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Paul Mathew Vineyards: Charming Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

Mat Gustafson has a great smile and knows how to craft smile-worthy Pinot Noir. His initial career path was in the hospitality industry managing restaurants in Michigan. He then moved to Colorado, and while attending the University of Colorado, he worked as a sommelier at the Flagstaff House Restaurant in Boulder. The restaurant had a wine cellar worthy of a Grand Award from the Wine Spectator, and he was able to taste many of the finest wines in the world. After graduation from the University of Colorado, he moved to Napa Valley to pursue a job in the wine industry. He eventually became a wine buyer and sommelier at John Ash & Co. Restaurant in Santa Rosa where he developed a passion for Russian River Valley Pinot Noir. He opened the Oakville Grocery in Healdsburg as the wine buyer, but soon decided he true calling was making wine.

Mat began crafting wine while developing vineyards in western Sonoma County, working at Sebastopol-Dutton Estate Winery. He gained experience under Merry Edwards, who was the consulting enologist for the winery. In 2000, he became head winemaker at Sebastopol-Dutton Estate Winery, and remained in that position until 2009. He then left to become co-winemaker at Moshin Vineyards where he currently oversees all custom crush activities and makes the Paul Mathew Vineyards wines.

Paul Mathew Vineyards was launched in 1999 with partner Paul Sloan who hasn’t been involved since 2001. Initially the wines were made at the Dutton’s facility. The partners’ first names were conjoined to form the name of the winery.

Winemaking at Paul Mathew Vineyards is low input, using only native yeast fermentation and natural malolactic fermentation and minimal S02 in barrel. The wines are bottled without fining or filtering. Production at Paul Mathew Vineyards is modest, not exceeding 2,000 cases annually. Mat maintains 100% control of the fruit, producing high quality wines that are hand sold by people Mat and his spouse, Barb, enjoy doing business with. Barb is a former sommelier with the Four Seasons Hotels & Resorts who met Mat at the Russian River Valley Pinot Forum in 2004 and is now in charge of sales and marketing as well as assisting with farming, harvest and blending as needed. The couple really know the Russian River Valley.

A tasting room opened in Graton in West Sonoma County in November 2012 that is open to the public Friday through Sunday and Monday through Thursday by appointment. Paul Mathew wines are also sold through a mailing list and limited retail channels. Visit the website at

2010 Paul Mathew PM Vineyards Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.75, TA 0.54, 404 cases, $32. Released November 1, 2012. A blend of grapes from TNT, Ruxton and Horseshoe Bend vineyards which are all within a five mile area close to Occidental Road west of Sebastopol. Multiple Dijon clones. Aged 10 months in 32% new French oak barrels. · Medium reddish-purple color in the glass. Lovely perfume of fresh Bing cherries, sandalwood and sweet pipe tobacco smoke. Light on its feet with pleasing middleweight cherry flavor, offering well-integrate oak accents, soft tannins, but finishing a touch shallow. A well-balanced, comforting, easy to like wine. Good (+).

2010 Paul Mathew Ruxton Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

13.5% alc., pH 3.79, TA 0.56, 139 cases, $45. Released November 1, 2012. This vineyard is on the western edge of the Green Valley AVA. Goldridge soil. Dijon clones 667, 777 and 115. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderate reddish-purple color in the glass. Very seductive nose displaying bright aromas of dark red cherries and berries, musk and spice. On the lighter side but charming, with flavors of dark red cherries and cola, sporting supple tannins, and offering crisp acidity on the finish. A seamless wine with enough spirit and flavor to satisfy. Very good.

2010 Paul Mathew TNT Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.3% alc., pH 3.81, TA 0.56, 188 cases, $45. Released November 1, 2012. This Green Valley vineyard was planted in 1999 and 2000 with clones 114, 115, 667 and 777 on Riparia Gloire rootstock in Goldridge soil. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Moderately light reddish-purple color in the glass. Enticing aromas of berry jam on toast. Mouth filling, hearty flavors of black cherries and black raspberries implode on the mid palate with aplomb, lingering with a cherry and sassafras driven finish that is memorable. My notes say, “This is really good.” Fine the next day from a previously opened and re-corked bottle.

2010 Paul Mathew Horseshoe Bend Vineyard Russian River Valley Pinot Noir

14.1% alc., pH 3.76, TA 0.59, 114 cases, $45. Released November 1, 2012. This vineyard was planted in 1996 in Goldridge soils. Dijon 113. Aged 10 months in 50% new French oak barrels. · Light reddish color in the glass. The most aromatic wine in the lineup with high-spirited aromas of cherries, cranberries and rhubarb. Relatively light in weight but highly flavorful. Plenty of pinot singing in this wine with delicious spiced red plum, raspberry and cherry flavors. A bit unusual tasting in a good way. Well-rounded with supple tannins, a good cut of acidity, subtle oak in the background, and a finish that will not let go. Not as loaded as the TNT bottling, but equally satisfying.

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