Nearly a year ago I was contacted by Jeff Otis, whose parents, Cliff and Diane, own Matthews Estate winery and Tenor Wines in Woodinville.
The younger Otis invited me down for a tasting, but due to a combination of long-distance commitments and otherwise all-around poor timing, I wasn't able to book a firm appointment until earlier this month.
The wait was definitely worth it.
The tasting room at Matthews/Tenor is pretty much no-frills, but that should be of little concern to customers, who clearly take center stage here.
Despite scurrying about in preparation for a Spring Release Party later that day, Diane took plenty of time out to chat with me as well as some of the afternoon's other visitors.
I also happened to luck out by choosing a picture-perfect, sunshiny spring day to visit, and spent a leisurely hour with my partner at an outdoor picnic table while being served first-class wines in stunning Riedel stemware (a nice touch I wouldn't mind seeing at every winery).
We were treated to a number of wonderfully complex, multilayered wines from winemaker Aryn Morell. The wines are showing well now, and promise to mature even more beautifully with additional cellaring. Here are my tasting notes:
2013 Matthews Stillwater Creek Sauvignon Blanc (about $20) - Just released, this explosive sauvignon blanc typifies what you might expect from the 2013 vintage. Fruit cocktail, juicy peach and melon flavors upfront are underscored with notes of slate, herbs and sweet alfalfa. The wine's 14.5 percent alcohol gives it a big presence, but without the hot finish.
2011 Matthews Columbia Valley Syrah (about $35) - Black plum courses through this gorgeous syrah from start to finish, with added structure from espresso and cassis flavors. The slightly chewy finish includes a spritz of baking spice within a polished framework.
2011 Matthews Columbia Valley Claret (about $40) - Strawberry and pie cherry flavors immediately hit the palate, touches of red plum follow, and the soft finish suggests Raisinets chocolate. Although it's composed primarily of merlot and cabernet sauvignon, this is a lighter-style blend reminiscent of a fine pinot noir.
2012 Tenor Chardonnay (about $50) - Lovely fresh-cut clover aromatics lead off, with gentle flavors of pear and lychee that are punctuated by more of a citrusy layer and a zing of tangerine zest. This chardonnay is lean, complex and full of wonderful taste-treat surprises.
2010 Tenor 2:2 (about $55) - Plums, berries, red currant and cherry flavors converge into an amuse-bouche of flavors in this Bordeaux blend. The lengthy finish displays a bit of herbaceousness, along with soft touches of caramel and toast.
The Matthews/Tenor tasting room is open from noon to 6 p.m. daily, and wines can also be purchased at matthewswinery.com.
Dan Radil is a wine enthusiast who lives in Bellingham. Reach him at danthewineguy.com.