Great wine often turns millionaires into, well, less wealthy millionaires. This is one of those stories. The owners of Ram’s Gate spent seven million on building the winery, only to discover it sits on top of an earthquake zone. Then they spent a fortune rebranding just before the pandemic hit. As a business, Ram’s Gate winery wasn’t a wise investment.
The wine, however, is well worth your investment. Whatever was going on in the front office didn’t affect winemaker Joe Nielsen or the cool climate wines he is making. This bottling comes from the Sangiacomo Vineyards outside the Carneros AVA, sandwiched between the Seven Flags amusement park and the Sonoma airport. It isn’t the prettiest vineyard, but it is one of the best plots of chardonnay in California.
Like many great wines, this is an exploration of contrasts. The attack is rich, buttery, and decadent, but the midpalate cuts with the crispness of a Barlett pear, and juicy freshness spreads into citrus and savory notes. The austerity disappears only when you take another sip, and the hedonism-puritanism roller coaster starts all over again. While many would call this “Burgundian,” it is not. It’s something very different than that, although I don’t quite know what that is. A new paradigm?
In any case, a great wine.