August 24, 2008

2003 Ramey Diamond Mountain Proprietary Red Wine

I try not to buy into the "vintage-chart mentality," and completely write off troublesome vintages. I think in those years you definitely need to be selective and do your homework before spending a lot of money, but many producers still manage to turn out great wine in tough scenarios. I have a feeling 2003 will continue to surprise people with the way they've been drinking lately. Definitely not a vintage to stock the cellars with for 20+ years, and somewhat irregular, but many top wines are excellent and have been drinking well early. This is one of the denser and concentrated wines I have had from this vintage.

Owned by David Ramey and his wife Carla, Ramey Wine Cellars is located in Healdsburg, Sonoma, but they purchase fruit from various vineyards around Napa Valley. Their Cabernet, for whatever reason has never been on my short list of wine to buy every vintage, but I’ve always been impressed by each bottle I’ve had- this being no exception. These wines are made in a style that mixes the new with the old, and what I mean by that is in his Cab's you will find big sexy fruit, as well as the balance and finesse many say are lacking in the California wines. I find many Bordeaux type aromas and nuances in these wines; the cassis, the graphite/ pencil lead, and the worn leather. All of these tend to excite me and make me happy. Fortunately of unfortunately depending on how you look at it, the Ramey label does not seem to carry the same draw as some of the "culty" wines. Maybe it's because they don't charge a gazillion dollars for them, or maybe by producing over a thousand cases the scarcity factor is diminished. Either way, I don't care. Simply put, David Ramey is the man, and makes some killer wines that deserve to be sought out.

And for any Francophiles on the ledge, terrified of trying a wine from Napa, don't be too scared... This winemaker has spent time training at Chateau Petrus and obviously learned the craft well.

Tasting Notes:
Tight as a drum upon the first pour, but a 1 hour decant had this wine singing. Showing a dark, thick and concentrated red-black color in the glass, initial aromas present dark cherry fruit, currant, and a subtle herbaceousness as well as chocolate. As time went on, notes of graphite and spice revealed themselves. The palate shows nice layers of deep and intense dark fruit, weary old saddle leather and spice with good length on the finish. Medium acidity and a strong tannic spine that is easily tempered with a bit of food makes this a perfect companion with any grilled or oven cooked beef. Has the stuffing to go for years and should only get better.

Price: $60

Score: 92-93

Alcohol: 14.5%