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Ram’s Gate Winery in Sonoma Carneros opened for business in September, 2011. Located at the old Roche Winery site, the architect for the 22,000-square-foot, 30-acre project was Howard Backen, who has done Screaming Eagle, Meadwood Resort and more. The name comes from the fact that Carneros means ram in Spanish and the winery is located at the gateway to the Carneros and Sonoma Valley region.
The executive chef is Taylr Benham who develops small plate pairings for wine tastings to be held in the winery’s underground cellar next to the barrel room. There will also be an open kitchen for chef demonstrations, picnic foods and private wine dinners.
The winemaker is veteran Jeff Gaffner, previously of Saxon Brown, Xtant, Stephanie and Black Kite Cellars. Multiple varietals are offered including a Carneros Pinot Noir, a Sangiacomo Roberts Road Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir, and a Bush Crispo Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. Additional vineyard sources are planned, including Silver Eagle in the Sonoma Coast, Diablo in the Russian River Valley, and Glass House in the Petaluma Gap. In addition, the winery has plantings of Chardonnay, Syrah and small lots of Cabernet Sauvignon and Zinfandel.
Only a 40 minute drive north of San Francisco, this is certain to be a popular destination winery in Sonoma. Appointments for tasting are recommended and are held in the Covered Gallery, the Pavilion, the Pond or the Tasting Hall. 707-721-8700. 28700 Arnold Dr., Sonoma (just past Sonoma Raceway on the right).
2014 Ram’s Gate Carneros Chardonnay
14.3% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.61, 700 cases, $36. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Aromas of apple, lemon peel, buttery brioche and nutty oak. A fruitforward style, with flavors of lemon, apple and pineapple, underlain with a pastry cream note. Wellendowed and rather luscious, yet offering balanced acidity and deft barrel management. Score: 89. Reviewed October 19, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Ram’s Gate Green Acres Hill Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.7% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.64, 263 cases, $62. The first vineyard that Vittorio Sangiacomo planted. Old Wente clone. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. An array of enticing aromas include lemon, Bartlett pear, toasty brioche and a white flower note. Also a bit floral on the palate, with added flavors of lemon and pineapple. Somewhat restrained, with bracing acidity, a slightly viscous mouthfeel, and some length on the citrus-driven finish. Nothing but good things to say about this wine. Score: 93. Reviewed October 19, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Ram’s Gate Hudson Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
15.1% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.57, 359 cases, $64. Calera clone grown on the Napa County side of Carneros. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Ripe fruit aromas of lemon pie, pear and pineapple. The essence of lemon is complimented by flavors of pear, apple and spice in a highly delicious, heady version of Chardonnay. Very slightly creamy in texture, with spry acidity, and uncompromising intensity and length on the finish. Impressive balance at this high ABV. This is a Chardonnay to drink by itself, offering a contemplative experience from one of California’s grand cru Chardonnay vineyards. Score: 94. Reviewed October 19, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Ram’s Gate Durrell Vineyard Sonoma Coast Chardonnay
14.9% alc., pH 3.30, TA 0.61, 355 cases, $74. Aged 11 months in 33% new French oak barrels. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. Elevating aromas of golden apple, lemon and nutty oak draw you into the glass. Exceptional harmony, with acidity in its place, and flavors of lemon, Asian pear, vanilla and bark. Score: 92. Reviewed October 19, 2016 ARTICLE »
2014 Ram’s Gate Ram’s Gate Estate Vineyard Carneros Chardonnay
14.6% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.60, 227 cases, $76. 4.2-acres of hillside vines planted on the Ram’s Gate Estate Faultline Vineyard. A blend of five clones. Aged 11 months in French oak barrels, 33% new. · Moderate golden yellow color in the glass. This wine’s nose speaks more of salinity and lees with only a hint of lemon curd and oak aromas. Slightly creamy on the palate, with flavors of lemon, apple and pastry cream, in a sleek, fresh and understated style that has exemplary balance and only a bit of oak in the background. Score: 91. Reviewed October 19, 2016 ARTICLE »
2012 Ram’s Gate Carneros Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.60, TA o.55, 1,954 cases, $40. Aged 11 months in new and used French oak. · Moderate reddish purple color in the glass. Deep and dark fruited with aromas of black cherries, black currants, dark chocolate and baking spices. Full-bodied flavors of black cherry and blackberry with appealing earth, cola and grilled mushroom accents that are typical of Carneros Pinot Noir. Mouth filling on the attack and generous and rich on the finish with well-managed oak. Not a subtle wine by any stretch, but you have to like its gritty presence. Score: 90. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Ram’s Gate Glass House Vineyard Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.40, TA 0.57, 252 cases, $62. Aged 11 months in two-thirds new French oak. · Moderately light reddish purple hue in the glass. Pleasing scents of dark cherry pie glaze and spice that pick up vibrancy over time. Forward drinking and noticeably intense, with broad flavors of dark red cherries, spice and oak. Impeccably balanced, this cherry-themed wine unveils many nuances that catch your interest over time in the glass. This beauty is stylish and friendly in the mouth, and, simply put, flat out delicious. Score: 93. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Ram’s Gate Sangiocomo Vineyards Roberts Road Sonoma Coast Pinot Noir
14.8% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.55, 442 cases, $68. Aged 11 months in 50% new French oak. · Light garnet color in the glass. Very fruity on the nose with bright aromas of strawberry and cherry. A little baking spice, sandalwood and sassafras chimes in. Thoroughly enjoyable in the mouth with flavors of red berries and cherry that fan out on the palate. There is definitely an oak presence in this wine but it is not imposing. The soft, slippery, and modestly long finish aims to please. Score: 92. Reviewed July 19, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Ram’s Gate Bush Crispo Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.5% alc., pH 3.61, TA 0.54, 734 cases, $70. A medium to early ripening site with well-drained, stony loam soil. Aged 11 months in 75% new French oak. · Medium reddish purple color in the glass. Fragrant with aromas of Bing cherries, cola, pie spice and subtle smoky oak. Soft and smooth on the palate with a tenacious middleweight core of black cherry and purple berry fruit framed by oak-driven notes of toast and spice which adds a layer of flavor. This wine displays the luscious, opulent fruit that the Russian River Valley is known for but still has verve and brightness. The tannins are well integrated and the finish is long and satisfying. Score: 90. Reviewed October 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Ram’s Gate Ulises Valdez Diablo Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.4% alc., pH 3.70, TA 0.48, 344 cases, $70. Vineyard planted in 2006 on steep slopes. Soils are gravelly, rocky clay over sandy loam. Aged 11 months in 40% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. Awesome aromas of Bing cherry pie glaze, blueberrypomegranate, and rose petal. The aromas carry remarkable intensity over an extended time in the glass. The dark cherry, boysenberry and pomegranate fruit is on the ripe side but is stunning in intensity of flavor, and augmented by a touch of cardamom spice and toast in the background. The oak is much more complimentary in this wine. The sappy core is clothed in a soft, seductive cloak of tannins. This wine still had plenty of swagger the following day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle. Score: 91. Reviewed October 20, 2014 ARTICLE »
2012 Ram’s Gate Ulises Valdez Silver Eagle Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
14.9% alc., pH 3.60, TA 0.54, 344 cases, $70. This vineyard is located in the Green Valley of Russian River Valley and is owned and farmed by noted viticulturist Ulises Valdez. The vines were planted in 2007 on a hillside near the town of Occidental just 6 miles inland from the Pacific Ocean. Aged 11 months in 66% new French oak. · Moderately dark reddish purple color in the glass. This wine really pushes the ripeness envelope. The aromas of purple grape syrup, blackberry, anise and oak tend to be muted over time. The full-bodied core of mixed black and purple berries and the blackest cherries is sweet, syrupy and concentrated. Soft and velvety in the mouth, this wine has a firm, but not imposing tannic backbone. The finish is noticeably long and intense. A bit tiring when tasted over time with a super ripe, cooked fruit quality on display. Succulent rather than complex. Score: 88. Reviewed October 20, 2014 ARTICLE »