Charlie Opines About Wine

In my search for interesting wines to serve to guests at our Cape Cod Bed and Breakfast, I attend many planned and impromptu wine tastings. I am happy to share my experiences with you. It's a tough job but someone has to do it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Wine Tastings Begin for 2013 Season

Charlie’s Weekly Wine-ings

It is cold and wet on Cape Cod, but neither rain nor sleet will keep me away from my appointed task of finding the next great wine to serve the guests who stay at our bed and breakfast. We are still in Sandwich, having maintenance work to do and several improvement projects to finish, we have not yet left for our annual trip to Florida in our motor home. Since the Belfry Bistro has also been closed part of the time, I have not had my usual fix of weekly wine tasting. Thankfully, on Wednesday, February 27th was the first of the season, which we normally miss because we are enjoying the southern sunshine. But we are here and the sun is not, so I am thankful for the tasting to bring a little liquid sunshine into my life.

 The blazing fire in the main dining room at the Belfry warmed the room and the guest, cutting through the bone chilling dampness. It was my first tasting since the last event in mid-December,  and the first gathering of many of the oenophile ‘regulars’. Like a homecoming, we caught up on the holidays and shared stories about the now famous BLIZZARD OF 2013 a few weeks back that left many of us buried in snow and without power for way too long. The conviviality of the evening was enhanced by the wines offered.  Adam from Horizon Beverage Company shared four interesting California wines, three from Dreaming Tree Wine, and one from Simi Winery.

There is often a great story behind the wines and Dreaming Tree is a prime example of that. The wines are from a collaboration of Dave Matthews, of the Dave Matthews Band fame, and Steve Reeder, a renowned Sonoma winemaker. Dave Matthews started making wine on his farm in Virginia but longed for the experience that you can only get in the real wine country of California. Steve Reeder has decades of winemaking experience and is now the Vice President of Winemaking at Simi Winery in Healdsburg, in  the heart of Sonoma wine country. Steve’s goal for Dreaming Tree is captured by this quote ‘I make wines for people to drink. I don’t make wines for people to put in their cellar.’ Together, they have produced easy drinking, affordable, wines from grapes sourced from many of California's best grape producing areas. Adam referred to them as being like ‘hippies’ in their approach to their wines and the fun they have in the process. In hippie-like fashion Dreaming Tree is sociably responsible, using only lightweight bottles manufactured with clean-burning natural gas, all labels are from 100% recycled paper using only black ink printing—no bleaching, which reduces toxins and heavy metals, and only natural corks from sustainable farms. 

We started with the Dreaming Tree 2010 Central Coast Chardonnay. This lightly oaked wine paired nicely with a Shrimp, Mango, and Avocado salad. The Belfry Bistro’s Executive Chef, Ben Porter, was on his game as he matched the food pairings with the wines.

Next we went to the 2010 Crush, Red Wine North Coast paired with Grilled Swordfish, Sundried Tomato and Olive Chutney. Crush, my favorite of the night, is a Merlot based blend with some Syrah and Zinfandel plus a touch of Petit Sirah and Malbec.  Adam related how each of the grape varieties is fermented and aged separately, then Dave and Steve sit around a table tasting and mixing until they have the blend they want to release as Crush. Now that sounds like fun and this Crush drinks way to easy, with or without food.

The last Dreaming Tree wine was the 2010 Cabernet Sauvignon North Coast paired with a wonderful Organic Mushroom Risotto, Caramelized Onion and Pancetta. This wine is mostly Cabernet Sauvignon with a bit of Merlot and some Cabernet Franc. With low tannins, this wine is very approachable immediately. Like Steve said, he makes wine to drink now, not needing to be cellared for years. 

We closed the evening with a 2008 Simi Landslide Cabernet Sauvignon paired with Grilled Durham Ranch Waygu Flank Steak with a Chocolate Bourbon Reduction. Although the biggest wine of the night, it too is fairly easy drinking but benefits from food and the Flank Steak worked very well with it. The grapes are from the Simi owned estate vineyards in Alexander Valley, the northern end of Sonoma.  This wine was also made by Steve Reeder, but in his role at Simi not as part of Dreaming Tree. You can see Steve’s influence, but the unique Alexander Valley ‘terroir’ adds a depth not found in the Dreaming Tree Cab.     

All-in-all a very good night for wine-ing. I saw old friends, shared some new wines, and had a great time. Come stay at our Sandwich Inn and we’ll put some Dave Matthews Band CDs on and drink some Dreaming Tree wine.

 Happy Wine-ing

Charlie Preus, the Innkeeper’s Assistant and Wine Steward at the 1750 Inn at Sandwich Center, Sandwich, Cape Cod Massachusetts  

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