You might not recognize the Giguiere name but you’ll probably recognize many of the wines this family has made. Before starting the CREW Wine Company in 2004, John Giguiere, his wife Lane, and brother Karl owned and operated the R.H. Phillips Winery (sold in 2000 and closed it’s doors last year) and produced well-known brands like Toasted Head and EXP. With the addition of Dan Cederquist as partner and winemaker, CREW Wine Company produces several brands including: Chasing Venus, Mossback, Sawbuck, and of course, Matchbook. From New Zealand to California, each brand focuses on the best wines that each region has to offer.
The Matchbook vineyard was planted in 2002 in the Dunnigan Hills region of northwest Yolo County. Located about 35 miles northeast of Napa County in the foothills of the Coast Range Mountains, this area encompasses about 90,000 acres and is warmer and dryer than most grape growing regions. Fertile alluvial soils combined with well-managed pruning and irrigation help make this a suitable region for syrah. Unlike R.H. Phillips which produced upwards of 750,000 cases per vintage, John and Dan are focused on reducing yields and increasing the overall quality of their wines. As an example, the Matchbook vineyard yielded a little over 4,700 cases of syrah in 2005. The Matchbook vineyard is young and still maturing, so it will be interesting to see how the fruit and wines develop with future vintages.
This was a very enjoyable wine and at $19 you can’t go wrong. The Matchbook Syrah has a pleasant medium body with intense aromas of spicy ripe blackberries with maybe just a little vanilla and tobacco mixed in for good measure. Normally syrah is a little on the tannic side and requires some aging, but the addition of some cabernet sauvignon (11%) adds some complexity and helps soften the wine making it quite delicious and approachable now.
2005 J.L. Giguiere Matchbook Syrah ($19)
- Approx. 85% syrah, 11% cabernet sauvignon
- Central Valley (Dunnigan Hills), California
- Producer’s Fact Sheet