2007 Martin Ray Winery Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Mission Codename: Diamond Cache

Operative: Agent Red

Objective: Return to Martin Ray Winery, procure their Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon – a delicious and perfectly balanced wine.

Mission Status: Accomplished!

Current Winery: Martin Ray Winery

Wine Subject: 2007 Stags Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon

Winemaker: Bill Batchelor

Backgrounder: The fruit for this exceptional Cabernet Sauvignon comes from Napa Valley’s Diamond Mountain AVA, located in the northeast corner of Napa in the Mayacamas Mountains. This mountain fruit, grown in porous volcanic soil that drains well, enjoys greater exposure to sunlight. This results in berries that are more concentrated in both flavor and intensity. Only about 600 acres of vines are planted in the AVA’s 5,000 total acres. Read Agent Red’s tasting notes and Winemaker Interview below

Wine Spies Tasting Profile:

Look – With dark ruby hues from rim to core, this wine appears dense and weighty. After swirling the wine, tall wine-colored legs move steadily down the inside edge of the glass.

Smell – Heady and warm, with aromatic ripe blackberry, black cherry and black plum. These mingle with dried meats, cassis and freshly tilled dark soil. After some hearty swirling, hints of dark chocolate and peppery spice emerge.

Feel – Velvet smooth across the entry, then quickly grippy. Supple tannins give the wine a the wine a rich, medium-bodied feel. The brightness of the acids help to sustain the flavors and spice through the long finish.

Taste – Beautifully balanced, with brightly delicious fruit juxtaposed against earthen, savory flavors. Simultaneously, bold red cherry, cassis and cranberry – which deliver bright fruit-notes – are joined by bramble, subtle dried meats, dark herbs and spiced dark chocolate.

Finish – Elegant and very long, this wine leads with sustained red fruit that yields to darker flavors and herbs. The pepper at the end is soft and long-lasting. At the very end, a soft dryness spreads all around the palate.

Conclusion – We have really grown to love Martin Ray wines, and the 2007 vintage has turned out to be tremendous for California Cabernet. The 2007 Martin Ray Winery Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a beautifully balanced wine that delivers bright fruit and a warm earthiness in wonderful harmony. Brighter and more restrained than most Diamond Mountain Cabs we have tried, this wine is not as extracted or darkly rich. This wine is a great solo-sipper, but we recommend pairing it with a grilled t-bone or a bowl of spicy summertime Chili. Enjoy now, and lay a few bottles down for the next several years. We think that this wine will continue to progress.

Mission Report:

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.”


WINEMAKER INTERVIEW

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: A 4day cold soak, two weeks of open-topped fermentation and hand-punch down are time-honored winemaking practices that create rich structure in the wine. Minimal sulfur dioxide usage preserves fruit intensity and enhances rich, round tannins. Aged for thirty months in French oak barrels 35 percent in new oak barrels and 65 percent in 1-4 year old barrels-intensifies the complexity and character of the wine. Our Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon is a tightly wound wine with a deep ruby color and a rich, concentrated structure with layers of well-integrated flavors. Enticing aromas of sumptuous cherries, black currants and ripe plums are accented by hints of vanilla oak that lead to a very long, rich finish.

RED: What is your favorite pairing with today’s wine?

BILL: Pair our elegant Diamond Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon with your favorite hearty beef stew, rib roast or roast prime rib with peppercorns.

RED: In your opinion, what makes the Diamond Mountain District so special?

BILL: The grapes for our Martin Ray Diamond Mountain District Cabernet Sauvignon are grown on the spectacular Constant-Diamond Mountain Vineyard, which rises to 2200 feet elevation above the Napa Valley floor. The vineyards nestle on a northeastern slope, where mornings are typically brisk and fog-free, while northwesterly winds continue to cool the vineyard throughout the growing season. This unique mountain vineyard site provides a variety of soils, superior sun exposure, and nighttime cooling- producing small, intense, full-flavored berries.

RED: What is occupying your time at the winery these days?

BILL: Budbreak is official in Sonoma County, so we are beginning to monitor our fruit very closely. Bottling lots of new wines this last month, for example our new 2010 Russian River Valley Dry Rose and our 2010 Russian River Valley Chardonnay.

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.

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