Jeff Ames first crossed paths with us at Wine Spectator 10 years ago, when he applied for a job in our tasting department in San Francisco.
We liked his knowledge and passion for wine and even though we didn’t hire him for the assistant tasting coordinator position, we figured he would go on to bigger and better things, which he did.
(As an aside, the woman we hired we later learned worked part time as a nightclub stripper. But two others who worked in our tasting department went on to successful careers in wine—Wells Gutherie of Copain in Sonoma and Tom Garrett of Detert, Revana and Bugay wines).
Ames headed to wine country, working in Oregon before settling in Napa Valley, where he is now winemaker for Kenward Family Vineyards, producers of the Tor and Rock lines of wines.
He also started his own label, Rudius, where he produced an excellent Syrah and earned him a spot in our list of rising star California Rhône-style producers earlier this year.
While the 2005 Syrah was excellent, his 2006 wines are extraordinary and merit one of those sprint don’t run buying endorsements. The Napa Valley Cabernet I tasted yesterday is simply phenomenal—rich, layered, impeccably balanced, long, pure and focused.
Ames knew he had a hit on his hands with his 2006s, which include a pair of delicious Syrahs from Mendocino great Alder Springs Vineyard: the Spirit Rock (92 points, $45) and Emerald Pool (94, $45).
In hindsight, he says he may have released his 2005 vintage too early, as it was a tight, closed wine when I tasted it a year ago.
But the 2006s are hitting on all cylinders right now.
"I knew when I tasted those wines out of barrel that I had something special," Ames said today. He’s mum about the source of the Cabernet. It is 100 percent Cabernet and could carry the Howell Mountain appellation, he said, and has a few grapes from a Yountville vineyard. But it’s one of those arrangements where he can buy the grapes but not disclose the source. At $62, it’s one extraordinary wine that will more than hold its own against Napa’s finest.
All three of Ames’ wines are well worth the search.
Loren Jones — December 10, 2008 10:15pm ET
Pauline Decloedt — canada — December 10, 2008 11:43pm ET
Mark Lewis — Napa — December 11, 2008 1:35am ET
Scott Rynkowski — Grafton, MA — December 11, 2008 10:08am ET
Andrew J Grotto — December 11, 2008 11:40am ET
Tyler Mcafee — Houston, TX — December 11, 2008 12:49pm ET
Chris Kolodziej — Reno,NV — December 11, 2008 1:23pm ET
David Peters — Mission Viejo, CA — December 11, 2008 3:55pm ET
Scott Rynkowski — Grafton, MA — December 11, 2008 5:37pm ET
Paul Northrop — Thousand Oaks — December 11, 2008 9:44pm ET
Loren Lingenfelter — Danville, CA — December 12, 2008 12:18am ET
Dennis D Bishop — Shelby Twp., MI, USA — December 12, 2008 9:02am ET
Chris Kolodziej — Reno,NV — December 12, 2008 12:02pm ET
James Laube — Napa, CA — December 12, 2008 12:13pm ET
Jay J Cooke — Ripon CA — December 12, 2008 12:44pm ET
John Jorgenson — Seattle, — December 12, 2008 1:09pm ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — December 12, 2008 2:41pm ET
Elyse J Ward — Buffalo Grove, IL — December 12, 2008 8:10pm ET
Jeff Ames — Napa, ca — December 13, 2008 3:52pm ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — December 15, 2008 11:54am ET
Charlie Fu — December 15, 2008 4:43pm ET
Jordan Horoschak — Houston, TX — December 15, 2008 8:12pm ET
Scott Rynkowski — Grafton, MA — December 15, 2008 9:40pm ET
Chris A Elerick — Orlando, FL — December 15, 2008 10:25pm ET
Elyse J Ward — Buffalo Grove, IL — December 15, 2008 10:51pm ET
John Kmiecik — Chicago, IL — December 16, 2008 8:54am ET
John Wilen — Texas — December 16, 2008 1:01pm ET
Jeff Ames — Napa, ca — December 16, 2008 11:01pm ET
Scott Rynkowski — Grafton, MA — December 17, 2008 12:42pm ET
Paul Pashley — Middletown, CT — December 18, 2008 9:10pm ET
Juan Pedro San Martin — Coral Gables, Florida — February 7, 2009 10:52am ET
Juan Pedro San Martin — Coral Gables, Florida — February 7, 2009 10:56am ET
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