Matthews Estate: The Kids are Alright

In conjunction with the release of their 2007 Claret, Matthews Estate recently had a barrel tasting of their 2008 Claret. I learned about the event through Twitter, an aspect of social media to which I'm relatively new. Matthews Estate, like many wineries, is making moves toward pulling in a younger demographic. They've thrown in with youth in hiring of winemaker Aryn Morrell who is not yet thirty and has cut his teeth at wineries down in Napa Valley including Silver Oak.

I was hopeful that this event would shed some light on how Matthews was utilizing social media to bring a younger crowd to their wines. Our first impressions were a bit auspicious - we parked next to a Bentley, not the typical car for the under forty crowd. The barrel room was packed with people. Overall, the crowd was quite young. I'd put the average age of everyone in attendance at around 40, which is pretty goodfor a private wine event for a premium winery in Woodinville.

I spoke with one of the owners, Cliff Otis, about the direction of Matthews Estate and the role he sees social media playing. Matthews has a presence both on Facebook and Twitter, as well as a web presence. The Matthews website is very interactive, with videos of the winemaker, Aryn, tasting through the wines. Matthews hopes to bring young people into the experience with them. Cliff explained that what fascinated him about wine was the "Ah ha!" experiences that comes from learning how wine gets from the vineyard to the bottle, from understanding the role that barrels play in the nose and palate of a wine, and how varietals blended can compliment and accentuate one another. The folks at Matthews want to share that "Ah ha!" moment with a younger generation of wine drinkers.

So, how was the wine? The 2008 Claret was showing very well and it will spend another year in the barrel. The Claret is 55% Cabernet and 45% Merlot. Aryn pulled the half of the pour out of new oak and the half from a one year old French barrel blending them in the glass. The wine was a dark cranberry color, with that new French barrel lending notes of currants and oak on the nose. The wine showed flavors of blueberries and bright cherries. This young Claret is very good, and will only get better.

Matthews is excited about the future, and what Aryn's winemaking will bring to their repertoire. They've got big plans for their brand, and for Washington Wine.