According to Henry Matthes, owner and proprietor of Matthes Vineyards, this Rhône-style blend is a bit of an anomaly. His intention is to always focus on Grenache Blanc, using just enough Marsanne to give the wine some backbone and structure. But due to a difficult growing season in 2014 in which much of the Marsanne failed, Henry and his vineyard team ended up grafting Grenache Blanc onto much of the Marsanne rootstock. Somehow, as Henry says, “The remaining Marsanne grew with unexpected vigor, yielding a huge crop of perfect fruit.” And so it is that he was able to create, for his portfolio, this unique white blend. “A serendipitous event for sure,” he adds.
About the Wine: The Matthes Vineyards 2015 Rhône-style white blend is made from 68% Grenache Blanc and 32% Marsanne grapes harvested from the Matthes Estate Vineyards in Sonoma Valley.
Like the 2014 vintage, this 2015 blend was made by The Wine Foundry in Napa, and then moved back to the Matthes Estate, after bottling, for aging and selling.
Flavor Profile: Out of the bottle, there’s an immediate aroma of stone fruit, delicate flowers, and a hint of grass. Matthes Vineyars white is near clear on the pour, settling into a very pale sandy yellow in the glass. Initial aromas are of raw nuts and flaky bread. Swirl and the wine reveals very subtle aromatics of nectarine, apricot, agave, and more of those light flower petals.
On the palate, this Rhône-style white blend is quite smooth — almost creamy in texture. There’s an initial shy level of acidity that pierces through the otherwise round, creamy finish. Dominant flavors are still all about those stone fruits (white peach, white nectarine, maybe some apricot); crisp, flakey pastry; and fresh cut green herbs, like sage.
The finish is a layered one. Yes it’s round and somewhat creamy (in feeling not in flavor), but there’s a light coat of something textural that just delicately masks the tongue, as well as an after taste of white pepper (not spicy, just the flavor).
Food Pairing: I paired the Matthes Vineyards 2015 Rhône-style white blend with a marinated swordfish steak, coconut cauliflowers “rice,” and pickled hot peppers, garnished with fresh cilantro. The cilantro, though just a garnish tossed throughout the rice, married well with the white blend, bringing out more of that greenery and fresh cut herb elements. The grassy texture of the herb, coupled with the texture of the peppers, helped bring forward that subtle texture hinted at on the finish. Meanwhile, the actual pickling of those peppers gave the wine an overall cleanliness. No, the acid didn’t fight with the pickle, and no the heat of the vegetable didn’t over power the wine. Somehow, the two combined acted as a palate cleanser.
Lastly, this wine has just enough structure to stand up to a heartier fish like swordfish. In fact, the meatiness of the fish, along with the creaminess of the rice, highlighted the “rounder” elements in the wine and, thus, this was, in fact, the perfect pairing.
More Info: I received the Matthes Vineyards 2015 Rhône-style white blend as a sample for review. (Cheers Henry!) Retail: $40. You can find Matthes Vineyards wines at The Girl & The Fig and The Sonoma Grille restaurants as well as Sonoma Best bottle shop. To purchase online, please visit squareup.com/store/MatthesVineyards. For any inquiries, reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org.
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