The name Martin Ray resonates deeply in the history of California Winemaking. Martin Ray was a pioneer, dedicated to crafting single varietal, region specific wine from 1943 through 1972 in Saratoga, the heart of the Santa Cruz Mountains. Mentored by Paul Masson, he took a burgundian approach to his winemaking and developed what is now one of the most historical properties in California, known as Mount Eden.
Nearly twenty years later, Courtney Benham stumbled upon 1500 cases of Martin Ray wine in a San Jose warehouse. Recognizing his good fortune, and his intent and drive to produce terroir driven wines, Ray's historical significance and philosophy resonated with him. Courtney purchased the brand, and since 1990 has been committed to the production of artisanal wines worthy of the Martin Ray name.
Carefully chosen from various vineyards throughout the Russian River Valley and Carneros, this wine's largest components are grown only feet from the river itself, coming from Ricioli and Foppiano Vineyards. Building on a strong base from these vineyards, the wine is focused with fruit from a few select vineyards around the winery's home on Laguna Road, as well as Sangiacomo Vineyard in the Carneros appellation. The grapes were fermented separately in small open-top fermenters with gentle punch-downs. The fermentations were carefully maintained at moderate temperatures until dry, when the must was basket-pressed then pumped into barrels for completion of malolactic fermentation. Lots were aged for eleven months in new premium French oak barrels, along with more nuanced 1-2 year old barrels.
This Pinot Noir exemplifies the expectations of what savvy consumers have come to look forward to from classic Sonoma County Pinot. The nose has notes of ripe elderberry, black cherry, aromatic wild rose, and spicy cola, with slightly earthy undertones. French oak barrels lend support with hints of creamy vanilla and toffee without overpowering the juicy, fruit-forward palate.
JAMES SUCKLING 94 POINTS - "A subtle and rich Pinot with dried-cherry and strawberry character. Medium to full-bodied and firm, silky tannins that are extremely well-integrated in the palate. Lovely finish. Drink or hold."