The Dreaming Tree – Crush (Red blend) 2009 – North Coast, California
When I think of Dave Matthews, music often comes to mind. His dynamic voice and innovative style have provided us with lasting hits since 1991. But it is seldom that I have associated Dave with the world of wine, until now. I recently had the opportunity to attend a wine tasting at Chops Wine Bar, in Fort Wayne, Indiana, where they revealed The Dreaming Tree wines—a collaborative project between noted winemaker, Steve Reeder, and none other than Dave Matthews.
I must admit that I was slightly skeptical about this news. Although, once I realized that Dave holds the same passion and creativity for wine as he does his music, my thoughts began to change. And this was before I'd even had a chance to try it! But let’s not get too ahead of ourselves!
Dave’s journey with wine began over ten years ago in Charlottesville, Virginia. It was there that he established Blenheim Vineyards, an environmentally-minded and family operated winery. The vision behind The Dreaming Tree came when Dave met internationally recognized winemaker Steve Reeder. The two shared a common love for not only drinking wine, but for making it as well. Dave and Steve then began a quest to produce quality wine that is accessible to all.
In addition to the intent of creating a wine to be enjoyed with friends rather than kept away in a cellar, the duo also set a goal of sustainability. The grapes are grown with very few pesticides and the corks are sourced from sustainable farms. All the labels are printed on 100 percent recycled paper with out any bleaching and reduced toxins. At 50 percent the weight of traditional bottles (to reduce fuel consumption during transport), even the glass is eco-friendly! And, just in case you are wondering, Dave took time off from touring to ensure his involvement and dedication to the entire process.
Dave and Steve chose the North and Central Coast regions of California as their playground. California accounts for 90 percent of wine production in the United States, and if it were a separate country, it would be the fourth largest producer of wine in the world. California offers diverse terrain and growing conditions, which is why so many different varieties of wine are produced there. A favorite moment in Californian wine history occurred in 1976 when, during an international competition—The Judgment of Paris—Californian wines beat out French wines in both the white and red categories. As you can imagine, the French weren’t too happy. With a history of success and an abundance of choices, California makes the perfect home for The Dreaming Tree Wines.
The Dreaming Tree currently offers three different wines: Chardonnay, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Crush. After sampling all three, my favorite was the Crush. This wine is a red blend. By law, wine is labeled as a blend when there isn’t a predominant grape by at least 75 to 85 percent (varies with different countries). This doesn’t mean that the wine is inferior by any means, but it does allow for great diversity in flavors.
This specific blend is made up of 67 percent Merlot and 33 percent Zinfandel. Merlot, being the second most widely planted black wine grape in the world, shares a similar profile to that of Cabernet, but is far less acidic and astringent. Although its aromas and flavors alter with the terrain and aging processes, it is often described to carry notes of black cherry, currant, and plum. Zinfandel is considered indigenous to California where it has flourished since the mid 1850s and remains one of the most popular grapes. At its best, it is considered to have a very jammy and fruit forward quality. Zinfandel can also contribute a peppery or spicy taste to wines.
I found that the Crush had the best balance of flavors out of the three offered. Its fruit forward profile was complimented with a hint of smoky—almost spicy— berry flavor. This would definitely be the merlot and zinfandel varietals at work. Only aged for 19 months in oak barrels, there isn’t too much oak noticeable in the flavor of the wine. With the less acidic and astringent grapes, I would consider it to be more of a medium bodied wine. But, it still held its own and had a bit of a tannic (dry) quality to it, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Crush was definitely a drinkable wine; you could sit around all night sipping it with ease, with or with out food.
After learning about The Dreaming Tree and getting a chance to sample it, I have fallen in love with it and the shared vision between its makers. Wine is meant to be enjoyed by everyone. Dave and Steve's collaboration and diligence in the creation of this wine has ensured that it is approachable to novice and seasoned wine drinkers alike. The Dreaming Tree shows that there is great wine in the world and that it doesn’t have to carry a hefty price. It is the perfect wine to pick up on the way home for dinner or to share with friends. And it is exactly the kind of wine that this blog is all about.
Vintner: The Dreaming Tree
Winemakers: Dave Matthews and Steve Reeder
Vintage (year): 2009
Location: North Coast, California
Type: Red Blend (67% Merlot; 33% Zinfandel)
Description: Medium Bodied Red
Where to get it: Chop’s Wine Bar and Most Liquor Stores
What I paid: $9/glass (Chop’s Wine Bar) $14-$18/bottle (in stores)
Photos by Tony Frantz