Martinelli has been a familiar name to be for most of my life, though not always associated with wine. I was born and spent most of my summers in Sonoma county, just down the road from the large Martinelli apple cider production facility. Going most places during the summer, I would pass by the open lots filled with crates of apples, and on more than a few hot days I would find myself drinking their sparkling apple juice.
Martinelli has been in the apple and wine business since 1896, making them one of the oldest producers in Sonoma county. Like many old families in the area, for years they just sold their grapes, and for Martinelli that meant a lot of grapes. They own over 350 acres of prime vineyard plots throughout the Russian River Valley. For about ten or fifteen years now, they have been making their own wines under the Martinelli label, and in the past few years have enlisted the help of winemaker Helen Turley to bottle some exceptional estate wines from the choicest bits of vineyard.
This particular wine is from the family’s estate owned eponymous vineyard in the Russian River Valley, planted in the early 1980’s with various Burgundian varietals. The wine is barrel fermented in 65% new French Oak, and left on its lees for 10 months before being racked off and bottled. It is then aged for over a year in the bottle before being released. 650 cases made.
This wine is a light garnet color in the glass with a perfumed nose of cedar, tobacco redcurrant and incense aromas. In the mouth it is light, with flavors of strawberries, raspberries, redcurrant and spices. While balanced by good acidity and not over extracted, the wine is not quite as elegant as it could be, however, it is still quite tasty.
As this is a lighter style of Pinot than is typically produced in the Russian River Valley these days (which trends to more extracted, deeper wines) I’d serve this with lighter savory fare like poultry. Try it with roasted squab and porcini mushrooms with a country bread salad.
Overall Score: 8.5/9
How Much?: $40
I actually have no idea where this bottle came from, but it’s a recent release, so I should remember. In any case, this wine is available from various Internet merchants. Try Wine Searcher.