Eat Drink and be Merry: The Dreaming Tree Trio

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 Sauvignon Blanc Sonoma County 2016

“We think this wine hits all the right notes. No matter what your journey may be. This is the perfect wine to share along the way.” – Sean McKenzie

Winemaking: Aged for 3 months in stainless steel tanks, bottled immediately in order to maintain the youthful characteristics of the fruit.

Tasting Notes: Pale gold in colour with bright, fresh aromas of melon, grass, clean minerals and citrus. Juicy, summer cantaloupe and honeydew flavours meld with pineapple and a hint of pink grapefruit. Tingly acidity and clean minerals shine on the citrus zest finish. A fantastic summer sip.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: A great sipping wine that also pairs well with classic fish and chips, fresh shellfish and spicy Mexican dishes.

100% Sauvignon Blanc
13.4% Alcohol
$12 [average price]

The Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir 2015

“This is something I feel good about inviting someone over to share with me. It’s something I can be proud of. It’s creation.” – Dave Matthews

Winemaking: 70% of the grapes were sourced from Central Coast AVA. Aged in oak barrels for 10 months.

Tasting Notes: Transparent bright garnet in colour with inviting aromas of cherry, strawberry, vanilla, white pepper and toasted oak. Tasting similar to the aromas with ripe cherry and strawberry dusted with crushed pink peppercorn. Silky tannins and an engaging savoury streak fuse with vanilla, cherry, spice and traces of oak on the lengthy finish. Easy drinking and well balanced with food friendly acidity, wonderful on its own or with a wide variety of dishes. [It was fantastic with gnocchi covered with rich fontina/parmesan sauce and roasted broccoli.]

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Roast chicken or pork, grilled fish, mushroom risotto.

100% Pinot Noir
13.8% Alcohol
$13 [average price]

The Dreaming Tree ‘Crush’ Red Blend 2014

“I swallowed it before I put the glass down.” – Dave Matthews

Winemaking: 79% of grapes were sourced from North Coast AVA. Wines were periodically racked [siphoning the wine off the lees or sediment] to clarify and to develop the smooth tannin structure. After aging for 16 months in oak, the individual varieties were blended.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour with aromas of cranberry, raspberry, black pepper, vanilla and toasted oak. Velvety tannins along with hints of vanilla and leather accent cherry, raspberry and plum jam flavours. Crushed black peppercorn, toasted oak and a trace of rich black cherry comprise the plush finish. Full bodied with ripe fruit and silky smooth, don’t be surprised how swiftly your glass will empty.

Pairing Suggestions from the Winery: Barbecue, vegetarian stuffed poblano peppers, Vietnamese pork sandwiches.

64% Merlot, 20% Petite Sirah, 13% Zinfandel, 3% Other
13.7% Alcohol
$13 [average price]

Samples submitted for review purpose.

Exploring the Diverse, Vibrant Personalities of New Zealand Pinot Noir

I was delighted to attend the Made in New Zealand Pinot Noir Seminar held at Pier A Harbor House in NYC last month. The seminar was an extension of Pinot Noir NZ 2017 held in Wellington New Zealand. The 3 day event, as described by The Drinks Business Magazine: “New Zealand’s entire wine industry gathered alongside a host of international sommeliers, buyers and writers to debate all things Pinot, letting their hair down in the process, in true Kiwi fashion. It was the sixth time that the Pinot Noir NZ event had been held, hosted every four years, with 115 New Zealand wineries showcased this year representing seven regions.”

From left to right, Joe Czerwinski, Brett Feore and Michael Henley.

Hosted by New Zealand Wine, the NYC event was under the direction of David Strada, the marketing manager for New Zealand Wines USA. The distinguished panel of presenters were Joe Czerwinski, managing editor of Wine Enthusiast, Brett Feore, sommelier and wine director at the New Zealand influenced Muskat Room in NYC, Laura Williamson, Master Sommelier and wine director at Mandarin Oriental in NYC, and Michael Henley, CEO of Trinity Hill Wines.

With such an esteemed panel, the tasting was an engaging, informative journey through the different personalities of New Zealand Pinot Noir. Here are my impressions from the seminar:

Wine regions of New Zealand. Courtesy of New Zealand Wine.

  • There is a wide range of style and diversity within New Zealand Pinot Noir. There are 10 growing regions, each displaying distinctive, regional character ranging from fresh and bright, graceful and subtle, to bold and tannic. For example, the hillside areas in Marlborough are known to have red fruits, fresh acidity, good structure and tannic backbone. Hawke’s Bay Pinot Noir, with its cool climate, along with water and wind issues, tend to the more savory and earth side, with spice and supple tannins.
  • The average vine age is 15 years. Pinot Noir is a relatively new adventure in New Zealand winemaking. As Joe Czerwinski stated, “While there is a maturity being seen in both the wines and winemakers, winemakers are still figuring things out”.
  • Committed to protecting the land, nearly 100% of wines produced are certified sustainable, with many also being certified organic and biodynamic.
  • The majority of wineries take their name from the dominant feature of the land that they cultivate.
  • As seen also with many Italian winemakers, there is a drive to move away from oak to allow the fruit to come thru. Wine with oak aging generally has a low percentage of new oak.
  • Alcohol levels have to be within .5 % of what is stated on the label. For those of us familiar with the fun “11%-14%” ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ alcohol level commonly seen on Italian and French labels, the accuracy is striking.

All of the wines below are 100% Pinot Noir. Prices listed are the average online cost.

Trinity Hill Pinot Noir Hawke’s Bay 2015

Winemaking Notes: No new oak was used in order to let the fruit express itself; the structure comes from the abundant fruit, not oak.

Tasting Notes: Bright aromas of cherry, raspberry, wild flowers and clean minerals. Fresh and fruity with a streak of granite minerality, silky tannins compliment the fruity, dry finish. Accessible and fun, fantastic on its own or a great companion at the table.
13% Alcohol
$15

Te Kairanga ‘John Martin’ Pinot Noir Martinborough 2015 Continue reading

Hob Nob Vineyards Pinot Noir 2013

hobnob

Winery: Deutsch Family Wine & Spirits and Les Vins Georges Dubœuf developed Hob Nob in 2007 with a goal of producing New World style wines that are “approachable, yet stylish and sophisticated”. Deutsch Family was founded in 1981 by Bill Deutsch and has grown over the years with a portfolio of over 170 international brands, including giants such as Yellow Tail and Josh Cellars. Winemaker Georges Dubœuf is one of the largest and most famous wine merchants in France, and is viewed as “single handedly popularizing the annual Beaujolais Nouveau phenomenon”.

Motto: “At the center of it all.”

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from vineyards in the Languedoc region of southern France. “Part of the wine” was aged in oak for 8 weeks.

Tasting Notes: Garnet with brick edges in colour, with aromas of flowers, black pepper, black cherry and a hint of oak. Tasting very similar to the aromas with black pepper dusted cherry, floral nuances and a trace of leather. Finishing soft and plush with black cherry, vanilla and oak. A bit generic, and uninteresting, but overall innocuous and easy drinking for the $8 price.

100% Pinot Noir
Pays d’Oc IGP
France
Produced & Bottled by Hob Nob Vineyards
13% Alcohol
$8
Enjoy now

Pascal Jolivet Sancerre Rosé 2014

Estate: Pascal Jolivet is regarded as “one of the most dynamic domaines in France’s Loire Valley”. Founded in 1987, the estate consists of 120 acres of vineyards that extend across the appellations of Sancerre and Pouilly-Fumé. Pascal Jolivet is committed to natural winemaking in both the vineyard and cellar processes.

Philosophy: “To let nature take its course as much as possible.”

Winemaking: Grapes were sourced from “different terroirs throughout the appellation including estate vineyards in the villages of Bué, Verdigny and St Gemme”. Fermented using native, wild yeasts.

Tasting Notes: Amber-coral in colour with aromas of rhubarb, herbs and chalk minerals. Red currant, rhubarb, and strawberry flavours are supported by a food friendly acidity. Red grapefruit and clean minerals comprise the refreshing, dry finish. Charming and direct, an amiable companion to a wide array of dishes.

100% Pinot Noir
Sancerre
France
Estate Bottled
12.5% Alcohol
$26 [1.5L]
Enjoy now

Rated 88 points by Wine Spectator

Lost Angel Pinot Noir 2014

lostangelpn

Brand: Lost Angel Wines are a brand of Foley Family wines, which was founded in 1996 by vintner William Foley II. Foley Family Wines encompasses vineyards in California and the Pacific Northwest and includes brands such as Sebastiani Vineyards, Chalk Hill Estate and Three Rivers Winery. Foley places an emphasis on “the average American wine lover” that enjoys well-made wines ranging in both style and price.

Philosophy: “Create bangin’ wines that seduce the palate with scandalously good flavors.”

Winemaking: Each property contracted with Foley Family Wines is committed to sustainable farming practices.

Tasting Notes: Transparent garnet in colour with aromas of black cherry, spiced oak and vanilla. Tart cranberry, pomegranate and black cherry flavours culminate in a lengthy finish of vanilla and spiced oak notes. Not the best for sipping on its own, I recommend pairing with food and decanting for at least 30 minutes, as the fruit softened up and became less aggressively tart. [I paired it with cheesy mushroom penne and seared, black pepper faux meat.]

82% Pinot Noir, 18% Syrah
California
Vinted and Bottled by Lost Angel Wines
13.5% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now