Terrifically aromatic, with a lavish mix of black cherry and black raspberry fruit, licorice, and violets, tinged with new-wood cedar and sweet baking spice
It’s the secret ingredient in Xavier Vignon’s Châteauneuf-du-Pape “Anonyme” and the essence of Beaucastel’s “Hommage à Jacques Perrin,” Robert Parker’s 100-point elixir. When Mourvèdre vines — what the Spanish call “Mataro” — are long in the tooth, and the soil is fine and sandy, no variety combines such a combination of dark-red-fruit voluptuousness and chameleon-like complexity.
Back in the mid-1980s, when Matt Cline discovered a 5-acre Mourvèdre parcel improbably planted on Delhi sandy loam east of the San Francisco Bay, he was intrigued. On a whim, he locked into a few tons of small-berry fruit drawn from gnarly vines that spider close to the ground to protect themselves from the bay breeze. At harvest, there were just a few clusters per plant, barely a ton and a half per acre. We remember that first Mourvèdre wine from Spinelli Vineyard. It wasn’t just good; it was spectacular.
In the years to come, Matt would fashion some of the greatest Zinfandels on the coast, single-vineyard bottlings from old-vine Contra Costa sites named Bigelow, Mazzoni, and Live Oak. But few knew that Cline, just like Beaucastel and Vignon, was sprinkling his secret old-vine Mataro all over those high-end Zins, providing silken texture, high-toned red-fruit intensity, and ethereal aromatic delicacy.
Twenty years later, when Matt and his wife Erin launched their own boutique brand called Three Wine Company, they decided to pay a special tribute to Spinelli. In the 2014 growing season, the third in a series of four drought vintages on the North Coast, Matt again crafted a few hundred cases of pure Mataro off that 5-acre patch, making for a rare old-vine American red that combines New World bombast with Beaucastel complexity.
Tasted over three days, as Matt suggested, the 2014 Three Wine Co. Mataro Spinelli Vineyard is drawn from vines that turn 130 this year. Deep ruby with purple hues. On day one, terrifically aromatic, with a lavish mix of black cherry and black raspberry fruit, licorice, and violets, tinged with new-wood cedar and sweet baking spice. Ultra-concentrated on the attack, but light on its feet and packed with juicy, red-fruit preserves, marvelous dried violets, and Provençal herbs, and finishing with great tension, dusty tannin backbone, and crushed-rock minerality. By day two, layers of red, black and blue fruits began to peel away, accented by perfumed red floral notes. By day three, those sturdy tannins had relaxed into a silky and satiny mouthfeel, with stunning wild herb complexity and just a suggestion of dark chocolate and vanilla — a breathtaking feat. Drink now, or anytime over the next 8-10 years.
I absolutely adore this wine and most every other Three Wine vintage I've purchased through Wine Access, especially the Evangelho. I'm a sucker for old vine wines and the heirloom lots that Three Wine company managed to rescue from the bulldozer are truly a treasure.
Impressive wine, very complex fruit. Cool to think of 120+ year old vines!
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