Pale straw color; lemon, apple blossom on the nose; citrus, lemon, lime, minerality, brioche on the palate.
Likely brut, but has some residual sugar or ripe fruit phenolic sweetness. Blend of pinot noir and pinot meunier; 12.5% ABV. Crisp, precise flavors, especially the citrus, lemon, lime. Pucker power.
Blanc de noirs means white wine from red grapes. Common among sparkling wines. All grape juice essentially has no color. Only contact with pigmented skins engenders color. Brief contact—rosé. Extended contact—red wine. Almost no contact with black grape skin—blanc de noirs. You can have blanc de blanc, by the way—white wine from white grapes. As with this wine, a blanc de noirs almost always means pinot noir and pinot meunier.
Ram’s Gate is a project of managing owner Michael John, a San Francisco private equity investor and wine collector who is active in environmental improvement efforts. He is joined by Jeff O’Neill, owner of O’Neill Vintners and former chair of the Wine Institute; Paul Violich, a California investor and agri-business leader specializing in walnut and almond plantings; and Peter Mullin, businessman and wine grower who owns a 15-acre estate in Umbria, Italy.
The website notes: “The Ram’s Gate ownership team is led by Managing Owner Michael John, a San Francisco private equity investor and wine collector, with strong ties to the wine industry in addition to being active in environmental improvement efforts; Jeff O’Neill, the owner of O’Neill Vintners and former Chair of the Wine Institute, Paul Violich, a well-known Northern California investor and agri-business leader specializing in walnut and almond plantings; and Peter Mullin, a businessman and passionate wine grower who owns a 15-acre estate in Umbria, Italy, where he grows Sagrantino and Sangiovese grapes. Ram’s Gate Winery is the realization of their shared passion for fine wine and commitment to land stewardship. “Ram’s Gate Winery is the realization of their shared passion for fine wine and commitment to land stewardship.”
Hands-on management is interesting. From the website: “Taylr Behnam Cuneo is Managing Director for Ram’s Gate Winery. While she has always held a passion for the art of pairing a delicious meal with high-end wine, today she oversees not just the Ram’s Gate culinary program but the winery operations and hospitality, as well.
“A California-native, Taylr graduated with a business degree from Loyola University Chicago in 2007. Immediately following, she pursued her passion for culinary arts and graduated from Le Cordon Bleu in 2010. Fueled by a desire to explore how wine and food can interact, Taylr found herself drawn to wine country. She was among the first members of the Ram’s Gate team when she joined as Sous Chef in 2011 and by 2012, she transitioned to Executive Chef. During her tenure, she helped build the winery’s state-of-the-art culinary program. With her background in business and management, along with her can-do attitude and willingness to tackle any challenges that come her way, she climbed the ladder and became Managing Director of Ram’s Gate Winery in 2017. Taylr believes that, like wine, building a legacy brand takes time and patience, and is motivated by a desire to see Ram’s Gate constantly catapult to the next level.”
Joe Nielsen is the director of winemaking. Website notes: “Following nearly ten years at Donelan Family Wines in Santa Rosa, Joe became Director of Winemaking at Ram’s Gate in 2018 and spent his first year focused on digging into the soils of Ram’s Gate and falling in love with the estate. ‘Coming to Ram’s Gate, I feel like I’ve been given a pile of gold and silver and they’re asking me to make jewelry,” says Joe. “I have everything I need to make great wines that are complete, complex and compelling.’”
Ram’s Gate Winery Blanc de Noirs, Carneros 2013 is sharp, citrus-driven sparkling. Unlike many sparkling wines, this is vintage, so the wine is made for the year not to a house style (NV, non-vintage). This is the first vintage of their experiment in sparkling—they also made a rosé sparkling. The tirage (time spent on the lees) for this was three years, which relatively standard for quality sparkling. Ram’s Gate only sells directly from the winery, but they can sell and ship to most states. Pair with shellfish; Alaskan king crab; appetizers and snack food; lighter fish; works as aperitif. $85