A Milestone Vintage for Matthews
On Saturday, September 10th, we released our 2013 Merlot, 2013 Cabernet Sauvignon, and 2013 Reserve. The scores we have received on these wines have been some of the best we've ever had as a winery, including 94 pts on the Cabernet Sauvignon and 95 pts on the Reserve (both scores from Robert Parker).
Our tasting room in Woodinville is open daily, from noon-9pm during the week, and noon-6pm on the weekends. We invite you to stop by and try these wines for yourself, or if you'd like to order any of these wines online, click here and we will ship them to you.
Read below for longer descriptions of each wine. Thanks for all your support!
Sultry, smoky, and classic.
This Right Bank Bordeaux-inspired blend is seductive, velvety and loaded with personality. Merlot leads, while Cabernet Franc follows to fill in any tiny gaps that are left. This is a thinker’s wine—deep, complex, but less in your face than its Cabernet Sauvignon-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 Cabernet 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 Cabernet Sauvignon, 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 Sauvignon 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 vegetables are 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 Cabernet Franc coming from the southwestern fringe of the Columbia Valley. We look to minimize the herbaceous notes of the Cabernet Franc, while enhancing the darker, smokier notes in the Merlot.
IN THE WINERY
The grapes are carefully de-stemmed and sorted, then fermented primarily in concrete 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.
Matthews Cabernet Sauvignon
Polished, showy, and dynamite to drink.
The Matthews Cabernet Sauvignon is a Washington-born shout-out to the classic Left Bank blends of Bordeaux and Medoc. An incredibly selective blending process produces a wine that is big on show but remarkably composed. Think of it as a wine that looks flawless in a tux, but isn’t afraid to loosen the tie, roll up the sleeves, and throw down on the dance floor. We let Cabernet Sauvignon lead the way, with Cabernet Franc and then a touch of Merlot filling in the gaps and smoothing any rough edges. Beautiful, explosive aromatics announce the wine before you even pour it, and that opulence is replicated in the dense, vibrant mouthfeel. This is a really fun wine to drink, but it won’t beat you up with too much tannin. Bordeaux-style blends are famously terroir driven, and ours is no exception. Cabernet loves to grow in Washington, where our arid climate, large temperature swings and long seasons give us the powerful ripe fruit you’d expect from California, with more of the balance, complexity and freshness you’d expect from a French blend. Matthews Cabernet Sauvignon in particular is characterized by its intense spice, silky texture and excellent transitions.
This is a big, opulent wine that presents with a deep ruby color and loads of ripe black fruit— cassis, cherry, currant and plumskin. The barrel notes are not subtle either, with tobacco, truffles, and cedar coming through on both the the nose and palate. But despite all that show, it’s a very composed wine. When contrasted with the sultry, contemplative Matthews Merlot, the Cabernet Sauvignon is powerful and showy, but still easy to approach and easy to drink. This wine will hit its prime drinking window at around 5 years and continue to show in its youthful form through 12 or even 14 years.
The Cabernet Sauvignon is full-bodied, high in tannins, and high in acid, making it an excellent candidate for cellaring and a classic companion for grilled meats—steaks, lamb and game. It loves to be paired with with bitter vegetables, such as broccoli rabe or escarole. It’s also a complex wine, which means it’s at its best with simple, honest meals that let it show off all its moves. It will enhance and be enhanced by earthy flavors like mushroom, smoke and roasted tomato. This wine doesn’t need to be the center of attention, but you better believe it will be heard.
IN THE VINEYARDS
We do not set targets for our overall production with this wine, and so we are free to aggressively constrain yields and berry size in the vineyards. We are meticulous about our site choices and about how they are tended year over year. Our goal is to maximize concentration and intensity without losing the suppleness and drinkability that we love in Cabernet Sauvignon from Washington.
IN THE WINERY
This wine gets a bit of extra love and care in the winery, not because of preference, but because that’s what is required to produce the profile we’re looking for. The grapes are sorted—often twice—to remove any extra material and stems, because clean fruit produces clean, fruit-driven wine. We ferment in stainless and concrete, leaning towards concrete because it helps us add depth and detail and balance the ripeness, smoothness. It gets barreled for 20-22 months in barrels custom designed for this wine. Then it’s blended blindly before going back in the barrel (as a blend) for another year or so before being re-evaluated and finally bottled. This process creates the most complete Cab-driven blend we can make and epitomizes the power and grace of Bordeaux varietals in Washington.
Complex, ripe, restrained, exceptional.
The Matthews Reserve is simply the best blend we can produce and truest embodiment of our very specific style and philosophy. This is a big, Cab-driven, Bordeaux-style wine with lots of fruit, lots of ripeness, lots of texture, but also a lot of restraint. When we brought the Reserve back into our portfolio in 2010, our goal was not to make the most concentrated Cab-blend, but to make the most balanced, most complex, most seamlessly integrated wine that we could—the kind of wine that inspired us. If the Claret is what you reach for when you’re looking for incredible value in an everyday wine, the Reserve is what you break out for special occasions. It’s filled a gap in our portfolio (and on our palates), and it’s remarkable reception over the past few years indicates that we aren't the only ones who are pleased to toast its success. This is a wine made without restrictions: no limitations on which blocks it gets sourced from, or how much new oak it gets, or what percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon / Merlot / Cabernet Franc we use, or even how much we produce each year. The Bordeaux tradition serves as an inspiration to bring out the best of each varietal and combine them in a harmonious expression. But this is a uniquely Washington wine, and as such it brings together the depth, the tannin and the backbone of the old world with the luscious fruit you might expect out of a California Cabernet Sauvignon. The only limits we impose on the Reserve are an insanely high bar on quality and a dogged commitment to only put out wine we ourselves most love to drink.
The flavor profile of the Reserve is complex, ripe, and balanced. It is a harmony of ripe fruit and rich, savory notes. This is a wine that is designed to thrill, but not to overwhelm. If you like the Claret, expect something similar only more... more intensity, more texture, more detail... tannins that are slightly softer and finer. Look for strong, brooding flavors of bing cherry, black currant, plum, vanilla and dark berries, with notes of cassis, tobacco, leafy herbs, spring flowers, licorice and chalkboard dust. It is incredibly drinkable on release, but it promises to age gracefully, gaining complexity and detail for years—even decades—to come. Enjoy it, but save some... it’ll be worth the wait.
This wine pairs well with anniversaries, promotions, date nights, graduations and all manner of special occasions. It’s memorable, complex, but still approachable. It also pairs nicely with food—like a perfectly cooked ribeye, or a coq au vin. It compliments exceptional bistro fare—duck, braised lamb or a rich cassoulet. But it’s perfectly at home with steak frites or the first fresh Alaskan salmon of the season, grilled to perfection in your backyard and shared with a few close friends.
IN THE VINEYARDS
The Reserve doesn’t come from special vineyards or blocks, it’s simply the most select juice from the same vineyards that have become the backbone of the Matthews profile. This is the essence of our winery, exceptional fruit, from iconic sites, blended to showcase the world class wine that Washington can produce.
IN THE WINERY
Our process in the winery is much like the product that results: similar to our process for all our wines, only pushed to be more and better. The Reserve Claret is blended form a small subset of our most select barrels (Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot and Cabernet Franc only). It undergoes a slightly cooler, slightly longer fermentation to achieve more compression, more density, more complexity. It also spends a little more time in barrel — from 19 to 21 months — to achieve the profile we’re looking for.