Raymond Burr Vineyards

2005 Sonoma County Chardonnay


California: Sonoma County: Dry Creek Valley

Offer Expired:Sep 30, 2008 at 11:59 pm
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Today’s wine is 20% off from its normal retail price. To sweeten the deal, we’ll include Free Ground Shipping if you purchase 6 bottles or more. Enter coupon code SPYSONOMA during checkout.

Mission Codename: Ironside Classic

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Acquire the Gold Medal Sonoma County Chardonnay from Raymond Burr Vineyards

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Raymond Burr Vineyards

Wine Subject: 2005 Sonoma County Chardonnay

Winemaker: John Quinones


Named after the late actor, Raymond Burr Vineyards may be best known for its exceptional Cabernet Sauvignons, but this gem from Dry Creek Valley is not to be missed. Dry Creek Valley has a receives more rain and is also warmer than the surrounding region making for a longer growing season that is well suited to many varietals, and after tasting this Chardonnay, you’ll agree perhaps perfect for this grape.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Pale and clear straw-yellow with light honey hues that spreads to the very edge of the glass. Clusters of thinly spaced slender tears streak down the side of the glass when swirled.

Smell – Clean medium intensity aromas of ripe tropical pineapple and citrus tangerine that are well balanced over a subtle buttered popcorn, toasted vanilla and a tiny herbal hint to round out the bouquet.

Feel – An initial tangy attack followed by dry, crisp and bright mid-palate and then a kick of spice. Good structure and slightly creamy that contrasts with its bright acidity.

Taste – Flavors of tropical fruit and citrus; a creamy butter component; and oak, but not overpowering with hints of toasted vanilla followed by a touch of orange blossom honey.

Finish – A medium long finish with well integrated flavors of its tropical fruit, oak and vanilla.

Conclusion – This wine is a delicious and well balanced Chardonnay that doesn’t overpower you with its oak and butter. The classic flavors of pineapple paired with the citrus tangerine make for an enjoyable drinking experience. This wine will pair well with lighter fare, Charcuterie and nutty alpine style cow’s milk cheeses.

Mission Report:

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, they contact us through back-channels when they have a special allocation of our Operatives..

No new mission report today, so please read below for a recap of our initial mission to Raymond Burr Vineyards whne we discovered their Cabernet Franc.

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 incredible 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, Best of Class – North of the Gate Wine Competition 2007

About This Wine:

With hints of pineapple and citrus, this straw honey Chardonnay is a delightful mix of bright focused fruit and creamy, slightly oaked vanilla. It was aged on the lees and is 100% barrel fermented. Only 712 cases were produced.

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.
-Robert Benevides

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.

The Winemaker:

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.

Technical Analysis:

Appelation: Dry Creek Valley

Varietals: 100% Chardonnay

Production: Less than 800 cases were originally produced

Cooperage: 11 months in American oak

Harvested: September 23, 2005

Alcohol: 14.4% by volume

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