Matthiasson Red Hen Vineyard Merlot 2011
MATTHIASSON is a family endeavor, the effort of Steve and Jill Klein Matthiasson, and their two young sons. Steve & Jill both have had life-long careers in sustainable agriculture, and they apply those ideals of balance, restraint, and respect for the individual—and for the whole—to their wine.
Production at MATTHIASSON is simple but careful. This concept is central to the tradition of viticulture and winemaking. Respect for this tradition forms the core of their work. To that end, their hands literally touch every vine and every bottle.
As a vineyard consultant Steve teaches and makes decisions, such as when to water and how to prune, on vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma. Steve's current clients include Araujo Estate, Spottswoode, Chappellet, Robert Sinskey Vineyards, Stags Leap Wine Cellars, Long Meadow Ranch, Trefethen, Limerick Lane, and others. On his own vineyards, however, Steve cares for the vines with his own hands, driving the tractor at night, and working with the crews on Sundays.
MATTHIASSON moved to Napa in 2002. In December 2006, they took their wine plans another step forward and bought a small parcel tucked behind a subdivision just west of the city of Napa. They began replanting the property's 3 1/2 acres of vineyard to an initial lot of Ribolla Gialla - traced back to Josko Gravner's vineyard in Friuli -- Merlot, Refosco, and Cabernet Sauvignon. In 2009 MATTHIASSON had the chance to plant a vineyard on the West slopes of the town of Sonoma. The Michael Mara vineyard is now one of the most sought after sights for Chardonnay in California. Steve also farms a few parcels in Napa for their signature blends.
MATTHIASSON's crowning achievement is a white that combines the spirit of Bordeaux and northern Italy's Friuli region - a mix of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ribolla Gialla and Tocai Friulano, the latter two almost nonexistent in California. This wine has quickly become one of California's best white blends. Their Red Blend is composed of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, and Petit Verdot.
These blends have revolutionized the idea of thinking outside the single varietal and sourcing grape varietals from their most appropriate locales up and down the Valley. Steve has also redefined the term "ripeness" in California in terms of picking wine grapes. MATTHIASSON currently picks 3-4 weeks before most of his neighbors. However, as each vintage moves on, there are more and more of farmers following the lead of Steve Matthiasson and following the trail that he is blazing through California.
Home to a diverse array of smaller AVAs with varied microclimates and soil types, Sonoma County has something for every wine lover. Physically twice as large as Napa Valley, the region only produces about half the amount of wine but boasts both tremendous quality and variety. With its laid-back atmosphere and down-to-earth attitude, the wineries of Sonoma are appreciated by wine tourists for their friendliness and approachability. The entire county intends to become a 100% sustainable winegrowing region by 2019.
Grape varieties are carefully selected to reflect the best attributes of their sites—Dry Creek Valley’s consistent sunshine is ideal for Zinfandel, while the warm Alexander Valley is responsible for rich, voluptuous Cabernet Sauvignon. Chardonnay and Pinot Noir are important throughout the county, most notably in the cooler AVAs of Russian River, Sonoma Coast and Carneros. Sauvignon Blanc, Merlot and Syrah have also found a firm footing here.
With generous fruit and supple tannins, Merlot is made in a range of styles from everyday-drinking to world-renowned and age-worthy. Merlot is the dominant variety in the wines from Bordeaux’s Right Bank regions of St. Emilion and Pomerol, where it is often blended with Cabernet Franc to spectacular result. Merlot also frequently shines on its own, particularly in California’s Napa Valley. Somm Secret—As much as Miles derided the variety in the 2004 film, Sideways, his prized 1961 Château Cheval Blanc is actually a blend of Merlot and Cabernet Franc.