California’s Montrachets Prior to the mid-1980’s, California winemaking techniques were hatched out of university laboratories where the focus was largely on making squeaky clean wines — wines without faults. The reigning (cynical) belief was that the French notion of ‘terroir’ was hogwash, and that moreover, all of the nuance of Old World wine was a function of something other than the originality of the soil, vineyard sites, and artisanal winemaking.
In the early 1980’s, David Ramey had completed his thesis (on ‘volatile ester hydrolisis’) when he landed a job with the Moueix family at Chateau Petrus in Pomerol. When Ramey returned to California, he came back with a knowledge base that would prove to be the embryo of a career that has helped revolutionize California winemaking. Over the next 15 years, Ramey moved from winery to winery (from Chalk Hill to Matanzas Creek, Dominus and Rudd Estate), working with a range of varieties in a multitude of appellations. In the late 1980’s while at the helm of Matanzas Creek, David met Larry Hyde and Lee Hudson, both Carrneros vineyard owners. Ramey was immediately taken with the resolve of both Hudson and Hyde and began purchasing Chardonnay grapes for both. Ramey’s deft winemaking hand coupled with the best Chardonnay grapes in the northern California quickly catapulted Matanzas Creek to the top of the Chardonnay charts. In 1996, Ramey founded Ramey Cellars. He immediately turned back to Larry Hyde and Lee Hudson and asked if he could purchase their grapes for his new venture. By the late 1990’s, both growers’ grapes were oversubscribed, playing large roles in the Kistler program. Hyde and Hudson made an exception for Ramey. Ramey not only secured grapes from each, but over time, he has been able to refine his grape selection, purchasing fruit from blocks that he feels are most remarkable. Winery Direct has been offered only 50 cases of each Chardonnay from the spectacular 2002 vintage. Stephen Tanzer, a wine writer who rarely scores any wine over 92 gave these wines 95 and 92 points respectively. These are brilliant, powerful, incredibly refined and complex Chardonnays that are the product of brilliant grape growing and winemaking.
Thanks Kate…I’ll have a bottle or two waiting for you…143 cd