2022 Ramey Wine Cellars, Chardonnay, Russian River Valley AVA, Sonoma County.
One of California’s iconic producers and winemakers, Dave Ramey has been close to the top of the state’s most desirable Chardonnay for decades and this 2022 Russian River bottling is a delicious example of why, with cool toned fruit, mineral detail and opulent mouth feel, while retaining crisp/fresh acidity. Chosen from an array of vineyard sites, this 2022 vintage is made up of 44% Lafranchi, 18% Martinelli Laughlin Rd, 14% Kilcullen, 12% Dutton Sebastopol and 12% Westside Farms vineyards, with most on classic Goldridge loam soils with clone 4 being the main selection in this wine with a small amount of Wente. The aromatics are subtle with delicate white flowers and minor notes of wood, clove spice and citron oil in the glass before a medium/full palate of apple, pear and peach, along with a touch of lemon curd brûlée, golden fig, wet rock, yeasty brioche, vanilla and just a touch of clarified cream. This vintage, which was warm, might now have to intensity of 2021 or the upcoming 2023, but still delivers a well balanced Chardonnay, in the hands of Ramey, who was very on top of pick dates, and those that love Hanzell, Mount Eden, Kistler and Aubert will really enjoy this one. I tasted this one along side some Burgundy offerings two and or three times the price, and to be honest this Ramey Russian River Chardonnay was performing much better on the day.

For this Ramey Russian River Chardonnay’s fermentation, Ramey employed his traditional methods with a whole cluster pressing for what Dave says is done for phenolic delicacy. The primary barrel fermentation is done with spontaneous native yeast and it saw a full native malolactic fermentation in barrel as well, with some sur lies bâtonnage (stirring the lees) to enhance the textual quality. Ramey aged this one for 12 months in mainly used wood with just about 10% new French oak, with a selection of high-end cooperage, including Taransaud Beaune and François Frères, and this 2022 Chardonnay was, as Ramey notes, traditionally fined for clarity and then bottled without filtration. The early pick dates helped give this wine its precision and the older mature vines delivered concentration and depth here, making for a lovely wine that will partner up nicely with a wide range of cuisine choices, though I imagine it going great with lobster, swordfish and soft/creamy farm cheeses. Ramey says these cool sites, with low vigor soils were planted between 1978 and 2006 and the grapes coming them exemplifies the Russian River Valley style, which is clearly on display here. I have recently tasted Ramey’s Claret and Syrah, both of which were exceptional wines and impressive in presence and structure, as well this Chardonnay, and I highly recommend them all. Dave Ramey founded his name-sake winery back in 1996 and quickly rose to the top echelon in the state and continues to this day to be highly regarded for the greatness of the wines and now he has brought the next generation with his kids Claire and Alan now playing big roles within the winery.
($50 Est.) 93 Points, grapelive

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