Anthony Dias Blue Reviews features our Matchbook Tinto Rey in the January 2012 issue of Tasting Panel magazine!
89 Matchbook 2007 Tinto Rey, California ($17)
Tangy and fresh with racy cherry and blackberry fruit; spicy, dense and smooth with lively acidity; balanced and clean; 44% Tempranillo, 36% Syrah, 13% Cabernet Sauvignon, 5% Graciano, 2% Petite Sirah.
The most fascinating pieces of machinery at the winery these days have nothing to do with winemaking. Our new Favorite Things are the two giant Caterpillar D11Ns that are crawling back and forth across the neighboring 2,150 acres we just purchased. These are the triple-XL of tractors and those big boys are suited up for work.
Two months ago, we purchased two parcels of land directly across the road from our Matchbook winery. Neither parcel has been farmed for the past 20-odd years, which, in a nutshell, tells the story of the economics of traditional farming in the Dunnigan Hills. But in the past few years the economics of nut trees and, suddenly this year, of vineyards prompted us to expand our farming operation. That’s where the giant Cats come in. As the land sat fallow, the ground compacted. Before we can plant anything, we need to do a little ground work.
Picture this project much like starting a garden in a brand new subdivision. The soil may have been good at one time, but now it looks like cement. This part of the Dunnigan Hills has nice red, rocky soil, which is perfect for good drainage, but in its current state it is, well, hard as a rock. Just as all the gardening books recommend double digging and a pile of compost for that brand new yard, we need to do the same thing, just on a very large scale. We have three mountainous piles in the middle of our new property: one that looks like black dust, one that looks like white chalk and one looks like dark, loamy soil. The black dust is actually ash that is the residue from processing rice hulls. It is not only filled with microbes and potassium, it’s free. Our favorite price point. We begin all our vineyard developments by spreading the ash all over the ground. Then we fire up the pair of D11s, equip them with one enormous slip plow and rip the soil six feet deep. Three times. This is a slow, but essential effort and that deep plowing and the ash turn the hard tan ground into beautiful loose, black soil. That’s just step one. After smoothing out the rough edges, we lay out the planting rows with a GPS laser and spread gypsum (chalky, white calcium) and rich, loamy compost down each new vine row. This is all mixed in together to create a perfectly lovely little planting bed for the 500 acres of vines and 250 acres of olive trees to be planted in the spring.
Sandra Silfen chose our 2007 Matchbook Tinto Rey as the Detroit News recommended wine for January 11!
Today’s recommended wine
Selections are by wine columnist Sandra Silfven
Giguiere Family, 2007 Matchbook Tinto Rey Dry Red Table Wine California, $17
“Smooth tannins, ripe berry fruit with cherry, blueberry and tobacco nuances characterize this sassy red from the Dunnigan Hills with coastal fruit blended in. It’s made by the Giguiere family, which planted the first vineyards in the Dunnigan Hills, northeast and inland of Napa Valley. Their noted labels included R.H. Phillips, Toasted Head and Hogue Cellars, all of which were huge successes and eventually sold. In recent times, with partners, they started the Crew Wine Co., and planted Matchbook Vineyard in the Dunnigan Hills. “Tinto Rey” means Red King and is the main grape in this dry red blend, and Tempranillo is the king of Spanish reds. It also has Syrah, Cabernet Sauvignon, Graciano and Petite Sirah in the blend.”
Read the entire review on line.
SeattlePi.com recommends our 2010 Chasing Venus Sauvignon Blanc in writer Stan Reitan’s Top 40 Under Twenty Bucks in 2011:
“Just another fantastic sauvignon blanc from New Zealand. It seems as if this wine region just keeps pumping out quality juice at excellent prices. Aromas of fresh cut grass and grapefruit. Vibrant acidity that drives the flavors of grapefruit and pineapple. The mid-palate displays notes of mango and papaya. There is a nice mineral quality along with a creamy texture in the mouth. The zippy flavors hang on for some time. I like this wine because it is not JUST grapefruit. It has a lot more personality and layers. It should be easy to get your hands on. 90 points”
Crush is a little like New Years for us. It’s the start of a new vintage; the slate is clean and hopes are high. And all our wine experiments are a little like New Year’s resolutions. Our creative juices flow with the prospect of trying out the new ideas we’ve been noodling for the past year. We have a couple pretty adventurous experiments in the works with the 2011 vintage. One that is keeping us fit is the Red Wine Barrel Fermentation.
This is not a new concept. The practice of fermenting red wine in barrel has been around for some time. The “new” is putting this high-end-wine concept to use for a wine that sell for around $15.
Normally, red wine juice is fermented in stainless steel tanks; the lees are pressed off at dryness and the wine is barreled down for aging. Tank fermentation is a very effective and very efficient way to extract flavor and color from red grapes. The advantage of going straight into barrel for fermentation is a more complete integration of the oak with the wine. It intensifies the flavor, stabilizes the color and softens the tannins. The disadvantage is that the method is laborious and time consuming. That is: expensive. One of our goals is to figure out a cost effective way to pull this off.
Ten brand new barrels were purchased for this experiment. Our first task was to pop off one of the heads of each barrel in order to shovel in the grapes. The first top was a little tricky, but our crew quickly got the hang of barrel deconstruction. We used our 2011 Lake County Cabernet for this experiment because we wanted a varietal with big tannin structure that could handle the onslaught of all that new wood. And we wanted a varietal with tight, firm clusters. That second reason was self-serving. Shoveling tight, whole clusters into an open-top barrel is much easier than trying to shovel sloppy, loose clusters. Once filled, we inoculated the barrel with yeast and closed it up.
Our second task was to mix the fermenting juice with the “cap” of grape skins and seeds. When we ferment in tanks, we pump the juice over the skins to extract color and flavor. We can’t really do that with wine locked inside a barrel. So we did the ingeniously practical thing: we rolled the barrels. Now, those barrels are really heavy and lifting them off the barrel rack and on to the ground for a good roll would have been problematic. But our crew shaved off the ends of some old barrel racks, welded a couple shaved racks together to make one long, sloped run and cozied them up to the sides of the barrels. And then just rolled the barrels off their racks. We walked the barrels up and down the run four times a day, seven days a week while fermentation was roiling. As fermentation neared completion, we rolled just once a week. Turns out this is a great upper-body work out which you can see in our video.
The barrel-fermented Lake County Cabernet will be pressed off the skins in January and put back into the same barrels. The wine tastes great at this point, the color is fantastic and flavors are complex. We’ll keep you posted on the progress.