October 3, 2021
“It’s such a beautiful day,” my tasting buddy said. “Can you think of a winery with a nice outside seating area?” I certainly could, so off we went to Mattebella. Because it was a Sunday, I did not want to go to any of the bigger wineries, and indeed, as we drove past Pugliese, Osprey, and others we noted their full parking lots and signs promoting “Live Music.” However, Mattebella was quiet, with a few groups here and there, scattered around their patio and grounds.
They really don’t have much in the way of inside space, but their patio is very comfortable, with cushy couches and chairs, and pretty, with plantings of hydrangeas and roses. My husband said,” They get an A for atmosphere.” The server motioned us over, as we paused at the entrance, and told us we could choose our seats. We immediately walked over to a nice couch and wicker coffee table set-up, and settled down to look at the menus she handed us. Okay, here’s one for cheese and charcuterie boards, one for wine-based cocktails, and another for glass and bottle service, but where’s one for a tasting?
When the waitress returns, we ask, and she informs us that if you want a tasting on the weekend, you have to reserve it in advance, though during the week it’s not a problem. Is it possible to get a tasting anyway, we asked, gesturing to the almost empty grounds. Well, okay. And she brought us a tasting menu. The menu makes the most of the few varietals they grow, with multiple chardonnays and blends. You can get a white flight, a red flight, a sparkling flight, a rosé flight, a reserve chardonnay flight, a Library flight (of “special wines from our cellar”), or a Vintner Select Flight (of “our winemaker’s favorite wines”). We opt for the latter, which is pretty comprehensive, as it includes a sparkling wine, a rosé, two whites and four reds, for $45. That’s a pretty steep price for a tasting, but it does feature eight wines, and the pour is generous enough that sharing is no problem.
I’m not sure why a tasting on the weekend is such a big deal, since they give you all your wines at once (except for the sparkler, which comes separately). One more note—they used to allow dogs, but they say they are no longer permitted to.
- 2013 Blanc de Blancs $70
The méthode champenoise is very labor intensive, and takes years from harvest to completion, so sparkling wines made this way tend to be more expensive, and this one is no exception. And it is quite delicious, with aromas of freshly baked bread and tastes of crisp green apple and bread. However, is it a $70 bottle of wine? I don’t think so.
- 2017 Steel Chardonnay $29
Sometimes steel chards have a piney aroma, like an evergreen forest, and this one does, with tastes of mild citrus and green apple. It is very light, and “not memorable,” according to my tasting companion.
- 2013 Reserve Chardonnay $50
As you know if you read my blog, I am not a fan of oaked chardonnays, but this one is only 40% oak-aged, so not bad. My husband likes it, and says it would be a good sipping wine. This also has a slight woodsy aroma, with some nice fruit tastes and just a touch of butterscotch.
- 2020 Rosé $28
Light, dry…too light and dry. I like rosés to have some fruit taste, and this has no aroma and almost no taste.
- Famiglia Red $35
The lack of a vintage year indicates that this is a blend of various years, as they like to keep the taste of this wine consistent every time. A blend of merlot and cabernet franc, this is a good wine to have with food, like lamb chops, as it has some tannins. It has the slight cherry aroma from the merlot grapes, and a pleasant, though uncomplicated, taste of fruit and olives.
- 2011 Old World Blend $65
Our waitress proudly points out that this wine and the next were highly rated by Robert Parker, earning scores of 90 and 93. As I look at the list of grapes used in this blend—merlot, cabernet franc, petit verdot, cabernet sauvignon—it is clear the “old world” is Bordeaux. My husband takes a sip and says, “This is certainly not bad.” Again, it has that cherry aroma, plus some tobacco and leather. It is tasty, I offer, as I sense plums and perhaps a touch of chocolate.
- 2013 Old World Blend $91
This is a slightly different blend, with merlot, cabernet franc, and petit verdot. My husband notes that it would “stand up to steak,” with good tannins and blackberry flavor. But when I tell him how much they charge for a bottle, he says, “They’re drinking too much wine.” That is a problem with small vineyards like this—they have no economies of scale, especially because they are farming sustainably and using machines as little as possible.
- 2015 Old World Blend $78
Using the same four grapes as the 2011, this is somehow much better, and my favorite of the day. Yummy. The aroma is of cherries and brambles, and the taste includes blackberry and unsweetened chocolate. It even has “legs,” which indicate possibly more tannins and alcohol than the other blends. If I came here to have a cheese and charcuterie tray and a glass of wine, this is the one I would get.
Reasons to visit: beautiful outdoor patio with comfy seating; relaxed, laid-back vibe; the Blanc de Blancs, the Reserve Chardonnay, and the 2015 Old World Blend; menu of cheeses and charcuterie with lots of options; creative wine-based cocktails. Reasons not to visit: high prices, and the rest room is a rather yucky port-a-pottie.