Martin Ray Winery
2010 Russian River Valley Pinot Noir
California: Sonoma County: Russian River Valley
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Mission Codename: Most Eligible
Operative: Agent Red
Objective: Return to Martin Ray Winery, and procure their newest Santa Barbara Pinot Noir, a wine reputed to be a perfect example of Pinot 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: 2010 Pinot Noir Russian River Valley
Winemaker: Bill Batchelor
Backgrounder: The Russian River Valley, in Sonoma County, produces Pinot Noir of remarkable distinction. The cooler maritime conditions of the region make the Russian River Valley ideal for growing Pinot Noir. The Russian River Valley in Sonoma is particularly well suited to producing exceptional Pinot Noir. This AVA was officially designated in 1983, but many of the wines in the region used the designation as early as the 1970s (early in California’s wine history) with the many of the vines having been first planted in the early 1900s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Beautiful dark ruby hues, from core to the slightly more pink edge of the wine. Tall columns of skinny, wine-stained tears gather high up on the glass wall, after swirling.
Smell – Lush and fragrant, with dark raspberry, Bing cherry, black cherry and ripe strawberry sit atop earthy sweet spice, dusty bramble, red plum skin and a hint of white nectarine.
Feel – Soft and round on entry, then mouth-filling and softly grippy as spice and bright acids drive flavors to the corners of the mouth. Integrated tannins add complexity and intrigue. Overall, his wine shows a lush, medium-bodied feel.
Taste – Bursting with juicy red fruit, this wine shows off raspberry, young strawberry and cherry candy, with sweet brown spice, flinty minerals, soft cedar and dusty bramble.
Finish – Clean, long and very flavorful, red fruit slowly gives way to spice, flint and earthen components. At the very end, a subtle hint of black pepper lingers.
Conclusion – The 2010 Martin Ray Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is flavorful and very focused wine that drives big red fruit and sweet spice. These are balanced against earthy flavors and aromas. The plush feel of the wine is the perfect juxtaposition to the sweet, bright fruit. We found ourselves inhaling this wine, long before taking our first sip. We loved the juicy flavors and enjoyed experimenting with sips (and gulps!) of various sizes. Enjoy now, and be sure to cellar a few bottles for the next few years.
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 2007 Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon 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: Our Russian River Valley Pinot Noir is aged for 8 months in French oak barrels. This oak driven Pinot Noir the color of bright red apples has surprising aromas of sweet earthy truffle and dried wild berries with good dimension. Supple and pleasant bright flavors of raspberries and strawberries with nice fruit buoyancy that finishes round and soft.
RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?
BILL: Grilled salmon steaks with olive oil and orzo, mushroom risotto or butternut squash would be a perfect match for our Pinot Noir.
RED: In your opinion, what makes the Russian River Valley such a special place for Pinot Noir?
BILL: The grapes for our Martin Ray 2010 Santa Barbara County Pinot Noir are grown in the Loma Verde Vineyard in the Los Alamos Valley appellation. This east-west running valley opens up to the Pacific Ocean, allowing the inland flow of fog and ocean breezes, making this region one of the coolest viticultural areas in California, with a long, steady growing season. Pinot Noir grapes from this region have intense berry flavors and rich colors due to the many microclimates of the valley.
RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?
BILL: We are in full swing here at the winery for the Harvest season! We have brought in most of our Sauvignon Blanc & Pinot Noir fruit at this point, but there are still many more vineyards to harvest. We expect to complete the season the last week of October. Lower yields this year, which is providing us with excellent fruit: nice acids, great color & flavors, concentrated berries and smaller clusters. The 2011 vintage is going to be amazing!
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:
Bright and focused, on the nose, this Russian River gem presents plenty of oak and red fruit, with toasty vanilla and earthy wild mushroom. On the palate, strawberries, raspberries, cherry and wild berry bramble. This is a multi-dimensional wine with great depth and bright, delicious fruit. On the finish, red fruit lingers long after earthen flavors fade. Pair this wine with grilled salmon or a wild mushroom risotto, with plenty of fresh Parmigiano Reggiano.
About Martin Ray Winery:
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!
Brix at Harvest: