Thursday, July 2, 2009

2007 Downhill Winery Pinot Noir, Peter Martin Ray Vineyard

First off, don't get excited - as far as I know it's still unreleased. I got this as a sample.

I'm sure that most people reading this know all about Martin "Rusty" Ray; he's pretty much a legend in these parts. But just in case, here's a brief recap: Martin Ray grew up in Saratoga idolising Paul Masson. He eventually bought the Mountain Winery before selling it to Seagrams and buying the next hilltop over, known as Table Mountain, which he named Mount Eden. He eventually lost the majority of the property in a legal fight with shareholders, but retained his 'chateau' and the 5 acre head-trained Peter Martin Ray vineyard, named after his stepson. You can read all about it in "Vineyards In the Sky" by Eleanor Ray.

I've yet to visit the vineyard; I'm told that it still has the original 40 year old vines but is in need of replanting. It has Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and a little Cabernet Sauvignon. The latter is sold to some local amateur winemakers, but the Pinot and Chardonnay was used to great effect by Duane Cronin and is now being purchased by Downhill.

The nose shows raspberry, cranberry and roses, with at times hints of pine, caramel and menthol. (It was also showing some 'heat' from the alcohol, but it's been very warm around here this past few days and the wine was at room temerature.) In the mouth there's quite a lot of rhubarb, along with cherry, cranberry, raspberry and a little earthiness. Light at first, the intensity of the fruit increased with air - although it was decanted it would surely have benefited from being open longer. It has plenty of structure; I'd give it at least 90 now with the expectation that it'll gain a point or two with time. Recommended. Unreleased, however the 2006 vintage sold for $28.