Backyard Sippers: The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay 2015 & Cabernet Sauvignon 2014

Winery: Dreaming Tree Wines is the creation of legendary musician Dave Matthews along with New Zealand winemaker Sean McKenzie. The duo is passionate about crafting accessible wines that express “the unique characters and rich flavours” of California’s wine country. The portfolio currently consists of 6 wines, all sourced from various sustainably farmed vineyards in California.

A Certified California Sustainable Winegrowing winery, they strive for sustainability in all facets of wine production, including sustainable methods in the vineyard, bottles that are a quarter pound lighter and manufactured with clean-burning natural gas, 100% recycled paper labels, along with natural corks sourced from sustainable farms. The winery also utilizes solar energy, having the largest solar footprint in the US wine industry.

Philosophy: To make “wines for people to drink. I don’t make wines for people to put in their cellar.”

The Dreaming Tree Chardonnay California 2015

Winemaking: Grapes were harvested at night and early morning to keep the fruit cool. Fermented and aged for 8 months in a combination of oak barrels and stainless steel tanks.

Tasting Notes: Gold in colour with lemon, pear, peach, grass and white pepper aromas radiating from the glass. Vivid pear, yellow apple, pineapple along with a hint of pink grapefruit are accented by a clean herbaceous streak. Creamy lemon and buttery toast linger between each sip. Intense fruit, yet light on its feet this is fantastic summery sip on its own or with a wide variety of dishes.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Delicious with grilled seafood, goat cheese and mushroom pizza, herb roasted chicken, or stone fruits, ricotta, and arugula.

100% Chardonnay
13.8% Alcohol
$13 [average price]

The Dreaming Tree Cabernet Sauvignon California 2014

Winemaking: The heat and dry conditions of 2014 “delivered big fruit expression, great tannin development and nice ripeness across all varietals”. Wines were aged separately in oak for 16 months, then blended to bring out the true character of the varietal.

Tasting Notes: Garnet in colour with aromas of dark berry fruits, a hint of vanilla and wisps of toasted oak. Black cherry, blackberry and plum are wrapped around a black pepper core. Soft tannins facilitate a seamless merge into chocolate, pink peppercorn, earth and black cherry on the plush finish. A fantastic balance of bright fruit and spice, friendly and easy to pair with all types of dishes, especially anything off a backyard grill.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: A fun start or end to any meal. Enjoy with grilled flank steak, BBQ ribs, grilled veggies, portabella and grilled onion burgers.

78% Cabernet Sauvignon, 13% Merlot, 4% Malbec, 3% Petit Verdot, 2% Cabernet Franc
13.6% Alcohol
$13 [average price]



Samples submitted for review purpose.

Dave Phinney D66 Grenache IGP Cotes Catalanes 2014

Estate: Renowned, progressive winemaker Dave Phinney owns 300 acres [120 hectares] of vineyards in the Cotes Catalanes, a sub-appellation of the Roussillon in southern France. The vineyards are in the Pyrénées-Orientales mountain range, two hours east of Barcelona, Spain and thirty minutes from the ancient Roman port city of Perpignan. Falling in love with the area and vines, Phinney built a winery in 2009, followed by a home for him and his family.

The area is known for its intense heat and minimal amounts of vegetation. Planted over 60 years ago, vines are grown in soil mostly of black schist, along with small amounts of granite and limestone. “The intense heat from the daytime sun is reflected back to the gnarled, head trained vines at night, increasing ripeness while maintaining acidity. The result is a very low yield (half ton per acre), but makes for a dark, concentrated, and finesse driven wine that embodies this singular region.”

The inspiration for the brand name ‘Dept 66’ is derived from the administrative department that covers the southwest corner of France that the estate is located in [Department 66].

Philosophy: “I am so lucky to have been introduced to this amazing area and so proud to share its wines with you.”

Winemaking: Aged for 18 months in French oak, 30% new. Aged in the bottle 5 months prior to release.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of toasted oak, dark fruit, raisin and peppery spice. Concentrated black cherry, blueberry, blackberry, vanilla and licorice flavours swell over an oak core. Silky tannins, dark fruit, coffee, black pepper toasted oak and a dusting of dark chocolate comprise the lengthy, velvety finish. Rich and lush, not for the faint of heart [oak wise, alcohol wise, concentrated fruit wise].

Grenache, Syrah and Carignon [I could not verify varietal percentages.]
IGP Cotes Catalanes
Produced and Bottled by Dept. 66
15.2% Alcohol
Enjoy now thru 2021

Rated 93 points by Wine Advocate

Les Chardons Gamay Touraine 2014

Estate: The Chardon domaine is located along the banks of the Cher River in Couffy, in the Touraine region of the Loire Valley. Husband and wife team Sophie and Thierry Chardon cultivate 115 acres of vineyards, with an average vine age of 25 years. Raised on a vineyard in Touraine, Thierry’s family made wine for many generations, until his father was forced to sell the vineyard. Years later, Thierry and Sophie moved their family back to Touraine and purchased a domaine.

Winemaking: Certified organic since the late 2000’s, the believe in minimal intervention in both the vineyard and cellar. “Our wines emerge from grapes cultivated without chemical products, in respect of our environment.”

Tasting Notes: Transparent in red-violet in colour, with aromas of strawberry, resin and earthy funk. Strawberry, raspberry, along with sour cherry wrap around a floral core and are accented by sandalwood, white pepper, a dash of funk and a streak of granite minerality. Black cherry and a trace of tart wild berries linger between each sip. Smooth tannins and food friendly acidity compliment this fantastic, unique expression of Gamay.

100% Gamay
Estate Bottled
12.5% Alcohol
Enjoy now

Château des Charmes Cabernet Sauvignon Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA 2015

Estate: Paul Bosc, a fifth generation French winegrower who holds degrees in Viticulture and Oenology from the University of Burgundy in Dijon, France, founded Château des Charmes in 1978. Paul brought his young family to the Niagara on the Lake region of Canada in the 1960’s “with the idea that growing our own grapes was the best way to make fine wine”. The estate consists of 280 acres of vineyards in four locations all within the Niagara-on-the-Lake region.

Paul established himself as a pioneer in the region, from planting traditional French varietals to employing cutting edge techniques such as installing wind machines to protect the vines from the cold. In addition to being recognized for their progressive, groundbreaking work with traditional French grapes and methods, their wines have garnered accolades for their balance, finesse and quality. Paul Sr still has an active role in the vineyards, his son Paul Jr is President of the estate, and Paul Jr’s wife Michèle is the Director of Marketing.

Philosophy: “We are custodians of the land.” Crafting wines that are “food friendly and age worthy. We hope you will call them delicious”.

Winemaking: Committed from the very beginning to sustainable practices, the family is a charter member of Sustainable Winegrowing Ontario. Chemical treatments are never used, and sustainable methods such as hedge vine canopies, and under drainage are utilized. Naturally occurring yeasts are used for the majority of the wines. All by-products from the winemaking process [stems, skins, seeds] are returned to the vineyards as natural fertilizer. Their extensive cellars are geothermal and do not require any heating or cooling, especially impressive considering how cold Canadian winters can be.

Grapes were hand sorted in the vineyard. Aged for 10 months in French oak barrels with regular stirring of the lees.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with cheerful aromas of cherry, wildflowers, black cherry, black pepper and a trace of roasted jalapeño. All the cherries [red, black and a pop of sour] glide atop polished granite minerality and smooth, fine tannins. Crushed pink peppercorn dusted fruit along with a hint of vanilla comprises the moderate finish. Super food friendly, give this a pour with almost anything!

100% Cabernet Sauvignon
Niagara-On-The-Lake VQA
Estate Bottled by Château des Charmes
13% Alcohol
$15 [Canadian Dollars]
Enjoy now thru 2018

Romagnoli ‘Il Rosso di Casa Romagnoli’ Marche IGT 2015

Estate: The Romagnoli Winery is a small family estate established in 1857 and located in the Marches region between Tuscany and Umbria along the Adriatic Coast. Passionate about producing traditional wines that express the fruit profile of each individual grape varietal, they utilize traditional farming methods on their 11 hectares of vineyards, along with modern methods such as thermoregulation tank control. Three generations of the family work together, taking of the entire production from vine to bottle.

Philosophy: Their philosophy is one of “respecting the great characteristics of the grapes” and can be seen in the family’s motto “Piccoli Produttori – GRAND VINI” [Small Producers-BIG WINES].

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards with clay and sand soil. Aged in steel barrels. Crafted from a classic Marches blend, this “house wine” is meant to be an everyday red.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with cheerful aromas of wild berries and soft baking spices. Blackberry, cherry, tobacco leaf and a hint of warm summer earth are accented by light tannins, black cherry and smoky spice comprise the plush finish. Rustic, easy drinking and a fantastic pairing with pizza and all sorts of pastas. A spectacular value.

Blend of Lacrima, Montepulciano and Sangiovese [I was unable to verify variatel percentages.]
Marche IGT
Estate Bottled by Azienda Agricola Renato Romagnoli & C.
14% Alcohol
Enjoy now