Carl Kanowsky: A great find in Sonoma County


A few years ago, I had the opportunity to buy a few bottles of aged Ramey Chardonnay. I had never had Ramey before, but the reviews were outstanding. For instance, Robert Parker said that David Ramey, owner of Ramey’s, had a Midas Touch with chardonnay. Given that glowing recommendation, I was eager to sample my new acquisition.

While I don’t recall the vintage year, I remember tasting pears and peaches with a wonderful balance of acid in a delightful Chardonnay.

You can understand, then, why I was excited to be able to do a thorough tasting of Ramey’s wines during a recent trip to Sonoma County.

Terry and I were joined by our good friends, Jim and Pat Hansen and Allen and Diane Eggers, at Ramey Cellars to go through an extensive list of their wines.

David Ramey, founder of Ramey Winery, and Alan Ramey. Courtesy photo

And when I say extensive, I mean it. Take a look at the eleven great wines that Alan Ramey poured for us.

This tasting experience reminded me that, contrary to popular belief, high quality California Chardonnays benefit from sometime in the cellar. My favorite white wine of the tasting was the 2007 Ritchie Vineyard Chardonnay. Given its tremendous character, I shouldn’t have been surprised that it still took a little while for this elegant wine to open in the glass. But, wow, when it did, it was amazing. All six of us jointly said, “ It’s all about having a great white wine.” With baking spices on the nose, the body, bouquet, and taste all come together, offering great balance and approach.

I had two favorite red wines, the 2013 Ramey Cabernet Sauvignon, which retails for $62, and the 2014 Ramey Annum, which retails for $100.

The Cabernet Sauvignon, given its young age, understandably still had significant tannins. But it was still very approachable offering great dark fruit with a luscious mouth feel.

And then we got to the Annum, the star of the show. There was tobacco and forest floor on the nose. On sampling the wine, I tasted chocolate and pepper and cinnamon. It was a wonderful combination that featured a little heat that overall made for a very charming yet powerful wine.

Terry also enjoyed the Ritchie Chardonnay but another favorite of hers was a Sauvignon Blanc by another label operated by the Ramey family, Sidebar. She found the 2016 Sauvignon Blanc has a wonderful citrus and slate nose along with tropical fruit. On the palate, she tasted citrus and grass. The wine offered a long finish and balance of both the fruit and acid. She rated this a 93.

Allen Eggers, Diane Eggers, and Jim Hansen sit among a sea of wine glasses at Ramey tasting. Courtesy photo

She also enjoyed the 2014 Ramey Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir. She detected strawberry, cherry, licorice, and baking spices on the nose. She loved the cherry and strawberry taste but believes that it can use a little more time to fully open up.

The Eggers and the Hansen also thoroughly enjoyed the wine. The evidence? When we left, between the three couples, we had bought 36 bottles of wine.

© Carl J. Kanowsky
April 11, 2018

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