2016 Ramey Wine Cellars, Syrah, Rodgers Creek Vineyard, Petaluma Gap – Sonoma Coast.
I was great to catch up on Dave Ramey’s wines and see the direction he is now going in, focusing exclusively on Sonoma County fruit sources going forward and tightening his fabulous collection of stylish wines, with his latest Fort Ross – Seaview Chardonnay and this awesome 2016 Northern Rhône inspired Rodgers Creek Syrah from his Library, which was my favorite. Still incredibly fresh, powerful and un-evolved, this dark purple, inky and deep meaty Syrah takes its time to unfold in the glass, but wow, does it ever impress on the palate with very Hermitage like presence, it shows off crushed violets, graphite, bacon oil and concentrated boysenberry, blueberry, damson plum and black currant fruits, all hold firm by fine grained tannin and accented by hints of smoky mineral, cedar, dried lavender, anise, black olive and creme de cassis. I’ve been a fan of this bottling for well over a decade and it remains a sleeper in the Ramey lineup, but one I highly recommend, especially in vintages like this, it has a long way to go and reward Syrah lovers with some excellent drinking for years to come, and I suggest some hearty cuisine, like lamb, to go with this one. Ramey made just 440 cases of this wildly delicious Rodgers Creek Syrah and while not the current offering, it is still readily available direct from the winery and can be found at fine wine shops, mainly obviously within California, this is a wine that compares well with classics like Chapoutier, Jaboulet and Giugal.

Famous for his set of Bordeaux and Burgundy varietal offerings, Dave Ramey, one of the nicest people you’ll ever meet is also one of California’s hall of fame winemakers with a stellar history of top notch Napa Valley Cabernets, along with his beautifully crafted Carneros and Sonoma Coast Chardonnays. For his Syrahs, Ramey employs old school and traditional winemaking from intense fruit, like the grapes coming from this Rodgers Creek Vineyard which is from the Petaluma Gap, on the cooler side of Sonoma Mountain, that Ramey says, provides the savory character that defines his Syrah style. This particular block was planted to Ramey’s own specifications back in 2002, and is really coming into full maturity, and is positioned 800 feet up the southwest face of the mountain, allowing for deep fruit density and tension in this wine, that is clearly present here in this remarkable 2016 version. The Rodgers Creek vines are set on ancient rocky volcanic soils and is planted to Syrah Clone 877, along with with three rows of Viognier that usually gets co-fermented, very like Côte-Rotie, depending in the vintage. For the 2016, the blend was 92% Syrah and 8% Viognier, which was harvested at the same time and as mentioned was a co-ferment. The fermentation, all native yeast, was done in tank and was 75% de-stemmed, but with whole berries, along with 25% whole cluster with stems. Such was the intensity in the 2016 fruit, Ramey chose to age this wine on the lees with stirring monthly for 25 months in 100% new French oak barrels, which doesn’t intrude on the transparency and purity of this gorgeous Syrah.
($70 Est.) 95 Points, grapelive

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