Matthiasson "Helen's Gate Vineyard" Rhône Blend 2017
Grenache-Syrah-Mourvédre｜Rutherford, Napa Valley
San Francisco Chronicle's 2014 winemaker of the year, Steve Matthiasson's wines have long been a "cool kids" favorite, garnering a cult following with sommeliers and everyday fans of natural wine alike.
Based in Napa Valley, Steve and Jill Matthiasson meticulously farm amazing organically-farmed vineyards in Napa and Sonoma. In their words, "The best fertilizer is the farmer's footsteps." The wines are made in a true "natty" hands-off style. They are bright, a bit funky, and bottled unfined and unfiltered. The "Helen's Gate Vineyard" bottling here is Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre – a classic "G.S.M." blend in the Rhône valley style.
Where this differs, however, is in its lightness, low alcohol, and bright acidity. (It sits at a Napa-defying 12.2% abv.) In the glass, it has a deep, opaque ruby color, belying its lighter body and tartness. It has flavors of bright cranberry, crushed cherries, hibiscus, a wet-soil earthiness, and black pepper.
Like most great wines, it takes some oxygen for it to evolve and for the fruit to expand; give it a vigorous decanting and let sit for an hour to allow the brooding fruit to express itself. Serve it slightly cooler than you would a fuller red and pair it with charcuterie or glazed duck with cherries for a rollicking good time.