Worthy selections from our odd bin

Jun. 20, 2007 12:00 AM
2006 Paul Mathew Gamay Noir, Knights Valley, Sonoma County, Calif. ($16) - Paul Mathew makes the most elegant California Pinot Noirs I've recently tasted. Gamay Noir, a distant cousin of Pinot Noir and the famous grape of Beaujolais, is a true unsung summer wine hero. It takes a lot of courage to make this wine, and in this case, it was totally worth it. The color is bright purple with a vibrant glow. The aroma is chewy Gamay - dried powered red and black cherry. Really well made flavors of blueberry and red and black cherry are very focused and clean... nice. It's very bold, fresh and exciting, definitely off the beaten path, but a great summer red. I recommend serving slightly chilled. 91 points.

Mark Tarbell, owner of Tarbell's restaurant in Phoenix.

Press Democrat wine columnist Peg Melnik

Scopes out wine lists around the North Bay, looking for good value and the occasional splurge. This weeks picks include:

Paul Mathews, 2006 Gamay Noir ($15) - Spicy, rich and silky. Notes of black cherry, black pepper and anise. Seamless.

for people passionate about western pinot noir

-- Gregory S. Walter, editor and publisher

Paul Mathew Vineyards

Mat Gustafson came to the Russian River Valley after several years in retail and restaurants in Michigan and Colorado, building his passion for wine all along. Gradually, he decided he wanted to make wine and started a vineyard development company and began working in Western Sonoma County. It was there he met Joe Dutton of Dutton Ranch. Joe began recommending Mat's commpany for small vineyard sites. Mat soon sold his share of the vineyard management company and went to work at the Dutton family's Sebastopol Vineyards/Dutton Estate Winery as assistant winemaker, working with consulting winemaker Merry Edwards. In 2002, Mat was named head winemaker, the position he holds today. With Paul Mathew Vineyards, he takes advantage of his relationship with the Dutton family to source incredible Pinot fruit from their west county vineyard sites. He is a low-impact, low intervention winemaker and his style of Pinot shows that respect for the fruit-his Pinots are complex, delicate and elegant with a deep core of fruit and great structure. Mat's wife Barb runs the business side of the winery. This is a winery that ought to be on your short list to try.

Pinot Noir Russian River Valley Ruxton Vineyard 2005
Medium ruby color; spicy, slightly stewed cherry aromas, delicate; complex, delicious stewed cherry, spicy, delicate and complex, silky texture, sweet oak; great structure and balance; long finish. Delicious, juicy fruit, this wine is delightfully complex and interesting with a great silky mouthfeel.

168 cases made $34 Score: 94

Pinot Noir Russian River Valley TnT Vineyard 2005
Medium ruby color; spicy red cherry and strawberry aromas; ripe, rich, spicy red cherry flavors, bright, silky texture, sweet oak, great structure and balance; long finish. Bright and delicious Pinot-this wine is perfect for sipping on its own.

175 cases made $32 Score: 93

Pinot Noir Sonoma Coast 2005
Medium ruby color; cherry, spice, delicate aromas; complex, spicy, red cherry flavors, nice touch of forest floor; delicate and silky; great structure and balance; long finish. Delicate and silky, this Pinot packs a lot of complexity into a seemingly lighter framework.

398 cases made $28 Score: 92