2007 Napa Valley White Wine
White Blend •Ryans, Elsa’s & Yount Mill Vineyards
California: Napa Valley
What We Say
SUPERIOR WINE ALERT:
Today’s selection from Matthiasson is a truly distinctive white blend worthy of your consideration.
SECRET SAVINGS ALERT:
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Mission Codename: Trieste? Bordeaux? Napa!
Operative: Agent White
Objective: Secure a distinctive white wine perfect for your spring celebrations.
Mission Status: Accomplished!
Current Winery: Matthiasson
Wine Subject: 2007 Napa Valley White Wine
Winemaker: Steve Matthiasson and family
Today’s selection from Matthiasson is a distinct and unique blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla and Semillon. Sauvignon Blanc is widely grown world wide, while Ribolla Gialla is most prevalent in north-west Italy and Semillon in Bordeaux. Ribolla Gialla’s history is a long one, with the first documented vines dating back to the 1200s in Italy’s Fruilli (hilly) northwest. Semillon, made famous in France’s Bordeaux region has a history that is much more difficult to determine with records dating back to the 1800s.
Wine Spies Tasting Profile:
Look – Clear and pale straw yellow with golden highlights and slightly greenish hues as you pass this wine under the light. Randomly scattered medium-thick legs slide down the edge of the glass when swirled.
Smell – Aromas of bright citrus and lush tropical fruit including tangerine and sweet ripe melon that perfectly compliment the flinty minerality of the Sauvignon Blanc. Nutty notes and floral orange blossom components also emerge and expose the Ribolla in the wine.
Feel – This medium-bodied, dry and good structured white wine is initially bright and crisp with fresh and tart acidity that is almost tingly on the tongue. At mid-palate, a subtle creaminess is revealed that lingers through to the finish.
Taste – Well developed and integrated flavors of bright citrus, ripe fig and fresh tropical fruit with a great flinty mineral undertone. Complex notes of nuts, sweet spice and a hint of herbaceous grass round out this lovely white.
Finish – Long and lingering with exceptional balance between its creaminess and bright fruit flavors, spice and minerality.
Conclusion – The 2007 Matthiasson Napa Valley White Wine is an excellent balance between its old-world distinctive fruit and new-world style. Perfect for pairing with food and enjoying in the lengthening days, this wine screams SPRING! Not your run-of-the-mill white, this wine leaves a lasting impression and gets a hearty Wine Spies thumbs-up.
Agent White reporting: As is customary when there is a great white wine to be reviewed, I was called upon to review today’s wine. I was thrilled when I learned that
HARD INTURRUPT DETECTED. AGENT RED OVERRIDE, PRIORITY CODE ALPHA-ALPHA-9. TRANSMISSION COMMENCES:
Hey, Agent Red here. Sorry to break in here but, trust me, Agent White’s mission report can wait. Read his tasting notes above for the full picture on today’s great white wine from our friends at Matthiasson Wines.
I thought that I would convey a few personal experiences we had recently with the Matthiassons.
I first met Steve Matthiasson and his wine Jill Klein in early March. After a brief surveillance, I decide to approach them directly, rather than go deep undercover. This, because I was very eager to bring you their wine. The 2007 Matthiasson Napa Valley White was already causing quite a stir and I wanted to be sure to procure an allotment before they ran out.
When I arrived at their vineyards, winemaker Steve Matthiasson and his wife, Jill, chatted with me for a few minutes. It was a gorgeous day and the vineyards were absolutely serene. After a while, Steve offered to show me around the vineyards. I happily obliged.
We discussed his various varietals, the soils in his vineyards and even about the wild yeasts that lived in the old barn where the wines were made. We saw the sheep (who were all napping) that aerate and tend the vineyards, and we ate fresh wild veggies that we found along the way.
After I learned of the sustainable practices that Matthiasson employs in making their wines, I mentioned to Steve that our own Agent Sparkle was filming a documentary about sustainable best practices for wineries. Steve, who holds a Master’s in Viticulture and Pest Management from UC Davis, quickly told me that he literally wrote the book on sustainability.
The Wine Institute/CAWG Code of Sustainable Winegrowing Practices is the book on sustainability in the wine industry. Steve Matthiasson wrote the entire viticulture section. He was a natural for the documentary.
Shot nearly two weeks later, Agent Sparkle recently reported to me that the interview that she shot with Steve was ‘brilliant’. Here at Wine Spies H.Q., we are all eager to see the documentary. Having seen some of the raw footage, I can tell you that she has managed to wrangle together some of the top people within the industry. Steve, himself, is right up at the top. His knowledge, passion and experience make him not only a hero to the industry, but also one great winemaker!
A special Thanks! to Jill and Steve for spending so much quality time with us. We are proud to know you – and proud to be sharing your great wine with our Operatives today!
Wine Spies Vineyard Check:
The location of Matthiasson’s vineyards can be seen in this satellite photo.
What the Winery Says
About This Wine:
This wine is a new-world conception of a mythical ideal old-world wine…a California wine with a spiritual connection to Friuli, Italy and Graves, France.
The wine is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, and Semillon. The Sauvignon blanc brings a clean fresh citrusy acidity. The Ribolla gialla gives a unique minerality, spice, and structure to the blend. The Semillon contributes viscosity and the ripe fig and beeswax character that adds gravity and weight.
The acidity and fruit expression is balanced by the rich lees character and the sweetness of the oak. There is interplay in the wine between lightness and richness, and focus and complexity. The Ribolla gialla, with its weight and slight tannic grip, ties the wine together and brings a dimension of length and interest.
The fruit was very lightly whole-cluster-pressed. The wine was barrel-fermented in 50% new Boutes barrels, and left on its lees, with occasional stirring, until bottling—never racked. Three of the ten barrels went through natural malolactic fermentation. After nine months of elevage, sur lees, the wine was filtered, to prevent further malolactic fermentation, and then bottled. The blend is 60% Sauvignon blanc, 18% Ribolla gialla, and 22% Semillon. The alcohol is 13.3 percent. 220 cases were made.
About The Vineyards:
The three vineyards are all in the cool southern part of the Napa Valley.
The Sauvignon blanc comes from Ryans Vineyard, which sits on a streak of gravel in the center of the valley floor. It is right in the path of the daily wind current that pulls up through the valley from the San Francisco Bay towards Calistoga. California native grasses are planted under the vines to compete for moisture and nutrients and encourage the roots to forage down deep in the gravelly soil. The strong Sauvignon Blanc (“white savage”) vines work hard to make intense flavors, and the cool breezy afternoons and evenings preserve the intense acidity.
The Ribolla gialla is from Elsa’s Vineyard, in the mouth of Napa’s Dry Creek canyon. Ribolla gialla is a 13th century variety from the Collio region of Italy and Slovenia. It is the indigenous grape of Friuli, and it is a passion that we share with our friends George and Elsa Vare, who introduced us to the variety. This is the only Ribolla that we know of in California.
The Semillon is from very old vines in the Yount Mill Vineyard. They are head trained and dry farmed, and are so old and gnarly that the sugar only ever reaches 20 brix. This vineyard is so special that we broke our rule and bought fruit even though we don’t personally manage it.
About The Winery:
MATTHIASSON is a family endeavor, the effort of Steve Matthiasson, Jill Klein, and our two sons. For our wine, we have selected a small number of exceptional vineyard sites to make unique wine of the highest quality, with production that is simple but careful. This concept is central to the tradition of viticulture and winemaking. Respect for this tradition forms the core of our work. To that end, our hands literally touch every vine and every bottle.
In his day job as a vineyard consultant Steve makes vineyard management decisions, such as when to water and how to prune, on vineyards throughout Napa and Sonoma. All of these vineyards are special, and they provide fruit for many notable wines. There are spots within these great vineyards where the vines struggle the most, and year after year have the most concentrated and balanced flavors. Several of these zones are truly extraordinary, and we have been able to secure them for our own production. Steve cares for the vines with his own hands, driving the tractor at night, and working with the crews on Sundays. Harvesting grapes from sites of this caliber is the culmination of a dream. The work and the attention to detail is never-ending. The result is MATTHIASSON.
As a family we eat together, make wine together, and grow food together. In addition to MATTHIASSON, we started the Napa Valley Fruit Company, for which we have recently leased land and planted two small fruit orchards. We value the land, and love to produce grapes, wine, and the sweetest, juiciest, organic, tree-ripened fruit you’ve ever tasted. MATTHIASSON is the result of these passions.