Mattebella Vineyards: Beautiful Setting, Lovely Wines October 3, 2018
Most of the time, my husband and I are the only ones doing a tasting for my blog. However, we love to take visitors with us to wineries. Aside from the pleasure of their company, it is fun to compare notes on each wine and discuss what it tastes and smells like and what we would serve it with. We also try to think of wineries our guests would like.
My brother and sister-in-law like to bring their dog with them, so a dog-friendly place was the first requirement. Then, I thought about how they care about conservation, organic and local foods, and the environment, so I wanted to bring them to a winery that farmed sustainably. I also wanted a place with wines we like. Finally, it was a rare lovely day, so we could sit outside, with a pretty garden setting a plus. And thus we chose Mattebella, which turned out to be perfect on all counts.
As we settled ourselves on comfy cushioned seats inside a gazebo, a friendly server came over with menus and an offer of water for the dog. We were off to a good start.
The menu offers five different flights, including an interesting one of all chardonnays, but we decided each couple would share a Vintner’s Select Flight, $30 for eight wines. Our server put a tray full of glasses down in front of us, with each wine labeled, and poured the five whites, promising to return with the reds when we were ready. She returned shortly with a small piece of slate on which perched two pieces of toasted baguette with a slice of brie on each, to go with the wine. They used to give several different snacks with the wine, but now it is just the one. Still, that’s nicer than the dry crackers which a few wineries offer.
- 2015 Steel Chardonnay $21
The aroma is of minerals and green apples, and the taste is very lemony. Our server suggests we compare it with a sauvignon blanc, and I see why. It is the type of light, citrusy wine which goes great with oysters. It could also be drunk as an aperitif, a “sipper on the patio,” we decide.
- 2014 Famiglia Chardonnay $22
“Why Famiglia?” we ask. We don’t really get a clear explanation, but it has something to do with the winemaker being Italian and the word for family. In any event, this is an oaked chard, with an aroma of wood and green apple. Words that come up as we discuss the taste: honeydew, butterscotch, lemony at end. At this point we take a nibble of the brie and decide this is a wine that needs to go with food. “Pleasant but not fascinating,” someone says.
- 2013 Founder’s Reserve Chardonnay $38
My sister-in-law likes this one better than I do, but it’s fine. The aroma combines basement smells with a chemical I identify as turpentine or gasoline. Fortunately, it doesn’t taste the way it smells. The taste is complex, with a touch of sweetness. I get some grapefruit and pear tastes. They say it could age, and I see that.
- 2014 Riesling $22
I find riesling somewhat problematical. In general, I don’t buy one unless I know how it tastes, since they seem to vary widely. Some rieslings are too sweet, but some I really like. This one, from a vineyard in Jamesport, is not sweet, but I don’t care for it. It has a somewhat piney taste, which my brother compares to the bark on a tree. He’s not fond of it, but my sister-in-law likes it, which proves what people often say, that wine likes and dislikes are very personal.
- 2017 Rosé $21
This is a nice summer sipper, light and lemony, with some strawberry taste and aroma. 90% merlot and 10% cabernet franc.
- Famiglia Red $24
There is no vintage on this wine, since it is a blend they try to keep consistent from year to year, so if you order it in a restaurant or buy a bottle you will know what to expect. This particular blend is mostly merlot, with some cabernet franc. Our server characterizes it as “a good wine to bring to a friend’s house.” The aroma combines plums, cherry pits, and leather handbags. Fruity, soft, and very drinkable, this is a serviceable food wine, good with pizza and pasta. Someone says this is what should be called a “ten-minute wine,” a wine you just drink, rather than discuss.
- 2011 Old World Blend $50
That’s quite a price jump, and we are wondering whether the wine is worth it. Sniff. Rotting banana and dried fruit compote. Sip. Good! Lots of complex fruit flavors with light tannins, we taste raisins and prunes. It would go well with lamb roasted with rosemary. The wine is a Bordeaux blend of merlot, cabernet franc, cabernet sauvignon, and petit verdot. If you care about such things, you might like to know that Robert Parker gave it 90 points.
- 2013 Old World Blend $65
OMG. Really good, in other words. This is another blend, of merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot, aged in French oak. It has lots of tannins, with aromas of leather and dark fruits. It is not as fruity as the 2011, but we decide it is more elegant. It has enough power to stand up to steak.
As we discuss our overall impressions of the wines, which we characterize as smooth, soft, and drinkable, my sister-in-law is perusing the menu. She notices that we have not tried any of their sparkling wines, so we ask the server which one we should try. She brings us two.
- 2017 White Sparkling Wine $24
Our server says we should think of this as similar to a prosecco. It’s not bad, but too sweet for us.
- 2017 Dry Sparkling Rosé $28
We prefer this one, which is refreshingly dry, with light fruit tastes. This is another one to sip on the back deck.
Reasons to visit: pretty outdoor setting, but the indoor area is quite small; comfy seating; lots of nice wines, especially the Steel Chardonnay, the Famiglia Red, and the 2013 Old World Blend; dogs are allowed; no outside food, but they do have various crostini on offer, plus they bring you one for free; they farm sustainably.