rhubarb, red raspberry and cinnamon mixed together. The finish is dry, and its soft tannins and flavors linger well. This inexpensive pinot will pair well with a salmon burger. $31.30 (Stock #6130).

Our 2021 Head High Sonoma Chardonnay is from Bill Price, a Sonoma wine industry legend and owner of Durell and Gap’s Crown Vineyards, two gems of Sonoma’s pinot and chardonnay scene. His Head High 2021 is a chance to see the phenomenal quality of chardonnay he and his team can achieve at this price.

Showcasing big, ripe fruit and a steely sheen that keeps it ultra-refreshing, it combines grapes from its excellent (and secret) vineyard sources with top-notch winemaking to deliver a Chardonnay of exceptional complexity and surprising elegance.

Aromatically, this chardonnay is captivating, with a rich blend of golden apple, Meyer lemon jam and honeysuckle. The palate is round yet energetic and uplifting, showing notes of crushed limestone as well as citrus and tropical fruits that fade on a long finish. The dialectic between easy-to-love fruit and refreshing sparkle is possible thanks to Head High’s exquisite Sonoma Chardonnay grapes and an approach to winemaking that emphasizes maximum freshness. He obtains a mark of 90 points with the Passionate about wine.$27 (stock no. 6135).

Even though Burrows Lightbourn has an extensive selection of California Pinot Noir and Chardonnay, it’s certainly not uncommon for customers to ask, “What’s up?” Now you know about six, but there are others too, and whatever you choose, I wish you the happiest of Thanksgiving dinners.

• This column is an infomercial for Burrows Lightbourn Ltd. Contact Michael Robinson at Burrows Lightbourn has stores in Hamilton (Front Street East, 295-1554) and Paget (Harbour Road, 236-0355). Visit