In my small wine world, I certainly depend on the kindness of winemakers. I feel honored, privileged, yet altogether humbled by the opportunity to taste an expressive Pinot Noir sourced from the prestigious Platt Vineyard, produced by the renowned David Ramey.
David Ramey is a name known all around our Napa/Sonoma Wine Countries — and I’m sure everywhere else as well. After completing his Masters in enology from UC Davis, David started his young career by traveling abroad to France. He names his first job with Jean-Pierre Moueix in Pomerol and his time cellar-ratting in Burgundy as some of the major highlights and influences of his early winemaking life. Back in California, David moved on to work for such major players as Simi, Matanzas Creek, and Chalk Hill. But it was his decision to become the first winemaker for Dominus Estates (owned by Christian Moueix, of Pétrus) that made him realize all that he had learned and all that he was capable of. “I never dreamed of owning my own winery,” David says. Oh how dreams do change.
In 1996 he and his wife Carla founded Ramey Cellars, after Moueix agrees to let David “make a little Chardonnay on the side.” Sourcing from Hyde Vineyards, the couple celebrates their first harvest, custom crushing at Luna Vineyards, and producing their first 260 cases. Today Ramey Wine Cellars produces Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Cabernet, and even a bit of Syrah — producing, well, much more than 260 cases.
About the Wine: I’ve had some primo vino come from Platt Vineyard in the Sonoma Coast AVA — Failla, Flanagan, and now Ramey. It has to do with its unique situation between the Bodega Bay and the Pacific Ocean. Elevated at 800 feet on a south-facing slope, Platt Vineyards benefits from sitting just above the morning fog, receiving the cooling marine climate from the Petaluma Gap. The result: good sun-exposure without a lot of heat. The vineyard is also known for its Goldridge Loam soil — an ocean-floor sandy-loam soil that creates just enough vigor to produce small crops with intense fruits.
The Ramey Wine Cellars 2014 Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir is made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes, a mix of Pommapd and 828 Dijon Pinot Noir clones, all harvested from Platt Vineyard in California’s Sonoma Coast AVA. The pressed juices were fermented in tanks using native-yeast and native malolactic fermentation in barrel. The wine was aged sur lies in French oak barrels (30% new) for 13 months, with batonnage taking place just once a month.
This wine is unfiltered.
Flavor Profile: Out of the bottle wafts a rich, dark aroma of tiny, tight berries like currants and blueberries, and the faintest hint of muggy funk. On the pour, the Ramey Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir is a soft, watery pink-red, settling into the glass with a bit more maroon maturity. Initial aromas are floral, speaking of delicately-scented violets. Light-red fruit aromas are present, but hard to name. So swirl and sniff again.
More of those floral aromas appear on the foreground — violets, lilies, narcissus. The fruits are so faint, so delicate, but they are there. With the thin line of acidity that runs through the nose of the Pinot Noir, I can name strawberries, raspberries, and cranberries as those light-red fruits I sensed before.
The first impression on the palate is a bit of that fresh farm funk. It’s a farm by the ocean, though, because its scents are intermingled with a wet sand and seaweed earthiness. There is a strong perfume-like quality that brings out more of that strawberry in the back of the palate. But it’s that floral aroma that ultimately takes over. The tannins here are low to medium, gently coating the tongue with a kind of nut-skin-like texture. The acid is the teaser because you don’t fully realize its presence — until the end, when it sneakily, somewhat soothingly, warms you from the belly up.
The finish itself is a solid one, a clean one, and one that invites another sip.
Food Pairing: I paired the Ramey Wine Cellars 2014 Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir with seared scallops and a salad of fresh figs and fennel, caramelized onion, and herbs. The element that paired best with the wine was the caramelized onions. That cross between sweet and salty completely balanced with the wine’s “sneaky” acidity. I also found that the fennel and herbs played nicely with the innate floral funk of the wine. And, as the wine is an overall medium-bodied wine, it pairs well with a lighter fare like this one.
More Info: I received the Ramey Wine Cellars 2014 Platt Vineyard Pinot Noir as a sample for review. (Cheers Alexandra!) Retail: $75. For more information and to purchase wines directly, please visit the Ramey Wine Cellars website.
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