Thursday, June 25, 2009

Martin Ranch Winery - A Passion for Excellence

Dan and Therese Martin have a passion for wine and a passion for their grapes, and this passion will provide you with a truly memorable tasting experience. As with many winemakers, their passion for wine tasting and wine buying drove them to experience the wine making process for themselves. Their wonderful 17 acre estate along Redwood Retreat Road at the foot of Mt. Madonna is at the southern end of the Santa Cruz Mountains appellation and on the border of the Santa Clara Valley appellation.

As Dan and Therese moved along their journey from wine drinkers to vineyard owners to winemakers they learned a lot about Terroir and management of the vines before diving into the creative world of making wine. When they first planted Therese Vineyards in 1993 they started with Cabernet Sauvignon and other Bordeaux varietals that were proving to find an excellent home in Santa Cruz Mountains. They began making wine in 1997 and had their first commercial crush in 2002. They changed the name to Martin Ranch to highlight the move to wine production.

They are truly a team of winemakers, each with their own style. Therese focuses on the Therese Vineyards labeled wines and Dan concentrates on the J.D Hurley brand, named after his favorite great uncle. Dan’s wines deliver ripe, rich fruit and smooth easy on the mouth textures. Therese’s wines tend to be a bit more aggressive with great tannins and nice textures. But you will be very pleased with wines from either Dan or Therese.

J.D. Hurley 2005 Merlot from Santa Clara Valley is intensive on the nose with aromas of dark plum and blackberry and a hint of baker’s chocolate. These same flavors follow in the palate with a pleasing vanilla quality leading onto a rick long finish. I would serve this with pork or lamb.

J.D. Hurley 2004 Cabernet Sauvignon is a blend of fruit from both the Martin Ranch vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains and fruit from the Santa Clara Valley. On both the nose and the palate you are immediately pleased with the flavors of dark cherry and plum. The tannins are balanced and round giving you a smooth drinking experience following by a pleasant finish. This would do well with a thick grilled steak.

J.D. Hurley 2006 Zinfandel from the Santa Cruz Mountains gives you intense aromas of blackberry and pepper. On the palate you have the feel of blackberry jam along with the pepper, spice and a touch of licorice. Try this next time you barbeque some steaks in the backyard.

Therese Vineyards 2005 Syrah is 100% Syrah from two vineyards in Santa Clara Valley and winner of 2 Gold and 6 Silver medals and 88 points from Wine Enthusiast. It delivers wonderful typical Syrah aromas and flavors of black currant and anise with a rich mixture of black and white pepper, cinnamon, clove and other spices. The excellent use of French and Hungarian oak resulted in an extremely well balanced wine with a very pleasing long finish. Serve this up with your best beef or lamb dish.

Therese Vineyards 2005 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon is a great example of the best of Santa Cruz Mountains Cab. The intense nose of cherry and cassis leads on to the flavors of dark cherry, cassis, blackberry and mineral or earthy qualities you expect in a rich Cab. The tannins are complex and round and the long finish will have you ready to try the next taste. You should aerate this wine before pouring and it will be even better in a few years. Your mouth will be so pleased serving this with a steak.

Martin Ranch Winery, open for tastings every third weekend from noon to 4 p.m., is located at 6675 Redwood Retreat Road, off Watsonville Road. The winery is approximately 3.5 miles from the intersection of Redwood Retreat and Watsonville Road.

For more info: Martin Ranch Winery.

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