This is my second vintage of Matello Syrah and there are few syrahs that I can say are more pinot-like than the two Matellos I’ve had. Right away, you can tell by the lighter color that these syrahs are not big and brawny—they’re elegant and feminine and light on their feet.
The 2010 came out of the bottle promising more intense fruit on the nose than the ’09 I had tasted previously. Some of the deep strawberry and cherry aroma blew off right away and gave way to similar floral characteristics that I got on the ’09, which could be explained by the viognier addition. On the other hand, it could be a characteristic of syrah from this vineyard. I’m usually not so good at sussing out which flowers I smell in wine but this one is unmistakably honeysuckle. I didn’t get as many savory aromas on this wine as I got on the ’09 but I definitely got a fair amount of forest floor. It’s so light on the palate and has a nice acidity and lift that’s not harsh or tannic. And the finish has bright strawberry flavors but it’s not sour or harsh.
I saved a glass of this wine for the second day to see how it evolved and it remained fresh in the glass and full of those same floral and fruit aromas as the day before. Some of the savory aromas came out a bit more and I got that same salty plum flavor that I loved on the ’09. On day two, it was more rounded on the palate and the finish. I think this is a wine that would age beautifully—much like a Burgundian style pinot or a Northern Rhone syrah—because of its core of acidity.
Matello’s winemaker Marcus Goodfellow has a deft touch with syrah and really knows how to handle the fruit from this particular vineyard. Which is to say he knows that the grapes need very little in the way of handling. Marcus brings the fruit in, doesn’t de-stem, lets it ferment without cold stabilization or added yeast and crushes it by foot. The resulting juice is aged for 23 months in neutral oak. Although the wines are picked at relatively low brix, Marcus thinks that the moisture-absent vineyards from this location allow the grapes to reach full phenological (or aromatic) ripeness without letting the grapes get too high in alcohol.
The resulting wine is a feminine and elegant wine that’s not for the cabernet-set, but if you like pinot and want to see what syrah is capable of when grown in a truly cool-climate environment, this is a wine you have to seek out.
This wine was provided as a sample for review purposes.