I found my summer Rosé (and more!)
I am so excited about the launch of the Matthiasson tasting room and their new venture. Anyone who has the opportunity to meet and get to know Jill and Steve Matthiasson would agree that they are THE nicest people in the industry. (Read more about their farming background here.) People refer to this friendly couple as “humble”, “down to earth”, and “unpretentious”. You know how dog owners often look like their dogs? Maybe there is a thing where winemakers look like their wines? Because that is also how I would describe the experience tasting the Matthiasson wines. Their wines are drinkable and approachable. They are complex and interesting but they are not overdone. The goal of these wines is to be “ready to roll”, drink right away, and not pay a ridiculous premium, just because of the name caché of a certain vineyard. The magic is that Steve can coax even the most difficult and shy grape to shine and be special (kind of like one of my beloved children). Even though he and Jill could charge a lot more for these bottles, they don’t. That says a lot about their integrity and why they are doing this.
The Matthiassons really lucked out on this property that they acquired only recently but have been farming for a few years already. From the hillside they can see their own farmstead, nestled just on the other side of the valley. The property is in the Oak Knoll district, just a 10 minute drive from downtown Napa, with a lovely old farm building situated on a rise, with beautiful views of their estate vines and the valley. Future plans are to open the side of the current building, to have a larger outdoor patio and slightly larger indoor space to host tastings. I really like how it feels now though. Humble and unpretentious, like being in your grandma’s breakfast room.
Audra Naumann, the full time manager and industry veteran, was our hostess and she was well versed in each wine and the story of its provenance. She skillfully shepherded us through a tasting of 7 very different wines, including some really tricky varietals that are available in very small quantities (the Ribolla Gialla was a standout) , some excellent blends, and my new favorite summer Rosé, the Matthiasson 2018. The only reason I am sharing this rosé on this blog, is because I already secured my cases for this summer, and this will be my ” go-to” rosé all summer long. So I am generously sharing this golden tip with you. If you like Whispering Angel (who doesn’t?) then you will love this one and its reasonably priced at $24! (First aside of this post: I drank a lot of rosé last summer in France - we were there during a heat wave, and ice cubes in your rosé are not only ok, but encouraged! I learned that it even has a name -the piscine (which means swimming pool in French). So, please don’t get mad at me if I put an ice cube in my Matthiason rosé, because if the French can do it, than it must be ok.)
At the end we got a really special treat, the Matthiason Vermouth Nr. 3. I was expecting a completely different taste, and I was prepared to make polite comments and then dump, but this was so delicious - it is sweet but earthy, with some citrus and sour cherry notes that come from the Matthiasson’s own blood orange and cherry trees. There is even a hint of coriander seed. Audra told us she loves to pour it on peaches and ice cream! I’d love to just pour it down my throat (no judgements!) but it would be amazing in a Manhattan or a Boulevardier. This particular bottle of vermouth is a two year blend of 2015 and 2017, so they won’t be able to repeat a new batch for a few years (Nr. 2 was a three year blend). The bottle is pretty! Almost could be at home on the perfume shelf of your bathroom. For just $35 I believe it would make a great hostess gift!
Just another aside: aren’t the labels cool? Fun fact: the more vine cutters on the label, the more of that wine is produced. Fewer cutters=smaller batches! l think the Matthiasson labels are gorgeous and they are designed by the well know label artist, Michael Mcdermott.
I would recommend this visit to people who really appreciate the art and thought that goes into winemaking, and who are looking for a very casual and intimate experience. It really is special….don’t bring a bachelorette party here, please. Since these wines are so affordable, you don’t need to spend a fortune and you will walk away with a very special case to drink yourself, or to share with friends!