Matthiasson Family Cabernet Sauvignon 2019
Napa Valley, California
Something of a game changer though, proving that Napa Cabernet isn’t just 15.5%, oaky monsters. This is in fact just over a mere 13% alcohol. A masterclass in elegance, abundant red fruits, lots of bright cherry along with blackberry, cranberry, and mulberry, all framed with whispers of graphite, cedar, and pencil shavings. The palate is vibrant and fresh, with light tannin and beautiful acidity. If you have a decanter, so much the better!
As Steve says, “in the tradition of Cabernet Sauvignon, ours includes a small amount of Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petit Verdot, and is blended from six vineyards throughout the Napa Valley. The three AVAs are Coombsville for structure and black fruit, Rutherford for savory Cabernet characters, and Oak Knoll for bright fruit. It is a Napa Cab of the old school, a blended wine, age-worthy, complex, and begging for a steak off of the grill.”
For Steve and Jill Matthiasson, winemaking is a natural extension of farming. Their efforts are concentrated in the vineyards they own and lease, rather than in the winery, and their values are very much in tune with ours; sustainability, minimal intervention, a pursuit of balance, food-friendliness, freshness and lower alcohol levels. The irony of the ‘New Californians’ is that this is exactly how many of California’s wines used to be!
Steve was obsessed with farming from an early age and co-wrote the California manual on sustainable vineyard practices in 1999 but the move to Napa in 2002 saw Steve’s viticultural career really take off. As well as the work on their own wines, Steve is now widely regarded as California’s foremost viticultural consultant, helping the likes of Stag’s Leap Wine cellars, Araujo, Spottswoode and Saintsbury to farm sustainably and get the most out of their vineyards. His work centres around organic farming, biodiversity, and maximising ripeness while keeping a reign on sugar levels. It’s a team effort though, and wife Jill certainly brings some serious expertise to the business. Jill studied botany at Penn, researched ancient farming techniques in Israel, and studied traditional methods for soil health in grad school at UC Davis. She pioneered “farmer to farmer” networking for sustainability in the early 90s while working for a family farming non-profit, and ran programs training farmers on direct sales, such as CSAs and farmers markets, before local food had the momentum that it has now. Still heavily involved on the farming side, Jill is responsible for the business side of the business. We’re looking forward to when their children also get involved!