2018 Martin Ray Synthesis Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
94 Points, James Suckling 91 Points, Wine Advocate
The cornerstone of our Pinot Noir program, our Estate represents the most Burgundian of all our single vineyards, offering a core of lean, bracing acidity with complex, rich fruit.
Fresh plum and raspberry, with an undercurrent of pomegranate juice. Bing cherry and birch beer, with cola and a hint of graham cracker. Vibrant acidity and a mineral driven edge with touches of graphite on the finish.
Sourcing: Home Ranch Block and Tower Block
Vineyard, Vintage & Winemaking Notes
Our 12-acre estate vineyard is comprised of six different clones grown in highly regarded Goldridge soil. The largest section of our vineyard, which slopes down toward the Santa Rosa Laguna is planted with notable Dijon clones including 667, 777, 115, 828, and 943. Our smaller vineyard, which we refer to as “The Tower Block” is comprised entirely of Clone 37, which is our legacy to our winery’s namesake.
From start to finish, 2018 was a very steady season, offering weather that was reminiscent of years prior to drought. Higher than average yields and excellent quality brought about a fruitful harvest beginning in late August.
The clones were fermented in a single open-top fermenter, layered in one at a time. Gentle punch-downs followed with a brief maceration period. Maintained at moderate temperatures until dry, basket-pressed, and racked to 30% new French oak for 12 months.
Harvest Date: September 28
Brix at Harvest: 23.1˚-24.2˚
Total Acidity: 5.4 g/L
Included in the Box
3x 2018 Martin Ray Synthesis Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
12x 2018 Martin Ray Synthesis Pinot Noir, Russian River Valley
In 1990, Courtney Benham was walking through an old warehouse in San Jose when he chanced upon a forgotten treasure – some 1,500 cases of library wines, dating back more than forty years, made by California wine pioneer Martin Ray. Courtney explored further and found several old wooden crates filled with letters, press clippings, winery brochures and price lists from Ray’s four decades as a winemaker. It was clear that Martin Ray had quite a history, so Courtney contacted the Ray family and acquired the wine library and rights to the Martin Ray label. He decided to take up the Martin Ray brand with the goal of creating wines whose quality would make Martin Ray himself proud. This was no small task, for Ray was an iconoclast who rejected mediocrity and an innovator who was one of the first to use grapes from the Santa Cruz Mountains to create premium wines.
Before re-establishing the Martin Ray brand, Courtney studied Martin Ray’s history and tasted the extensive library of Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay wines. He explored the history of the wines for common threads and stylistically distinguishable components they could use as inspiration for the new Martin Ray wines.
For Courtney, the essence of Martin Ray is a no-compromise approach that insists on two compelling factors: hillside vineyards and intuitive winemaking. This is the tradition that inspired the original Martin Ray, and which inspires the wines that today bear his name.
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94 Points. A creamy and fruity red with plum and cherry aromas, as well as citrus and a hint of cedar. Medium body. Lovely, soft and caressing texture. Drink or hold.
91 Points. Medium ruby, the 2018 Pinot Noir Synthesis features scents of crushed blackberries and cranberries with notes of pomegranate, Earl Grey tea leaves and earth. The palate is light-bodied with delicate, perfumed fruits, a soft, fresh frame and long finish.
Hi all. I received this bottle of Synthesis Pinot Noir to rat on Wednesday. We did our tasting Thursday just in case it would go on sale Friday. As usual, family is here to help ‘sample’ so here goes.
TL:DR Very good wine. Dad, who prefers sweeter whites really enjoyed it. Get some!
Got the UPS email that a package was on its way from WCC Tues and I did a little happy dance. Thanks for giving us another opportunity to taste and give our thoughts. First impressions upon initial open and pour were pretty consistent. Aroma was pleasant, no burning alcohol, however seemed closed. Very tasty and smooth right out of the bottle. Though I noticed acidity right away (that isn’t something I generally put together but I’ve been drinking a lot more coffee lately and have gotten more familiar with the mouthfeel,) it wasn’t unbalance and off putting. Kind of reminds me of that just drank my first sip of fresh grapefruit juice taste. No one could detect any specific fruit though mom considered blueberries. Dad just responded with ‘buzzy’…smh. He was the least impressed as he prefers less dry, sweeter whites.
After about 20 minutes or so dad offered that it was ‘much improved’, ‘more buzzier’, ‘i wants more’. (sorry, direct quotes, I can’t make this up.) We uniformly could not detect any specific in your face aromatic notes, even at a half hour. Sis says smells like wine, Mom still insists on blueberry. Towards the end of my glass I was getting a very nice fruit leather flavor. Not too sweet, just really good. Because things were hectic during the day, they had eaten pizza before I got home so no real meal accompanied the wine. Mom felt it would go great with steak. I ate a slice of pepperoni and it was a nice compliment. Sis said if she ordered this in a restaurant she would have been very pleased with it. Unfortunately, with the 4 of us the bottle did not last. I went to put the cork in to save some for day two and it was gone
Final thoughts…I really couldn’t pick out anything specific as far as flavors and aromas. That said, it was very good. Very good on the opening and better as it aired. I’ve only had a handful of Pinot Noir and this has set the bar very high. I guess it’s like a baby just starting out with solid foods. They don’t need to know what apples taste like to know that they like applesauce. They just taste and know.
Again, thanks for the opportunity. Hopefully this is helpful for some. Cheers!
Don’t know this wine, but Martin Ray was a wonderful eccentric - a legend. Whoever was running the operation in the early ‘80s made some wonderful wines and some not so wonderful wines. Among the wonderful as a 1980 Sonoma County Chardonnay that was so good SWMBO and I served it at our wedding dinner, along with a 1979 David Bruce Pinot Noir, at Keen’s Chophouse in New York City. Both 1979 and 1980 were outstanding years for Chardonnay in California - with 1979 being stronger in Napa than Sonoma, and 1980 being stronger in Sonoma. The Martin Ray was one of the very best of those Chardonnays - not quite as good as the Stony Hill (from the Mountains between Napa and Sonoma) or the Hanzel, but I was able to get a few cases (Stony Hill was totally from the mailing list and even a call to the McCrea’s couldn’t pry what I needed loose - and Hanzel was much too expensive to even consider - cru white Burgundy prices…) and it really was wonderful. IIRC, the Chateau St. Jean 1980 was also absolutely remarkable.
Okay I can’t take it anymore because every time I hear of a Martin Ray wine I have to think back to a post on WB around 6 years ago that even today if I am not happy or just need a good laugh I reread it. The author/kid kind of made his name on the board by searching the basements of old wine stores in the Chicago area and finding great old white Burgundies and Chablis for a song. And never underestimate a Martin Ray Chard Anyways you all might be too sophisticated for this but I give you the HOF thread "The 16 bottle Chardonnay blowout that was praised and scorned but in the end it was a good one imho. https://www.wineberserkers.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=1&t=107484