Dave Matthews and Wine?

Dave Matthews and wine? What? I was just as shocked when I realized it myself….

This may surprise some of my college sorority sisters, but I am not the biggest Dave Matthews music fan. At the time I attended college, Dave Matthews was the “thing” and many of my college-mates were very fond of him. I played along. But honestly I never got his music. I never understood everyone’s obsession with him. Then again, I am obsessed with Jimmy Buffett and many may not get that either. However, I am not here to bash Dave. He is a pretty amazing philanthropist who has not only contributed his time and resources to Seattle’s needy community, but all over the world as well.

So the day when someone came into the The Grape Choice and asked for his wine, I was floored. What?! Dave Matthews is making wine now? For some reason this annoyed me. I get tired of all these famous people thinking they can develop their own perfume, food, wine, vodka, etc. and expect consumers to pay for their name. Because of that, I had no intention of trying his wine.

Not long after my finding of his wine-making hobby, my girlfriend Natalie invited my family over for dinner. Since she knows me all to well, she of course had wine to serve with dinner. To my surprise she pulled out a bottle of The Dreaming Tree – aka Dave Matthews wine. I was skeptical to try it, but I didn’t want to seem rude. And in this crazy world of wine, I was pleasantly surprised. Actually, I was more than pleasantly surprised, I was excited. This wine excited and thrilled me. The Dreaming Tree was good, really good. The bottle Natalie purchased was Dreaming Tree’s Crush (red blend). After that fun night of exploring a new wine (that I would not have purchased on my own) I was eager to try more. Which leads up to my tasting notes on The Dreaming Tree wines.

Tonights Tasting:
The Dreaming Tree, www.dreamingtreewines.com
Costco, QFC, Safeway, online      $12.99-35.00 (depending on wine and retailer)

The Dreaming Tree has three different wines, the Crush, Cabernet Sauvignon (and one reserve) and Chardonnay. They are also a sustainable vineyard and conscious about the environment.  I have tasted two of the three; The Cab and Crush.

The Crush – is a red blend (table wine)- Zinfandel and Merlot. I expected this wine to be a “bam” and spicy wine since it has Zin blended into it. This is not the case. It is a very subtle, soft wine. It’s not my favorite blend, but for those new to wine, this is a great introduction. The Crush is smooth, slightly smokey and has a cherry jam flavor on the tongue. It is really an easy drinking wine that is not complex. If you like structure to your wine, you probably wouldn’t enjoy this. To argue though, I am a structure girl and  it surprised me that I was enjoying this wine. Maybe it was the company that surrounded me or the setting I was placed in, but whatever the mood was, the wine excited me. To note,  I have had it a couple of times since and still surprised in my delight of this wine.

Cabernet Sauvignon – From the North Coast of California and again is another easy drinking, crowd pleasing wine that isn’t overly complex. However I feel there is more structure to the Cab than the Crush. It has a rich vanilla and blackberry tone with some slight spice and tannin. I prefer this wine over the Crush. It is smoother, richer and tells a story. If you had to choose between the two, I would recommend the Cab. I just get a warm, smooth feeling when I drink this..and I believe it would be enjoyed by those who prefer white wines as well.

DTW_cab_med5As for the Cab Reserve and Chardonnay, I will leave it up you, my fellow novices, to tell me your feelings on the wine.

For the price and the easy-drinking ability, I would recommend either one of these wines. The Dreaming Tree is readily available in most grocery stores and is one of those “safe” wines you can grab, take to a party and feel confident about your purchase. It’s smooth and friendly. My only question is why didn’t Dave chose a Washington vineyard? (hint, hint Dave!)

Cheers and enjoy!

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Time for Bubbles

Bubbles, Champagne, Sparking Wine, Prosecco, Cava, etc. It doesn’t matter what your favorite is or what you call it…. just call it often. Even though I am strategically posting this blog this for the upcoming “Hallmark Holiday” (or what some people call it: Valentine’s day), I think that any time is bubble time. I always keep a bottle or two around for any occasion. Even if it’s a I- made- it- through- the- day occasion. It’s always a good idea to keep bubbles on hand. You never know when a glass will call your name…..

It has been a while since I have talked about bubbles, so I thought I would up-date you on a couple of my new favorites. I am not going to get into the differences between Champagne, Sparkling wine, Prosecco and Cava – because if you go back to Sept 2010 on A Wine Journey, you will find detailed descriptions. This is just a quick guide on two amazing bubbles to pick up for the Hallmark Holiday or (if you are me) any day of the week .One is a splurge and another is a mid-priced wine.

Tonights Tasting:

Pierre Peters Champagne Cuvee de Reserve Grand Cru

$54.99, The Grape Choice, Kirkland WA www.thegrapechoice.com

This growers champagne knows how to make good champagne. Pierre Peters has been making delicious bubbles since 1919 – and since then has been killing it with awards in France and the US. This wine is no disappointment. It’s made from Chardonnay grapes and is crisp, dry and dances on your tongue. It has the flavors of apples, apricots and minerals. It’s an intense and expressive Champagne.  At a growers champagne tasting, it was my favorite of the night. It may be a challenge to find, but if you call Perry at The Grape Choice (425-827-7551) in Kirkland, he will be able to find it for you! It’s worth the hunt and the price.. I guarantee you will love it.

Pierre Peter Champagne

Pierre Peters Champagne

Domaine Carneros by Taittinger – Napa Valley, CA

$27.00 www.domainecarneros.com

For a more reasonable treat, Domaine Carneros Brut is a such that…a delticable treat. I tend towards French Champagne’s and Cava’s, but this US sparkling wine is on my top 10 favorite bubbles list. It has crisp, mineral and citrus flavors that lingers in your mouth. It’s a classic sparkling wine made from both Chardonnay and Pinot Noir grapes. This wine can be found easier then Pierre Peters. I have seen it at most local wine shops, Whole Foods and of course, its website. I belong to the Domaine Carneros wine club and have not been disappointed in any wine that I have received.

Domaine Carneros

Domaine Carneros

Whether it’s Valentines day or a Tuesday, it’s always a good day for bubbles!! Pop a bottle open and remember to “Keep Calm and Drink Champagne.” Cheers!

Wines with a V

I am typically a red wine drinker. Since this past summer though, I have been drinking a lot more whites. Even in this cold, drizzly Seattle weather, sometimes a crisp white wine just sounds tasty. Lately, I have been gravitating towards wines that start with V… Strange huh? Does a wine that begins with V ring a bell for you?

The white wines most wine novices typically gravitate towards are Chardonnay’s, Sauvignon Blanc’s and Pinot Gris/Grigio’s. But not me. Because of you, my friends, I am a risk taker who is down with the V’s. Which means you should check them out next time you are at your local wine merchant. These wines will say to your guests, host or friends that you are adventurous, daring and wine knowledgeable…. (Trust me; they will be impressed with your picks)

These are my 4 varietal, go -to favorites lately

 

Verdejo (Verdelho) – Ola! This is bright and fairly medium bodied Spanish (and Portuguese) white wine (although, I have an Australian Verdejo last night from Mollydooker and it was a lot of fun). Being this is typically a Spanish wine, it pairs well with most fish/seafood dishes, pastas (esp. with pesto) and vegetarian dishes. This is also a wine that will go nicely with an Indian dinner or something with a lot of spice. It has a well balanced flavor with many foods!

Vermentino – I have been on a Vermentino kick lately. This is another medium bodied wine that often has hints of mineral and citrus (lemon and pear in my opinion). Vermentino is typically from Sardinia and Liguria, but can often be found grown along the Mediterranean coast. Simple fish dishes are what I would pair this with. I love the flavor of Vermentino, so I wouldn’t have it with a dish that would take away from its simple, yet elegant flavor. A nice tossed salad would also pair nicely with this wine

Vinho Verde– This fun Portuguese, semi-sparkling white wine is inexpensive and goes well with spicy foods. This wine, in general, does not have a whole lot of flavor, but I feel it blends nicely with spicy foods (I had one with empanadas and it tasted brilliantly together). It would also be a fantastic wine to drink with fish tacos, seafood stews and crab cakes. You usually can find this wine under $10. What a steal!

Viognier- This is a French (WA, CA, OR, and Australia as well) dry, florally, full bodied white wine. Now, my issue with Viognier is that the floral nose and taste can be overpowering (I prefer subtle wines). However, if you find the right balanced Viognier, it is heaven in your mouth. You do have to play around with them to find your perfect Viognier though. Once you find that perfect wine, it will go nicely with Asian dishes, Chicken, dishes with cream sauces, lobster and pork. Viognier is one of those wines that will blend nicely with a variety of cheeses…

Alright, just one more V wine…

Valpolicella – This is not a white wine, but I wanted to add in as a favorite red wine of mine. Valpolicella is an Italian, light-bodied dry red wine from the Veneto region. Like with Viognier, I have had some bad Valpolicella that tasted thin and had the flavor of dried cherries and stale licorice. I am REALLY picky about my Valpolicella. Finding the right one can take work, but again high risk means high rewards. Once you find the right Valpolicella (look for Valpolicella Classico Superiore) it will be smooth, well rounded. This wine is great to start your dinner party off with. Pairs well with Italia dishes (pizza, pasta, etc), Risotto, grilled/roasted chicken and sausage.

Go ahead and show off your adventurous wine side to your friends. Bringing one of these V wines to your next party will impress your other wine novice friends. And it’s just nice to break out of the norm.

Put down that Chardonnay and pick up a Vermentino!

Cheers and Happy February friends….