Ramsay Pinot Noir Carneros 1998
Pinot Noir from Carneros, California
Pinot Noir, "Lot 11" 1998
Ramsay Pinot Noir is a blend made from selected lots of grapes grown in several of Californias great Pinot Noir regions, with about half of the fruit coming from vineyards in the Napa Carneros. It is this blending of grapes from ay vineyards that makes it such a charming wine -- each vineyard offering its own particular set of nuances, flavors and aromas. Also, several different yeasts are used in the fermentation process, each adding their own "color" and complexity to the whole. This wine was aged in a combination of French and American oak barrels for almost a year prior to bottling, with no fining and minimal filtering.
This wine has a wonderful array of rich cane-berry flavors that are indicative of quality Pinot Noir. Good tannin structure and a firm acidity brings the wine together in the mouth. The nose is a nice blend of Pinot Noir fruit with oak -- with notes of vanilla, blackberries and allspice.
(From Kent Rasmussen Winemaker Notes)
Technically a part of Napa Valley, the Carneros region straddles both Sonoma & Napa counties. It's the Napa region closest to the San Francisco peninsula and the San Pablo Bay, which is instrumental in controlling the climate of the area. The winds from the San Pablo bay create a cool weather pattern ideal for growing Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir from Carneros are delicate, yet complex, with firm structure and acidity. And while the pair are the most popular varieties of the region, some winemakers have branched out, particularly with Syrah. The cool climate Syrah of Carneros is well structured and stylistically similar to Syrah from the Northern Rhone, though often fuller-bodied.
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.
Alcohol By Volume Guide
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.