As I mentioned in my post about the Imagery Estate Cabernet Sauvignon, the “mission statement” — if you will — of Imagery is “California wine with a twist.” In the case of the Cab, there was a splash of Petite Sirah in the mix — and yet the wine was completely open palate, ready to drink straight out of the bottle. I was pleasantly surprised. But for some reason, there was something holding me back about opening the Chardonnay. There’s a misconception about Chardonnay, that it’s an easy to grow and easy to make wine. Not so. Although it can grow in various regions, there are actually ideal conditions for the white grape. And the resulting wines, well, that’s utterly in the hands of the winemaker — it really is like their play-doh. (Read more about Chardonnay here.) So, I guess my hesitation was — what was this twist and was it going to be an overworked Chardonnay? Nope, not so. Imagery Estate keeps both the wine and the Benziger reputation crisp and clean….
Imagery Estate Winery was a new one for me. It’s the “sister” winery to the well-known Benziger Family Winery — but I’m going to go ahead and call it the “daughter” winery because, as I understand it, it’s Joe’s daughter Jamie who’s at the helm of the Imagery winemaking. What the two craft together is California wine with a twist: traditional varietals with “something unexpected, something out of the ordinary, something very Imagery.” So who’s ready for a little Cab-adventure?
Corner 103 owner and founder Lloyd Davis has been in the wine industry for a number of years. As the former head winemaker for Viansa winery, he won over 400 wine competitions — many for “best in class.” Now, as the proprietor of his own establishment, Lloyd seeks to share his years of experience in his casual corner tasting room; to “create an educational environment where his guest’s would feel comfortable learning all aspects of his wines in a friendly, non-intimidating way.” One of the best ways to do that is to craft “un-intimidating” wines. And when it comes to the bold California Cabernet grape, “intimidating” is just what a lot of folks think. But sourcing from the proper location and knowing how to work with the fruit, Lloyd and the Corner 103 winemaking team have done just that…
I learned about Matthes Vineyard through winemaker-friend Cynthia Cosco of Passaggio, who sourced her Grenache Blanc and Marsanne grapes from Henry Matthes for her 2016 vintage of Grenache Blanc. In fact, she didn’t just source those grapes, she struck a deal with Henry — in exchange for his exclusive fruits to use for her own Grenache Blanc, she would help him make his 2016 vintage. The difference between the Passaggio and Matthes styles is that Henry prefers to age his Grenache Blanc in oak, whereas Cindy prefers all stainless. So it takes more time for the Matthes Vineyards estate wines to be ready for release. So, today I present to you a sneak peek at Matthes Vineyards 2016 Grenache Blanc.
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.