Aromas of cherry vanilla, toasty oak and dusty earth are backed by subtle hints of plum and truffle. Juicy flavors of boysenberry and mocha are framed by mouth-coating cocoa powder tannins. This is a full-flavored, richly textured Syrah with a smooth and spicy finish that will pair well with braised or barbequed meats, or even a grilled rack of ribs smothered in your favorite sauce.
Why Matchbook? As a farm kid growing up in the late 1950s and early 1960s, Matchbook's owner, John Giguiere, was a confirmed pyromaniac starting various things on fire such as his father's wheat field. At one point, fearing total ruin from his kids burning him out of the house and farm, his father took them to the city jail for an hour stay to impress upon his brother and him the futility of their fascination with fire. John and his brother answered at a later date by graduating from random fires to the launching of rockets which often blew up at some stage of their journey resulting in more random fires and a call to the local fire department for help. They eventually grew out of this fascination with the "Matchbook" but still have fond memories of the power they possessed.
Matchbook has four products, all focusing on varietals that perform well in the warm Dunnigan Hills climate. A percentage of coastal fruit is blended into the Dunnigan Hills wines to add structure and intensify flavors.
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California has nearly 100 American Viticulture Areas (AVAs) and accounts for almost 90% of wine production in the United States. In our section of Other California, we include wines from smaller AVAs as well as wines from the California AVA. Here are a few smaller AVAs you may see on the label:
Livermore Valley AVA
, located right outside of San Francisco and home to wineries such as Wente.
Lodi County AVA
, an AVA further east of San Francisco and known for its excellent, old-vine Zinfandels.
San Francisco Bay AVA
, a sprawling AVA that covers Contra Costa, Santa Clara and Santa Cruz counties, to name a few.
Wine that holds only the California AVA is typically a wine that includes grapes from a number of different AVAs, which leads to the general labeling of the wine as California. This does not denote the quality of the wine, only the diversity of where the grapes originate.
It's not rare to see a wine's country of origin listed as "California." A country into itself in the wine world, California makes enough varieties and styles to match many European wine countries. It produces a diverse range of wines that span the quality spectrum.
The most famous of the California wine regions is Napa Valley, and these wines are certainly outstanding – but it's not as broad and diverse as its larger neighbor, Sonoma County. Down south, Santa Barbara's Santa Maria Valley is well-known for its Rhône blends, as well as cool-climate varieties like Pinot and Chardonnay. The Central Coast, the largest California AVA, has many different microclimates that lead to a wide range of wines with many sub-AVAs.
Most wine ranges from 10-16% alcohol by volume. Some varietals tend to have higher (for example Zinfandel and Cabernet Sauvignon) or lower alcohol levels (Pinot Noir and many white varietals), but there is always some variation from producer to producer. Some wine falls outside of this range, for instance Port weighs in closer to 20%, while Muscat and Riesling are usually a bit below 10%.
Wine Style Guide
Light & Fruity
Red wines that are more fruit-forward and lighter in tannin and body.
Smooth & Supple
Medium bodied reds that go down easy, with smooth tannins and supple fruit.
Earthy & Spicy
Wines where earthy and/or spicy dominate the flavors – typically medium to full body.
Big & Bold
Full bodied wines that have concentrated fruit and are higher in alcohol and/or tannins. Some need age.