Unlike so many stories you hear about how wine guys got into the business, Marcus laughingly says that he didn’t get the bug until much later in life because the wine that his parents drank in his house growing up was more punishment than pleasure. It wasn’t until he moved from rural Oregon to LA to go to college that he met a friend who worked in a wine shop and at an orphans Thanksgiving one year, the friend showed up with two bottles of wine: a bottle of Columbia Crest Merlot and a bottle of 1990 Cuvee Theo Weinbach Gewurztraminer. He remembers thinking that the Merlot was fine, but for him the Gewurztraminer was revolutionary. His springboard from getting the wine bug to getting the Pinot bug happened when visiting London a few years later. He was lamenting his birthyear (1968) with a friend as the vintage was not notable. The friend (who also worked in a wineshop) pulled out a bottle from his birth year (1947) and together they drank a Louis Jadot Bon Mares. His infatuation with Pinot began and has done nothing since then but expand.
We had the pleasure of having Marcus at Portalis last month for a tasting. He’s the head winemaker at Bishop Creek Cellars and we currently serve their Pinot Noir by the glass at the wine bar. But the tasting was dedicated to his side job and probably his love … the Matello label that he started in 2003 with just 183 cases. He told me that the hardest thing about being an indie winemaker on a shoestring budget is getting your name out there. So we’re trying to help as the wines were really good!
Matello 2007 Pinot Blanc $21/case price $16.80
Flavors of pear, melon & white flower blossoms. Rich mouthfeel. Made for scallops and Dungeness crab. This wine makes you think of summertime.
Matello 2007 Pinot Noir Rosé $21/case price $16.80
Marcus was going for the color of strawberry juice, so it’s a much richer pink than other lighter rosé. Nice creaminess, but still crisp & fruity.
Matello 2006 Willamette Valley Pinot Noir $29.50/case price $23.60
Marcus fondly says that this is the least good wine that he makes. By that he means that he just works with the grapes he has and that this is a nice introductory wine. Pretty, drinkable & good with food. Can manage the oiliness of salmon. Won’t overpower chicken. Calls for game (pheasant, quail, rabbit) with mushrooms.
Matello 2006 Whistling Ridge North Pinot Noir $37.50/case price $30
This wine is made from grapes grown on 1 3/4 acres in Ribbon Ridge (a sub-appelation). Marcus made this wine with 50% of the fruit left on the stems and 50% de-stemmed(de-stemmed is more typical in modern winemaking.) This really adds to the structure and gives it a sense of depth and potential. Beautiful nose of cherries & earth. Great fruit. Rustically made. This wine was a favorite at the tasting. It’s a wine to drink now or to hold onto for up to another 10 years, but will really be best in around 2012-2015.
Matello 2006 Reserve Souris Pinot Noir $43/case price $34.40
This wine is a blend of Marcus’ favorite barrels in the cellar. It has beautiful pie spice (cinnamon, all-spice, and perhaps a little cardamon as well) in the nose, lush strawberry and cherry in the mouth with a perfect texture blending weightlessness, richness, persistence, and finishing with juicy ripe acidity. The winemaker’s personal favorite. This is a great wine to hold onto for a few years.
Contributor: Julie Howe