This is a 40-acre vineyard at the base of Mt. St. Helena, northeast of Calistoga. Very steeply terraced, it was planted in 1990 and 1993. The soil is a shallow clay-loam atop white volcanic ash, which provides excellent drainage and limits yields to between 1.4 and 2.7 tons per acre. This is our final vintage from this vineyard, having made all the wine from it since 1998—the first three vintages for Rudd. Encouraged by our success with their grapes, the owners have built a winery and jumped into the wine business feet first, and we wish them luck. At some 1250 cases, this is our smallest blend yet, a function of the decline of the Cabernet Franc and Merlot portions of the vineyard to leaf roll virus. That is also the reason that the blend became, in 2004, a Cabernet Sauvignon, which it remains for 2005 at 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 17% Cabernet Franc and 3% Merlot.
"Inky violet. Ripe cherry and blackcurrant aromas become spicier with air, taking on black pepper and musky underbrush character. Deep and chewy, with ripe dark berry liqueur flavors and a lightly singed quality arriving on the close. Powerful stuff, with deep, admirably sweet fruit, chewy texture and a long, velvety finish. I'd give this big boy some serious cellar time." International Wine Cellar 94+
"The final vintage for this cuvee, the 2005 Cabernet Sauvignon Jericho Canyon offers a Graves-like personality of scorched earth, chocolate, charcoal, and black currants as well as a sumptuous, full-bodied palate, and a layered, multi-dimensional finish. Drink this remarkable Cabernet Sauvignon over the next two decades." Wine Advocate
Following winemaking posts at Rudd, Dominus, Chalk Hill and Matanzas Creek, David Ramey and his wife, Carla began their own label in 1996 - a Chardonnay from the Hyde Vineyard. Now situated in downtown Healdsburg, Ramey Wine Cellars draws on exceptional vineyards in both Napa and Sonoma to fashion classically-styled Cabernet Sauvignon and Chardonnay using traditional old world techniques.
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It's hard not to think of Napa Valley when thinking of California wines. The region is, after all, the one that brought world recognition to California wine making. The area was settled by a few choice wine families in the 1960's who bet that the wines of the area would grow and flourish. They were right. The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when vineyard lands were scooped up and vines were planted throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, from large conglomerates to small boutiques to cult classics. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux Blends. Whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie smaller sub-AVAs that lend even more character specifics to the wines. Furthest south is Carneros, followed by Yountville, Oakville & Rutherford. Above those two is St.-Helena and finally, just granted an AVA, Calistoga. These areas are situated on the valley floor and are known for creating rich, smooth Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Chardonnay. There are a few mountain regions as well, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs. Those include Howell Mountain, Stags Leap and Mount Veeder. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from more time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Crisp
Light to medium bodied wines that are high in acid and light to medium fruit. Typically no oak.
Fruity & Smooth
Light to medium bodied wines with lots of juicy fruit, typically medium acid and medium oak.
Rich & Creamy
Full bodied wines that have typically undergone malo-lactic fermentation and/or spent time in oak.