1998 Mariage Chardonnay
Martin Ray coined the French term “Mariage” to describe “marrying” the best grapes from different vineyards to produce the finest wines. In following this tradition, the grapes for our 1998 Martin Ray Chardonnay are a unique blend of vineyards carefully selected from the famed Russian River Valley. Intense tropical fruit flavors emerge from the grapes picked from the heart of the Russian River Valley, not far from where the river changes its course to flow into the ocean. Grapes harvested from vines in the rolling hills at the eastern end of the valley add rich and complex fruit characteristics. The west end of the valley, with its cool coastal breezes, embellishes the blend with crisp apple and mineral flavors. The smallest lot is harvested from the west face of Sonoma Mountain, which enhances the wine with uniquely floral and wonderfully sophisticated flavors.
The 1998 vintage started with cool and late springtime weather. The temperature remained cool throughout the usually hot summer months. This cooler growing season allowed the grapes to ripen more slowly, encouraging the berries to develop greater intensity and depth of flavor. With these conditions the 1998 vintage produced some spectacular white grape varietals, especially Chardonnay.
I firmly believe that the Martin Ray “Mariage” concept – combining the best grapes from various vineyards allows us greater latitude to choose only the best of these vineyard lots, which in turn consistently results in a more substantial Chardonnay. I have taken a traditional approach to both the winemaking and the style of the Martin Ray Chardonnay. Martin Ray summarized this method elegantly when he said: “We add nothing to our wines, nor do we take anything from them. With infinite care, we leave them alone.” The 1998 “Mariage” Russian River Valley Chardonnay begins with aromas of ripe tropical fruit. The wine’s superior structure and balance has a backbone of apple, pineapple and citrus flavors that continue flawlessly on to a ripe and elegant finish.
Once, Martin Ray’s finest Chardonnays were made by blending the best grapes from different appellations creating the wine designated “Mariage” The 1998 vintage of this Chardonnay is made from grapes grown in several vineyards located in the Russian River Valley. Aromas display apricot, butterscotch and toasted marshmallow. On the palate, it’s rich with ripe pear, crème brûlée and a savory note that is nicely balanced by a surprisingly refreshing acidity.