Matchbook Wines

MatchbookBurn After Reading

Founded in 2006, Matchbook Wine is owned and operated by a trio of proprietors with an impressive resumé in the wine business.

John Giguiere, with his wife Lane and brother Karl, started R.H. Phillips Winery in 1983 on land that was part of their family farm in the Dunnigan Hills of northwestern Yolo County, 30 miles east of the more-famous Napa. Over the course of 20 years, the Giguieres grew R.H. Phillips from a family winery of 10 acres and a few cases into a publicly-owned behemoth producing 900,000 cases of wine on 2500 acres, including the best-selling Toasted Head and EXP as well as R.H. Phillips.

When John and Lane left the company in 2005 to return to more-personalized winemaking, they were joined by Dan Cederquiest to found Crew Wine Company, which produces a variety of wines under the Matchbook, Mossback, Chasing Venus, and Sawbuck labels. Cederquiest had an auspicious start at Stag’s Leap in 1987, and then moved to De Loach in 1993, where he tripled output.

Old Head Chardonnay 2009

This wine is a blend of 91% Chardonnay from Dunnigan Hills, with the balance from the Russian River Valley. It was night-harvested to retain freshness, and barrel-fermented in two- to five-year-old used barrels, the “old heads” of the wine’s name.

Eschewing the heavier oaky/buttery style, this Chardonnay is pale yellow in the glass, and features a delicate nose and velvety mouthfeel. On the palate, there are flavors of baked banana and vanilla with a hint of sweetness, balanced by stone fruit and a crisp, mineral finish.

Serve this wine with Grilled Shrimp with Pineapple Salsa, Cayenne-spiked Crab Cakes, or Baked Trout with Mushrooms.

Tempranillo 2008

Tempranillo [tem-prah-NEE-yoh] is an important grape in Spain, and is widely planted in the northern and central parts of that country. In those areas, Tempranillo is characterized by flavors of strawberry, spice, fresh tobacco, and low acidity.

Matchbook’s unusual (for California) vines are from cuttings imported from the Pesquera region of Spain, and, like the Chardonnay, are planted in Dunnigan Hills. While suggestions of the traditional earthy and spicy flavors are evident from the old-world varietals, the wine shows its California home in the aromas of raspberry, vanilla, and a hint of dried black cherries. The flavors of rich red berries are complemented by low oak, moderate tannins, and medium acidity. The finish is short. The color in the glass is a slightly translucent, deep garnet. There is no need to cellar this very food-friendly wine; enjoy it with dinner tonight.

A few good food pairings would be Grilled Ham and Gouda Sandwiches with Caramelized Onions, Duck Sausage Pizza with Green Onions and Tomato, or Tortellini with Mushroom Carbonara Sauce.

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