Ramey, Chardonnay, Woolsey Road Vineyard, Russian River Valley, Sonoma County, California, USA, 2012
Russian River Valley
RRV is an AVA in Sonoma County. It is classed as cool climate, particularly suiting pinot noir and chardonnay, but also cabernet sauvignon, gewurztraminer, pinot gris, merlot, sauvignon blanc, syrah, and zinfandel. The cool climate is provided by both elevation to about 300m, and cooling fogs intruding up the River Valley from the Pacific Ocean just 20kms to the west. The soils are based on eroded sandstone realised in the Goldridge loam soil.
This wine: varietal chardonnay from a single vineyard of just over a hectare, with just 300 crates made, MLF in 3y.o French and Hungarian barrels, then aged on the fine lees for 18 months in 1/3 new oak barrels, then bottled unfiltered almost 2 years after harvest. A long natural cork closure, 14.5% abv, BBR £47.50 (2015)
Consumer tasting note: a silky mouthful of citrus with a lesser orchard fruit dimension, high alcohol and a full body matched perfectly by fresh acidity, with oak in a subtle supporting role and a long length.
WSET style tasting note
Appearance: clear and bright, medium intensity lemon, showing tears
Nose: clean, pronounced intensity, youthful, with aromas as they come, of pure fresh citrus notes of lemon zest and juice, ripe grapefruit, lime, a very low-key edge of oak, dessert apple, unripe pear, hints of apricot, a little spice, a delicate touch of vanilla, and a very light touch of struck match.
Palate: dry, medium (+) acidity, high alcohol, a full body, a silky smooth texture with a very light grip, medium (+) intensity, with flavours of lemon and grapefruit, a touch of almond oil – some would call this minerality, green apple, unripe apricot, a little spice, and just perceptible vanilla. A long length with a clean fresh bright citrus finish, with a low-key oaky edge.
Quality: a very good quality wine, powerful, with fresh acidity handling the flavour intensity and alcohol, which though high, is well suited and does not show as heat, well-integrated subtly used oak, it’s there but in a supporting role, adding another dimension. Well concentrated flavour, decent but not outstanding complexity, but there is room for development, its character for now being mainly youthful fruit with an oaky dimension, nevertheless quite persistent on the mid-palate following into the long length.
Readiness for drinking/ageing potential: can drink now, but has potential for ageing, with a superb structure, good concentration and emerging complexity, there is room to develop eg nutty nuances, at least, over the next 3-5 years, with potential to become outstanding.