What I’m Drinking Tonight: Ramos Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005

What I’m Drinking Tonight: Ramos Private Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005

Nearly two years ago, I had just previously started the VintageTexas blog and wrote the following:

“North Texas Road Trip – Entry 2; San Martino Winery….. I’m back on the road heading from Tyler Texas northwest to Rockwall on the eastern outskirts of Dallas. The air is clear and crisp and the sun is in full bloom, typical of what follows a Canadian cold front into Texas. The flare for city names in East Texas is quite evident from the road signs I saw on my path with towns named: Cut and Shoot, Gunbarrel City and Frognot.

Rockwall’s identity has always been closely linked to its geology. In 1851, settlers discovered a rock wall of very large proportions buried beneath the town site. Its brick-like structure and cementaceous joints caused some to conjecture that the wall was man made by an ancient civilization. But, the question is persists….Is it?

Most noticeable as I approach the Rockwall area was the band of black soil that first attracted settlers to this region of Texaswhose for its agricultural productivity for cotton, grain crops and vegetables. Grapes, however, are not like other crops and usually prefer leaner, sandy soils for best results. According to records, early attempts at grape growing in Rockwall came in the 1870s and reached its height in the 1910s before a precipitous decline during prohibition. But, Rockwall is now entering a “new age” of wine production.”

Shortly after my arrival in Rockwall, I pulled up to Emilio and Maria Ramos’s San Martino Winery. It was quite and afternoon that involved a delightful visit with Maria and an extended tasting of wines from San Martino. The tasting was so invigorating that we both set aside our plans to attend a major Bordeaux tasting that was being held that afternoon in central Dallas.

Now….here, nearly two years later I’ve chosen to enjoy San Martino again, but this time it was induced by what came from a bottle of wine that returned home with me from that trip: Ramos Private Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005.

In summary, the Ramos Cabernet that I just savored was a big red wine with lots of fruit, oak and alcohol to give, but its all in balance. It showed a dark berry driven melange of aromas with noticeable aromatics of cedar, cinnamon and mint that had a characteristic similarity to another substantial red-soil wine that I experienced a few months ago. That one had an Aussie Coonawarra lineage: Angove’s Vineyard Select Cabernet Sauvignon.

The Ramos Cabernet was thick, rich and yet supported a silky mouthfeel. It was derived from 100 percent Cabernet Sauvignon from the Texas High Plains AVA. It still carried much of the ruby color and fruity richness of its youth with perhaps another half-decade to give. If only I’d not awoken it from its deep restful sleep and just let it lie in peace a while longer. Unfortunately, I didn’t plan ahead and stock a few more bottles. Drat!

However, on a more positive note, it was a good night for grilling: January and in the 70’s – at least for another day before the next big blast of cold air. As my fire was growing in intensity, my steak was marinating in a concoction of soy sauce, Wosterchestershire sauce, minced garlic and olive oil. As the steaks were finally seared on both sides, I added a cup of pecan shells to the fire and closed the lid of the BBQ where they liberated their finely scented smoke. Finally, on the table, the pairing of well marbled beef, a combination of smoke and spice, and this seriously full bodied wine was divine.

Evidently, others have sided with me on this wine. In its early days, the Ramos Private Cabernet Sauvignon Reserve 2005 garnered multiple awards in Texas and California:

Bronze – 2008 San Francisco International Wine Competition

Silver – 2008 Lone Star International Wine Competition

Silver 2009 – Dallas Morning News International Wine Comp

Bronze – 2009 Lone Star International Wine Competition

Bronze – 2009 San Francisco Inter. Wine Competition

I think it’s time to plan another outing to visit the San Martino Winery. I hope to see you there.

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Love to taste, talk and tweet about Texas wines and where they are in the global scheme for wines. After all that's the only way they will reach the full potential.


  1. You know its funny, many people do not know the reasoning behind the name for Rockwall, Tx.
    Many Geologist want to say that the rock formation is natural, however many archeologist would disagree. Not going to go into the whole spill about it but many have attempted to research it and have been stopped.
    Its pretty easy to spot the location of the wall if you look on a topography map or a satellite view like google earth. Go east of Rockwall around Royce City

    Also have a soft spot in my heart for High Plains Cabs which honestly I think take at least 5 years to become great wines.
    And this one is not any different.
    All of the great High Plains Cabs that I have sampled that are fantastic all seem to be around the 04-06 range right now. Which also includes Pheasant Ridge’s 02 Cab (yes I know its a cult winery, and I am happily a member)
    So to many who say Bordeaux varietals no longer have their place here in Texas give them a few years in the bottle and tell me that again.

    Russ if I understand you correctly you have held onto this wine for about 2 years and just now opened it?
    Sounds to me like it was worth the wait! Curious if you can still get this vintage?
    BTW I see all these rankings were done a year or 2 ago. I wonder now that this wine has had time to settle and age if it would get closer to a gold? Well at least in my book it might.

    • There is not much information generally available on the wine and therefore why the old medal rating were about it. I will try contacting the winery and see what they have to say.

      The question is not if Bordeaux reds can be grown here, the question is where to do it (some high plains and other locales perhaps), what years they do well, and are the crop loads sufficient with these varietals (year in and out) for growers to make money at it.

      This latter point is important as some of the Tex-Med varietals being grown now can be cropped at 2X or 3X or more than Bordeaux varietal levels and still make tasty wines. This is what will insure that Texas can become a quality and sustainable wine growing region.


    • The 2005 vintage of all Cabernet that we produced has been sold out for some time now. I opened a 2003 a couple of weeks ago and it was superb and feel confident that will be good for at least 6 to 8 years more. The 2005 should be great through 2015 and beyond provided that it is kept under the proper environmental conditions (55 F and 70% humidity). We have a new vintage just released the 2007 and I feel that it is still very young although very drinkable. Our Cabs need at least 4 to 5 years of minimum aging for them to start showing their “true colors.”

  2. I am still holding 6 bottles of the Ramos Reserve, but was anticipating it would last longer than five more years. Thanks Russ for the tasting notes and opinion. Any thought on the longevity of the 2005 San Martino Tempanillo?

    • I think that the San Martino Ramos Cab 2005 still has a lot to give. It was nowhere near its end. I say that it can do 4-5 more years and then, who knows. There aren’t too many Texas wines that have made the 15 year mark and still had good qualities.

      I liked the 2005 San Martino Tempranillo as well. It was one of my favorite wines of 2009. I think that the Ramos Cab wine has longer term aging potential.


  3. Don’t laugh, but I have a Barolo sitting in my wine cooler with a tag that says 2019!

    I also have a 2002 Texas Cab that I have slated to open in 2012.

    • Tiberia here, what an honor to be part of a Ramos wine thread. At barking rocks, we are drinking 05 and going to bottle 06 in the spring. Come on by. Miss you Emilio!

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