When I introduced you to the last week, I didn’t include the story behind the newest addition to this budding wine empire: Tenor wine.
While a separate and distinct winery, Tenor was borne of Matthews Estate after the ownership shift. Then, newly-promoted head winemaker Aryn Morrel began noticing the quality of certain grapes increasing to the point that he didn’t want to blend them into any of the existing Matthews wines, but rather showcase them individually.
“He worked with the fruit from 2007 and in 2008 he was seeing some of the 2007 fruit developing in such a unique way, meaning it didn’t fit what we call the profile of what you normally put in your claret,” said Diane Otis, one of the owners of the winery.
Deciding that no one would expect a Matthews malbec or Matthews merlot, Aryn set the few barrels aside. It was decided to create a new label, a move also designed to give Aryn the chance to pursue his goal of putting Washington on the winemaking map by producing exceptional wine.
“[Aryn] wanted to distinguish himself and start his own side project. With that in mind, basically the ownership of Matthews gave him an unlimited budget to do whatever he wanted,” said Tenor brand manager, Eric Swikand.
Since its inception, Tenor has been about one thing: uncompromised quality.
From the vineyards where the highest quality fruit is sourced regardless of cost, to the use of a 100 percent new French barrel program (which means that each vintage gets a new set of barrels, barrels that run several hundred to over $1000 each), money is no object when it comes to producing these wines.
“As a result there is a tremendous high side to Tenor but it doesn't come cheaply and it isn't consistent,: Aryn said. "I mean consistency in the way that there is good and good enough. A lot of the wine from Tenor that doesn't make it into a Tenor bottle is very good wine, but the brand is only about producing absolutely superior wines every year, so as a result it doesn't guarantee to have cabernet sauvignon, merlot, malbec or any single varietal in any year.”
In order to maintain that level of quality, Aryn is leaving the Woodinville operation and relocating closer to the vineyards. As neither Matthews nor Tenor own their vineyards, Aryn must work closely with the vineyard managers to ensure his vines are cared for according to his wishes.
“If you are trying to make world class wines, you have to get your work done in the vineyards and for the last three years I have been making over thirty trips a year to the vineyards and for the future, to give myself an easier time of making the best wines, I have to have easier access to them,” he said.
With a tasting room in the Warehouse District that opened in April (details on the upcoming grand opening follow), a recent trip to New York to meet with restaurants there and a tasting scheduled with Jay Miller, a reviewer with Robert Parker (one of the most influential reviewers in the wine world) in order to get scored, everyone behind Tenor is excited to bring this line of reserve quality single varietals and the 1:1 (one-of-one) proprietary blend to the world stage and they’re hitting the ground running.
“Tenor is new but we’re confident it is going to get the attention it deserves” Diane said.
In fact, they’re so confident they’ve created the Tenor Promise which includes the fun of a blind tasting. You bring in a bottle of wine rated 95 points or higher from the same year and the same varietal as one of their wines, they’ll provide a bottle of Tenor and a third wine (also rated 95+) and if you don’t think the Tenor wine holds up to the competition, they’ll replace the bottle of wine you brought in, no questions asked.
“When you see any variety in a Tenor bottle, we hope you trust that we have a standard for all of our wines and if it doesn't meet that standard, we won't offer it to you,” Aryn said.
The Tenor tasting room, 19495 144th Ave NE, Suite A120, is celebrating its Grand Opening on Saturday and Sunday, June 4th and 5th from 1 - 6 p.m. Stop by and enjoy half-price tastings on the spring release lineup: 2008 malbec, 2008 merlot and 2007 1:1 blend along with complimentary nibbles.
Here’s Woodinville Patch’s Guide to this week’s events, May 27 – June 2
- Edmonds Winery, 2008 Robt D
Saturday, May 28
- Spring Barrel Tasting and Food Festival in the Warehouse District from noon – 5 p.m. Several wineries in the Warehouse District will be sharing samples of their upcoming releases along with Big House BBQ will be on hand so you can grab a bite while you tour the wineries. Winemakers and staff will be there to answer questions and share insights about these new vintages and you’ll find special deals throughout. Regular tasting fees apply, see website for more details and a list of participating wineries.
Sunday, May 29
- , 14111 NE 145th St, is offering a local Memorial Day celebration from noon – 4 p.m. on Saturday. This event will feature wine, food from some of the hottest local food trucks, summer sounds by DJ Surreal, and exotic collector cars on display from Exotics at Redmond Town Center. There is no admission fee; food and wine available for purchase.
Tasting Room Happenings
- is offering their complete portfolio of winery-only offerings for tasting during the month of May. Wednesday – Sunday noon – 5 p.m.
- has set up picnic tables on the lawn outside the tasting room and invites you to bring your own picnic and enjoy the Estate’s grounds and views.
Friday, May 27
- , 14450 Woodinville-Redmond Road, Suite 109, is honoring military servicemen and women by offering 5 percent off wine to those that show their military IDs Friday – Monday from 11 a.m. – 5 p.m. They’re also featuring live music by Adrienne Bousquet on Friday from 2 – 5 p.m. and Monday 2 – 4 p.m.
- , 16116 140th Pl NE, hosts Friday Night Live from 6 – 9 p.m. Gather your friends and head over to the tasting room for an evening of live music by local musician Michael Gotz and enjoy glass pours starting at $6.
Saturday, May 28
- , 19501 144th Avenue NW, Suite D300, is treating your sweet tooth by pairing blackberry truffles with 2005 merlot, chili pepper truffles with 2005 AVW blend and vanilla wafers with 2008 Harmony, a viognier/dry riesling blend. Passports welcome all month, come by between 1 – 5 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday.
- , 19501 144th Ave NE, Suite D700, is offering free bistro fare in the tasting room. Come by and try the newly released 2008 Robt D blend.
- , 15810 NE 136th Place, reminds you Passport season is ending. Bring your Passport between noon – 4 p.m. whether you’ve previously used it at Northwest Totem Cellars and receive 20 percent discount for six.
- , 19495 144th Ave NE, Suite B210, is offering barrel samples and futures from noon – 5 p.m.
- , 15029 Woodinville-Redmond Rd, is celebrating Memorial Day on Saturday from noon – 4 p.m. on the patio with wine tasting, food and music. The fee for this event is $10.
Wednesday, June 1
- , 15608 NE Woodinville-Duvall Pl, hosts its weekly Wine Wednesday from 5:30 – 7:30 p.m. This week Brian Carter Cellars is featured. $15 gets you wine and appetizers.