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The wines from Martha Stoumen | a preview of v. 6.1

When I am not tasting or writing, I am looking for producers that are not yet on my radar screen. Even when I locate a new producer, sometimes it takes the comments of a friend to remind me to be a little more diligent in my effort to follow through. That happened after I came across the wines from Martha Stoumen about two months ago only to have my memory jogged by my friend, Ken Zinns, who tasted her wines a few weeks ago. I got in touch with Martha, and arranged to get samples shipped in.

When you get to experience a producer in their first iteration there is always the risk that in the light of day, they could have tried to over-achieve to make a ‘gorilla in the room’ impression that is incongrous, yet can’t be ignored. Only those who have apprenticed with some of the best will have the confidence and wisdom to stay true to their core philosophy and aren’t that concerned with pleasing people like me. You can’t know how much I admire that from a producer. Stoumen’s approach is distilled from the influence of working under winemakers in Germany, France, Italy, Australia and California (Chris Brockway of Broc Cellars) where she gleened lessons that led to her devotion to fringe sites and varieties made with a passion that in medieval times would possibly be considered alchemy. These are exciting wines that are stunning in their subtlety, from ancient vine (Zinfandel planted in 1963, Carignan, 1948) vineyards that for lack of an advocate bringing their virtues into focus would be lost to nondescript blends, or worse. Amazing quality for the prices charged. Don’t wait on these wine. 

92 NV martha stoumen rose teal drops

California, 13.5%, 103 cs., 60CG|40Z, $22

White cherry and honey, chamomile, faint flowers and nectarine. Sur-lies fermentation and aging provides a leesy aspect to aromas. Whole cluster and neutral oak. The palate is bright with undertones of richly textured golden fruits, spritzed with honey and lees. Drink 2017 - 2019.

95 2015 martha stoumen carignan

Mendocino, Venturi Vineyard, 12%, 215 cs. $28

A nose of bright pomegranate, raspberry and crushed cherry, dry chalk and graphite. The palate is clean, fresh bright red fruit - pomegranate and cranberry; vibrant and textured throughout. Hard to push away from this stunner. Drin 2017 - 2022. 

94 2016 martha stoumen red wine post flirtation

California, 11.3%, 330 cs., 65CG|35ZN, $20

The nose is cherry with notes of lemon ice and sticky raspberry. The palate is lively on entry with toned red berry and stone fruit, rose petal. Try it chilled for hot eather alternative to whites or rose. Drink 2017 - 2020. 

93 2015 martha stoumen red wine mendo benchlands

Mendocino County, 14%, 120 cs. 60 Nero D’Avola | 40 Zinfandel, $30

The nose is a dense blue fruit with elevated spice and salt-kissed sweet wild grapes. The palate entry immediately spills in to the impressively wild core of firm, gripping strawberry caps overlsaying cherry and raspberry. Beautiful notes of liqueur like brightness and depth. Drink 2017 - 2021.