What We Say 2005 Rutherford Merlot
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Mission Codename: The Lords and Ladies of Rutherford
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Infiltrate Raymond Vineyards and acquire their exceptional Rutherford Merlot.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Raymond Vineyard & Cellar
Wine Subject: 2005 Rutherford Merlot
Winemaker: Walter Raymond
Backgrounder: Raymond Vineyards, located in Napa Valley’s Rutherford AVA was founded in 1971, by one of America’s first-families of wine, the Raymond family. In the United States, ‘multi-generational’ in wine-making usually means two or three generations have been involved in crafting wines. Kristi Raymond, whose great grandfather was wine-making pioneer, Jacob Beringer, is a fifth generation winemaker and head of wine-making for Raymond today.
The Rutherford AVA is among the most famous names in the valley and is primarily know for its exceptional Merlot. Located just south of St. Helena, Raymond’s slogan is Powerful Wines – Deep Roots. After you taste this wine, you’ll understand that its more than a slogan, its a way of life.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Dark purple with garnet and ruby tints that shine through the dark but clear core. The color remains deep along the edges and when swirled, evenly spaced thin legs streak down the side of the glass.
Smell – Medium in intensity with classic Merlot aromas of rich red and black fruit layered over toasted oak, subtle herbal and floral hints, dark chocolate, spice, vanilla and dark minerals.
Feel – Soft and round, this full-bodied classic is rich and chewy with mouth coating tannins and well balanced acidity. The finely grained textured tannins cling to the tip of the tongue and linger long into the finish.
Taste – Rich and juicy red and black fruit including blackberry and both black and red cherry and currants are integrated with toasted oak and vanilla. Soft herbal, floral and spice notes layer with dark chocolate cocoa powder and hints of dusty minerality.
Finish – The wine finishes long and clean with its classic Rutherford minerality and structure leading the way and supporting its rich fruit and other complex flavors making he mouth yearn for another sip.
Conclusion – The 2005 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar Rutherford Merlot shows exceptional depth and purity of its classic Rutherford fruit. This Merlot (with 25% Cabernet Sauvignon blended in) will instantly appeal to lovers of both Merlot and Cabernet. Rich fruit, complex layers of aromas and flavors that linger long into the finish, a structure that holds on tight, this wine is quite memorable.
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Walter Raymond
DATE OF BIRTH: March 1943
PLACE OF BIRTH: St. Helena, California – It’s true, I am the 4th generation in my family to make wine in Napa Valley!
WINE EDUCATION: Mostly scraped knees, but I also attended Cal Poly in SLO and studied business.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: I got my start in the family business at Beringer when I was just a kid. I rejoined the business after college and made wine at Beringer until we started Raymond Vineyard & Cellar in 1970. We bought 90 acres and had to plant vineyard, so our first harvest was in 1974.
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Generally speaking I believe that great wines start in the vineyard. Location, soil type and vine health are all critical to growing quality fruit. After that the winemaking is easy!
SIGNATURE VARIETAL: Cabernet Sauvignon
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Starting Raymond Vineyard & Cellar in 1970 with my family – my parents, my wife and children and my brother and his family.
CAREER HIGHLIGHT: Having the 5th generation join the family business
AGENT RED: Greetings, Walter. What a pleasure it is to meet with you today! We are thrilled to be showing your . Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
WALTER: Thank you for sharing our Rutherford Merlot with your favorite consumers!
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
WALTER: I am one of the lucky ones – I grew up in the business, so it was early exposure that inspired me. I joke around that I am unemployable outside the industry!
RED: And where did you learn the most about winemaking?
WALTER: On the job really. Every vintage is different and presents new opportunities and challenges. The vintners in Napa really work together, share information and help each other make better wines – it is a fun way to learn.
RED: What is your winemaking style or philosophy?
WALTER: Well, I love to plan, prepare and enjoy meals with my family – and wine is a key ingredient at our table. So, I would say I have tended to make wines in a style that pairs very well with food – fruit driven and full bodied, with balanced tannins and oak.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
WALTER: I do not have an “influential” story for you! I have found that making wines year after year from the same vineyards has had the biggest influence on my winemaking style – you learn from the vineyard and build expectations and make winemaking decisions based on experience and knowing what flavors you are trying to get from each lot.
RED: How long have you been making wine?
WALTER: 45 years – and that is amazing since I am still in my 30’s! I got my start at Beringer as a teenager and we are just finishing up my 36th harvest as winemaker at Raymond.
RED: Who do you make wine for?
WALTER: I would have to say I make it for the consumers that have enjoyed our wines for years – we have a style that you can taste all the way back to our 1974 vintage – balanced wines that pair very well with food!
RED: Tell me, what makes the Napa Valley, and Rutherford so special?
WALTER: Napa Valley, and the Rutherford Appellation in particular, has amazing soil and very consistent weather for growing wine grapes year in and year out.
RED: What is one piece of advice that you would give to someone that is considering a career as a winemaker?
WALTER: While education is important, on the job experience at wineries that produce the varietals you are interested in making and drinking!
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
WALTER: We are just wrapping up harvest today – the next month will involve finishing up fermentations and getting our wines into barrels.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today
WALTER: The Merlot from our Rutherford estate is a personal favorite – it is very full bodied and lush, and pairs really well with food.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
WALTER: Well my favorite is a juicy grilled steak – but bbq’d ribs or braised meats are always great too!
RED:What is your favorite ‘everyday’ or table wine?
WALTER: Sauvignon Blanc is a favorite in my house, but bubbly is very popular!
RED: How would you recommend that people approach your wines, or wine in general?
WALTER: Relax and enjoy them – don’t worry about descriptions or ratings. Wine is personal, so if you like what you are tasting don’t let someone tell you it isn’t good! Just drink it!
RED: Great advice! If you could choose any one wine to drink (regardless of price or availability), what would it be?
WALTER: Something with bubbles!
RED: What is the one question that I should have asked you, and what is your answer to that question?
WALTER: Question: What do you do when you are not making wine? Answer: I love to travel with my wife and if I’m home, I enjoying kicking back in my Lazy Boy and raiding the fridge!
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you today – and about your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
WALTER: Thank you!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of the Raymond Vineyards and Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
Raymond Vineyard & Cellar
About This Wine:
75% Merlot and 25% Cabernet Sauvignon from the family’s original Rutherford estate property. This wine has deep garnet color and intense aromas of black cherry, vanilla, toasted almonds, cinnamon and cocoa. Rich, full-bodied flavors of black cherry, blackberry and chocolate with hints of spice, cassis and currants that lead into the lingering finish of oak and vanilla.
Vineyard Notes: The grapes for the Rutherford Merlot come from our family’s original Rutherford estate property purchased in 1970, which has some of the oldest vines growing in the Napa Valley. The maturity of the vines contribute to the concentrated Merlot flavors and the rich Rutherford soils, with their good drainage, are an essential component in high quality grape growing.
Production Notes: The grapes were fermented on the skins for ten days at 75-80 degrees with pumpovers performed twice daily. After fermentation, the wine was gently pressed, racked and moved to seasoned, medium toast, tight grained barrels for 17 months of aging using 60% American oak for added rich vanilla notes and the balance in French oak to impart subtle oak influences. Tight grained barrels yield their oak characteristics to wines slowly for a consistent, well-rounded aging process. The final blend includes Cabernet for added depth and complexity.
Food Pairing: A versatile wine that will pair well with balsamic and fig roast pork tenderloin, barbecued pork ribs, cherry glazed duck, wild game, hearty soups and stews, sage and garlic rubbed turkey or a cheese course with dried fruit and nuts.
About The Vineyard:
The grapes for the Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon come from our family’s original Rutherford estate property purchased in 1970. The vineyard has a Lyre trellis system pruned to quadrilateral cordons with vines spaced eight feet apart and ten feet between each row. The maturity of the vines contribute to the concentrated Cabernet flavors and the rich Rutherford soils, with their good drainage, are an essential component in high quality grape growing. The 2005 growing season was marked by cool summer weather, extending ripening periods by several weeks. The longer ripening period allowed for even fruit development in the vineyard and contributed to high quality wines from the 2005 vintage. Grapes for this wine were hand picked and sorted the last week of September and second week of October.
About The Winery:
Roy Raymond, Sr. and his two sons, Roy Jr., and Walter founded Raymond Vineyards in 1971. This father and sons team worked together to plant and build Raymond Vineyards. Roy, Jr. and Walter still work side-by-side running the winery and producing fine Napa Valley wines.
The Raymond family and Napa’s history are closely linked. Roy Raymond Sr. arrived in the Napa Valley in 1933 and was hired as a cellar worker at Beringer Brothers Winery in St. Helena. He met Martha Jane Beringer and they were married in 1936.
Martha Jane’s grandfather and granduncle, Jacob and Frederic Beringer, had founded their California winery in 1876 after emigrating from Germany. Her father, Otto Beringer steered the winery through the difficult period of Prohibition by producing sacramental wine for religious purposes. Roy Raymond Sr. was selected to help with the long process of rebuilding, after Prohibition was repealed.
Roy and Martha Jane had two sons, Roy Jr. and Walter. Growing up in the Napa Valley, the boys spent many hours with their father in the winery and vineyards at Beringer. After attending college they took their places as 4th generation winemakers in the family business.
After Beringer Winery was sold in 1971, the Raymond family left to start making wine under the Raymond name. They purchased 90 acres just south of St. Helena in the geographic heart of Napa Valley. Their first harvest was in 1974.
A metal farm building functioned as their winery for the first few years, the grapes were unloaded with pitchforks and shovels, and the tasting room and offices were in Roy Sr.’s backyard pool house! The quality of the wines attracted immediate attention from wine journalists, competitions and the public. Raymond wines now earn accolades across the country for their elegance, balance and finesse.
Today, Roy, Jr. is the winery’s Executive Advisor. Walter is President and heads up winemaking and all production activities. Roy Jr. has seen his son, Craig take over duties as Vineyard Manager. Walter’s daughter, Krisi has been involved in sales, marketing and winemaking. With the addition of this 5th generation, Raymond family members oversee all operations, from grape growing and winemaking to sales and marketing.
Roy Sr. continued to be active in the family winery until shortly before his death in 1998. His kindness, generosity, strong work ethic and dedication to excellence continue to be an influence on a daily basis. The Raymond family and staff are proud to carry on this 130 year old tradition of creating fine Napa Valley wines in a close knit family tradition.
Appellation: Rutherford, Napa Valley
Harvest Date: The Last Week of September
Aging: 17 months