A Taste of Friuli in the Napa Valley

Today’s Story: Ryme Cellars

Ryme Cellars was established in 2007 by husband and wife team Ryan and Megan Glaab. Ryan and Megan met while both working harvest at Torbreck Winery in Australia, and since then between the two of them they’ve held positions at Pax Wine Cellars, Peay Vineyards, Sine Qua Non, and Marcassin. Ryan and Megan started Ryme with one ton of Aglianico, later expanding into Vermentino, Ribolla Gialla, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Cabernet Franc. Most recently they even added Chardonnay and Pinot Noir to the portfolio. The Ryme wines are those that Ryan and Megan like drinking, both by variety and style standards. Their fruit comes from sustainably- or organically-farmed vineyards, and winemaking is rather simple without cultured yeasts, temperature control, or added enzymes. Most of the reds ferment whole cluster while most of the whites ferment on the skins, and aging occurs in used French oak barriques before bottling unfined and unfiltered.

Today’s Wine: 2018 Ribolla Gialla

100% Ribolla Gialla; 13.6% ABV

The 2018 Ribolla Gialla is pale amber in color. The aromas are of medium intensity, though I don’t find the nose to be incredibly complex as it offers up notes of peach skins, mandarin orange, honeysuckle, thyme, and some stony minerality. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity, with the palate displaying notes of bruised golden apple, peach, apricot, tangerine, white pepper, and thyme. This dry amber wine is medium-bodied with medium acidity, low tannins, medium alcohol, and a medium length finish.

Price: $35. This is a very fun wine to try, though for the price tag there are better values out there. While it’s not incredibly complex and the finish is cut shorter than I would like, this was an enjoyable bottling and I would buy it again if at the very least to spice up my California wine selections.

Fun and Refreshing Napa White Blend That Begs for an Oyster Pairing

Today’s Story: Matthiasson Family Vineyards

Matthiasson Family Vineyards is a relatively small winery established in 2003 by Steve and Jill Klein Matthiasson. Steve grew up passionate about farming, passing time as a gardener and cook while in college before co-writing the California manual on sustainable vineyard practices in 1999 after graduate school for horticulture. Jill is also passionate for farming, particularly the sustainability side of it, and she studied botany at Penn before ultimately attending UC Davis for grad school studying traditional methods for soil health.

Matthiasson is probably most well-known for their Napa Valley White Wine that I’m reviewing today (an interesting blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Semillon, Ribolla Gialla, and Tocai Friulano), but they also either grow or source (often by lease) Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, and Cabernet Franc amongst other varieties. Steve and Jill maintain their own vineyard in the West Oak Knoll area, while sourcing from others throughout the Napa Valley and Sonoma County including Red Hen, Bengier, and Linda Vista amongst others. All of the vineyards are either organically farmed or transitioning to organic viticulture, and as you might guess Steve and Jill believe great wine starts in the vineyards. Steve is pretty involved in each vineyard they source fruit from, catering farming practices to each specific one so that no matter the source their fruit is healthy and fully ripe. Coupled with his traditional winemaking methods, the Matthiasson wines come out beautifully balanced with lower levels of alcohol and gorgeous acidity.

I previously wrote about Matthiasson when I reviewed the 2018 Linda Vista Vineyard Chardonnay back in May, 2020.

Today’s Wine: 2019 White Wine

50% Sauvignon Blanc, 25% Ribolla Gialla, 23% Semillon, 2% Tocai Friulano; 12.5% ABV

The 2019 White Wine is pale yellow in color. The aromas are of pronounced intensity and the nose is absolutely gorgeous, showcasing notes of white peach, lemon pith, seashell, flint, raw almond, slight reduction (almost like petrol), wet river stone, and dried straw/hay. Flavors are also of pronounced intensity, with the palate displaying notes of green apple, pineapple, white peach, lime zest, beeswax, wet rock, saline minerality, and mild oaky spice. This dry white blend is medium-bodied with vibrant, high acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length finish. The wine begs for an oyster pairing and the finish leaves one craving the next sip. 893 cases produced.

Price: $40. Though not inexpensive, I believe this wine offers great value solely based on its complexity, balance, and intensity. Then factor in that it’s fun, refreshing, and can age for quite a few years and you’ve got a showstopper.

Fruity, Floral, and Refreshing Summer White

Today’s Story: Arnot-Roberts

Arnot-Roberts is a boutique winery established in 2001 by Duncan Arnot Meyers and Nathan Lee Roberts, two childhood friends who grew up together in Napa Valley. After college, Nathan started working with his father as a cooper of oak wine barrels while Duncan pursued winemaking throughout Napa and Sonoma counties. Arnot-Roberts began with a single barrel of wine the duo produced in their basement and over time grew through the purchase of fruit from renowned vineyards in Napa, Sonoma, El Dorado, and Amador counties as well as the Santa Cruz Mountains. When selecting vineyards, Arnot-Roberts makes sure the farmers are both “passionate and conscientious” because their goal is to produce small quantities of honest, terroir-driven single-vineyard wines which truly express their unique place. The winemaking style is a mix of Old World and New World, with use of indigenous fermentation, little or no new oak, and often whole cluster.

Arnot-Roberts is a producer I keep coming back to, as I previously reviewed the 2016 Que Syrah Vineyard, 2018 North Coast Trousseau, and 2018 Watson Ranch Chardonnay.

Today’s Wine: 2016 Vare Vineyard Ribolla Gialla

100% Ribolla Gialla; 12.2% ABV

The 2016 Vare Vineyard Ribolla Gialla is pale gold in color and transparent. The delicate and inviting aromas are of medium intensity, and the nose showcases notes of pear, lemon zest, green apple skins, white lily, beeswax, and delicate dried green herbs. Meanwhile the flavors are also of medium intensity and the palate displays notes of fresh pear, green apple, lemon peel, tangerine, white florals, dried thyme, and chalky mineral. This dry white is light- to medium-bodied with medium (+) acidity, medium alcohol, and a long finish. Very refreshing and enjoyable, so I could see this becoming a staple for my summer. 6 barrels produced.

Price: $44. Though this isn’t inexpensive and there are better “values” out there, I believe this is very fairly-priced and I would certainly buy it again over and over. I think this is a very nice representation of the Ribolla Gialla variety, and the beauty and purity in this wine is quite impressive.

Unique White Blend for Napa Valley

Today’s Story: Massican Winery

I very recently wrote about Massican when I reviewed the 2019 Sauvignon Blanc, however I loved that wine so much I wanted to return today for another bottling.

Massican Winery was established in 2009 by winemaker Dan Petroski (also of Larkmead Vineyards) and was born out of his passion for Italy and the country’s lifestyle, culture, and wines. Massican is a very unique endeavor in Napa Valley, focusing exclusively on white grape varieties including Tocai Friulano, Ribolla Gialla, Pinot Bianco, and Greco common in northeastern Italy as well as the more “expected” varieties of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay. True to Dan’s mission, the Massican wines are not only made with uncommon varieties for Napa but they are also not the stereotypical oaky white wines the region is known for. Dan uses varying amounts of new and neutral oak as well as stainless steel, also not allowing his wines to go through malolactic fermentation so they maintain the crisp, fresh, and refreshing characteristics of each grape variety. Another contributing factor is how Dan picks his grapes at lower sugar levels, preserving the vibrant acidity and resulting in often lower-alcohol wines.

Today’s Wine: 2019 Annia

53% Tocai Friulano, 39% Ribolla Gialla, 8% Chardonnay; 12.8% ABV

The 2019 Annia is pale yellow in color, and almost pale gold. The aromas are of medium intensity, with the nose showcasing notes of yellow apple, tangerine, white peach, pear, honeysuckle, crushed stone, and mild green herbs. Meanwhile the flavors on the palate are also of medium intensity, with notes of white peach, lemon zest, pear, tangerine, white florals, and beeswax. This dry white blend is light- to medium-bodied with medium acidity, medium alcohol, and a medium (+) length but well-rounded finish. I didn’t find this as vibrant or complex as the Sauvignon Blanc I recently reviewed, but it still makes for a fun summer wine and a perfect match for shellfish.

Price: $30. This is a fun wine for the price, however I do prefer the Massican Sauvignon Blanc and I think that offers stronger value given its complexity, vibrancy, and mouthwatering higher acidity. I still think this Annia is worth checking out though, because it’s uncommon to find these varieties coming out of Napa and it is a well-made wine.