Saturday, July 24, 2010

Matchbook Ready To Set Fire To The Wine Scene

“As a farm kid growing up in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s, John Giguiere was a confirmed pyromaniac starting various things on fire such as his father’s wheat fields. He and his brother graduated to launching rockets which often blew up at some stage of the journey resulting in more random fires and calls to the local fire department for help.”

This paragraph stuck out to me as I read the attached letter from a recent box left on my doorstep by the UPS guy. My friend Katie from Calhoun Wine Company had once again sent me another interesting label to try.

Matchbook wines is a new winery located in the Dunnigan Hills of California just east of Napa County. John and Lane Giguiere, founders of the R.H. Phillips Winery back in 1983 had grown the empire into basically what it is today. A force to be reckoned with in the world of wine. R.H. Phillips, who’s labels include Toasted Head, are part of the family that locally includes Hogue Wines in Prosser.

In 2005 the Giguiere brothers left R.H. Phillips in 2005 with the idea of pursuing a new winery that took them back to their childhood. They wanted to get back to their roots of growing and making wine that they could have their hands on.

The first bottle I tried was the 2008 Old Head Chardonnay. The grapes are sourced mostly from the Dunnigan Hills Matchbook Vineyard. An additional 7% of the juice comes from Russion River Valley, and the balance is 3% Paso Robles Viognier. Basically, this being said, the wine from the estate vineyard is mostly fermented in used oak barrels, with the balance of the wine from other vineyards being fermented in stainless steel.

I found the wine to be very favorable indeed. The wine is dry, however the fruit flavors of melon, apple, and white peach show through and add sweetness. There is a little malolactic flavor of honey and cream, with a wonderful mineral finish. I served this with roasted chicken salad on a bed of romaine, and topped with a fresh blueberry balsamic vinaigrette. The wine balanced perfectly between the flavors of the chicken and the balsamic.

After dinner I opened the bottle of 2007 Tempranillo. As I have shared before, I have become quite the affectionado of Spanish varietals over the past few years. With so many being imported to our region at really good prices, combined with the new growth of Tempranillo in this region, I have to admit I opened this bottle with a little trepidation.

The 2007 Tempranillo is actually 88% Tempranillo, with 8% Graciano, and a balance of 4% Petite Syrah. Frankly, I was impressed with the low acidity of the wine. Most of the Tempranillos I have tasted this year were way too acidic to enjoy more than a small glass. This wine offers some acidity and spiciness, mixed with layers of dark cherries, and berry basket. The finish is full of blueberries. I would gladly serve this with lamb shanks, roasted pork, or possibly with a spicy seafood stew such as cioppino.

There is a possibility that these wines will be distributed in the near future in this region. If you see them on the shelf, I highly recommend you buy and try them.

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