Ramey

A Balanced Approach to Wine – and to Life

 

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.”

Wine Maker

David Ramey

Country

USA

Region

California


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Wines from this Winery


2018 Ramey

Like the second wines of the grand Bordeaux estates, Ramey’s 2018 North Coast Claret provides an early glimpse of the vintage while delivering fantastic value. The wine is seamless, from its supple opening to its elegant finish. The blend consists of 55% Cabernet Sauvignon, 24% Merlot, 10% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah, 2% Petite Verdot, sourced from vineyards in Napa Valley, Lake County, and Sonoma County. David Ramey’s attention to detail in both vineyard and cellar produced a wine that combines lively California character with old world elegance and structure. In the convenient 375 ml size, you'll be hard-pressed for an excuse not to pop a cork at dinner time; buying a case is therefore well-advised!

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¥4,290 (incl. tax)
2018 Ramey Fort Ross-Seaview | Sonoma Coast Chardonnay

The Fort Ross - Seaview sub-appellation epitomizes the classic Sonoma Coast AVA: vineyards planted on along windswept ridges that practically overlook the Pacific Ocean. Because of the climate, the vineyards often bathe in sunshine while fog swirls below. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir produced here have acidity, lightness of touch, and bright flavors we associate with fine Burgundy. Even so, this rugged and remote area had never been planted to grapevines until recently. This is the third vintage to come exclusively from the Martinelli Charles Ranch vineyard. I used to be a sheep and bison ranch; now it features Chardonnay vines that struggle in the windy climate and low-vigor soils but manage to produce fruit with intense character. David Ramey ferments the grapes in barrel on natural yeasts and ages the wine in mainly neutral French oak casks. The 2018 features a seamless integration of full body, silky structure, stony minerality and lively citrus and floral notes.

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¥7,480 (incl. tax)
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2017 Ramey Sonoma Coast Syrah

Mention “Sonoma Coast,” and delicate Pinot Noir probably comes to mind. But David Ramey is proving the appellation offers great potential for Syrah, too. The cool climate at Ramey’s two Syrah vineyards, Cole and Rodgers Creek, allows the fruit to develop notes of green olive, smoked meat, white pepper and savory herbs — much like the classic wines of the Northern Rhone. And taking the Rhone model a step further, these vineyards each have a few rows of Viognier, which is co-fermented with the red fruit, adding more complexity and perfume to the wine. If you can keep your hands off this wine that’s so lovely to drink right now, it will become ever more pleasure inducing over the next 8 - 12 years.

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¥7,590 (incl. tax)
2017 Ramey

“Claret” is how the British wine trade would refer to the red wines of Bordeaux. As with a Bordeaux wine of the left bank, Ramey blends Cabernet Sauvignon (40%), Merlot (20%), Malbec (14%) and Petit Verdot (12%). While throwing 8% Syrah into the blend may seem like a Californian touch, the winery claims it was an old Bordeaux practice - a not uncommon method of beefing up what were lighter wines back in the day. Though marketed as an early peek at the vintage, Ramey’s 2017 Claret is intense and well-balanced, a fine wine that delivers the goods now but should mature well over the next 10 years. In 2017, close to 50% was sourced from the Napa Valley with the rest coming from the High Valley in Lake County (31%), Alexander Valley (12%), Russian River (7%) and Sonoma County (3%). The Wine Enthusiast called this wine, “an outstanding value and a food-friendly table wine that is seamless and Old World in style, with ample elements of structure, black fruit, tobacco, tomato leaf and toasted oak.”

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¥8,140 (incl. tax)
2019 Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay

Ramey’s Russian River Chardonnay is a generous wine that’s intense and rich yet delicate. Layers of juicy citrus, apple, pear, and hints of oak and wet gravel are highlighted in a texture that’s subtly creamy, fresh, and firm. In 2019, vineyards included the winery’s Westside Farms estate as well as Rochioli Allen - all cooler sites. While the season started off with some hot days, most of the summer was on the cool side, slowing the pace of the harvest. As an appellation series wine, Ramey would say this Chardonnay is less concentrated and needs less time to open than the single-vineyard wines, but it is made with the same attention to detail. Native yeast fermentation in barrel, sur lie aging with regular bâtonnage (stirring), full malolactic fermentation, and bottling without filtration are some of the methods Ramey uses to make this Burgundian-inspired California Chardonnay.

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¥8,140 (incl. tax)
2017 Ramey Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

David Ramey’s Pinot Noir balances the aromatic perfume and acidity of a cool climate style with the rich, unctuous body of a warmer terroir. The wine was sourced from three vineyards – De La Montanya, Bucher, and Nurmi – located along the Westside Road, a bucolic country lane of vineyards and dairy farms as well as “A-List” producers of Pinot Noir. While it’s a bit warmer here than in the hills closer to the ocean, foggy mornings are routine and keep the grapes from getting too ripe too quickly. 2017 began with a wet winter, followed by a moderate summer until a heat spike in September set off the harvest with a scramble. Temperatures did come down again, and the fruit was in before some devastating fires at the end of the season. At harvest, 25% of the fruit was processed as whole clusters, which adds savory spice to the nose and structure to the palate. Winemaking is kept simple with native yeast fermentation in tank, lees aging in barrel, and bottling with light fining and no filtration. Jeb Dunnuck said, “This Burgundy lover’s Pinot Noir shines for its complexity and elegance more than power and richness.”

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¥9,570 (incl. tax)
2015 Ramey Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

By sourcing fruit from warm St. Helena and Rutherford, cool Oak Knoll and Carneros, as well as from steep Mt. Veeder, David Ramey combines diverse qualities into one expression of Napa Valley Cabernet. Modeled on the Grand Crus of Bordeaux, the wine combines Cabernet (78%), Merlot (12%), Malbec (7%) and Petit Verdot (3%) into a complex and savory blend. The 2015 spent a lengthy 28 months in barrel; however, sur lie aging and battonage (lees stirring) allowed the oak to give the wine structure without imparting additional flavor. While the fruit is naturally flavorful and voluptuous, as the wine opens up, it reveals layers of dark fruit, spice and earthy notes. This wine can be enjoyed now or savored over the next ten years. Suggested pairings might include steak au poivre, lamb ragout with roasted peppers, or, for vegetarians, baked eggplant with mushrooms and tomato sauce.

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¥12,100 (incl. tax)
2019 Ramey Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay

Located in Carneros, the Hyde Vineyard is cooled by marine air that flows through the Petaluma Gap. According to the winery, 80% of the 2019 vintage is Old Wente field selection (planted 1997 and 1999) and 20% is from a selection of Calera that Larry Hyde chose himself (planted 2014). Chardonnay produced from the Wente clone is often more Burgundian in character, without the tropical fruit tones of some California Chardonnays. 2019 was an excellent vintage in the Napa Valley with moderate temperatures and no heat events. The fruit quality was high, with well-preserved acids. This wine seduces with delicate citrus and stone fruit and a lingering, juicy finish. 

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¥14,080 (incl. tax)
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2019 Ramey Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay

Located in the Middle Reach section of the Russian River Valley just southwest of Healdsburg, the Rochioli Vineyard consistently produces top flight - and top-scoring wines. In 2020, the 2017 Ramey Rochioli Chardonnay was the highest-rated Chardonnay on the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 list. And in May 2021, The Wine Enthusiast awarded Ramey’s 2019 Rochioli a whopping 100 points, calling the wine, “a testament to an outstanding site in the hands of an outstanding producer. It is a celebration of fresh Meyer lemon and Gravenstein apple woven against an elegant structure and quenching acidity.” With the river nearby, the vineyard benefits from foggy mornings and sunny afternoons throughout the summer. The Rochioli family still lives on the estate, and the vineyard blocks farmed by David Ramey were planted between 15 and 25 years ago to a variety of clones. In the winery, David Ramey limits new oak to just 20% but ages the wine in barrel for 20 months. It’s a wine of great character and concentration: orchard fruits framed against vibrant acidity, with texture, minerality, floral notes, and toast that continue to develop as long as wine remains in the glass.

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¥14,080 (incl. tax)
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2019 Ramey Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay

Located on the Eastside Road in Forestville – northwest of Santa Rosa – the Ritchie Vineyard has been called a Californian Grand Cru. Planted in 1972, the gnarled vines produce just a few clusters of highly concentrated fruit in a cool microclimate that ensures good acidity. Most of the vines are of the Old Wente clone, which provides structure and acidity, but a small portion of Musqué adds an aromatic floral lift. Ramey’s Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay is outstanding, a multidimensional wine that combines intense fruit with the mineral elegance of a white Burgundy. The Wine Spectator described the 2019 as a “stunning white wine, with plenty of power and balance to the mix of details, including lemon curd, Fuji apple, mandarin orange and a hint of ripe Crenshaw melon. Offers accents of white tea, fresh clipped herbs and creamy salted butter that are seamlessly integrated with firm acidity.” Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay will pair well with fresh crab or chicken with a mushroom sauce.

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¥15,180 (incl. tax)
2015 Ramey Pedregal Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon

In Spanish, a Pedregal is a “rocky place,” and this vineyard, located in the lower hills to the east of Oakville, is one of rocky outcrops and red, iron-rich soils that routinely produce wine with intense flavors and extraordinary texture. Because the site produces such outstanding Cabernet, Ramey Cellars has a long-term lease that gives them complete control of the farming, which they carry out organically and sustainably. A warm spring in 2015 led to an early bud break, but cooler temperatures in the summer kept the fruit from ripening too quickly. The crop was smaller than usual, yielding bunches with small but highly concentrated berries. Co-fermenting the Cabernet fruit with 11% Petite Verdot, aging on the fine lees in French oak for nearly two years results in a classically made wine with the Bordeaux elements of grippy tannins and subtle aromas of cedar, pencil shavings and dried herbs. 

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¥39,600 (incl. tax)