Magnum Monday: Steve and Jill Matthiasson (Live!)


Despite being written up by Jon Bonné as being some of the winemaker to watch some years ago and being loved widely by wine connoisseurs, Jill and Steve Matthiasson remain totally down-to-earth. They have their heads wrapped around Napa staples like Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon, but have become popular go-tos for unusual Italian red and white grapes — many of which are grown on their own property from in Napa’s Oak Knoll district. The family took a considerable hit from last year’s earthquake, but have come out kicking. Read more about their background here.

The 2014 rosé combines Grenache, Syrah, and Mourvèdre, and Counoise from the Windmill Vineyard in Dunnigan Hills AVA (Yolo County) and Syrah from the Hurley Vineyard in Napa Valley. The Windmill Vineyard sits on pinkish gravelly alluvial soils in a hot climate. The fruit ripens quickly, and the Matthiassons pick at low sugar levels. The Hurley Vineyard, located on the Silverado Trail in Napa, is a small 1-acre vineyard on the bank of the Napa River. It has cool, clay soils and benefits from morning fog and afternoon breezes coming in from the San Pablo Bay. The fruit is slow to ripen and retains a lot of acidity to balance the riper fruit from the other vineyard.

The Matthiassons whole-cluster pressed their grapes and then allowed them to settle in tank for 24 hours before beginning fermentation. They aged the wine sur lies in stainless steel barrels and prevented malolactic fermentation from occurring. They kept the barrels shut tight without topping or stirring. The wine was never racked, fined, or cold-stabilized. It was filtered once before bottling. The overall cépage is 44% Syrah, 31% Grenache, 21% Mourvedre, and 4% Counoise.