Monthly Archives: September 2016

Chateau de Leelanau Cabernet Franc Rosé (2013) Leelanau Peninsula

One of my recent purchases from up in Traverse City.  You know I’m a fan of Cabernet Franc, and made it an especial point to taste everything from that grape that I could lay my hands on when I traveled north.

Color: bright berry pink – I mean bright almost to the point of cotton-candy!

Aroma: berries predominate, with a little bramble and forest floor.  Smells juicy.

Taste: a nice fruity mouthful with bramble/spice notes.  Just a hint of sweetness up front that rapidly gives way to complex fruit & bramble in the mid palate. A good touch of tannin and acid on the finish makes this a good food rosé.    

Tasted with roasted root vegetables – parsnips, carrots, onions, purple potatoes, white beets, and sweet potatoes.  Provided a nice contrast & enhancement for the earthy/salty vegetables.  Would also go great with flank steak or lots of tailgate foods

$17 –  Recommended!

Pairing: Joseph Drouhin Macon-Villages and Salmon

Made a Blue Apron recipe tonight for dinner – #958 Seared Salmon and Sauce Gribiche, with mashed potatoes, summer beans & cherry tomatoes.

First, notes on the meal: really good, except too much tarragon! I’d never had sauce gribiche before, but it’s a no-brainer: start as if you were making deviled eggs, except smash everything together – white, yolk, mayo, mustard, relish, plus tarragon or chervil or parsley.  The salmon was simply pan-fried, the mashed potatoes used olive oil, a touch of vinegar, shallots, and tarragon. The string beans & cherry tomatoes were done as a sauté with some garlic.

Now, to the wine.

Joseph Drouhin (2013) Macôn-Villages, Burgundy – $17

Color: a solid golden-yellow

Aroma: Lemon curd, a hint of lemon meringue pie, and some toast

Taste: Very clean, very typical for this appellation – mellow lemon and crisp pear.  Handled the tarragon in the potatoes and sauce gribiche very well, but not quite enough oomph for the salmon.

Not quite good enough to be recommended, but if you’ve never had French Chardonnay before, this is an excellent place to start.  No butter, no overwhelming oak, and a much lighter texture – the definition of a food-friendly Chardonnay.  Try it with chicken breast or a basic white fish.

Grape Varieties in Michigan

After hitting approximately 30 wineries in Michigan – both in the south-central part of the state, and up north in Traverse City, I have a few observations on varieties.

I’m glad to see some plantings of Austrian grapes – Gruner Veltliner and Blaufrankisch (aka Lemburger).  When you consider the embayments and lakes around Traverse City, these seem like obvious choices, given their similarity in latitude, weather, and mesoclimate. I hope to see a lot more plantings of these grapes in this part of the US in the future. They provide something different from the same-old Chardonnay, Merlot, Pinot Noir, etc. There’s also a nice heritage connection – many of the Europeans who settled the Great Lakes area came from the same stomping grounds as those grapes: Mitteleuropa aka Central Europe aka the old Habsburg Austro-Hungarian empire. I grew up surrounded by Czechs, Slovaks, Hungarians, Germans, and Poles, and their cuisine is perfectly suited for these grapes.

There’s much more Pinot Noir in the fields than I was expecting, even given its popularity in the last 10-15 years, and its suitability for a harsher continental climate.  I don’t see a particular style emerging just yet; many of the vintages are somewhere in the middle between the light, delicate, fruit & cream style, and the meaty, mushroomy, darker and spicier style of Pinot.

I continue to see Cabernet Franc planted in good quantities; most, if not all, of the Bordeaux-style red blends are heavy on the Cab Franc. As with the Austrian grapes, I think this is a particularly well-suited variety for this part of the US – and it doesn’t hurt that it’s one of my favorite grapes.

It’s also pleasing to see more than just Riesling and Chardonnay in whites: there are plentiful choices in Gewurztraminer, Pinot Gris, and Chenin Blanc.


Food Recommendations in Traverse City

Two great places to check out the next time you’re in TC:

Folgarelli’s Deli

True, old-school Italian deli.  A huge counter of deli meats by the pound, more than 50 cheeses, a great sandwich menu, stuffed olives, picnic items, snacks, and an entire room full of wine. Really impressive! Front Street, just around the corner from North Peak.

Apache Trout Grill

Great restaurant on the west bay, just over the county line. Fish and meats are perfectly done, there’s a nice wine list, and it’s always hopping.  Fair warning – no reservations, no call-ahead wait list, but you can squeeze into the booths in bar area on a first come, first served basis.

I can recommend the smoked whitefish appetizer, the petite filet, and any of their lake fish specials. Vegetables are done perfectly, there is always something creative with sauces and garnishes, and the quality is top-notch.

I’m back. And this time, I mean it!

Hello everyone, and my apologies for the long hiatus.  I’ve moved to the Ann Arbor, Michigan area and am finally able to do some serious wine-tasting.  I’m currently on my second trip to the Traverse City area, in the northwest corner of Michigan’s lower peninsula, and have a lot of tasting notes to transcribe.

I plan on doing 2 more ebooks about Michigan wine. One of them will concentrate on Traverse City, since it’s the best-known wine region in the state, and is significant tourism destination.  The other will cover the rest of Michigan, including the lake shore between Grand Rapids and Indiana, as well as the wineries scattered around central and southeast Michigan.  Yoopers, I promise I’ll try to visit there sometime in the next few years!

Here’s a list of the places I’ve tasted at in the last month or so:

Central Michigan:

  • Cherry Creek
  • Heavenly
  • Chateau Aeronautique
  • Lone Oak
  • Seven Lakes
  • Spicer’s


Traverse City area:

  • Black Star
  • Brengman Brothers
  • Peninsula Cellars
  • Bonobo
  • Chateau Grand Traverse
  • Bower’s Harbor
  • Ciccone
  • Chateau de Leelanau
  • Shady Lane
  • Mawby
  • Mari
  • 2 Lads
  • Hawthorne

Keep your eyes open for additional news and travel advice to Traverse City, plus random tasting notes from all over.