In addition to wine and news, I try to keep up with what’s going on in the music world. As with wine, I have an eclectic taste in music. I pretty much like anything with a tune. Well, there are a few genres — sea shanties and ISIS campfire songs come to mind — that put me on edge.
Unfortunately, I have to admit that I have a few gaps when it comes to mainstream artists. Dave Matthews is a good example. For some reason, I’ve never given the Dave Matthews Band, or Matthews himself, a great deal of notice. Of course, I’ve heard of Matthews — you’d have to have been asleep through the aughts to have missed him — and taken note that he’s been in movies and on television. I must have seen the band open for the Rolling Stones during their late ’90s U.S. tour, but the recollection is hazy.
Matthews’ music just didn’t register with me; that is, until our paths finally crossed recently.
It seems the musician has a great interest in wine. He doesn’t just drink it and sing about it; Matthews is so serious about wine that he started a successful vineyard in Virginia. Not long after he relocated to California, he teamed up in 2011 with the largest premium wine company in the world, Constellation Brands, to establish his own label. Now, the company touts the brand as one of its fastest growing sellers.
A couple of weeks ago, Matthews’ wine, 2013 Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir, named after a very nice song on his 1998 album, Before These Crowded Streets, went on sale at a price that fell into my comfort zone. I bought a bottle and liked it a lot. I’ve become a fan of the wine, which I find to be consistently smooth, dry and flavorful. It’s a very good wine with just about any food, particularly this time of year.
To make the wine, Matthews partnered with winemaker Sean McKenzie, a New Zealand native who knows what he’s doing. He spent more than a decade as the winemaker at Clos du Bois before joining Dreaming Tree.
The Pinot Noir is cold-soaked, fermented with Pinot Noir yeast and aged nine months in oak, the Dreaming Tree website says. The wine has flavors and aromas of ripe cherry, wild strawberry, and caramel, McKenzie says in the tasting notes.
My wife and I had Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir with grilled dry-rubbed chicken and hickory-smoked Buffalo cauliflower. It was a fine companion and wasn’t overwhelmed by the spicy flavors of the food.
The Dave Matthews Band’s touring chef, Fiona Bohane, recommends Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir with lamb meatballs with a roasted red pepper vinaigrette. She also finds the wine to be well-paired with fried green tomatoes, an excellent fall dish that will help you clear the kitchen counters of any green fruit gleaned from the garden just before frost.
It’s no wonder I didn’t come across Dreaming Tree Pinot Noir sooner. It was just launched in April, a time when I was preoccupied with rose and hopeful of an early spring.
Overlooking the music of the South African-born Matthews is another matter. The singer and guitarist started making his mark with songwriting and performing in the early ’90s, garnering two Grammy Awards for his efforts. He started acting in movies when he turned 30, in 1997. His film and television credits are impressive, including multiple appearances on House and Saturday Night Live and significant roles in the movies Lake City and I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry.
Matthews also is recognized for his efforts to curb global warming. Dreaming Tree makes significant donations to environmental organizations, including $500,000 to The Wilderness Society and Living Lands & Waters. The certified sustainable winery is operated using solar power; the company’s bottles are 50 percent lighter than the average wine bottle, making them more fuel efficient to transport; and the wine’s labels are made of recycled kraft paper.
The Dreaming Tree website notes that Matthews and McKenzie share a goal to make quality wine accessible to everyone. I think they succeeded. Dreaming Tree is widely available in the Pioneer Valley.•
Suggestions for wines in the $10 range are always appreciated.
Warren Johnston can be reached at email@example.com.