2017 Martin Ray Bald Mountain Chardonnay, Santa Cruz
Our Santa Cruz Mountains Reserve Chardonnay originates in the steep hillside vineyards of Bald Mountain, farmed by the Beauregard family. The cool coastal climate and high elevation consistently define this wine with crisp acidity and an underlying minerality. The vineyard's unique microclimate, coupled with a long growing season produce the distinct elements that give this wine an approachable elegance, with the propensity to age gracefully.
The culmination of factors from another drought year in California surprised us with another wonderful vintage. An unseasonably dry and warm winter, which led to an early spring,forced the vines into bud break during peak frost season. However, the spring weather stayed mild during fruit set and led into a relatively warm summer which hastened ripening to unprecedented early harvest dates. Although the crop, overall, was lighter (and much, much earlier), than we've seen in several years, the outstanding quality of the fruit and resulting wines cannot be understated.
Although it often requires devoted patience in waiting for our Santa Cruz grapes to reach ideal ripeness, the reward is always tremendous. We press these grapes whole cluster, and separate the juice into small batches based on the amount of pressure used, to begin the culling process from the very first step. It is then racked into 40% new French Oak barrels and inoculated with a specific yeast and malolactic strain, which encourage a slow fermentation to maximize the floral and delicate tropical aromas. The lees are stirred bi-weekly during its 11 months of aging to enhance complexity.
A sophisticated wine with bright, tropical Key lime zest, creamy lemon meringue, juicy golden apples, and Asian pears layered on a decadent base of crème brulee and hints of vanilla pudding. It has a clean but broad palate that is honed nicely by its definitive minerality. Smooth and supple on the front and mid-palate, with bright acids along the sides and finish.