Another winery from Sonoma for me to try for the first time! This time it was a Ron Rubin Pinot Noir and an unoaked Chardonnay. The wines promised, “affordable, accessible, all-round ‘beautiful experiences’”. I invited a Pinot-lover over to try the former with me just to get her thoughts as well. Our collective tasting notes are below, and below that is a wealth of information from the two technical sheets from the winery itself.
Ron Rubin Winery Russian River Valley Pinot Noir 2018 / SRP $25
Our tasting notes: My Pinot-loving pal thought the wine was fruit-forward, maybe finished in a neutral oak, had some white pepper and low acidity. She enjoyed the wine and would purchase it. For me I found stewed fruit, dried cherry, raspberry, brambles, balanced and a nice long finish. We enjoyed the wine with cheese, charcuterie, almonds and toasted French bread.
TASTING NOTES: Bright cherry, cranberry, and raspberry aromas with hints of dill, fennel, and spice. The bouquet is rounded out with sweet vanilla and berry flavors, with a balanced and elegant finish. This very approachable wine offers mouth-filling, yet soft, tannins. Ripe fruit flavors are complemented by bright acidity and a gentle oak mid-palate. This complex and fruit- driven Pinot Noir pairs beautifully with fig and goat cheese crostini, roasted duck, and rotisserie chicken.
VINTAGE: It was another remarkable vintage for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. A fairly dry winter gave way to a wet early spring, delaying budbreak in the vineyards but providing ample moisture for our 2018 crop. Consistent and mild conditions during bloom and throughout the early growing season, along with a cooler than normal August, led to slow ripening and a later harvest. This long hang-time allowed for full flavor development.
TERROIR: Our Ron Rubin Pinot Noir expresses the character of Russian River Valley terroir, while reflecting the versatility of the region. Russian River Valley’s morning fog, and cool coastal breezes from the Pacific Ocean, create ideal growing conditions for Pinot Noir. This allows for a 15-20% longer hang-time than that of neighboring areas, allowing our Pinot Noir to retain bright acidity and develop full-flavor maturity.
WINEMAKING: Our 2018 Pinot Noir was hand-picked, sorted, destemmed and put into open top fermenters, and was cold-soaked for 5-days. It was then fermented, pressed, and stored in French Oak barrels. In addition to growing these grapes on our Estate, we acquired fruit from a few local, family vineyards.
FERMENTATION/AGING: Open top stainless steel tank. Aged in 100% French Oak barrels, 20% new, for 10 months.
Ron Rubin Winery Pam’s UN-Oaked California Chardonnay 2020 / SRP $14
My tasting notes: Pale yellow in natural sunlight, followed by aromas white peach, lemon-lime, honeydew melon and cream. Going in for a taste my husband immediately remarked, as he beat me in having that first taste, “It’s good!” Examining the flavors I found a full mouthfeel of yummy fresh and homemade fruit cocktail, lemon bars, bruised yellow apple, a mild but bracing acidity and medium finish. Definitely a steal for $14!
TASTING NOTES: This lovely UN-Oaked Chardonnay is perfect for all gatherings. It’s refreshingly fruity and light-bodied, with a beautifully transparent, pale yellow color.
It has showy fruit aromas of Asian pear and Golden Delicious apple; and, ripe citrus, like key lime and tangerine. With a touch of sweet, this wine is just bursting with lingering flavors of juicy, ripe poached pears. Yet, it is fresh and crisp.
VINTAGE: It was another notable vintage for UN-Oaked Chardonnay! Lighter than usual spring rain caused low soil moistures providing for an earlier than normal bud break in the vineyards. These mild conditions throughout the early growing season and heat spikes in late Summer also led to an earlier harvest by about a week.
However, these coupled conditions allowed for remarkable flavor development all while still retaining plenty of bright acidity.
Harvested by mid-September, and fermented only in stainless steel tanks, we have crafted a crisp, delicious wine that is very approachable and food friendly.
TERROIR: We source our grapes for our UN-Oaked Chardonnay from family owned vineyards in Clarksburg and Lodi. These regions are well known for their sustainable ethics and Mediterranean climates. Like southern France, these regions can bring out a beautiful ripeness in the grapes, while maintaining fresh acidity.
WINEMAKING: These UN-Oaked Chardonnay grapes were pressed into stainless steel fermentation tanks. Next, they were cold fermented to retain freshness and aromatic intensity.
FERMENTATION/AGING: 100% stainless steel tanks
From the Winery
For Ron Rubin, his namesake winery and vineyard in the Green Valley subzone of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley is a dream come true, acquired 40 years after Ron wrapped up his studies at UC Davis. A vintner and self-styled “beverage guy,” Ron’s intent is to make affordable, accessible, all-round “beautiful experiences” (a favorite expression), i.e. Sonoma wines to be consumed and enjoyed.
The prospect of making high-priced, super-limited-production, hard-to-find wines is not what makes Rubin tick. For the rest of us, that translates into beautiful wines you can feel good about buying: The Ron Rubin Winery is SIP-certified (Sustainability in Practice — the gold standard for sustainable vineyard, winery and wine certification), and Certified Sustainable by the California Sustainable Winegrowing Alliance.
Eve Bushman has a Level Two Intermediate Certification from the Wine and Spirits Education Trust (WSET), a “certification in first globally-recognized course” as an American Wine Specialist ® from the North American Sommelier Association (NASA), Level 1 Sake Award from WSET, was the subject of a 60-minute Wine Immersion video (over 16k views), authored “Wine Etiquette for Everyone” and has served as a judge for the Long Beach Grand Cru and the Global Wine Awards. You can email Eve@EveWine101.com to ask a question about wine or spirits.