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Old 06-10-2003, 02:34 AM
Cwdjrx _
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968

Many Cabernets from 1968 were outstanding, and some still are.

This bottle was from the near legend, Martin Ray. He has been dead many
years. Many of Ray's wines were huge, loaded with tannin, and took up to
decades to come around. Some were outstanding. Others were awful.

This wine was completely unready for at least 10-20 years. From early
tasting by others, it was an extremely tannic and acid monster that was
no pleasure to drink.

This bottle had a very high fill and had been properly stored. The
bottle was of a Burgundy shape - Ray did things his way. The monster has
finally resolved. It is still deep scarlet with only a slight trace of
age showing around the rim. It has a huge bouquet unlike any other
Cabernet I have tasted. There is considerable dark fruit , bell pepper,
black pepper, spice, and tobacco in the bouquet and taste. The tannins
are now resolved, the acids are not excessive, and it drinks well. The
after taste is very long. It has a power more like a Rhone than a
Bordeaux. It probably could handle fairly strong game as well as beef.

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Old 06-10-2003, 02:25 PM
Dale Williams
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968

The only Martin Ray wine I remember having was I think a PN, from mid-90s. Is
it his family that still owns the winery (or at least till recently)? Thanks,
as always, for the notes.
Dale

Dale Williams
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Old 07-10-2003, 05:47 AM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968



Dale Williams wrote:

The only Martin Ray wine I remember having was I think a PN, from mid-90s. Is
it his family that still owns the winery (or at least till recently)? Thanks,
as always, for the notes.


Dale,
IIRC, shortly after Martin Ray's death in the '70s, his name was sold to some
corporation and his vineyards became Villa Mt. Eden.

Mark Lipton


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Old 07-10-2003, 06:22 AM
Tom S
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968


"Mark Lipton" wrote in message
...


Dale Williams wrote:

The only Martin Ray wine I remember having was I think a PN, from

mid-90s. Is
it his family that still owns the winery (or at least till recently)?

Thanks,
as always, for the notes.


Dale,
IIRC, shortly after Martin Ray's death in the '70s, his name was sold

to some
corporation and his vineyards became Villa Mt. Eden.


More likely, they became part of Mount Eden Vineyards, which is adjacent in
Saratoga. Villa Mount Eden is in the Napa Valley, and AFAIK there's no
connection between them.

Tom S


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Old 07-10-2003, 06:32 AM
Tom S
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968


"Cwdjrx _" wrote in message
...
Many Cabernets from 1968 were outstanding, and some still are.

This bottle was from the near legend, Martin Ray. He has been dead many
years. Many of Ray's wines were huge, loaded with tannin, and took up to
decades to come around. Some were outstanding. Others were awful.


His 1976 Winery Lakes Vineyard Chardonnay is one of my few benchmark wines.
It was intensely rich, displaying *perfectly* ripe fruit with a nice, long
toasty finish. Ooooh _baby_! ;^D

Martin Ray was the kind of guy who tried hard to push the envelope with his
wines. His successes were spectacular but, like Babe Ruth, he struck out a
lot.

Tom S




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Old 07-10-2003, 02:21 PM
Bill Spohn
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968

Martin Ray was the kind of guy who tried hard to push the envelope with his
wines. His successes were spectacular but, like Babe Ruth, he struck out a
lot.


I remember drinking a Martin Ray 1947 Saratoga cab - he bottled everything
prior to about 1953 in champagne bottles - maybe he had a deal with a bottle
recycler, who knows.

I wonder who one could say has the same approach these days? A few years ago
I'd have nominated David Bruce, who was also all over the place with
interesting idiosyncratic highs and many abyssmal lows, but I get the
impression that he has gone establishment in recent years.
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Old 07-10-2003, 05:33 PM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968



Tom S wrote:

IIRC, shortly after Martin Ray's death in the '70s, his name was sold

to some
corporation and his vineyards became Villa Mt. Eden.


More likely, they became part of Mount Eden Vineyards, which is adjacent in
Saratoga. Villa Mount Eden is in the Napa Valley, and AFAIK there's no
connection between them.


Right you are, Tom. So, after a bit of research, here's the *correct* story:
in 1972, Martin Ray lost a battle with his investors and gave up the upper
half of his vineyards, which were then called "Mount Eden Vineyards." He
continued making wine from the lower vineyards, bottling it under his own
name, until his death in 1983. In 1990, Courtney Bentham bought the name from
Ray's family and now makes the "Martin Ray" wines. FWIW, there's a decent
biography of Martin Ray ("Vineyards in the Sky") which details his most
interesting life and his profound impact on the CA wine industry.

Mark Lipton

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Old 07-10-2003, 06:02 PM
Mark Lipton
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968



Bill Spohn wrote:

I wonder who one could say has the same approach these days? A few years ago
I'd have nominated David Bruce, who was also all over the place with
interesting idiosyncratic highs and many abyssmal lows, but I get the
impression that he has gone establishment in recent years.


I agree 100%, Bill. Some of Dr. David's Pinots in the '70s and '80s were among
the most bizarre experiments imaginable -- and occasionally fantastic wines!
Nowadays, he's much more reliable (if less interesting). Joe Swan was another
maverick, but he too alas has departed this mortal coil. There are few true
"free spirits" in the CA wine biz these days, largely a product IMHO of the
increased cost of doing business. The closest I can think of is Randall Grahm
of Bonny Doon (for his humor mostly) but for the most part CA winemakers have
become sensible and lost that sense of adventure so prevalent in earlier eras
-- for better or worse.

Mark Lipton

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Old 08-10-2003, 12:48 AM
Cwdjrx _
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968

There is a long interview with Martin Ray in Robert Benson's Great
Winemakers of California, Capra Press, 1977, pp.19 - 31. A few answers
from Martin Ray himself follow.

____________________________________

"We do absolutely nothing to the red wines. We don't even rack them. Now
here's something. I know of no one else who in any way agrees with me
about this. But we say if you bring your red grapes in clean - that's
the reason for careful picking, cutting off any bad berries, and not
allowing any vinegar flies in - if you are careful, you don't have to do
anything, and the wine gets its great flavor off the lees, which is
solid matter, albuminous material, some tannin, some tartaric, which
settes out. We never bottle the red wines before they've been three
years in cask."

Concerning white wines: "Thats all we do to them, we filter them."

" I add yeast immediately as the wines are drawn off the press if it's
the white, or to the fermenters for the red. And that culture, you might
like to know, is the true Montrachet."

" We pick with little scissors, not grape hooks, because to cut with a
knife a tough stem like the Cabernet, you squeeze the bunch a little.
You break a few berries maybe, the juice starts running, it gets messy
and it attracts flies and bees and whatever they carry. We always
instruct our pickers to let the bunch lay in the open palm and cut the
stem with scissors. Then don't throw the bunch into the box, but lean
over and place it carefully."

"I get my casks from Louis Latour in Beaune. His own cooper makes them
for me."

"Now I said there were two reasons for crushing at 5 a. m.; the second
reason is to get them before the flies come out. Before sunup there are
no vinegar flies, no yellowjackets, no bees, wasps."

"Well I don't feel that way, I wish to God that I never had to sell any
of my wines, that we could keep all the reds here as long as I live,
because I know that they'll still be alive."




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Old 08-10-2003, 06:41 AM
Tom S
 
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Default Martin Ray Cabernet Sauvignon 1968


"Bill Spohn" wrote in message
...
Martin Ray was the kind of guy who tried hard to push the envelope with

his
wines. His successes were spectacular but, like Babe Ruth, he struck out

a
lot.


I remember drinking a Martin Ray 1947 Saratoga cab - he bottled everything
prior to about 1953 in champagne bottles - maybe he had a deal with a

bottle
recycler, who knows.


I remember those bottles. The foil was very thin and _glued_ onto the neck
of the bottle. What a PIA to remove!

I wonder who one could say has the same approach these days? A few years

ago
I'd have nominated David Bruce, who was also all over the place with
interesting idiosyncratic highs and many abyssmal lows, but I get the
impression that he has gone establishment in recent years.


David Bruce's 1972 Chardonnay was another of my benchmark wines. What a
powerhouse! It aged beautifully, too.

I believe that Dr. Bruce has not actually made the wines himself for many
years - perhaps 20 or more. I'm sure that he still oversees things to some
degree, but he doesn't do the winemaking himself anymore.

Tom S




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