|Raymond entry sign|
|Garrett assisting us in the Crystal Cellar|
Raymond Vineyards offers three different tastings. In the Limited Tasting one may sample limited edition, very small production wines that are available only at the winery. Their flagship wines are offered under the Reserve Tasting. Their ultra premium wines are offered in the
Because of the extensive line of wines, the extremely
friendly staff and their award of The
Wine Enthusiast's 2012 American Winery of the Year, we opted to try all three
tastings by visiting three consecutive weeks, something we have never done
before in our over 40 years of visiting wineries. (Wine Enthusiast is also my favorite wine
|Regular tasting bar|
The Limited Tasting includes limited releases including: The Raymond 2011 Small
First was the Raymond 2011 Small Lot White Wine at $32 which is 80% Sauvignon Blanc and 20% Chenin Blanc. What an unusual blend for a
Of the two whites, though, I preferred the next wine which was the Raymond 2011 Barrel Fermented Chardonnay. This saw eight months in 100% French oak with 50% of that being new French. Only 168 cases were produced. Grapes are from their
The Raymond 2009 Napoleon Red Wine was next. It is described as a "
Raymond 2009 Louis XIV was next. This is a Cabernet Sauvignon and Sangiovese blend with 520 cases produced. I got a light nose of red fruit with some forest floor. The rest was fruity, mostly cherry, with some black pepper and a tart cherry moderate length finish. It did not have the great nose of the Napoleon but had a more interesting presentation and finish. But my favorite of the line up was next.
The Raymond 2009 Small Lot Petite Sirah is 94% Petite Sirah and 6% Cabernet Sauvignon with 168 cases produced. I would score this one about 91 points. After a good nose I got some blueberry, black cherry and spice on the palate. It was not a big, tannic, monster Petite Sirah, but had good substance and structure with good body. It was my favorite of the Limited Tasting line up.
|Raymond gift shop|
The Reserve Tasting includes: the Raymond 2011 Reserve Selection Chardonnay at $20, the 2011 Barrel-to-Barrel Field Blend at $56 a 3 litre box (party time), the 2009 Reserve Merlot, the 2011 Barrel-to-Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon at $56 a 3 litre box and the 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at $35.
Raymond 2011 Reserve Selection Chardonnay at $20. No malolatic conversion. Some French oak. Very nice flowery nose. Apple and white peach. Good length on finish. Quite nice for the price.
Raymond 2011 Barrel-To-Barrel Field Blend at $56 or a 3 litre box. "A blend of
Raymond 2009 Reserve Merlot at $24. 88% Merlot and 12% Cabernet Sauvignon. 25% saw 18 months on new oak. Very lovely pronounced vanilla and cherry nose. Lighter bodied with soft tannins and fresh red fruit, mostly raspberry. Good finish. Well done for a lighter style Merlot.
Raymond 2011 Barrel-To-Barrel Cabernet Sauvignon at $56 for a 3 litre box. 100% Cab. Good red cherry and vanilla nose. Light to medium bodied. Fresh fruit of bright red cherry with a good medium length finish. Pleasant.
Raymond 2009 Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon at $35. 89% Cabernet Sauvignon, 8% Merlot and 3% Cabernet Franc. Aroma of cherry, cedar and vanilla. Smooth red cherry on the palate with interlaced tannins and a medium plus length cherry finish. Medium body. Very easy to drink. Nice cab for the price and my favorite of the Reserve Tasting.
|Raymond Crystal Cellar|
The Crystal Experience, is the third tasting option offered by Raymond. This tasting is held in the
Raymond 2008 Rutherford Merlot at $45. We were informed that this is the last vintage for this one. Much bigger and riper than the Raymond Reserve Merlot. Intense aroma of plum and raspberries. It had good structure, with a medium body and nice balance. I got mostly bright red fruit of plum and raspberry. The finish was medium length. It was decent but not memorable.
Raymond 2009 Rutherford Cabernet Sauvignon at $75. This is a very good Cab but still needs some time to develop. I got a rather light but interesting nose followed by dark chocolate, cherry, blueberry, spices and some forest floor. It had plenty of tannins that were very well integrated. Finish was medium length and chewy. Although drinkable now, I think this one will improve with some age and has a lot of potential. I hope to sample it again next time we visit.
Raymond 2009 Generations at $115. This was just released. Sometimes the Generation is a blend but this year it is 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. It was aged in new oak for 18-20 months. This is still a young wine but shows excellent potential. The aroma was fairly light but it was pleasing delight on the palate. I got blackberries, plum, spice with a hint of mocha. Good structure and balance with interlaced tannins and a medium length finish. This wine is drinkable now but should really start coming into its own in a year or two.
|Winery of the Year|
The wines listed above that are in bold and underlined will be added to our next list of favorite Napa Valley wines. Raymond Vineyards is an interesting, unique, creative winery that offers a feast for the eyes as well as one for the palate. Although we recommend all three tastings, if you need to limit it to one, we recommend The Crystal Experience so you may taste their outstanding premium Cabernet Sauvignons. Couples might want to consider splitting two different tastings. We spread our tastings out over three different visits and are glad we did. Rather than listing three or four photos as I usually do, I'm also posting additional photos at the end for those who might want to view more of this very unusual winery. (see photos below.)
Dates of visits: February 6, 13 and 19, 2013
Note from the winery's web page:
"Frenchie Winery was built with the belief that
|Welcome sign to Frenchie Winery|
|Raymond Crystal Cellar|
|Coco and Channel|
|Theater of Nature entry way|
|Lambs at Raymond Vineyards|
|Raymond entry way|
|Visitor to Frenchie Winery|