Raymond Burr Vineyards
2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
California: Dry Creek Valley
What we say
If you are visiting us for the first time, Welcome! The Wine Spies feature one exceptional wine each day – and we only bring you wines that we ourselves seek out and love. Always, the wines are great. Sometimes even better than that, as is the case with today’s wine from Raymond Burr Vineyards .
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SUPERIOR WINE ALERT: Today’s wine is a beauty! If you love mature, balanced and refined Cabernet Sauvignon, we invite you to fall in love with this wine
Mission Codename: Everybody love Raymond… Burr
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Send Agent Red back to Raymond Burr winery, to retrieve their stellar Cabernet Sauvignon – before it goes on lock-down!
Mission Status: Accomplished
Current Winery: Raymond Burr Vineyards
Wine Subject: 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon
Winemaker: John Quinones
Today we introduce guest reviewer, Agent Provocateur. We won’t directly blow his cover, but you can read his excellent wine industry commentary daily, on his blog, Fermentation.
The first time we got a hot tip about Raymond Burr Vineyards (yes, that Raymond Burr) Agent Red returned with an incredible Cabernet Franc. It proved to be one of our most popular wines and our Operatives quickly snatched up a big quantity of the wine, leaving nothing for our in-house Agents. Today, Agent Red and Agent Provocateur infiltrate Raymond Burr – to procure their equally incredible 2000 Cabernet Sauvignon – before the winery pulls their 2000 Cab out of circulation forever
Wine Spies Tasting Profile, by Agent Provocateur:
Backgrounder – Given the assignment to assess the reliability of earlier reports of fine quality wines from this Sonoma County producer, I had high hopes that a discovery would ensue. We are happy to report that upon intense investigation, this 2000 Raymond Burr Dry Creek Valley Cabernet is indeed the real deal
Look – A deep ruby hue sparkles from the center of the glass. This wine’s color is not opaque, but it not far from it either. It looks exactly as it should. No browning whatsoever
Smell – Sweet Cherry top notes are followed in quick order with distinct cola, cassis and black currant aromas. There is violet/floral component that whiffs up off the wine that must surely be a nod to the 9% Cabernet Franc that inhabits this wine. A halo of campfire smoke mingles about too
Feel -There is grip, tannic grip here but it by no means overwhelms the experience. Rather, the moderate body of this wine and moderate structure serves to open the palate and taste buds up and gives the wine a juicy quality while reminding you that you are consuming a Cabernet. Those who don’t want to pucker, but want to be taken a hold of will appreciate the feel of this Cabernet.
Taste – Ahh. Very satisfying and distinct red and black currant flavors carry a complex array of secondary flavors down the palate. There are flavor notes of sweet summer herbs and licorice that provide something of a “happily brooding” characteristic. Two Yums Up!
Finish – There is nothing short about this wine. The red currant and licorice notes linger long after the swallow. One sometimes worries that Cabernet will leave alcohol hanging around on the palate but there is no sign of that.
Conclusion – Happy Day is that which provides you will a wine such at this that is both mellowed by a few years in the bottle but nonetheless relentlessly vibrant and delightful.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile, by Agent Red:
Look – Deep ruby color with a deeply concentrated heart of garnet, color that stays concentrated right out to the edges – with a bouncy surface and tight-packed legs that move slowly down the glass
Smell – Deep aromatics with big cherry, followed by cassis, black currant, and floral violet and soft toasty oak. Very present here is the Cabernet Franc in the wine, which delivers juicy high notes
Feel – Grippy and beautifully tight, this wine has real presence all over the mouth. Medium of body and structure, this wine does not boss your palate around. Rather, its juiciness and its big cab qualities are more refined and balanced than some of the more massive Cabernets we have been tasting of late
Taste – A delicious balance of fruit and soft vegital with layers of smoky cherry, currant, and mild blackberry with a hints of fresh salad herbs and tomato vine
Finish – Like the Raymond Burr Cab Franc I had the pleasure to bring you last month, once swallowed, the flavors in this wine deepen in your mouth and they continue to do so for what seems like an endless interval! Eventually, the flavors do tail off, albeit very slowly. Flavors of licorice and smoked raisin make an appearance and then your mouth waters, begging you to take another sip
Conclusion – What a great pleasure it is to taste a superior wine that has aged so beautifully as this one has. This wine is rich, sophisticated and very smooth – but not at all dull. Rather, this wine has a vitality and a vividness that is surprising for an 8 year-old wine. Once again, our spy hats come off for John Quinones, the masterful winemaker that crafted this delicious wine. Drink now or hold onto to a few bottles for a couple of years. IF you can resist drinking up your reserves!
Now that we are great friends with the folks at Raymond Burr Vineyards, additional surveillance or infiltration is not necessary. Now that they have been recruited into The Wine Spies Network, we can just return to them to ask for wine.
No new mission report today, so please read below for a recap of our initial mission to Raymond Burr Vineyards.
Please note that we enjoyed today’s featured Cabernet Sauvignon even more than the Cabernet Franc that we featured previously.
Prior Mission Recap:
Ask anyone to describe Raymond Burr in a single word and, resoundingly, you will likely hear, Classy.
The veteran actor, for whom today’s winery was honorarily named, was also a cultivator of orchids, a war hero, a philanthropist and more. Most of all, he was cherished and loved by his close friends, who say that his warmth, humor and compassion made him a remarkable man.
When I was given the mission – finally – to seek out a new Cabernet Franc, I riffled through my mental Rolodex and recalled hearing great things about a Cab Franc from Raymond Burr Winery. In fact, it was in the most unusual way that I had come to hear of the wine in the first place.
On returning from a mission to Latin America, our flight got in to Miami too late to make our connecting flight back to California. the airline put us up in a swanky hotel and the next morning we found ourselves in a shuttle back to the Airport. I struck up a conversation with a young couple who were also on our inbound flight and, as always, I steered the conversation toward wine. We compared tastes in varietals and found that Cab Franc wines were among our very favorites. We traded recommendations and they assured me that Raymond Burr had a wine that I would be sure to love.
Now that I was finally assigned a Cab Franc mission I knew just where to go, so I called proprietor and long time companion to Mr. Burr, Robert Benevides. I used the direct approach and told him that I was very interested in sampling his wine and, if they passed the test, feature his Cabernet Franc here for our Operatives to enjoy.
I enjoyed this exceptional wine more with each sip. With enough time to stretch out in the air, the wine really opens up and loses the rough edges present on opening. For best results, decant the wine for a few hours – and enjoy at cellar temperature.
Aromas, flavors, acid and mouth-feel are all in harmony here and the finish is really very unique. If you love great Cabernet Franc, look no further Operative, its right here.
Finally, I remember hearing a story about Mr. Burr that sums up his life and his wines: While working with Errol Flynn, Flynn told Mr. Burr that if he died with ten dollars in his pocket he hadn’t done a good job. This inspired Mr. Burr to always share his wealth with all. His legacy lives on in today’s wine from Mr. Burr’s namesake winery.
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Raymond Burr Vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the winery says
Awards & Accolades:
Gold Medal Winner – Riverside International Wine Competition 2004
Gold Medal Winner – Orange County Fair Wine Competition 2004
About This Wine:
Plush in texture, dark & smoky, with loads of ripe cherry and blackberry flavors. Has soft undertones of classy cassis & black current. Ripe tannins provide plenty of structure. Well integrated toasty oak, with a lingering, rich, spicy vanilla finish.
Comprised of 91% Cabernet Sauvignon and 9% Cabernet Franc, this wine is plush and velvety, overflowing with generous amounts of ripe cherry and blackberry flavors. With soft undertones of elegant cassis and blackcurrants, in the mouth its round tannins tell you this wine has plenty of structure for aging. Well-integrated French and American oak contribute to the lingering, spice-laden finish.
This is a terrific wine that deserves the best meals and most convivial company you can summon to your table.
About The Winery:
Twelve years ago, Raymond Burr and I walked the rolling bench of Dry Creek Valley, the manzanita-covered foot of Bradford Mountain. Our dream took shape with the first plantings of Cabernet Sauvignon in 1986, and now comes to fruition with this brilliantly-complex wine. Only 1,040 cases were produced which have rested for 18 months in oak barrels before being bottled in November of 1992. I release this vintage in tribute to his vision and impeccable taste.
Thus, the back label of the 1990 Raymond Burr Cabernet Sauvignon the premier vintage of this vineyard.
Raymond Burr and Robert Benevides had met, as professional actors, in the middle 1950s on the television program which was to make a legend of Burr, “Perry Mason.” Motivated in the beginning by friendship, the Burr/Benevides relationship was bolstered and advanced by their individual interest in, and knowledge of, the cultivation and hybridization of orchids. In the next several years this shared hobby began to grow until the obvious resolution was to make it a commercial venture. And so, Sea God Nurseries was born, becoming in the 20-odd years of its life an international presence with ranges in Fiji, Hawaii, the Azores Islands and in Southern California. During this period, the partnership was responsible for over 1,500 new orchids added to the world-wide catalogue.
John Quinones, Winemaker
John Quinones joined Raymond Burr Vineyards as the Winemaker, in 1998. John obtained a degree in Enology from UC Davis in 1986, and soon after joined the winemaking team at Lyeth Estate Winery, a Sonoma County pioneer in the production of Bordeaux varietals. Following Lyeth, John joined Clos Pegase Winery in Calistoga, Napa Valley. During his tenure as Winemaker at Clos Pegase, John’s 1990 Cabernet Sauvignon was recognized as one of the best 100 wines in the world. In 1996 John began a winemaking consulting practice serving small ultra-premium producers in Napa, Sonoma and Mendocino Counties.
Quinones says of the small parcel in the hills above Dry Creek Valley in Sonoma County, "It’s a fabulous vineyard.
Appellation: 100% Dry Creek Valley
Vineyard: This is a single vineyard wine from Raymond Burr estate vines
Varietal Blend: 91% Estate Cabernet Sauvignon & 9% Cabernet Franc
Production: 1,860 Cases
Barrel Aging: 22 months in French and Maerican Oak, one third new
Harvested: October 18th
Brix at harvest: 24.9
Bottled: August 8, 2002
Alcohol: 14.0% by volume
Total Acidity: 0.570 g/100mls