Interview with Matt Walls, Ambassador of Rhône Valley wines in England
2019… a year and a communication 200% targeted on the terroirs of Rasteau! So, with the help of the oenologist Georges TRUC and Denis Plat, A.O.C Rasteau has decided to talk more about its terroirs, both with the general public and professionals! And there is no lack of opportunities: after-works, masterclasses, OFF evenings, professional trade shows such as Prowein or Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône…
English influencer, expert taster and specialist in Rhône Valley wines who now lives in the region, Matt Walls was the obvious choice to present our masterclass at Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône! Matt has worked in the wine sector for 20 years now, writing books and articles, presenting wine tastings all over France, judging wine competitions, etc.
“Once you get the wine bug there’s no going back!”
When asked how he got the bug, Matt Walls replies: “I think that for me the turning point was a visit to a winegrower while on a family holiday in the Loire when I was 14. After spending his whole life working in wine, he was still bursting with enthusiasm and passion. That was when I realised that there was something special about wine that deserved to be studied in greater depth… And once you get the wine bug there’s no going back. I have never met an ‘ex-wine-lover’!”
On his website, he writes that he enjoys all styles of wine and doesn’t have a favourite wine. We nevertheless wanted to know what he finds interesting in Rhône Valley wines and especially those of the Rasteau appellation.
“What I like in the Rhône Valley is that there is real diversity: whatever I cook there will always be a Rhône Valley wine which will go perfectly with what I have made!”
“It may be too early to say but the 2017 vintage really has something special”
“For a lot of people, the Rhône Valley is all about red wine, but its traditional whites and rosés, like Tavel, are not appreciated as much as they should be. As for my favourite Rasteau vintage, it may be too early to say but I am convinced that 2017 really has something special.”
Matt Walls regularly presents masterclasses to share his expertise, which he has built up over the decades and enjoys passing on to others. He will be presenting a ‘Rasteau – Land of Grenache’ masterclass at the Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône wine show on Wednesday 17 April from 2.30 – 3.30pm (Salle de la Paneterie at the Palais des Papes in Avignon) [But sorry: the workshop is already fully booked!]
“Wine should be celebrated!”
“In my work, my main aim has always been to give people as much pleasure as I get when I taste a wine. I am always pleased to share my expertise – wine is something that can make us happy in life and it should be celebrated.”
For some years now Matt Walls has worked for the famous wine review Decanter, and also for Tim Atkin MW’s website timatkin.com. He offers his expertise to readers all over the world by regularly contributing articles for Foodism and Imbibe, for example, and by sharing the scores that he attributes to the wines he tastes.
In 2010, Rasteau obtained Cru status, so in 2020, it will celebrate its 10th anniversary! On this subject, Matt Walls tells us his memories and feelings about A.O.C Rasteau:
“The improvement in the quality of Rasteau wines in the years leading up to 2010 was clear. So, it was great to see that the appellation was rewarded for its work. Now, the hard bit is to maintain the level after all the work put in, but the appellation’s winemakers have proved since that Rasteau really deserves its Cru status.”
“Rasteau really deserves its Cru status!”
Matt Walls’ work is not just about presenting masterclasses and contributing articles. He also judges wine competitions, writes articles and books, participates in tasting events, and visits terroirs in both France and England… In fact, he has so many strings to his bow that we can wonder what he enjoys doing most!
“I really enjoy judging wine competitions. They can be both stimulating and convivial, and the results are always interesting! But writing something original gives me even more satisfaction, especially if I manage to entertain people and inspire them to get involved in the world of wine.”
We ended the interview by talking about the book that he is currently writing about the Rhône Valley (a vast undertaking!) and which will be published in 2020. He gave us more details:
“I was asked to write a book about Rhône Valley wines for the Classic Wine Library collection of the Oxford publishing house Infinite Ideas. There are currently 15 books in the series, and 8 more are in progress. They wanted an updated work on all the southern and northern Rhône appellations – no major English language publisher has done that for decades. The book should be out early next year!”
Many thanks to Matt Walls for coming to Rasteau, for all this information, and for sharing his knowledge and expertise. And he will be back to present a masterclass on ‘Rasteau, Land of Grenache’ at the Découvertes en Vallée du Rhône wine fair in Avignon! There is just so much to discover!
Important: The Rasteau masterclass at DVR is now fully booked out.