Claret is a term not often used in the US, in part because it’s a protected name under EU law and only a few California Clarets enjoy the right to claim the name. As Juliet would say, a proprietary red by another name still smells of cassis! Ramey’s Bordeaux style blend begins with 55% Cabernet Sauvignon and 24% Merlot before inviting 10% Cabernet Franc, 9% Syrah & 2% Petite Verdot to the party. The aromas are bright and fresh with black and red berries over lavender, cedar and earth. A touch of coffee livens up the palate and sets off the graceful fruit. It’s a gorgeous wine and a steal at the price.
David Ramey is one of the true aces of winemaking in California. While he had an established track record at Matanzas Creek, Chalk Hill and Dominus, we first got to know him well during his stint at Oakville’s Rudd Estate, where he helped take the project into the stratosphere with his work in the vineyard and cellar. In 1996, he and his wife Carla launched Ramey Wine Cellars, which has since become phenomenally successful on the strength of David’s rare winemaking skill. Ramey is a classicist and a Burgundian at heart; his wines are pure, frank, and unmanipulated. The Chardonnays go straight from the press to the barrel, and undergo malolactic fermentation and lees-stirring in barrel. The quality here is first-rate, and will appeal to lovers of great French wines.