Tendu: New from Matthiasson

Judging from the liter-sized bottle and crown cap closure, you might think Tendu wines are from Austria or Germany. That’s what many folks assume when they first see bottles of Tendu. The stated alcohol on the labels, 12.5% for the red and 12.2% for the white, does not help to clear up this confusion of provenance and neither does tasting the wine. Tendu wines are part of a whole new breed of California wine that are gaining popularity and acceptance – fresh, young wines that are light and easy, made from unlikely varietals.

Winemaker Steve Matthiasson, in collaboration with his wine broker, set out to make a wine that would be affordable, versatile, and minimally handled in production. Sourcing the fruit for this project was key. To that end, grapes were harvested from a single vineyard in the Dunnigan Hills in Yolo County. The 2013 Tendu White is 100% Vermentino, a Mediterranean varietal that is famously grown on the island of Sardinia and in southern France where it is known as Rolle. The grapes for the 2013 Tendu were harvested in early August with the intention of getting vibrant fruit that has plenty of acidity still intact. The 2013 Tendu White is strikingly zippy and racy with very clean, steely flavors. Not sharp, but taunt – not your typical big fruit, high impact California wine. It has that lightweight freshness reminiscent of crisp southern French whites. Apart from enjoying this as an aperitif, I can imagine serving this with raw oysters or fish poke. For the 2013 Tendu Red, a blend of Montepulciano, Barbera, and Aglianico were used. These three Italian varietals can be rugged and robust, but what you taste is a light-bodied, juicy, slurpy red that is not at all jammy. The red fruit flavors lean towards cranberry and sour cherry, and the slight earthiness of the grapes appears on the finish. You could easily give it a quick chill on a sweltering hot day to better enjoy its low alcohol freshness. 


I recently re-tasted the 2013 Tendu White and Tendu Red at an event that featured only less-known grape varietals. In northern California roughly 93% of vineyard acreage is planted to eight grape varieties. The remaining 7% are comprised of less known grape varieties, like the ones in the Tendu wines. The tasting showcased twenty-two wineries who champion these lesser-known varietals. Not surprisingly, The Wine House consistently stocks many of these alternative grape varietals from California. In our opinion, these wines can offer tasty, value-driven options that intrigue and delight.

So what is this mother doing for Mother’s Day? Putting on Mother’s Day brunch for the lovely moms in my life, obviously, though this is looking to change for I went to bed last night with a banging headache and a chill. Am I really going to be sick for Mother’s Day? At present, I am trying to will myself well and failing. I hate to miss a good party, especially one I am supposed to be throwing. Now go call your Mother! Anya Balistreri 


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Filed under Anya Balistreri, California

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