A month of writing

In Uncategorized on April 30, 2012 at 7:38 pm

I’ve been wanting to increase the amount I’m writing for some time now, but as with everything, excuses have a way of presenting themselves. However, between the fact that I drink wine nearly every single day, and a great number of these wines are new to me, and the fact that I’m currently studying for a wine certification exam, it seems to me like I should be more than able to come up with one blog post a day for a month (yes, I’m starting a day early). So, without further ado, I’d like to tell you about the wines of Oregon’s Matello winery.

As an ardent fan of European, and especially French wines, it’s easy to be a little skeptical when an American winemaker espouses their fondness for Burgundy, and talks about the terroir of their Pinot Noir, only to have your hopes dashed when you see 15% alcohol on the label, and a 98-point score from….somebody. However, Matello’s Marcus Goodfellow really does walk the walk, by seeking out high elevation vineyard sources in Oregon that allow him to preserve the delicacy and high acid that to me is so crucial in making wines that reflect the style of Burgndy and Alsace, which is his stated objective.

I feel like the most exciting wine of the group, at least for me, is the Pinot Gris. Now, that’s saying a lot, considering the relatively large amount of overly sweet, fairly mediocre Pinot Gris that I’ve had out of Oregon lately. The Matello Pinot Gris is absolutely bone-dry, and really delicious. The 2011 is actually a bit young, showing a touch of trapped CO2, the wine becomes much more expressive once this is allowed to dissipate. I say it’s the most exciting of the group, because it retails for about $15, and I would not hesitate to put it up against Alsatian analogs in a blind tasting, most of which would be at least 30% higher in price.

Now, that being said, the Viognier, Whistling Ridge White, and Richard’s Cuvee Chardonnay were also deeply impressive, and each well-worth their prices. Oh, and the rosé! Oh, god, the rosé!

So, the Viognier, like all the other whites, is from a cool site. The nose is all ripe peaches and flowers, there is great richness in the mouth, almost bordering on nutty, and brilliant acidity in the finish.

The Whistling Ridge White is an hommage to Alsace’s Marcel Deiss. Deiss is perhaps most famous as an outspoken proponent of biodynamic farming. While Marcus Goodfellow’s vineyard sources are not all biodynamic, the resultant wine speaks clearly to it’s inspiration. It’s a field blend, and Goodfellow is very tight-lipped about the varietal composition, but if I had to guess I’d assume there is a fair bit of Pinot Blanc and Gris, and probably just a little Riesling. I’d say this is one of the most impressive wines in it’s style I’ve ever had, but in the world of domestic wines, I honestly can’t say I’ve ever had another like it. Perhaps Robert Sinskey’s Abraxas from Carneros, but it’s been quite some time since I’ve tried that one. I feel like I’ve begun rambling. Perhaps part of my personal goal for this whole writing every day for a month thing should be focusing on brevity. Soul of wit and all. Anyway, the 2010 Whistling Ridge White is gorgeous. And while it seems expensive for an Oregon White blend, at about $24 retail, when you compare it to the Alsatian wines which are its true peers, it is an absolute bargain. I only hope I have the opportunity sometime to taste this wine with some more age on it, because as good as it tastes now, I’m certain it will evolve for at least a decade.

So then the 2010 Richard’s Cuvee Chardonnay. I often shudder when I read other writers comparing domestic Chardonnay to Burgundy, but I’m going to do it anyway, because when I tasted this wine I had a visceral sense memory taking me back to my last visit to France, tasting Puligny Montrachet at Domaine Marc Morey. I was also reminded of a series of metaphors created that day, comparing white Burgundy to women. Chablis the ballet dancer, Meursault the Marilyn Monroe, and Puligny the Yoga instructor; lithe and elegant, but demonstrating strength that seems almost impossible for her frame.

The Pinot Noir Rosé was, in a word, delicious. Again, the high acid style makes for a wine that is right up my alley, all raspberry and strawberry up front, with racy acidity tying up the finish with a pretty little bow.

The 2009 Pinot Noir Souris is living proof that a wine need not be overpoweringly masculine in order to show depth, complexity, and structure. And I look forward to meeting the winemaker in person so I can ask him why this wine is named after a mouse.

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