Raymond Vineyard & Cellar

2005 Napa Valley Meritage


California: Napa Valley

Offer Expired:Jan 21, 2010 at 11:59 pm
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Mission Codename: Once in a Generation

Operative: Agent White

Objective: Infiltrate Raymond Vineyards and acquire their delicious Small Lot Napa Valley Meritage.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Raymond Vineyard & Cellar

Wine Subject: 2005 ‘Small Lot’ Napa Valley Meritage

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 winemaking usually means two or three generations have been involved in crafting wines. Kristi Raymond, whose great grandfather was winemaking pioneer, Jacob Beringer, is a fifth generation winemaker and head of winemaking for Raymond today.

Meritage (pronounce like ‘heritage’, no French style accent) wine, blends made in the tradition of the great wines of Bordeaux can only carry the name if the winery is a member of The Meritage Association based in Sonoma County. Most wines made in the US are varietal wines, comprised of over 75% of a single varietal. Unfortunately, this labeling requirement is believed to impair many winemakers from making exceptional blends, since they are often labeled as simply Red Table Wine with the noble grapes of Bordeaux. Thus in 1988 Meritage was born as a way to highlight the winemaker’s art of careful blending and crafting of wines in the tradition of some of Europe’s finest wines.

Today’s selection is 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Cabernet Franc, 15% Merlot and is aged for 18 months in French and American oak.

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – Dark and deep purple with garnet edges and ruby streaks that shine through its dark inky core that clears along the edge of the glass. When swirled, random clusters of fast thin legs ring the glass.

Smell – Bold and aromatic with ripe blackberry, black-cherry and cassis layered over oak notes. Soft earth, spice and hints of licorice and floral aromas adds to the complexity of this redolent wine.

Feel – Rich and chewy, this full-bodied and dry mouthcoating wine, has solid medium-fine tannins and good acidity and minerality. Great structure that reaches the far corners of the tongue holding the flavors long into the finish.

Taste – Ripe and tart flavors of wild blackberry, raspberry, other wild berries and cherry mingle with notes of oak, dark chocolate and sweet exotic spices. Subtle earth and herbal tones lie just underneath the vibrant fruit flavors.

Finish – Long and lingering with tart berry undertones and oak leading the way and fading with a touch of spice and dark minerals.

Conclusion – The 2005 Raymond Vineyard & Cellar ‘Small Lot’ Napa Valley Meritage is a rich and bold wine with tons of character. Bright vibrant fruit and its bold structure makes this wine great for pairing with a big Porterhouse steak or aging in the cellar for years to come.

Mission Report:

Here is a transcript of Agent Red’s original conversation with Krisi Raymond:

I caught up with Krisi Raymond recently, to talk with her about today’s wine. The was no easy feat, mind you. With harvest in full swing, the life of a winemaker is in full-on frenzy mode.

What follows is the transcription of our conversation:

the phone rings

AGENT RED: Go for Red

KRISI RAYMOND: Hi Red, its Krisi Raymond.

RED: Krisi! Hi! Thanks for calling me! I know how busy you must be.

KRISI: I found a free moment so I thought I’d call. I know that I could get called away so…

RED: I appreciate that. What’s happening in your world right now?

KRISI: Well, we’re about half way through the harvest. We’re still waiting for Zinfandel, Syrah and Petite Sirah, but nearly everything else is off the vine.

RED: How were the yields this year?

KRISI: We got lucky and had no damage in our estate vineyards. Some of our growers and friends from other wineries got hit hard. Some lost up to 75% of their crop!

RED: Ouch. Did your location protect you from the frost, or was it the timing?

KRISI: Both actually. We saw little frost, and bloom was also late this year. If the frost had hit during bloom, it would have been more bleak.

RED: Well, that’s good news for you. Listen, I know we don’t have much time, but tell me about your Small Lot Red Wine. We love it, by the way.

KRISI: Thanks! I’m happy to hear that. And, we are happy to let The Wine Spies have the exclusive on the wine. I am sure that your Operatives will love it, too.

RED: I’m sure they will, and thanks so much for allowing us to sell the wine. Its not available anywhere else, except the winery, so we are very proud to be showing it!

KRISI: This is our first release of this wine and it was a real labor of love for us. Each component wine was placed in separate barrels, where they sat for 17 months. Blending was done by the entire winemaking team, each of us tinkering and contributing.

RED: The backbone of the wine is Cabernet Sauvignon, which is what Raymond is best known for, right?

KRISI: Exactly. It makes good sense that we would include our Estate Cabernet fruit in this blend.

RED: But the other varietals give the wine a brightness and slight spice that make it come alive…

KRISI: Yes, the Merlot and Cabernet Franc were blended with Petite Sirah for richness and body along with Zinfandel for that slight spicy zing.

RED: A great effort, Krisi. Our Operatives are big red blend fiends so I’m sure they’ll be taking advantage.

a series of tones sound

KRISI: That’s my pager! The vineyards call!!

RED: Thanks, Krisi! I appreciate your time. Let’s catch up again soon to discuss showing another of your great wines!

KRISI: Will do, Red. Agent Raymond – OUT!


Wine Spies Vineyard Check:

The location of the Raymond Vineyards and Cellars can be seen in this satellite photo.

What the Winery Says

About This Wine:

Our first Meritage wine since the 1991 vintage!

Darkly hued, this wine opens with bright currant, red cherry, cassis, lilac and earthy oak aromas. Full-bodied and concentrated with intense raspberry, cherry, cassis and rhubarb flavors up front, followed by sweet vanilla and a hint of cocoa. Well structured with balanced tannins and a smooth, lingering finish.

Winemaker Notes: For our first Meritage red blend since the 1991 vintage, we sourced fruit from our St. Helena and Rutherford estate vineyards along with select nearby growers. The soils in both appellations contain gravelly alluvial fan soils with good drainage, essential for growing excellent quality Bordeaux varietals in the Napa Valley. All the grapes were hand sorted and tank fermented separately. After fermentation, the wine was gently pressed, racked and moved to 95% French and 5% American oak barrels for eighteen months of aging. The final blend is predominantly Cabernet Sauvignon, followed by Merlot and Cabernet Franc for additional depth and complexity.

Food Pairing: This lush and concentrated wine will pair well with a variety of foods, from grilled steaks and chops, to braised short ribs, balsamic-glazed duck, rich pasta dishes such as four cheese lasagna or baked Rigatoni with spicy Italian sausage, hearty wild mushroom soup or a rustic lamb stew with root vegetables.

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.

Technical Analysis:

Vintage: 2005

Varietals: 80% Cabernet Sauvignon, 15% Merlot and 5% Cabernet Franc

Appellation: Napa Valley

Acid: 0.65 g/100ml

PH: 3.48

Aged: 18 Months in French (95%) and American Oak (5%)

Alcohol: 14.2%

Production: 17 Barrels

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