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.

Boekenhoutskloof ‘The Wolftrap’ Red 2015

Estate: The Boekenhoutskloof estate was established in 1776 and is located in the corner of the Franschhoek Valley in the Western Cape of South Africa. Boekenhout is an indigenous Cape Beech tree with its name meaning “ravine of the Boekenhout”. In 1993 new owners [a group of businessmen including wine distributer Vinimark owner Tim Rands] set about transforming the 20 hectares of vineyards with sustainable methods, along with new cellars and equipment.

With over 9,600 plant species, the estate lies within a world heritage site that contains one of most diverse plant kingdoms in the world. Due to the unique habitat, the estate focuses on restoration and preservation of the land, and actively participates in biodiversity and conservation initiatives. ‘The Wolftrap’ line [there is also a Rosè and white blend] was “created to remind us of the mysteries and legends of days gone by. The mountains are still alive with indigenous animals, including the majestic leopard. No evidence of wolves has ever been found though”.

Winemaking: The estate is certified sustainable. The grapes were sourced from low yielding vineyards in the Swartland, fermented in stainless steel and aged in French oak before blending and bottling.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with engaging aromas of black pepper, smoky wisps, dark berry jam and gamey hints. Layers of blackberry and cherry with a kiss of vanilla wrap around a spicy core. The plush finish brings more spice with smoked black pepper, toasted oak, roasted herb hints and a touch of gamey earth. Bold and spicy, consistently a fantastic value.

67% Syrah, 31% Mourvédre, 2% Viognier
Western Cape
South Africa
Matured and bottled by Boekenhoutskloof Franschhoek
14.5% Alcohol
$8
Enjoy now

Domaine De Fontsainte Rouge Corbières 2015

Estate: Located in the heart of the Corbières appellation in the Languedoc region of southern France, the estate’s first vineyards were planted by the ancient Romans. More recently, the Laboucarié family has been making wine there since the 17th century. Today the estate is headed by Bruno Laboucarié who maintains his family’s legacy of innovation. Bruno, along with his father Yves were one of the first grape growers in the region to work with whole cluster fermentation. (A technique that can impart a subtle “green” flavor, spices and additional tannins.) For over 30 years Kermit Lynch has been importing their fantastic wines.

Philosophy: With a belief that ”great wines are made in the vineyard”, focus is on terroir since each vineyard is different in regards to soil type, microclimate and varietal. The family’s motto is “innovation means looking forward and backward”.

Winemaking: Sustainable viticulture has been practiced since 1971. The winery utilizes gravity fed modern thermo regulated stainless steel vats along with traditional cement vats. Grapes are sourced from vineyards with gritty, gravely silica-clay-limestone soil. Aged for 6 months in French oak barrels.

Tasting Notes: Dark red-violet in colour with aromas of smoky, black pepper dusted dark berries. Tasting similar to the aromas, with rich dark berry flavours, black pepper and a hint of earth. Berries return on the clean, fruity finish. Straightforward, easy drinking, versatile and consistently a fantastic value.

60% Carignan, 30% Grenache Noir, 10% Syrah
Corbières
France
Estate Bottled
13.5% Alcohol
$10
Enjoy now

Orin Swift ‘The Prisoner’ Napa Valley Red Blend 2005

The Prisoner is a scintillating American success story; launched in 2000 by famed winemaker Dave Phinney, the brand has been sold twice already. In 2010 Phinney sold it to Huneeus Vintners, they in turn sold it [along with its siblings Saldo, Cuttings, Blindfold and Thorn] to Constellation Brands in 2016. As the bottle I enjoyed pre-dates these sales, here is the original background on the brand:

Progressive winemaker David Swift Phinney was “introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked” during time spent in Italy in 1995. Upon his return to the States he took a job as a harvest worker at Robert Mondavi. It was there that he decided, “that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself”, and in 1998 Orin Swift Cellars was founded [Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name]. . He is renowned for wines that “are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that holds it all in place”.

[Orin Swift developed into an international brand including 300 acres in southwest France along with projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations. In 2016 Orin Swift (the brand, remaining inventory and the tasting room in St. Helena) was purchased by E. & J. Gallo Winery. Dave Phinney “will remain involved”.]

Winemaking: The Prisoner was an immediate success, and has been hailed as a “contemporary California field blend” [comprised of varying percentages of Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, Petite Sirah and Charbono]. The Prisoner consistently is awarded, and appears regularly on Wine Spectator’s Top 100 list.

Tasting Notes: Dark garnet in colour, highly aromatic with aromas of blackberry jam on toast, black pepper, vanilla and mocha traces. Silky layers of concentrated black current, black cherry, raspberry are dusted with crushed black peppercorn along with a hint of graham cracker. Velvety tannins accent burnt caramel, chocolate, black current, vanilla and buttery toast on the fantastically lengthy finish. Opulent and lush, nearly a meal on its own.

48% Zinfandel, 26% Cabernet Sauvignon, 14% Syrah, 10% Petite Sirah and 2% Charbono
Napa Valley
California
Bottled by Orin Swift Cellars
15.2% Alcohol
$125 [1.5 L]
Enjoy now thru 2020

Rated 93 points by Wine Spectator

Orin Swift ‘Abstract’ Red Blend 2015

abstract15

Winery: Progressive winemaker David Swift Phinney was “introduced to wine, how it was made, and got hooked” during time spent in Italy in 1995. Upon his return to the States he took a job as a harvest worker at Robert Mondavi. It was there that he decided “that if he was going to work this hard, it would eventually have to be for himself”, and in 1998 Orin Swift Cellars was founded [Orin is his father’s middle name and Swift is his mother’s maiden name].

Today the company has grown into an international brand that includes 300 acres in southwest France along with projects in Spain, Italy, Corsica, Argentina and other locations. However, his mission still remains a small, “passionate team of friends and family dedicated to making great wine”. He is renowned for wines that “are unapologetically full-flavored and intense, yet with a backbone of structure that holds it all in place”.
*[Note: Orin Swift (the brand, remaining inventory and the tasting room in St. Helena) was purchased by E. & J. Gallo Winery in 2016. Dave Phinney “will remain involved”.]

Winemaking: Grapes are sourced from vineyards located throughout Northern California, including Napa, Sonoma, and Mendocino. “Drawing from five esteemed regions throughout Northern California, an alluring matrix of flavors and textures was achieved. Each vineyard block was precisely chosen to fulfill a vision and blending component need.” Aged for 10 months in a combination of new and seasoned French Oak, with 35% new oak.

Tasting Notes: Red-violet in colour with aromas of wild berries, baking spices and traces of caramel. Tasting quite similar to the inviting aromas, with wild berry jam, a hint of vanilla and a pop of fresh jalapeno. Silky tannins compliment good acidity; rich chocolate, a hint of black cherry, and sweet caramel linger on the velvety finish. A decadent, silky fusion of berries and chocolate, your glass will empty much faster then you thought possible. [Especially with that 15.1% Alcohol.]

Blend of Grenache, Petite Sirah, and Syrah
California
Bottled by Orin Swift Cellars
15.1% Alcohol
$29
Enjoy now thru 2022