The 2018 Howell Mountain Cab is a testament to the consistency and quality of the Martin Ray winemaking team. Martin Ray is a forgotten California Pioneer whose legacy is carried on through the vision of Courtney Benham. The Martin Ray estate is only beginning to make waves with its Napa Valley Cabernet. If you're a fan of Napa Valley Cab and aren't familiar with the talents of Martin Ray, then it's time to acquaint yourself. This wine is built to last and can be enjoyed right away but the latent splendors will bless the lucky few who picked up a couple of extra bottles to put away for a special occasion. Will it be you?
Martin Ray was an early pioneer of California winemaking, today his name and legacy are built upon by, Courtney Benham. Courtney has taken the reins of Martin's estate taking it to new heights. Today the estate is built on the foundation of cultivating relationships with growers across an array of distinctive regions and blending their fruit with traditional and modern winemaking methods to create everyday wines of exceptional beauty. Martin Ray produces quality wines sourced from the best growing regions California has to offer.
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 the famed producer of early California sparkling wines, Paul Masson, Ray took a decidedly 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 after Martin Ray’s passing, 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.
Today, Courtney and his winemaking team devote themselves to Ray’s ideology of making “wines of place”, by sourcing from hillside and valley floor fruit, they are relentless at telling the story of each exceptional appellation and vineyard.
Winemaker Leslie Renaud partners with consultant Keith Emerson, and experienced growers to keep her finger on the pulse of each vineyard. Every appellation has a specific set of needs in the vineyard – and in the winery – and expresses a distinctive sense of terroir once the grapes are in the bottle. Leslie begins shaping each wine while it’s still in the vineyard and vinifies each in small lots at our winery in the heart of Sonoma’s Russian River Valley. The result has become a collection of award-winning wines with an impressive breadth of terroir.
Aging: 18 months in 55% new French Oak
Tasting Notes: 100% Cabernet Sauvignon. Fresh, wild blue and black fruit with ripe Bing cherry, and subtle elderflower. Deep, rustic touches of olive tapenade, with layers of boysenberry and wet earth, with supple, velvety tannins and touches of clove and graphite on the finish
This is chock ’o block with flavors of dark currant paste and blackberry preserves mixed with tar, licorice snap, and alder notes. There’s a nice smoldering feel through the finish as the fruit and earth notes meld. Best from 2023 through 2035 ~93 Wine Spectator
Lots of ripe berries and plums with flowers, chocolate, and some sandalwood on the nose. It’s medium-bodied with fine tannins and a pretty, fruit and berry character at the finish. Drink or hold. ~92 James Suckling
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