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





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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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2018 Ramey Russian River Valley Chardonnay

A California spin on the Burgundian model, Ramey’s Russian River Chardonnay is a generous wine, integrating creamy citrus, subtle oak and sprightly texture into precise balance. While the cool climate and diverse soils of the Russian River terroir are key factors in the success of this wine, don't underestimate the role played by native yeast fermentation, malolactic fermentation in barrel, and sur lies bâtonnage (stirring). In 2018, the wine is a true expression of the Russian River Valley, with about 60% sourced from Westside Farms and Rochioli Allen vineyard, just southwest of sunny Healdsburg, with the rest coming from Dutton Ranch and Kilcullen vineyards around distinctly cooler Sebastopol. The Wine Advocate gave the 2018 91 points, calling it “youthfully shy, hinting at stone, apricot and white blossoms. In the mouth, it's medium-bodied, uber silky and minerally with great freshness and a long finish.”

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¥7,480 (incl. tax)
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)
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)
2018 Ramey Rochioli Vineyard Chardonnay

The Rochioli vineyard is located in the Middle Reach section of the Russian River Valley just southwest of Healdsburg. With the river nearby, the vineyard benefits from foggy mornings and sunny afternoons throughout the summer, producing rich but focused Chardonnay of world class caliber. The 2017 Ramey Rochioli Chardonnay was the highest-rated Chardonnay on the Wine Enthusiast’s Top 100 list in 2020. 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. Excellent fruit treated to David Ramey’s Burgundian-inspired winemaking produces a wine of 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.

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¥11,990 (incl. tax)
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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)
2018 Ramey Hyde Vineyard Chardonnay
2018 Ramey Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay

If Russian River vineyards were classified like those in Burgundy, the Ritchie Vineyard would be one of the Grand Crus. The plot allocated to Ramey was planted to Wente selection in 1972. The gnarled vines produce but a few bunches of grapes each year, yet the fruit is consistently excellent due to the combination of sandy benchland soil, a cool microclimate and attentive farming. In 2018, excellent weather led to a harvest that started almost two weeks later than years previous. Ramey Cellars could harvest fruit with great to exceptional quality with well-preserved acids. Jeb Dunnuck, called the 2018 Ritchie one of Ramey’s standouts, having “a Grand Cru Burgundy nose of chalky minerality, exotic flowers, brioche, and assorted stone and orchard fruits. These all carry to a medium to full-bodied Chardonnay that's concentrated, has a structured mouthfeel, integrated yet bright acidity, and a great finish.” Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay will pair well with fresh crab or chicken with a mushroom sauce.

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¥12,650 (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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¥36,300 (incl. tax)