Matthiasson Red Hen Vineyard Merlot 2012
The wine has the richness and aromatic profile of Merlot, with impeccable balance and elegance. The vineyard always gives intense cherry and chocolate aromas, and is balanced by notes of tea and earth. 2012 was a mild year, so the wine is softer than normal, more luscious in the mouth, with beautiful complex fruitiness.
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.
Undoubtedly proving its merit over and over, Napa Valley is a now a leading force in the world of prestigious red wine regions. Though Cabernet Sauvignon dominates Napa Valley, other red varieties certainly thrive here. Important but often overlooked include Merlot and other Bordeaux varieties well-regarded on their own as well as for their blending capacities. Very old vine Zinfandel represents an important historical stronghold for the region and Pinot noir is produced in the cooler southern parts, close to the San Pablo Bay.
Perfectly situated running north to south, the valley acts as a corridor, pulling cool, moist air up from the San Pablo Bay in the evenings during the hot days of the growing season, which leads to even and slow grape ripening. Furthermore the valley claims over 100 soil variations including layers of volcanic, gravel, sand and silt—a combination excellent for world-class red wine production.