David Ramey’s Latest Releases
Chardonnay Rochioli Vineyard Russian River Valley 2015 14.5% $65
This is the first ever Rochioli Chardonnay out of the Ramey cellar! It is crafted predominantly from clones 4 (planted 1995) and 76 (planted 1995 and 1998) with a smidgeon of clone 5 planted in 1989 and clone 76 planted in 2001 and 2005. Gotta love this precision of details on the bookkeeping end. It certainly shows through in the wines, too!
The result is a wine that is deep gold in color and that leads with warm nut tones. Concentrated aromas of tree fruits follow: roasted golden apple and poached Red Anjou pear predominate. This has a beautifully long finish yet is currently muted between its youth and age-worthy possibility. It surely needs more time to come around than its sibling, the Ritchie Vineyard. The Rochioli is more evidently New World, not because it is fruit forward but because its bold, full body shows more than a whisper of higher alcohol. Still, the wine is impressively well-balanced overall. The whole package, including its lightly spicy finish, is so much more attractive than the many California wines that are turning up today under-ripe and tasting but nothing of lees. That said, this is mouth-filling enough to be a meal in a glass, in a good way. This was aged 20 months in 23% new French oak.
Chardonnay Ritchie Vineyard Russian River Valley 2015 14.5% $65
This is a Ramey legacy Chardonnay. David Ramey has been working with the same 19 rows of vines in this vineyard since 2002. But, that’s only the start. These vines were planted in 1972, making them some of the oldest Chardonnay vines in all of California.
Bright and deep yellow in the glass, this looks like California Chardonnay. Its nose is as typical, but there is a depth and elegance that is akin to the best Meursault bottlings. That is to say that the fruit sits in the back and the earthy, mushroom-y notes of barrel fermented Chardonnay with a bit of bottle age take on. There are also flavors of piecrust and chicken broth.
The result is that this wine is a bit more interesting and mature than many others at the same age. This was aged for 20 months in 21% new French oak, which may be what gives the wine a very pleasant and evident tannic texture on the back palate that moves the wine into a more foody category. This is a different level of complexity, even at a luxury Chardonnay level. This wine is more intellect-driven and has many layers to unfold thanks to its longevity, derived from its textural back palate grit and super discreet but hardworking acidity that provides the wine with a lingering and dry finish.
Pinot Noir Russian River Valley 2016 14.5% $50
This is a rather pure Pinot Noir that shows just a touch of beguiling gaminess – in a sultry, Pinot-esque way – as it opens up. This bottling displays well-judged ripeness that creates a lightly viscous texture and full-bodied palate. This rather unctuous base is nonetheless surprisingly straightforward and not especially nuanced in character. In fairness, it’s a very, very young wine. The nose unleashes red cherry cordial, black plum, sweet spices and licorice with an undertow of earthiness. The structure is classy, from the almost imperceptible tannins to the discreet but lightly lifting acidity. Though made with an overall Burgundian philosophy of fruit and wine treatment, this wine was also aged 14 months in 49% new French oak barrels (likely a much higher new oak percentage for its relative quality level.) Regardless, it works very well overall.
This is from three vineyards: De La Montanya (52%), Bucher Vineyard Tory Block – Pommard (28%) and Bucher Vineyard North L Block – Dijon 777 (20%). The harvests ranged across almost a month, from August 13thfor Bucher Pommard to September 2ndfor Buchard North L Block then 5th for De La Montanya. Production was 1,623 cases.