Mission Codename Hyde & seek
Remember the Panek Cab from Rudius from a few weeks back? This is the same flawless winemaking from arguably the best Chardonnay fruit grown in America. Stylistically, this wine is such an ultimate hybrid between ripe and lush Californians and taut and complex Burgundians that we guarantee you that in a blind tasting, it will perplex the most discerning of palates. To be able to offer an extraordinary single-vineyard Chardonnay as this at under $30 with 40% savings is absurd. Yet here it is…
Attractive as golden ripe Chardonnay grapes close to harvest, with sheer brilliance and white sparks. Fresh on the head-spinning nose with lemon peel, tangerine, apricot, pear, pineapple, white blossoms, crushed rocks, and cream. The mouth coating palate is defined by crisp acidity, soft and caressing hints of orange blossom, lemon peel, white peach, mangoes, and mint. Classy, layered, exceptionally beautiful, sheer silkiness and textural finesse mark the large-scaled finish. Go all out on the seafood department for pairings with scallops, crab, even better, a whole Maine lobster with butter. This larger than life Chardonnay is tailor-made for hedonism.
The Hyde Vineyard is such a jewel that when Aubert de Villaine of DRC fame, aka Domaine de la Romanée-Conti (most storied winery in the world, period) and judge on the historic 1976 Paris Tasting was seeking a collaboration in California to invest in, he partnered with none other than Larry Hyde to start the HdV (Hyde de Villaine) project at the turn of this century that still sources from this mythical vineyard. Some of the big names that rely on Hyde’s impossible to beat Chardonnay are benchmark wineries that define this variety’s full potential such as Aubert, Kistler and Ramey. Need more be said?
Jeff Ames is one of the most gifted winemakers Napa Valley has seen in modern times. He is, after all, an apprentice of Thomas Rivers Brown, having made Schrader, Maybach, Outpost and TOR side by side, eventually taking the baton as TOR’s winemaker in 2003, where he still makes tremendous wines. The inevitable birth of his own label Rudius in 2005 has not stopped him from becoming a consulting winemaker for many wineries on the rise today. He has humble roots nonetheless, as Wine Spectator best put; “Jeff came to the Napa Valley via Alabama in 1999. - I had no bed, no couch, I slept on egg-crate foam for the first six months - he says. In just over a decade, Ames has become one of Napa’s rising stars.”
Here’s what the wine press has to say:
91 Points – Robert Parker’s Wine Advocate – *“Rudius Wines is the brainchild of winemaker Jeff Ames, also known as the winemaking force behind the superb wines of Tor Kenward. His 2014 Chardonnay Hyde Vineyard is produced from the Robert Young clone of Chardonnay that is more common in Sonoma than Napa. Aged completely in stainless steel and neutral oak, this is a steely Chardonnay that has gone through full malolactic, but has good acidity, delicious baked apple, caramelized citrus, a lemon-blossom nose, medium body, excellent acidity and a persistent finish. Drink it over the next 3-4 years. Drink now-2020.
Here’s what the wine press has on Ames:
Virginie Boone – Wine Enthusiast - “Jeff Ames worked at a Memphis wine shop to put himself through school, and he developed the itch to work a harvest out West. In 1998, Lynn Penner-Ash, of Penner-Ash Wine Cellars in Oregon, was the first to give him a chance. A year later, he landed a job in the tasting room at Napa Valley’s Freemark Abbey. Along the way, he wrote for Decanter and was an early employee at winebid.com. Eventually, he met Thomas Rivers Brown, one of the most sought-after winemaking consultants in the Napa Valley. Like Ames, he didn’t possess a formal wine-related degree. In 2001, Ames became Brown’s assistant, where he worked with clients like Outpost, Schrader, Tamber Bey and Tor Kenward. “I had to learn by doing,” says Ames. “I was a wine geek that turned into a winemaker.” Lacking formal education, Ames made up for it with a laser-like focus. “You can’t let something go off the rails,” he says. “You have to keep it nice, neat and tight in the winery and taste all the time, so you pick up a potential problem before it becomes a real problem. You have to learn the early indicators of a wine. “With a formal education, sometimes the downside is you can get numbers-centric. You forget it has to taste good.” In addition to consulting work, Ames has his own brand, Rudius, on Howell Mountain. Ames says that because of his success, as well as others like Brown, wineries are more open to hire those like him. “But you’re less likely to be hired by a big corporation,” says Ames. “I look for someone who wants to make wine so bad they’ll sleep on the floor for six months. I can relate to that.”
What the Winery Says
2014 Hyde Vineyard Carneros Napa Valley Chardonnay
- Jeff Ames
- 100% Chardonnay
- Carneros, Napa Valley
- Hyde Vineyard
- Robert Young
- 10 months
- Neutral French oak
- 6 barrels