The French Laundry. Gramercy Tavern. Marea. Each of these titans of the restaurant world makes sure its wine list has room for Steve Matthiasson’s coveted Napa Valley White. With his 2015 Matthiasson White Blend, The San Francisco Chronicle “Winemaker of the Year” has given ample reason why such room is made. But this rich, vivacious white is near-impossible to find — especially since a 2008 vintage that caused Robert Parker to wonder, “Why are there not more California white wines such as this?” Thanks to our relationship with Steve and his wife Jill, your search is over. The 2015 Matthiasson White Blend is coveted and extremely hard-to-find. For one of the most compelling under-$40 California whites, we strongly recommend a case-buy, because once this vintage is gone, it’s gone — and 365 days is a long time to wait for a new vintage of such a delicious white.
Matthaisson’s work with Spottswoode, Chappellet, Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars, and his eponymous label has long cemented his legacy. So it didn’t surprise us when The San Francisco Chronicle named Steve its “Winemaker of the Year” in 2014 in a glowing 2,500-word profile. The Chronicle predicted Steve would lead a charge to “rewrite the trajectory of California wine.” Warren Winiarski of Stag’s Leap Wine Cellars added, “He’s looking for something more permanent, more perennial, more in keeping with what this beverage is meant to do for human beings.”
That begins to capture what Matthiasson has done with this 2015 Napa Valley White, a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Ribolla Gialla, and Semillon, with a small amount of Tocai Friulano, drawn from two vineyards in the cool and foggy southern part of Napa Valley. All of the fruit is delicately whole-cluster-pressed and co-fermented in 20% new French oak, then aged on the lees without stirring. Acidity is preserved by blocking malolactic fermentation, then again by filtration before bottling after 10 months in barrel. The result? A riveting and rich wine with a clear connection to Northern Italy, inspired by the whites of the Loire, Burgundy, Graves, and the Rhône, but perhaps most reminiscent of Jean-Michel Deiss’ co-fermented (and co-planted) Grand Cru whites of Bergheim, Alsace. This is the rare Napa white worthy of being a collection’s pillar.