2015 Ramey Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay


If there has been a movement in California away from buttery, tropical-sweet Chardonnay and over-ripe, high-octane  Cabernet, surely one of the leaders is David Ramey. Located in picturesque Healdsburg, Ramey Cellars is a craft-winery that produces startlingly fresh and balanced Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from vineyards in Sonoma County and Napa Valley. Many of Ramey’s wines express the terroir of single vineyards while others are specific to such appellations as the Sonoma Coast or Russian River Valley. With his master’s degree in enology from UC Davis, one might have expected Ramey’s wines to be faultless and squeeky-clean; however, an early internship at Chateau Petrus imbued him with the belief that wines should be restrained, balanced and crafted to accompany food. This combination of the empirical and the romantic (along with almost 20 years of experience at such wineries as Simi, Matanzas Creek and Dominus) has led him to experiment with indigenous yeasts and malolactic and barrel fermentation in search of a new California style. This style seeks to tame the naturally luscious and vivacious fruit of California with the traditional techniques of the Old World. Writing in the Wall Street Journal, novelist (and wine geek) Jay McInerny has described “his Chardonnays just a little more voluptuous than the average Puligny-Montrachet, his cabs less tannic than the typical Médoc.”


Whoa! Ramey Rochioli Vineyard? While many of Hotei’s California wine aficionados may be doing a double take, we can report that – Yes! – it’s true: in 2015 David Ramey began producing a new vineyard-designated bottling from the famed Rochioli Vineyard. Sourced from blocks within the Rochioli estate as well as a small percentage from the Allen Vineyard, which is farmed by the Rochiolis, this Chardonnay hits it out of the park. Combining Burgundian-inspired winemaking with some of the best Russian River fruit, the wine has great character and concentration: orchard fruits framed against vibrant acidity, with texture, minerality, floral notes and toast developing in the glass and keeping the experience interesting.


The fruit was whole-cluster pressed and transferred to French oak barrels (23% new) for primary and malolactic fermentation and 20 months of aging. The wine was bottled after light fining but without filtration. 

Tasting notes

97 points – Wine Enthusiast; 97 points – Decanter Magazine; 94 points – Antonio Galloni. Aromas of spring wildflowers, honey and verbena precede a palate that is full-bodied, creamy and vibrant with a long finish of lemon zest and orange blossom.


Russian River Valley (Sonoma)