SAHM Taste and Play-Dreaming Tree

The Inaugural SAHM Taste and Play was a blast!  Five SAHMs, ten kiddos, one fabulous sister, and Dave Matthews.  Well, his wine and music.  That is as close as we will probably ever get to Mr. Fabulous.  And, as usual, he did not disappoint.

We tasted both the Dreaming Tree Crush and the Cabernet Sauvignon.  We started with the Crush and, I’ll admit, I think I have one.  A good nose, not overpowering.  Bright and juicy.  I accidentally saw the description on the bottle when I was looking for a blend.  It is hard to get their words out of your head when tasting, but I tried.  I got a really good berry flavor with a touch of smoky warmth.  Dry, but not too dry to drink alone.  Really balanced, really easy drinking.  Although not overly complex, it was a darn tasty glass of wine.  As it said on the website, it is not a bottle to be saved, but to be enjoyed with friends.  Couldn’t agree more.

The Cab was tasty, too.  Now for me, if I am drinking a Cab, I want it really big and complex to be pared with food.  This was not big and complex, but it is young, too.  I think that you are only going to get just so big at this price point (under $15) so take it for what it is.  One guest liked it better than the Crush. Try them both and see what you think.

Now, I want to know what you think about Dreaming Tree?  Don’t be afraid.  Just tell us in your own words.  You can’t be “wrong” if it is your opinion, right?  I think they would both make great Monday wines.  As Nikki commented on the last post, and Mr. Matthews sings, “What Would you Say?”

The Inaugural SAHMmelier Play and Taste Party starts tomorrow!

A few days ago, a friend (we’ll call her “Mama K)” posted on my Facebook page about wanting to taste the Dreaming Tree wines.  If you missed the post, Dreaming Tree is the collaborative effort of Mr. Dave “Yummy” Matthews and Sonoma winemaker, Steve Reeder.  Mama K said that if his wine was anywhere near as good as his music, we were in for  a treat.  A few days later, I found a bottle and we set up a playdate.

Then we got to brainstorming.  What if we had a few moms join us, then we could all discuss the wine?  Even better, what if several SAHMs and friends, near and far,  joined us and wrote their own reviews? And thus was born, The SAHMmelier Play and Taste Party.

Dreaming Tree Crush is currently on sale at Target for only $9.99 which makes it a perfect candidate for a “Monday Wine.”  Plus, it will be easy to grab a bottle when you are out buying diapers or detergent.  The website has a full tasting notes page on the wine, but I am going to challenge you to NOT look at it until you have tasted and given your own descriptors.  Remember, they don’t have to be “correct.”  Just enjoy the discovery!  We will post our reviews and encourage you to comment with your thoughts on the wine.  Each month we will pick a new wine and announce it a few days before the Taste and Play.  If you have a suggestion for a Monday wine , let us know.

Now, don’t worry.  We are all responsible moms and will only be tasting.  There won’t be time for more than a sip or two amongst the bedlam of little ones anyway.  But, it will be a great social escape at the end of a long day.    So, how about it?  Want to play?

Trends, Schmends-I never gave up on you, Merlot

I’ll admit it.   I have fallen victim to many a trend, especially in my 20s.  The wishy-washy years where you virtually swing from trend to trend.  If I could have all of the money back that I spent on clothes worn once, I could have a lovely wine “closet.”  (Yes, no cellar for this Texan, closet)  In fact, if I had just saved on all of the trends and bought something classic and lovely, I would still be wearing it.  Something classic and lovely, just like a Merlot.

When I first began drinking wine, I can recall more than a few gasps when I admitted to preferring Merlot to Cab.  In general, if forced to pick, I chose Merlot.  I get it.  It is hard to beat a Cab (Franc or Sauvignon) with a steak.  I won’t argue that.  But, for versatility-appetizer through dessert-I would choose Merlot.  The men in my life rarely agreed, but that was okay.  I liked the round, juicy fruit of a Merlot.  I remember feeling like I was “wrong,” but for a people-pleaser, it was a baby-step of self-assertion I was willing to take.

Bob Ecker wrote a great piece in Thursday’s Napa Valley Register, “After being slammed by Hollywood, Merlot is getting its due again.”  He had me at “Merlot” but I was sold when he gave props to one of my favorites, Gundlach Bundschu.  After taking a whooping from the Pinot-loving Sideways film, the much defamed grape is back.  Well, it never left.  Those who do it well, just maintained, or improved, and have been waiting patiently.

There is a beauty in aging.  We settle into our own and give a more well-rounded representation of who we are.  We lose our harsh edges (hopefully) and become unapoligettically unique.  We are not as easily swayed by the trends of the moment and more likely to speak boldly about who we are.  As long as we are properly corked (at times, ahem) and given the proper care, age does wonders. Like a fine wine; like a fine Merlot.

Hip, Hip, Rosé!

This week has left me pummeled by the cedar pollen.  My taste buds are crying for some relief.  Fortunately, I did get one good wine-tasting in before my ability to discern anything took a dive.  Thanks to the fine folks of Central Market for showcasing a lovely little Rosé on Wednesday-Chateau L’Ermitage.  Priced at around $10-12, this blend of Syrah, Mouvedre, and Grenache is one of the best Rosés I have had.

Dry, complex, with a touch of red fruit, this Rosé has a really clean finish.  Not to mention, it is pretty to look at.  Some Rosés seem to have a bit of a bite at the end; not this lovely.  It drank like a bottle twice its price.  If you are north of the Mason-Dixon, it is unlikely you’ll need relief from the warmer reds anytime soon.  Lucky for you, they have the same blend in red.

Try pairing the Rosé with a pork dish- I am thinking it would be great with the tenderloin I made earlier this year with herbs, roasted peppers, and goat cheese.  As the weather warms, it would be great with BBQ.  The red blend would drink well with some gruyere or other semi-strong cheese, lighter pastas, or game.  You could go in many directions; just pair it as you would other medium-bodied reds.

Think of Chateau L’Ermitage as the perfect sweater.  It is a bargain and it fits so well, you buy it in two colors. That way you have one that goes with everything.

Let’s Get it Started

This past weekend, I started 2012 off right.  By “right,” I mean with two fabulous women at a winery on a warm winter day.  We ventured out to Driftwood Winery to get some quality time and take a moment to sit back and catch our collective breath after the chaos of the holidays.

If you have not had the privilege of spending a day out at the winery, I highly recommend it.  It is seated atop a hill country bluff, overlooking the vineyard, surrounded by live oaks.  If you time it right, the lighting at sunset is spectacular.  The winter here in the hill country is a bit of a misnomer most of the time.  It is not uncommon to have a dry, breezy 65 degree day.  Days like this are the reason we suffer through the summer.  They beg for a picnic basket, friends, and a bottle of wine.

We have several up and coming wineries in central Texas, but one of my favorites is Driftwood Winery.  Unpretentious attitude, several tasty varietals, and there is no shortage of chairs, tables, and open grass upon which to lay a blanket.  I learned after the first visit to come prepared with cheese, crackers, and various sundries to nosh upon while swirling a glass of their finest.  Seriously, you won’t want to leave until the sun fades behind the hills, ushering in a good breeze across the valley.

Now, let’s talk wine.  It is, after all, why we head out there.  For $5.00, you can choose any 5 wines to taste.  This past weekend, there were thirteen to choose from:3 dry whites, 5 dry reds, 2 dry red reserves, 2 wines from a Paso Robles sister vineyard, and 5 sweet wines.  My sister and I chose 5 different ones so we could tasty more.  Aren’t we tricky?  Fortunately for us (not for her), our friend was doing a fast and abstaining (WHAT??) so we had a chauffeur.

My perennial favorites remained the winners in my book.  They make a fantastic Viognier.  This visit they were pouring a 2010 ($18.00) which we both liked enough to share a bottle.  Round, apricot/peach with a touch of brightness.  It is my favorite white varietal anyway, and I really like their’s.  My other favorite used to be called Super Texan, but another local vineyard bought the rights to that name, so now they have to call it, simply, Sangiovese ($18.00).    It is 76% of its namesake, 8% each of Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Syrah- a Hill Country cousin to an Italian Super Tuscan.  The B&E Red Rhythm (35.00) was also  really nice.  It is a Merlot, Cab, Syrah blend that won Double Gold Best of Class Judges Choice in San Fransisco.  My sister brought home a bottle of that for her husband.  He’s a good guy. She’s a great gal.

Many people are surprised that we grow wine in Texas.  We do.  And some of it is pretty darn good.  In fact, we Texans (can I call myself that now after 16 yrs?) had a big hand in saving the French wine industry.  Oui, oui.  So if you live here in the Hill Country, and you haven’t been out to Driftwood, grab someone (and some cheese) you love and head out for a wonderful afternoon.  If you aren’t lucky enough to call the Hill Country home, come visit.  Just not in August.  I’ll happily take you out for the day.  The tour is gratis, although I do accept tips in the form of vino.  Cheers, y’all.