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Matthews Winery - Tasting Winter 2023

As Purple Cellars is still a new blog, I discovered Matthews late in the game, in 2021. I was impressed back then already, but with the understanding that the winemaking team would be eventually finessed by the trio from Quilceda Creek, I was instantly curious. Alex Stewart, Hal Iverson, and Jesse Schmidt, have produced some of the finest cabs of Washington; and, although I'm too poor to afford any of it, I understand I should be on my knees in the presence of such bottles. Therefore, I am thrilled to check out some of the first vintages from this team now producing under the Matthews label.

2022 Sauvignon Blanc

Columbia Valley. A muscular fruit driven sauv blanc. Silky smooth, and lingering on the palate, showing juicy lemon lime, pear and tropical fruit, with sweet honeysuckle and wet stone. The finish is long, viscous and mouthcoating with honey and accents of citrus zest. Score 92

2021 Reserve Sauvignon Blanc

Pillowy soft, luxurious, with pleasant viscosity on the palate. The fruit is rich, and dense showing baked apples and pear, white peach and honey suckle, accurately balanced with fresh acidity of lime and zesty grapefruit peel, and a pinch of savory dried herbs. At 14.7% alcohol, this is a big sauv blanc, with Plenty of power, intensity and very dynamic - awesome and can stand some cellar time. Score 93

2021 Cuvee, Columbia Valley

65% Merlot, 27% Cab, 8% Malbec. Warm baking spices, sandalwood and bright red fruit aromas. Silky smooth and soft on the palate up front with black and red cherry, red currants, violet and vanilla and soft oak. Slightly grippy tannins and baking spices surface mid palate and fades with a soft and smooth, lingering finish. Score 92

2021 Claret, Columbia Valley

34% Cabernet Sauvignon 30% Cabernet Franc 29% Merlot 5% Malbec 2% Petit Verdot Clouds and Pillows on the palate, the mouthfeel is rich and coating, showing a silky and seamless rich blend of chewy fig, black currant, stewed red plums, dark chocolate and espresso. The mid palate blooms into ripe red cherries, with flecks of vanilla seed. Firmly structured with chewy tannins, the finish is long with cherry cola, toffee and hints of cool eucalyptus. Delightful tension, complexity and progression. Score 95

2021 Cabernet Sauvignon, Columbia Valley

15% Merlot, 6% Cab franc, 2%PV, 1% Malbec. Aromas of dark currants, and warm baking spices, cocoa dust. An incredibly smooth and silky mouthfeel, cooling on the palate, offering generous fruit of fig, red and black currants, bramble. Gentle notes of cigar and leather, five spice and raisin emerge. Tannins are surprisingly pleasantly smooth, and the finish is long and slightly drying. Excellent focus and balance. The addition of Merlot is well played here. Score 93

This release was an absolutely solid front from Matthews, and I guess it's no surprise being backed by the new winemaking team. While changes in the methodology of harvest and winemaking process can be an uneasy adjustment, in my limited experience of the Matthews releases, this has been apparently positive. I have always favored their Cuvees in the past, but in this release, I am completely enthralled by their 2021 Claret. This is a absolutely amazing value for this robust blend, and perhaps the biggest gem amongst what I have sampled so far. I have no doubt the Reserve Cabernet Sauvignon is going to blow this out of the water, but that would be expected considering the price point. I will hold on to that one for a bit before consuming.


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