Category Archives: Tasting note

Tasting Note: Shady Lane Blue Franc

One of the bottles I picked up last year in the Traverse City area.  They had some terrible weather in 2013, so unfortunately they had to buy fruit from Washington.  This is 100% Blaufrankisch, aka Lemburger, which is the premier red-wine grape from Austria, and eminently suited for northern latitudes in the US.

Shady Lane Blue Franc (2013) American – $30

Color: dark purple-black.  Quite dense.

Aroma: walnut, black fruit, and oak.  Pretty heady.

Taste: black fruit, pepper, violets, and oak/mushroom notes.  Very dense fruit and earthy complex on the palate, with lots of mouthfeel. The finish is black pepper and some heat – this would benefit from just a bit of chill.

This worked well with spicy sweet & sour chicken, but it really shines with blue cheese!

I’m not quite ready to recommend this, but I’m eager to try the 2014 Michigan vintage for comparison.  If they can turn fruit shipped 2000 miles into this bottle, I really want to see what they do with their estate harvest.

 

Tasting Note – Blue Water Unoaked Chardonnay

From a small winery over in Michigan’s Thumb (the southeast, but north of Detroit) that I visited last year.  I’m having this with mushroom risotto and mixed sauteed greens from my garden – I expect the steeliness of the wine will complement the turkey stock and the spiciness of the greens well.

Blue Water Unoaked Chardonnay (2013) Michigan – $16

Color: pale lemon-yellow.

Aroma: pear, lemon, asian pear, and jasmine.  Classic unoaked character on the nose.

Taste: big mouthful of pear and asian pear, quite lovely.  Not as sharp as a Sauvignon Blanc, but definitely crisp and this begs for food. The finish is really long and lush.

With the rice and greens this shines as well – I’d pair this with goat cheese, veal, pasta with cream sauces, or simple roast chicken.

Highly recommended, and a steal at $16.

 

Tasting Note – Bowers Harbor 2896 Rosé

One of the wines I picked up last year in Traverse City – should be a good pairing for the roasted vegetable quesadillas I’m making for dinner tonight.  This is a blend of 67% Cabernet France and 33% Merlot.

Bowers Harbor 2896 Rosé (2014) Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan – $32

Color: bright copper with a hint of orange.

Aroma: strawberry fruit, a hint of vanilla and spice.

Taste: Creamy strawberry and red currant fruit, moderate acidity, just a touch of tannin, with great balance front to back. Although a little more length on the finish would be nice. This is a food rosé, it’s absolutely dry and it has enough heft to match with a cold steak salad, roasted vegetables, or salmon.

 

Tasting Note – “The Left Bank”

This is a South African blend I picked up a few weeks ago.  The proportions show an Australian influence – it’s 57% Cabernet Sauvignon, 37% Shiraz, and 6% Cinsault.

The Left Bank (2013) Western Cape, South Africa – $14

Color: very dark, purple-black.

Aroma: black currant, blackberry, brambles, a hint of licorice.

Taste: chewy up front, with lots of black fruit; more more tannin and acidity on the finish.  Interesting.  With food (spicy steak lettuce wraps) it stands up nicely to the pepper.  I’d like to try this with barbecue – compare to red Zinfandel and Petite Syrah.

Quite nice – grab a bottle if you see it.

 

New South African Producer: Leeuwenkuil

Got three new wines from at Morgan & York from a South African producer I’ve never seen before, Leeuwenkuil. They date back to 1693, so shame on me!

I tried the reds the other day with a grilled steak, and the white last night with a chicken dish that included a rhubarb and garlic pan sauce.

Leeuwenkuil Cinsault (2015) Swartland, South Africa – $22

Color: garnet red.

Aroma: red fruit and cedar.

Taste: fresh and bright – according to the label, they use carbonic maceration (the technique used for Beaujolais Nouveau) on some of the clusters to produce pure, young fruit notes. A hint of vanilla, and quite soft.  This isn’t up to a big beef dish but would be good for lamb, pork, or charcuterie.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache (2015) Swartland, South Africa – $22

Color: purplish-black.

Aroma: dark earthy notes and sweetish black fruit.

Taste: Chewy – leather, oak, dried fruit, lots of white pepper and black pepper. Oak and tannin on the finish.  It’s a bit hot at 14% alcohol, so make sure to chill this for a few minutes before serving in the summer.

I’m definitely a fan of this one over the Cinsault.  Needs a touch of air and chill.  Recommended.

Leeuwenkuil Grenache Blanc (2015) Voor Paardeberg, South Africa – $22

Color: medium gold.

Aroma: light – mostly floral and melon.

Taste: great balance of melon, citrus, pear, and minerality. The perfect amount of acidity for a good meal, and the minerality is especially appealing when paired with rhubarb.

Also recommended – compare to white Rhone varietals or blends.

Voor Paardeburg is a new appellation to me; from a bit of research I see it’s a subdistrict of Paarl, just north of Stellenbosch.

Rosé Roundup IV: Morgan & York

A nice shop on the south side of Ann Arbor (Packard, just south of Stadium).  They usually have something very interesting, but not always the value I’m looking for.  Their spring rosé selection as of mid-May was around 15 wines, so I made a judicious selection of six.

Cibonne Tentations (2016) Cotes de Provence, France – $18

Color: pale pink.

Aroma: yeasty, with raspberry fruit.

Taste: OK – some good berry fruit, and long on the finish.

Palatable; I’d drink this.

Pierre Morin (2016) Sancerre, France – $25

Color: still pale, but slightly darker than the Cibonne.

Aroma: darker fruit notes, mostly berry and cherry.

Taste: More acidity, good strawberry in the midpalate.

Sancerre is best known for its white wines (Sauvignon Blancs) but they also grow Pinot Noir for reds and rosés. This bottling, unfortunately, doesn’t show off the Pinot well – $25 is too steep for this.

G. D. Vajra Rosabella (2016) Italy – 17

Color: light pink.

Aroma: strawberry!

Taste: lots of acidity, like a good strawberry shortcake! Bright and zippy up front, the a long and tart finish.

This is produced in the Barolo region, but no official indication of what varieties they are using – Nebbiolo, Dolcetta, and Barbera would be typical grapes in that part of Italy.

Domaine des Cassagnoles Rosé Plaisir (2016) Cotes de Gascogne – $13

Color: medium pink to copper.

Aroma: berries, a little darker than most, some earthiness.

Taste: richer, with a touch of tannin. Some Grenache in this?

Not quite as long on the finish as the Italian, but a better mouthfeel throughout and much more suitable for food.  My favorite of the bunch.

Pierre-Marie Chermette “Les Griottes” (2016) Beaujolais Rosé, France – $18

Color: pale pink.

Aroma: nice red currants and floral nose.

Taste: Good mouthful of fruit – better balanced than most.  Some tannin on the finish.

Nice; this is better for an aperitif or a light meal.

Chateau de Manissy “La Belle Etoile” (2016) IFP Mediterranee, France – $12

Color: medium pink to orange.

Aroma: sweetish red fruits and berries.

Taste: lots of berry up front, then dull in the midpalate. The finish is short but full of fruit.

Decent, not great.  Also better for cocktail hour.

 

Out of everything I’ve tasted, the Domaine de Cassagnoles from Gascony is the winner, especially for the money.  I’m recommending it.  I’ve ordered a case and that should last me through the summer.

Rosé Roundup III: A & L Wine Castle

A couple of pinks from this store on the west side of Ann Arbor; I’m a fan of the Cabernet Franc rosé from Mulderbosh – let’s see how the Cab Sauv treats me.

Unparalleled Rosé (2016) Coteaux Varois en Provence, France – $16

Color: extremely pale.

Aroma: Rose petal and raspberry.

Taste: Melon, apricot, raspberry – quite tart.

OK, but not great.

Mulderbosch Cabernet Sauvingon Rosé (2016) Coastal Region, South Africa – $11

Color: medium straight pink.

Aroma: uncertain – more flowery than anything else.

Taste: Cabernet body, with red currant, raspberry, and cherry.

A good value, but not quite as much oomph as I’m looking for.