Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Matthews 2011 Claret, Columbia Valley

Matthews Claret and steakGrilling a fat juicy steak to stretch out the last days of summer? Wines from Washington State are a great match – and we have a top pick for you. Pour a glass and read on.

An Undiscovered Gem

We recently made a trip to the butcher shop in Cary, NC, not far from our new hometown. The Butcher’s Market not only had the meat we had searched high and low for, it was conveniently located next to Great Grapes, a wine store we decided we must visit.

Great Grapes has an expansive selection of wine, and I was quite pleased with that. But when I opened the curtain to the back room, which had the clearance wine, I was in my zone.

It was there I spied the Matthews 2011 Claret, from Washington State. I could tell this was a premium bottle, and we’re over the top fans of wines from Washington. There was also an attractive discount.

Somewhere there’s a receipt with the exact price I paid. As I recall it was sub-$30 for a bottle with a SRP of $40.

Overdelivering On Flavor

Why do we love Washington wines? This Matthews Claret is a great example. The flavors are rich and lush and drink like bottles twice the price. They also tend to be more accessible – you don’t have to cellar them for 15 years to loosen up tightly wound tannins. They deliver drinking pleasure from the get-go.

Matthews Claret 2011The bottle stood ready and waiting in my wine room – but it didn’t have to wait long. The Green Dragon’s brother and his wife had been vacationing in Florida when they were driven north by Hurricane Irma. That was a great excuse to fire up the grill, toss on some rib eyes and enjoy a meal with roasted corn on the cob and twice-baked potatoes.

This claret is a blend of 68% Merlot, 21% Cabernet Sauvignon, 7% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot and 1% Cabernet Franc. We decanted it for about an hour, then put a slight chill on the decanter right before we sat down to dinner.

Matthews Claret is a silken wine, smooth and satisfying. It bubbles over with flavors of raspberry and currants. There’s a touch of mocha as you savor the finish. It also melded perfectly with the steak. A bite of steak and a swallow of Matthews helped to wash away the anxiety of the stormy day and the drumbeat of the 24-hour news cycle.

Matthews is from Woodinville, Washington. Somehow we missed visiting their tasting room during our recent trip there. We’ll be sure to catch them on the next trip. Their style is guided by the great wines of Bordeaux for both red and white wines. Their website lists the 2011 Claret as being sold out, but you may be able to find some in a local wine shop, as I did. The most recent vintage is 2014, but I suspect the extra bottle age is what made the 2011 so scrumptious.

Matthews Claret is highly recommended. Don’t wait for a natural disaster to enjoy it.

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