Sultry, smoky and classic
This Bordeaux inspired blend is seductive, velvety and loaded with personality. Merlot leads, Cab Franc follows, and Cabernet Sauvignon fills in any tiny gaps that are left. This is a thinker’s wine—deep, complex, but less in your face than it’s cab-led sibling. In the Matthews style, it delivers a lot of power and concentration, but with more nuance than you might expect from new world blends.
In Bordeaux, the Merlot-led right bank blends are revered for their nuance. Washington Merlot shares many similarities with the French tradition—more so than with California even—but we’re not striving to copy Bordeaux or Pomerol. We’d rather to pay homage to it while celebrating a grape that is too often (and unfairly) maligned in the new world. This is truly one of the world’s most classic blending styles, with each varietal providing the one small thing that the others are missing to create a remarkably balanced, complex and approachable wine.
The Matthews Merlot presents with smoky blue and black fruit—plum, blackberry, blueberry—with a resinous, almost leathery undertone. We love to bring out the darker, more brooding side of Merlot, and balance it with the touch of graphite, chocolate and green aromatics from the Cab Franc. This wine has understated tannins and a silky, sensuous texture. It’s too easy to drink, but impossible not to think about. We set out to create a wine that delivers early drinkability, but will continue to show well for 12 years at least, and remain beautifully drinkable through 20 or more.
The Merlot has a less tannic presentation than the cab, which means more finesse and more versatility in food pairings. Try it with chicken, pork or duck. It will be a friendlier companion than the Cabernet for delicate cuts of beef or richer sauces, and it loves mushrooms and earthy cheeses. This is a great red for main courses where the veg is the star, and it may replace that pinot as your go-to for tuna and salmon. This wine is the quiet guest who can silence the room with perfectly clever quip.
IN THE VINEYARDS
This wine is very actively engineered in the vineyards. We’re careful to manage yields and limit canopy growth to build concentration, depth and power. We want length and texture, and tannins that are refined but very definitely present. We source primarily from Red Mountain and the Royal Slope, with some of our Cab Franc coming from the southwestern fringe of the Columbia Valley. We look to minimize the herbaceous notes of the Cab Franc, while enhancing the darker, smokier notes in the Merlot.
IN THE WINERY
The grapes are carefully destemmed and sorted then fermented primarily in concrete (some stainless), as the cooler temps and longer extraction period lead to more of the complexity we like. The lots are barrel aged, then blended. The blending process is blind and barrel to barrel, and we emphasize the aromatics as much as the palate. The wine is then aged, as a blend, for roughly 10 more months. The result is a wine that invites you to think about it but doesn’t force the issue if you just want to drink and be happy.