SuLei Cellars and Matthews Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Happy Monday, my fellow wine enthusiasts! Will you be celebrating a Malbec Monday? Merlot Monday? How about a Moscato Monday? I myself think I will be taking the afternoon off. Spokane held a fine event yesterday, Vintage Spokane, a food and wine benefit for our local Spokane Youth Sports Association (SYSA). Over 60 wineries were featured as well as plenty of local gourmet food. My dear friend Tanya managed to get us in as volunteers for the event… we held our own well, both in volunteering as well as in enjoying :) I found some scrap paper to jot down a few quick notes throughout the event, as I left my wine book at home; I will not make that mistake again next year!

For those of you who have been following me for a while, or have at least read enough to know my tastes, I’m not an avid white wine drinker. I do partake in whites on occasion (warm weather days, the holidays, and if I’m consuming fish), but as a whole, I don’t feel they have enough body for me. I like full, I like body, I love my Cabernet. Some of the wines I tried yesterday were nothing short of spectacular; others, not so much. However, I am pleased to tell you of a few white wines that I found to be just that – spectacular. And to rub it in even further for this dry white cynic, my two favorites were Sauvignon Blanc.

First up: SuLei Cellars is a small, two woman operation located in Walla Walla, Washington. Looking at the label on their wines, if I were to have seen it anywhere outside of this event, I would simply chuckle and certainly not give it a second thought: A silhouette Roller Derby style roller skater girl with an infinite loop background, and with such titles as “Pivot Blanc” (not a typo) and “Jammer Red”. Given the love both owners, Tanya Woodley and Elaine Jomwe, possess for Roller Derby and wine, the label fits. So how does their wine rate?

SuLei Pivot Blanc

The SuLei Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is a crisp, light white that I found to be very refreshing. Like many Sauvignon Blancs I’ve had in the past, this does have an aroma that could be described as “mineral-y”, but unlike many of those same Sauvignon Blancs, the mineral on the palate is simply stated, no more than an underlying note that only enhances the entire being of the wine. On the nose is a rich aroma of honeydew, peach and lemon zest; the mineral is there, but again, it’s only very little. On the palate is a brilliant blend of apricot and honeydew, citrus (my friend Tanya says tangerine). It is very bright and the acidity I find to be pleasantly low. Kiwi and strawberry flavors round off this Sauvignon Blanc as you come into a smooth, almost buttery, finish. In talking with Tanya Woodley (not to be confused with my good friend Tanya), she explained to me their Sauvignon Blanc is inspired by New Zealand, both in flavor as well as how they go about the process of the wine making. Perhaps this is where the kiwi and strawberry fit in? However they go about it, it works! A sip of this wine evoked a desire to be at home on my back porch, sitting in a chair in the sunlight while the chicken grilled, as I sipped on this fabulous white wine and nibbled from a fruit bowl. Grilled veggies accompany this wine quite well! If my very high opinion of the SuLei Sauvignon Blanc 2011 is still not enough to encourage you try it, how about the price? At only $18, you cannot, will not, go wrong with this wine! Check out their site at or at My final rating for this wine: ★★★★ Definitely Great! Not too shabby from someone who just realized Sauv Blanc can be an excellent wine! Wine Press Northwest is stating SuLei to be the “Washington Winery to Watch!”.

Matthews Estate is another winery I was thrilled to find at Vintage Spokane. I first came across them when they began to follow my Pinterest Page, “WA. Wines Worth Trying” (now titled, The Washington Vine”). Let’s be honest, “thrilled” is an understatement. Giddy or ridiculous may be better descriptions for how I was acting when I saw they were there. The very first winery to acknowledge my blog! It makes you feel pretty special. And I finally got a chance to try their wine, as the owners Cliff and Diane Otis were kind enough to sneak me a sample before the fun began. Thank you, again!

Matthews Estate Sauvignon Blanc

Move over, Cuvaison! Looks like Washington state does indeed, put out some fine Sauvignon Blanc! The 2010 Sauvignon Blanc by Matthews Estate (Columbia Valley) is another light, refreshing wine, very bright on the nose. Boasting a bit more mineral than the previous SuLei, this Sauvignon Blanc by Matthews is also a bit more fruit-forward with a bouquet of pineapple, peach, and honeydew, with subtle tropical undertones. On the palate, the mineral is more straightforward, yet not overpowering. Matthews Estates follows a more French-influenced style in their process, so the higher mineral aroma makes sense. When Diane told me this, I certainly hesitated before taking my first sip (the last Sauv Blanc I attempted was from France, the mineral content was so high I felt I was drinking mineral water with a splash of alcohol. No thank you!). Upon my first sip however, I was very surprised, and I had one happy palate! Christmas! Consistent with what my nose had told me, the body was rich with pineapple and apricot, notes of pear on the finish. The herbs of the wine followed through from start to finish. The acidity was once again lower than I expected, giving the body more fullness than a typical white wine. Slightly tart, the wine will only further benefit from age, yet I find it to be still very drinkable as it sits today. I had no appetizer or dish of any kind with this Sauvignon Blanc, and this was fine for me. You want a white wine that will stand on its own? Here you go! Or enjoy with a Rosemary/Lemon Turkey dish, or some grilled jerk chicken (my favorite!). Matthews Estate 2010 Sauvignon Blanc sells for $20, and can be found only on their website (, or at their winery, located in Woodinville, WA (which is sadly a few hours drive from little ‘ole Spokane). I give this wine: ★★★★★. Yes, that is correct: 5 Stars! Excellent! and a much-deserved rating. Well done, both Matthews Estate and SuLei Cellars, Well Done! My personal preference for the slightly more mineral taste in Matthews is the only reason I separate the two in terms of stars. Man, I’m still torn…

“But for every palate there is a wine….”

If you ever get a chance to visit Spokane in June, you will find plenty to do! Hoopfest is this coming weekend (a large 3 on 3 basketball tournament), but make sure you make time to visit Vintage Spokane and enjoy great food and experience some of the worlds greatest wines! Other notable wineries were there as well, and I would like to mention a few: Patit Creek Cellars with their Tempranillo, Nectar Tasting with a Pinot Noir by Hard Rowe to Hoe and Anelare with their Nonna Viola Red Blend, Matthews Estate Claret Red Blend, and Cougar Crest Cabernet Sauvignon. It was a pleasure to meet you all and look forward to coming to your tasting rooms again soon!

Have you tried either of these wines before? Please share your comments in the section below!


One response to “SuLei Cellars and Matthews Estate Sauvignon Blanc

  1. Pingback: Get Ready for Vintage Spokane 2013 | The Washington Vine

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