RAZI Winery is owned by architect Fred Razi; he purchased the property in the late 1980’s. Fred is one of the few Napa Valley winery owners with Persian (Iran) heritage. After the purchase he re-planted vineyards and built the winery facility from scratch. The winery originally started out as a hobby during the first years as only non commercial wine was made here. As it tends to happen in the wine industry, over time wine related hobbies become more serious and the winery grew; today it is where wine is made for several boutique Napa producers.
RAZI Winery maintains a small but beautiful modern tasting room which opened for appointment only tastings in March 2009. Because the winery is tiny and Fred lives on site, you will often taste with either Fred or the winemaker Massimo Monticelli. The winery is located at the southern part of the east side of Silverado Trail almost across from the Laird Wine Studio. Cross the small bridge directly off of the Silverado Trail and proceed to the right side of the driveway at the fork in front of their metal sign.
During our initial visit Razi only produced a single wine, a Chardonnay (which was the varietal that Fred made as home wine before he began RAZI Winery) – however today they also produce a Syrah they label as Shiraz, a Zinfandel, a Red blend and a Cabernet Sauvignon. Their wines tend to have extra age in bottle before being released and their prices are quite reasonable.
Razi’s Chardonnay was made from grapes grown right on the property and these vines were easily seen from inside through the window while sitting at the bar stools at the steel topped tasting counter; however in 2017 these vines were pulled out and replanted to Cabernet Sauvignon, although Fred did keep a 2 acre block of Chardonnay. Along with providing the fruit for Razi’s wine, for a number of years, this 10 acre vineyard provided fruit to Newton Vineyards (who has popularized their “unfiltered” Chardonnay). Fred recalls Dr. Su Hua Newton, proprietor of Newton Vineyards walking through his vines every year marking off which vines would provide the grapes for Newton Vineyards.
And in another piece of random trivia – this is where Caldwell Winery got their start – making their early vintages on site.
Razi uses exclusively French oak on the red wines, but Fred likes the characteristics imparted from American oak for his Chardonnay. The 2017 Razi Chardonnay is deep golden in color; offers aromas of orange marmalade, honeycomb, butter, caramel, Shenandoah pawpaw fruit, vanilla, Golden kiwi and hints of ripe Cherimoya fruit. The wine offers a supple and slightly creamy mouth feel, complemented nicely by its brightness of acidity. Lingers with a liveliness including notes of butterscotch, caramel and vanilla along with mandarin, an orange peel zest and flavors of red apple. This wine drinks very well by itself.
The 2007 Razi Chardonnay has very good color in the glass with a deep straw color that is darker than many Chardonnays on the market. This color is in part from the 9 months of 100% American oak barrel aging. The wine went through partial malolactic fermentation and was aged on the lees. Toasted oak along with pleasant tropical fruit overtones make up the bouquet followed by a clean refreshing palate that has nuances of the oak along with pear and red apple. The long finish is clean with notes of citrus and lemon zest. Despite aging on the lees and being occasionally stirred on the lees, the wine is not overly creamy or viscous. This wine also has excellent acidity.
The 2016 Razi Shiraz offers pretty aromas including blackberry and blueberry, hints of cassis an interesting aroma of stewed tomato and as the wine breathes, baking spices. Dark in the glass, the wine is juicy across the palate with mouth watering acidity. Layered yet approachable in its youth – still shows somewhat tightly wound tannins but these should soften with just a few years of age. Mostly dark fruit flavors on the plate – hints of bacon fat. A good food wine – perhaps with a BBQ or pizza.
The 2018 Razi Cabernet Sauvignon has no problem with color; this wine is deep purple in the glass. The aromatics are dark and include Satsuma plum, sweaty leather, pipe tobacco, black licorice and violets along with a meatiness and an iron nuance. As the wine evolves, offers hints of cardamom and clove. This bouquet offers some aromatic intrigue and one needs to let it sit in the glass for some time to fully open. Dark fruit runs the breadth of the palate including flavors of spicy plum skin. The finish is savory with notes of crushed peppercorn, dried tobacco leaf, dust and old cedar box. The gravely and grainy tannins offer a noticeable grip and linger for quite some time. Still in the throes of youth, this wine is built to age. And its available at a rare price point as compared to most Napa Valley grown and produced Cabernet Sauvignon wines.
Other Clients of Razi Winery
Several other producers have rented or currently rent space inside the winery to produce their own wines (with production and winemaking overseen by Massimo). While the focus of a visit to Razi Winery is on the Razi wines, sometimes wines from other producers on site might be available. During our first visit to the property back when BRION was making their wines here, we enjoyed the BRION Cabernet Sauvignon from Coombsville, a region featuring rolling hills and a moderate climate located just east of the city of Napa.
B Wise sources fruit from several premium vineyard sites including their own Sonoma Vineyard located just below the famed Martini hillside Monte Rosso Vineyard in neighboring Sonoma County. The BRION is why single vineyard (Bennett Vineyard), 100% Cabernet Sauvignon wines such as this one are helping to put Coombsville on the map of wine enthusiasts. Excellent terroir, combined with a knowledgeable and passionate winemaker is a recipe for beautiful wine; this one does not disappoint.
The 2004 BRION Bennett Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon offers a rich very concentrated flavor profile. It is a dark wine with a nose full of intense fruit including blueberry and blackberry. A somewhat elegant vanilla undertone is also present. Mostly new French oak was used during the aging. The palate contains layer upon layer of flavor with a finish that is well structured, yet in balance and also slightly smoky and dusty. It is a robust wine that while in its youth at the time of our tasting, still needed time to age and evolve additional complexities.
Another treat (if available) is the Lito Vin Santo bottled under the Monticelli Brothers label. Massimo Monticelli, a UC Davis graduate is a fourth generation winemaker and aside from being the winemaker for Razi Winery, runs his own label with his brother, appropriately named Monticelli Brothers. In addition Massimo makes wine at Razi winery for several other small producers. The Lito Vin Santo is a blend of style’s combining the best of both worlds in regards to dessert wine from both Italy and France. Its winemaking was partially conducted in the French Sauternes style as well as the Italian Vin Santo.
Only 350 cases of the 1/2 bottles were made in 2003. This is wine that is well balanced between sugar and alcohol. It only has 2% residual sugar and the alcohol is around 13 percent. As a result, it is a wine that Massimo rightly claims is for “drinking, rather than sipping”! In other words its not going to overwhelm your palate; its not a sticky syrupy dessert wine. A number of white varietals are used in this wine including Malvasia Bianca. It is very dark amber in color with nice stone fruit flavors including peach and nectarine with honey undertones.
A Solera styled red wine called Rolando Rossa is bottled under the Monticelli Brothers lable. This wine is a non vintage with no dominate varietal); it contains 50% current vintage wine and 50% of various older vintages. Out of more than 1,000 commercial wine producers in Napa Valley that we have visited and extensively written about, only several wineries produce a non vintage table wine. This wine is made with love, passion and quality; for the most optimum results, drink it daily.
Razi Winery offers one of the more personal tasting experiences along the southern part of the Silverado Trail. Fred often conducts tastings himself. It is a unique opportunity to taste very limited production wines directly with the owner – how many owners personally conduct tastings at wineries along the Silverado Trail? Located only minutes from the town of Napa, for visitors staying in the city of Napa, a visit is ideal as the first or the last stop of of the day as one makes their way back to their hotel.
For nice days there is a patio for outside tasting – also serious enthusiasts may be able to try some barrel samples. We have visited Razi Winery several times and have already reviewed two other wines made here including Burly and Monticelli Brothers. For more information about Razi, to make a tasting appointment or to join their wine club, visit: www.raziwinery.com
NOTE: this review has been identified as needing a major update.
Wine with Tony