Today’s blog posting marks our 100th posting…a milestone here at Tiedemann On Wines. I gave a lot of consideration to what today’s topic should be and I also thought about the mission of Tiedemann On Wines: to educate and inform people on wine and the lifestyle that surrounds wine. I had already scheduled the David Ramey piece for this Thursday not remembering that it was our 100th posting…an anniversary of sorts. After considering a number of topics and thinking about our mission, I decided that the Ramey piece filled the bill. How better to fulfill our mission than to talk about my meeting with one of the icons of Napa Valley wine making and review some of his best wines?
On the Tuesday morning (March 24, 2015) of my recent Napa Valley trip, I had the privilege of sitting down for a conversation and wine tasting with David Ramey of Ramey Wines. I believe it is a recognized fact that David Ramey is a member of an impressive and elite group of California winemakers. One only has to do a small amount of research or spend a few minutes talking with David to learn that he has had, and will continue to have, a huge impact on the world of wine making. To gain a better understanding of David’s history in wine making and the founding of Ramey Wines with his wife Carla in 1996 take a couple of minutes and watch David’s video highlighting his winemaking history:
I am grateful that David took time from his busy schedule to meet with me. We spent about an hour and a half discussing his time in the wine industry, our families and their involvement in our businesses and succession planning. We touched on the topics of social media, videos and brand exposure. We also spoke of how difficult and competitive the wine business is and the need to be profitable. Thanks for the reminder David! Naturally, we spoke of the Ramey Wines operation and the wines produced. Today Ramey Wines produces 40,000 cases of wine annually. They are represented in all 50 states and 20 foreign countries.
Ramey Wines is located in Healdsburg, CA, which is located about an hour and 15 minutes north of Napa. As fits the character and demeanor of David Ramey, Ramey Wines is housed in a rather non-descript facility in Healdsburg. The winery is impressive and the second floor tasting room that overlooks the large winery area is an ideal venue for tasting wines.
David’s staff had prepared a tasting of eight of Ramey Wine’s current releases: four Chardonnays and four reds. Let me start my comments on the wines we tasted with the four Chardonnays. Two of them were appellation Chardonnays (multiple vineyards) while the other two were single vineyard Chardonnays.
The White Wines
2012 Ramey Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
This Chardonnay is a blend of four different vineyards located in the Sonoma Coast area. The predominate vineyard is the (70%) Martinelli Charles Ranch Vineyard. The wine is 100% Chardonnay and there were 7,750 cases produced. Prior to bottling the wine was in oak barrels for 12 months.
In the glass the color of the wine is a dull light straw yellow. On the nose the wine has a touch of oak with hints of fruit such as melon and apple. On the palate the wine is crisp and tastes of fruit and a little honey. The wine’s finish featured some acidity, a touch of spice from the oak and it has a nice length with a pleasant aftertaste. The mouth feel is lean and crispy. It was a good Chardonnay.
The wine is scored in the low 90s. The price from the winery is $40.00 per bottle while nationally merchants price the wine from $30.00 to $40.00 per bottle.
2012 Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay
This too is a blend of Chardonnay grapes from various vineyards. It is 100% Chardonnay and 13,980 cases were produced. As with the Sonoma Coast Chardonnay, the Russian River spent twelve months in oak barrels.
The color of wine, in the glass was a light gold. The nose of the wine again offered hints of fruit such as peach, pear and hints of smoke. On the palate the wine is rich and broad across the tongue…a bit fuller than the Sonoma Coast. The finish is strong and of ample length. The mouth feel is richer and ripe.
This wine also scored in the low 90s. The wine is priced at $40.00 from the winery while national merchants are pricing it at $30.00 to $40.00 per bottle. It also is a good Chardonnay.
2012 Ramey Platt Vineyard Chardonnay
This is a single vineyard wine with all the grapes coming from the Sonoma Coast Platt Vineyard. It is also 100% Chardonnay with 1,265 cases being produced. This wine was aged for 18 month in oak barrels prior to bottling.
The color of the wine was a pale gold color. The nose produced very pretty fruit aromas of apples and lemons. On the palate it was of medium body with plenty of acidity, very well balanced and smooth across the tongue with hanging fruit flavors. The finish is a long superb finish. Of the four Chardonnays we tasted this was my favorite. This was a really nice expressive wine.
This one scored higher than the two previous wines with scores in the mid 90s with Wine Enthusiast scoring it at 95/100. The wine is priced at $65.00 per bottle at the winery. Nationally the wine sells from $55.00 to $67.00 per 750 ml bottle. I recommend you try this wine when you get the opportunity.
2012 Ramey Hyde Vineyard – Napa – Carneros Chardonnay
This is the second single vineyard Chardonnay we tasted with all the grapes coming from the Hyde Vineyard located in the Carneros appellation on the Napa side. This too is 100% Chardonnay with 1,212 cases being produced. It also aged for 18 months in oak barrels. The color of the wine was a muted light straw. On the nose there were again notes of hanging fruit with a bit of freshness. On the palate the wine revealed hints of pineapple, orange and melon. The finish was long and balanced with good acidity. Mouth feel was rich and full bodied.
This wine scored in the 93 range. The price at the winery is $65.00 per 750 ml bottle. Nationally merchants are selling the wine at $57.00 to $67.00 per bottle.
David Ramey is recognized as an outstanding producer of Chardonnays. It is easy to see how he has gained that reputation after tasting his excellent Chardonnays.
The Red Wines
As we did with the Chardonnays we tasted four red wines. The wines were of the 2012 and 2013 vintages. We tasted a Syrah, a Claret and two Cabernet Sauvignons. The review of these wines follows.
2012 Ramey Cole Creek Vineyard Syrah
This is a blended Syrah made up of 94% Syrah and 6% Viognier. Both grapes came from a single vineyard: Cole Creek in the Russian River Valley appellation of Sonoma County. There were 88 cases produced and the wine was aged in oak barrels for 19 months prior to bottling. The color of the wine was a deep ruby red…quite rich looking. On the nose there were aromas of black fruit with a hint of leather. On the palate the wine was balanced and provided tastes of wild berries and perhaps a touch of black pepper. It was a full-bodied wine with great texture and mouth feel. The finish featured restricted tannins and was of a nice length with a pleasant aftertaste.
The wine is sold out at the winery and I couldn’t find any available over the internet. The 2013 vintage is yet to be released.
Robert Parker scored the wine at 95/100. If you would like to try any of this delicious wine I suggest you join the Ramey Cellars’ mailing list and keep a close eye on their website for news of future releases. You need to keep your credit card handy as this wine will sell out quickly when released. The cost, although not listed on the website any longer, is above $100.00 per bottle.
2013 Ramey Claret – Napa Valley
This Ramey Claret is a blend of six different varietals and is referred to as a “Bordeaux” style wine. The varietal composition is 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 34% Merlot, 40% Malbec, 3% Syrah, 2% Cabernet Franc and 2% Petit Verdot. The grapes came from multiple vineyards throughout Napa Valley and Sonoma Coast. There were 4,400 cases produced and the wine was aged in oak barrels for 12 months. The color of the wine was a dark purplish red. On the nose there were definitely aromas of red cherries and other red hanging fruit, and it had a very nice nose. On the palate the red fruit came out with hints of licorice and perhaps fresh herbs. The wine flows nicely across the tongue and was rich, all with opulent textures, full-bodied with a nice finish of good length. This was a very nice, pleasant wine to drink anytime.
The wine hasn’t scored all that well considering how good it appears to be. Scores ran in the upper 80s. The wine sells at $40.00 per bottle from the winery. Nationally the wine sells from $36.00 to $40.00 per 750 ml bottle.
2012 Ramey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon
This is a blended Cabernet Sauvignon made up of 85% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Merlot and 3% Petite Verdot. The grapes were sourced from a number of Napa Valley vineyards. There were 8,600 cases produced with the wine spending 18 months in oak barrels. The wine was a dark purplish color in the glass. On the nose the wine provides aromas of spicy black fruit and hints of floral. On the palate the wine is rich, full bodied and tastes of black fruit, a little oak and herbs. The finish was full and of a good length. There was a nice aftertaste and the mouth feel was full, lush and velvety. This wine needs to age a little longer and it will improve even more.
The wine scored in the 90 to 93/100 range. The wine sells for $60.00 per bottle from the winery. Nationally wine merchants offer the wine at an average $56.00 with an overall range of $49.00 to $62.00 per 750 ml bottle.
2012 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon, Oakville – Napa Valley
This Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon is also a blended red wine. The blend is 75% Cabernet Sauvignon and 25% Cabernet Franc. The grapes are sourced from two different vineyards, both in the Oakville – Napa appellation.
There were 86 cases made. The wine was stored in new oak barrels for a total of 20 months prior to it being bottled. In the glass the wine was dark in color. On the nose the wine produced aromas of black fruit and was very floral with hints of spice. On the palate the wine was medium bodied with flavors of vanilla, black fruit, and perhaps a little forest floor and graphite or ink. The wine was flavorful and expressive, fun to drink. The finish was of a nice length with a soft texture and medium dryness with mild tannins.
This Cabernet scored at 92/100 points. The wine is priced at $100.00 per 750 ml bottle from the winery. My research didn’t indicate the wine being available on a national level.
The time I spent with David Ramey was very enjoyable and informative. I came away with more wine knowledge and a sense of personal satisfaction. David Ramey is one of the premier winemakers of our time. He is knowledgeable and committed to his profession and to his customers. He cares about the continued improvement of his wine and his winery! To me he is a classy guy and a gentleman. I suspect he is that to all people. Thanks David for sharing your time.
I want to personally thank all of you who have been around for these first 100 blogs and encourage you to stick around for the next 100-plus. We have so much more about wine to discover together!
Until next week,
Please Join Us For These Future Tiedemann On Wines Sponsored Wine Dinners & Tastings
May 7 – McCarthy’s, Elkhart, featuring craft beer from Iechyd Da and Eric Kent wines
May 26 – Lucchese’s, Elkhart, featuring White Oak wines
June 11 – Uptown Kitchen, Granger, featuring White Oak wines
June 16 – McCarthy’s, Elkhart, featuring Glenwood Cellars wines and the Tiedemann Red
June 23 – Lucchese’s, Elkhart featuring craft beer from Iechyd Da and wines from the Tiedemann Wines portfolio
Other Future Area Wine Tasting Events
May 7 – Mother’s Day Tasting Event at Chalet Party Shoppe on CR 17 in Elkhart (6 to 8 pm)
June 11 – Summer Tasting Event at Chalet Party Shoppe on CR 17 in Elkhart (6 to 8 pm)
July 11 – 13th Annual Charity Tasting Event & Silent Auction at Chalet Party Shoppe on CR 17 in Elkhart (2 to 5 pm)