Martin Ray Winery
2008 Reserve Chardonnay
Chardonnay •Bald Mountain Vineyard
California: Santa Cruz County
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s Martin Ray Chardonnay is a superb Chardonnay, well worthy of your Holiday table. If you love complex and delicious Chardonnay, we recommend that you take a keen look at today’s wine.
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Mission Codename: Santa Cruzin’
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Martin Ray Winery, and procure their 2008 Santa Barbara Reserve Chardonnay, a wine reputed to be a pinnacle example of Chardonnay from the region. If the wine is as good as reported, procure an ample cache for our Operatives
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Martin Ray Winery
Wine Subject: Chardonnay Reserve – Santa Cruz Mountains – Bald Mountain Vineyard
Winemaker: Bill Batchelor
The Santa Cruz mountains, located in the northern portion of California’s Central Coast (north of the town of Santa Cruz) is heavily influenced on the western side by the Pacific Oceans persistent maritime fog and cool breezes while the eastern side finds balance from the warmers and dryer Santa Clara Valley. This combined with the region’s unique shale soil and long growing season produces wines of exceptional character and quality.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Light golden yellow hues, with glinting highlights out at the edges. When swirled the wine shows a tightly springy surface, revealing clues to its texture. When the wine settles, it leaves behind tall columns of chubby legs that run quickly down the glass.
Smell – Bursting with a plethora of aromas, including pineapple, white peach, citrus, orange blossom, nutty oak, yeasty vanilla and softly spiced Asian pear.
Feel – Soft and light-weight on the initial attack. Then, fine tannins reveal a crushed velvet feel with a soft minerality that adds an easy dryness that spreads from the back-palate and moves forward.
Taste – Ultra-delicious and vibrant with a firm acidity that binds the fruits together in a melange of pineapple, white peach, pear, crisp citrus, white flowers and a hint of white spice.
Finish – Long and flavorful, with tropical notes that move from tart and zesty to soft and subtle white fruit and soft white flowers.
Conclusion – This is a delicious, complex, refreshing and inviting wine that has the right balance of acidity, aromas and bold flavors. This wine is a food-friendly delight that we recommend for your Holiday enjoyment. The wine expresses the unique terroir that is the Santa Cruz Mountains and the 1400’ elevation Bald Mountain Vineyard, a vineyard famous for producing extraordinary Chardonnay. If you love outstanding Chardonnay, you will love this superb example from Martin Ray!
WINEMAKER INTEL BRIEFING DOSSIER
SUBJECT: Bill Batchelor
WINE EDUCATION: No formal winemaking education. Degree in Anthropology. Learned most of what he knows by having excellent opportunities in wineries that make all types of wines at different price points.
CALIFORNIA WINE JOB BRIEF: Bill began his career in the wine industry in 1996 working in the cellar at a small Dry Creek Valley winery specializing in Rhone and Italian varietals.
Bill soon moved on to the Russian River Valley to work for a large custom-winemaking facility. Initially hired to oversee a hard apple cider program, Bill quickly learned the fundamentals of commercial wine production – fermentation, aging, fining, blending and bottling – in a fast-paced, high-volume environment. Over the next five years Bill managed winemaking programs for a diverse portfolio of wineries.
In 2001, Bill concentrated his efforts on managing wine production for the rapidly growing Blackstone brand, eventually relocating to Sonoma Valley to oversee their new reserve micro-winery.
In July 2003, Bill joined Courtney Benham at his new Russian River Valley winery and has since worked to develop the Martin Ray and Angeline family of wines. Today, Bill and his team are dedicated to producing high quality, distinctive wines sourced only from premium
WINEMAKING PHILOSOPHY: Work with the vineyards to grow the best possible fruit. If you begin with a great foundation, the rest of the winemaking should be relatively simple.
WINEMAKER QUOTE: ”Strive to constantly improve and refine your work.”
AGENT RED: Greetings, Bill Batchelor. We are thrilled to be showing your 2008 Reserve Chardonnay today. Thanks so much for taking some time to answer questions for our Operatives today.
BILL BATCHELOR: You’re welcome. I am happy to be able to share some insight into what we are all about at Martin Ray.
RED: Was there a specific experience in your life that inspired your love of wine?
BILL: The reality is I was at a time in my life when I needed a proper, steady job. I managed to get a seasonal cellar position at a small Dry Creek Valley winery. On my third or fourth day there I was tasked with filling all their empty barrels with water in preparation for harvest. Pretty mindless work. So I found a huge stack of wine trade magazines and enology books in the winemaker’s office. I spend two days up there in the fixed barrel racks reading everything I could, completely fascinated. When it was all done I realized this industry had a lot of potential.
RED: What wine or winemaker has most influenced your winemaking style?
BILL: A local winemaking consultant named Kerry Damskey has taught me a lot about how to make wines in different styles.
RED: We are very familiar with Kerry Damskey’s fine work. Tell me, who do you make wine for?
BILL: I make wines for people that enjoy drinking wine. I strive to deliver something they will enjoy and remember. You can’t please everyone all the time, but that is the goal, and I like to over-deliver on flavor and value. The trick is to realize there are different types of consumers at different price points with varying palettes and expectations, and I enjoy crafting wines for every type of wine drinker.
RED: Please tell me a little bit about the wine we are featuring today.
BILL: One-hundred percent barrel fermented with ten months of aging in French oak barrels “sur-lies” develops rounder, creamier texture in the wine. Our Bald Mountain-Santa Cruz Mountains Chardonnay begins with rich aromas, highlighted by fresh apricots and vanilla which follow through in a very rich and well-structured palate. Bright flavors of peach, pineapple, crisp citrus and soft honey continue in this full, round bodied wine with a rich finish, balanced by creamy oak.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BILL: Grilled mahi-mahi with basil and fresh citrus slaw.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Santa Cruz Mountains region so special?
BILL: The vineyard is located at 1,500 feet elevation in the Ben Lomond Mountain appellation of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The vineyard soil composition is sandy mixed with gravel and offers berries with rich, concentrated fruit flavors. This mountaintop vineyard faces the Pacific Ocean and is privileged with morning and evening fog, due to maritime influences. These idyllic conditions lengthen the growing season, allowing grapes to reach maturity with deep color and concentrated flavors..
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BILL: The 2010 harvest season is drawing to a close, so we are beginning to experiment with different native yeasts in about 20% of the fermentation process of our wines. We hope to achieve more wild, spontaneous flavors that will add complexity and layers of flavors to our wines. We also chose to use some whole cluster fermentation in our Pinot Noir this year. In this process, you ferment the entire grape cluster without removing stems, 80% of the fruit whole berry and 20% whole cluster. This type of fermentation will create a velvety, juicy Pinot Noir with more mouthfeel and structure due to the use of the stems. It’s a very exciting time to be the Winemaker at Martin Ray Winery and the 2010 harvest is a great year to be a grape!
RED: How would you recommend people approach your wines and wine in general?
BILL: Most are meant to be enjoyed at any time and with friends, dinner or whatever. I advise people not to over-think wine – just drink and enjoy. We do make several Cabs (including the one you are featuring today) which could be laid down for a few years, but in general, our wines are ready to drink upon release. There are 1000s of wines available these days, so if you don’t like one, try another. Exploration is half the fun.
RED: Is there anything else you’d like to share with our readers?
BILL: Please enjoy our 2008 Reserve Chardonnay and come pay our tasting room a visit! Thanks.
RED: Thank you so much for your time. We learned a lot about you – and your wine. Keep up the great work, we are big fans!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The approximate location of the Martin Ray Winery in Santa Rosa can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
A mountain vineyard is the most beautiful sight on earth. – Martin Ray
About This Wine:
One-hundred percent barrel fermented with ten months of aging in French oak barrels “sur-lies” develops rounder, creamier texture in the wine. Our Bald Mountain Chardonnay begins with rich aromas, highlighted by fresh apricots and vanilla which follow through in a very rich and well-structured palate. Bright flavors of peach, pineapple, crisp citrus and soft honey continue in this full, round bodied wine with a rich finish balanced by creamy oak.
The Vineyards: The Martin Ray Santa Cruz Mountains Reserve Chardonnay is sourced from the distinguished Bald Mountain Vineyard. The vineyard is located at 1,500 feet elevation in the Ben Lomond Mountain appellation of the Santa Cruz Mountains. The vineyard soil composition is sandy mixed with gravel and offers berries with rich, concentrated fruit flavors. This mountaintop vineyard faces the Pacific Ocean and is privileged with morning and evening fog, due to maritime influences. These idyllic conditions lengthen the growing season, allowing grapes to reach maturity with deep color and concentrated flavors.
Vintage Notes: The 2008 harvest started off a bit challenging, but produced beautiful fruit all the same. The year began with unexpected late frost, heat spikes and unseasonable rain. However, the end of spring and all through summer provided idyllic conditions that remained around 80 degrees with dry weather and few heat spikes. Lower yields allowed intense, superb fruit to develop.
Food & Wine Pairing: Grilled mahi-mahi with basil and fresh citrus slaw, halibut with light buerre blanche sauce or angel pasta tossed with oregano, olive oil and mild garlic.
About Martin Family Vineyards:
Courtney Benham acquired the historic Martini & Prati winery in July 2003, which is now Martin Ray Winery and the home of our Tasting Room. The Tasting Room structure, dating back to the 1900’s, used to serve as a stable and bunkhouse where Italian immigrants stayed during harvest and crush. The winery also houses a 1 million gallon production facility.
Established in 1881 as the Twin Fir Winery, the historic site is distinguished as the oldest winery in continuous operation in Sonoma County and one of the oldest wineries in California. The winery was able to stay in operation during prohibition by selling sacramental wines by train to Rabbis through a winery in New York. Originally known as Martini & Prati, which was established in 1902, the winery was run by five generations of the Martini family.
Thirty 11,000 gallon old-growth redwood tanks dating back to 1904 are still used at the winery and can be viewed during our winery tour. Much of the winery storage areas have been converted to barrel rooms where we store the majority of our wine. We primarily use French oak barrels due to its superb quality and oak accents that give the wines vanilla, spice and often herbaceous aromas and flavor. We use most of our barrels for 5 to 6 years, depending upon the percentages of new, neutral and old wood we want to use on a particular wine.
Beginning a new era for Martin Ray Winery at this historic site in the Russian River Valley has given us the opportunity to create a home for the Martin Ray and Angeline wines in a very unique and inviting setting. With our large production facility, prime location and the traditional, antique charm of the winery we have all the elements we need to provide us with growth and success. Visit us soon to experience Martin Ray Winery first-hand!
Varietals: 100% Chardonnay
Release Date: February 2010
Brix at Harvest: 25.6
Total Acidity: 0.65%