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Ramspeck Cabernet Sauvignon 1995
I consider myself fortunate to have worked with some of the great pioneering wineries of Australia, New Zealand and the United States. I began my career working in the vineyards and winery of B. Seppelts and Sons, one of the oldest wineries in Australia. I was introduced to the Napa Valley as a harvest intern at Stags Leap Winery during the great vintage of 1987. At Chappellet Winery, one of the first post-Prohibition wineries, I worked as Assistant Winemaker from 1989 to 1997.
In 1991, while I was learning the art of making mountainside wines at Chappellet, I also began making my own wine under the Ramspeck label. In 1997 I left Chappellet to devote myself full time to Rowland Cellars. At the same time, I began consulting for William Hill Winery in Central Otago, New Zealand. The challenges of southern New Zealand intrigued me, and for ten years I made a New Zealand Pinot Noir under the Rowland label, before ultimately deciding to concentrate my winemaking in California.
My interest in making the best wine possible has led me to the invention of winemaking equipment, including a barrel stirrer that has been reproduced by many companies around the world. I’ve also consulted for a number of small private labels and vineyards. My current research is in the improvement of grape berry phenolic production and the prevention of berry dehydration."
"I grew up in Sacramento, a fourth generation Californian, but I have called the Napa Valley home for most of my life. I worked as an art and science educator for over twenty years, teaching in the Napa Valley and presenting at national conferences. I am also an illustrator, and have designed wine labels, menus, and posters for a variety of clients.
From the very start of Rowland Cellars, I’ve been a true partner and “the other half” of our two-person enterprise. My support and input has been there during every phase of production. As a graphic artist, it was natural for me to design promotional and sales material. When we introduced Cenay in 1997, based on my family heritage, it was my pleasure to design the label.
In 2009 I began to devote myself full time to our wine business. I now work with distributors on the road in other states, meet with sommeliers and restaurant owners, run tastings, and generally back up Gerry on the business side of Rowland Cellars. I love my work! And I love the collaborative spirit of our joint passion for making the best wine we can.
When I’m not working, I enjoy hanging out with my family, performing in the Napa Valley Follies, and tasting Gerry’s delicious recipes prepared in the Food and Wine Lab, aka our kitchen."
In 1991, when I decided to make and market my own wine, we traced my family history for inspiration. We found that my ancestors had made wine with their family crest on the label as early as 1537 and sold it throughout Europe. So it was with a deep sense of pride and respect for the past that we revived the Ramspeck label. Our first bottling was 200 cases.
In 1996 we started the Rowland label, making wines from vineyards too small to bottle individually. All our red grapes came from a triangle bordered by Atlas Peak, Stags Leap and Coombsville, so we called it our Red Triangle, a play on the notorious hunting ground of the great white shark off the coast of northern California.
In 1997, we introduced the Cenay label, based on Linda’s heritage. Her ancestors purveyed the accoutrements of the good life during Gold Rush days: fine cloth, premium cigars, and quality food and wine. Cenay continues that tradition, offering exceptional vineyard-designated wines of the finest quality.
We now produce 12,000 cases of wine annually, but despite this growth, we have been able to keep the business family run, with our staff consisting of myself, my wife Linda, and our three cats. We’re very proud of this achievement, especially considering that we are competing against newer labels in the Napa Valley that have the backing of sports celebrities, Silicon Valley entrepreneurs and film makers.
The quality of our wines is ensured by control over every facet of the process, from vine management to winemaking techniques and products. Our story continues in every bottle of our wine, from one year to the next, as we continue to learn and to raise the bar for excellence.
One of the world's most highly regarded regions for wine production as well as tourism, the Napa Valley was responsible for bringing worldwide recognition to California winemaking. In the 1960's, a few key wine families settled the area and hedged their bets on the valley's world-class winemaking potential—and they were right.
The Napa wine industry really took off in the 1980's, when producers scooped up vineyard lands and planted vines throughout the county. A number of wineries emerged, and today Napa is home to hundreds of producers ranging from boutique to corporate. Cabernet Sauvignon is definitely the grape of choice here, with many winemakers also focusing on Bordeaux blends. Napa whites are usually Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc.
Within the Napa Valley lie many smaller sub-AVAs that claim specific characteristics based on situation, slope and soil. Farthest south and coolest from the influence of the San Pablo Bay is Carneros, followed by Coombsville to its northeast and then Yountville, Oakville and Rutherford. Above those is the warm St. Helena and the valley's newest and hottest AVA, Calistoga. These areas follow the valley floor and are known generally for creating rich, dense, complex and smooth reds with good aging potential. The mountain sub appellations, nestled on the slopes overlooking the valley AVAs, include Stags Leap District, Atlas Peak, Chiles Valley (farther east), Howell Mountain, Mt. Veeder, Spring Mountain District and Diamond Mountain District. Wines from the mountain regions are often more structured and firm, benefiting from a lot of time in the bottle to evolve and soften.
A noble variety bestowed with both power and concentration, Cabernet Sauvignon is sometimes referred to as the “king” of red grapes. It can be somewhat unapproachable early in its youth but has the potential to age beautifully, with the ability to last fifty years or more at its best. Small berries and tough skins provide its trademark firm tannic grip, while high acidity helps to keep the wine fresh for decades. Cabernet Sauvignon flourishes in temperate climates like Bordeaux's Medoc region (and in St-Emillion and Pomerol, where it plays a supporting role to Merlot). The top Médoc producers use Cabernet Sauvignon for their wine’s backbone, blending it with Merlot and smaller amounts of Cabernet Franc, Malbec, and/or Petit Verdot. On its own, Cabernet Sauvignon has enjoyed great success throughout the world, particularly in the Napa Valley, and is responsible for some of the world’s most prestigious and sought-after “cult” wines.
In the Glass
High in color, tannin, and extract, Cabernet Sauvignon expresses notes of blackberry, cassis, plum, currant, spice, and tobacco. In Bordeaux and elsewhere in the Old World you'll find the more earthy, tannic side of Cabernet, where it's typically blended to soften tannins and add complexity. In warmer regions like California and Australia, you can typically expect more ripe fruit flavors upfront.
Cabernet Sauvignon is right at home with rich, intense meat dishes—beef, lamb, and venison, in particular—where its opulent fruit and decisive tannins make an equal match to the dense protein of the meat. With a mature Cabernet, opt for tender, slow-cooked meat dishes.
Despite the modern importance and ubiquity of Cabernet Sauvignon, it is actually a relatively young variety. In 1997, DNA revealed the grape to be a spontaneous crossing of Cabernet Franc and Sauvignon Blanc which took place in 17th century southwestern France.