2001 Ramey Claret, Napa Valley

I first encountered Ramey wines at the Family Winemakers Tasting event at Fort Mason in San Francisco. I wandered over to their table, knowing nothing about their wines, and tasted perhaps one of the finest Cabernets I have ever tasted in my life, their 2001 Jericho Canyon. If I was smart, and trusted my palate more, I would have bought every last bottle I could from them right then and there. But alas, I did not, and two weeks later Robert Parker gave it a 97, and it doubled in price and disappeared from the market. He and I only agree about half the time, but in this case it was a no brainer.

But this note is about another wine, one that at the time was eclipsed by the Jericho Canyon, and not thought about until I saw the Claret on a menu the other night and decided to get a bottle. On its own, with some good food, I got to re-evaluate it, and it is a wonderful wine in its own right, and worth drinking over dinner and even cellaring for the future.

Tasting Notes:
I love claret wines for their gorgeous color and their balanced fusion of fruit and oak. The Ramey is no exception to this — it swirls in the glass with a deep ruby hue, and has a nose that blossoms with cherries, red licorice, and hints of coffee. The body of the wine is supple and full of ripe fruit, with a slightly hot finish that has a bit of oak in it. Stephen Tanzer calls it inelegant, and while I disagree, I do think that it doesn’t fully express the potential that it has. The wine will cellar well (5+ years) and it will be interesting to see how it fares with some time in the bottle.

Food Pairing:
I know you’re supposed to have Sauternes with foies gras, but I’ve always preferred to eat it with red wine. Give me a nice (big) piece of grilled fois gras with a balsamic fig sauce and this wine and I’d be a happy man.

Overall Score: 8.5

How much?: $39

Porthos was carrying it for a while, but I think after the Parker incident, they have put the wine on allocation, so nobody has much. Try Wine Searcher.