For more than two decades, one of the shining stars of the Washington wine industry has been Matthews Winery.
Launched in 1993 by Matthew Loso in Woodinville, the winery has been considered one of the state's best producers. In 2008, Cliff and Diane Otis took over ownership of the winery, and Loso has moved on to new winemaking projects.
That year, Aryn Morell took over as head winemaker. Morell, a Washington native, earned his winemaking chops at such California wineries as Silver Oak and Edgewood Estates. Soon after, the Matthews team launched Tenor, an ultra-premium label that has earned high acclaim from consumers and critics alike.
In addition to the tasting room in Woodinville, just a moment’s drive from the cluster of wineries near Chateau Ste. Michelle, Matthews also has opened Matthews Estate House, a B&B on its property in the Sammamish River Valley.
We recently tried the lineup of Matthews wines. They are available at the Woodinville tasting room and have distribution throughout the Pacific Northwest and in eight states. Ask for them at your favorite wine merchant or contact the winery directly at 425-487-9810.
Matthews Winery 2012 Claret, Columbia Valley, $40: This blend of cabernet sauvignon and cabernet Franc now includes syrah. Classic aromas of black currant, black cherry and plum include menthol, moist earth and coffee. They give way to bold and juicy flavors of black currant and Bing cherry, leading to a rich finish. (14.5 percent alcohol)
Matthews Winery 2011 Reserve, Columbia Valley, $70: An opulent blend of cabernet sauvignon, merlot, cabernet Franc and malbec opens with complex aromas of chalkboard dust, plum, black currant and vanilla also include hints of candela leaf tobacco, menthol and toast. Intense and bold fruit awaits on the palate, featuring Bing cherry, Marionberry and plum. There’s plenty of structure and a long life ahead. Pair this with braised short ribs, beef tenderloin or a hearty root stew. (13.5% alc.)
Matthews Winery 2014 Sauvignon Blanc, Columbia Valley, $25: Aromas of pear, lemongrass and fennel include hints of toffee and toast, and the inspiration of sancerre is realized on the pour. Bright flavors of lemon, baked Gala apple and Brie come with a slice of fresh-cut celery and an abundance of food-friendly acidity. Enjoy with scallops, artichoke dip or grilled asparagus. (14% alc.)
Matthews Winery 2012 Blackboard Red, Columbia Valley, $30: The flagship wine for Matthews is a syrah-based blend from some of the state’s top vineyards. There’s intensity to the nose with hints of ripe dark plum, black currant and coffee beans with dark chocolate, cola and beet juice. There’s a stream of dark purple fruit on the pour with Bing cherry and Marionberry swirling amid bold tannins, backed by a trail of maple syrup. Try this wine with lamb shanks, duck breast or wild rice with mushrooms. (14.3% alc.)
Tenor Wines 2013 Chardonnay, Columbia Valley, $48: A deft touch with 50 percent new oak allows for a fruit expression that starts with aromas of sweet lemon, ripe Asian pear, pineapple, coconut and a touch of minerality. There’s little sign of the oak on the palate, which brings flavors of sweet mango, Golden Delicious apple and Bartlett pear. The finish of Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice allows for an elegant and balanced finish. Enjoy with grilled salmon, crab cakes or grilled chicken. (14.7% alc.)
Tenor Wines 2011 Syrah, Columbia Valley, $60: A program of 16 months in 100 percent new French oak allows for aromas of black cherry, tayberry, coffee, toffee and rose hips. On the palate, it reveals rich flavors of black currant jam, Marionberry and crushed blueberry, framed by bittersweet chocolate tannins and pleasing acidity — a delicious combination that creates length. Enjoy this luscious Syrah with grilled lamb, lasagna or barbecue pork. (15.4% alc.)
Eric Degerman and Andy Perdue run Great Northwest Wine, a news and information company. Learn more about wine at greatnorthwestwine.com.