Excitement abounded as I returned home from the Annual and a Third Seminar and Tasting of Ramey wines! Annual and a Third being a year and 4 months since the last seminar and tasting if you couldn’t tell. Arriving home late in the evening, my mind aflutter with the information swirling around in my brain (there’s lots of room up there for swirling), and my desire to share my experience. BUT FIRST!
As the lateness of the hour is gaining momentum, I needed to ready myself for a good night’s sleep. Awaking in the morning to a pot of freshly brewed coffee ready to help me through the day. Next comes a healthy breakfast of my famous French Toast (not chosen due to David Ramey’s French training, I just had this yearning). A quick cleanup of the dishes and turning on the news to see what transpired since last night, I finally found myself in front of my computer and ready to hammer out this bad boy. No less enthusiastically mind you.
Once again, Ramey's Central U.S. Sales Manager, Silas Rushton, was at the helm of this seminar and tasting to enlighten, educate and bring us some great wines from Ramey Wine Cellars. Unlike the last seminar (click here for my post), this time the wines were all Chardonnays, the mainstay of Ramey Wine Cellars. Oh, all but one, the Sauvignon Blanc from Sidebar Cellars; my kind of Sauv Blanc. Whole Cluster pressed and using a combination of Stainless Steel, neutral oak and concrete eggs. The wine was classy (wait, I wrote grassy not classy – not enough coffee yet this morning). It was both anyway! Mineral notes to give it depth from those wonderful grapes grown at 1,800 feet elevation from High Valley in Lake County. What a start!
Silas then introduced us to the first of five wines. The first two were the Sonoma Coast 2014, the other the Russian River Valley 2016 (Sonoma County). An interesting factoid that Silas mentioned is that the Sonoma Coast is a part of Sonoma County. To break up and add more definition to the large Sonoma Coast appellation, in 2011 the Fort Ross-Seaview AVA was established. If you haven’t already, you will be seeing more wines using that specific AVA in the future. The next three Chardonnays were all “Single Vineyards”; Ritchie, Hyde and Rochioli, 2014, 2014 and 2015 respectively. Excellent wines that are all reminiscent of fine Premiere and Grand Cru White Burgundy. While not inexpensive, compared to their French counterparts, much more so!
Next up were two vertical tastings of other “Single Vineyard” designates. The first, and one of their more recent additions, Woolsey Road; one of the more Southern vineyards in the Russian River Valley and the 2013 and 2014 vintage before us. Did I detect a slightly cleaner and maybe a more crisp wine, possibly from slightly cooler climate? Once again, both excellent. Last on the agenda were four wines from the Platt Vineyard located in the Southern most area of the Sonoma Coast. Click here for a map of Ramey Vineyards. Vintages 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014. I’m a little bias here (oh heck, I’m a lot bias) as last year I fell in love with and purchased 2013! Read my full review, click here. Being able to compare the vintages gives you a real idea of how winemakers handle Mother Nature. Silas mentioned somewhere during the seminar that Dave Ramey is one of those that doesn’t think wines are made in either the field or the winery, that it’s a combination of those two factors coming together to make great wine. Totally agree!
I give Silas his due as well for bringing the 2011 vintage of Platt Vineyard. 2011 in California was a difficult year and a great number of wines never achieved the status that winemakers always hope for. Education in wine isn’t just about the best, sometimes you need to taste the “not so great” so as to compare and understand. While the wine wasn’t terrible, Silas nailed it when he said the wine had a slightly botrytized flavor. That’s sort of a sweet tang that can permeate the wine.
Kudos to Silas for once again bringing his knowledge, expertise and personality to make this event. For the record, and not considering the 2013 Platt Vineyard, I have to say that one of my favorites was the 2016 Russian River Valley Chardonnay. While not yet available, the wine showed amazing depth of flavor, a slight creaminess, and a crisp clean palate. Gaining solid 91 Points from most reviewers and an Editor’s Choice 95 Point score from Wine Enthusiast. I’ll be waiting for that one! Since I’m on scores, I’ll tell you that the 2016 Sonoma Coast (Fort Ross-Seaview) Chardonnay also garnered an Editor’s Choice and a 96 Point review! Looks like I’ll be waiting for that one as well!