Monday, January 18, 2010

Matthews Estate Columbia Valley Syrah 2007

This week I’m focusing on regions that aren’t necessarily the best known in their respective countries. In today’s case we will be taking a look at a wonderful wine from the United States that isn’t from Napa Valley or anywhere in California. Today’s topic is a fantastic Syrah from the Columbia Valley in Washington. The Columbia Valley AVA does not have quite the same well established reputation as Napa or Sonoma Valley in California, but they produce some outstanding wines that are really growing on me lately. It is also interesting to note that from a stylistic standpoint many of the wines from the Columbia Valley have a much more restrained, Old World feel to them than most wines from California. This Syrah from Matthew Estate has a wonderful combination of Old and New World attributes.

Matthew Estate is a small winery in Woodinville, WA that only produces about 3500 cases a year. Their winemaker, Aryn Morrell, spent five years in Napa Valley working for a number of wineries including Silver Oak before deciding to return to his native Washington. Based on what I have tasted of his work at Matthews Estate, I am very glad that he returned home to become the winemaker at Matthews Estate.

The Matthews Estate Columbia Valley Syrah has an intense purple color in your glass. The nose brings aromas of black raspberry, plum, and orange zest – yes, I said orange zest for a Syrah. It sounds crazy; however, it is not only true but also very pleasant. In additon to the fruit, you also get a little bit of earth and black pepper on the nose. On the palate, you get the same unique combination of fruit that you get on the bouquet. Cedar and an earthy minerality give an additional depth of flavor to this wine that I’m not accustomed to seeing from New World Syrah. Very nice acidity and earthy, stony tannins add structure and balance that should allow this to improve over the next five years.

Overall this is a wonderfully complex expression of the Syrah varietal from the Columbia Valley that combines New and Old World elements in a great way. Retailing for about $28, it gives you a lot of bang for the buck and compares favorably to many Northern Rhone Syrahs that retail for much more.

From a pairing standpoint, this would go very well with just about any grilled red meats or sharp cheese.


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