Category Archives: Uncategorized

Tasting Note: Chateau Aeronautique Dry Riesling

Another mid-Michigan winery that’s in the process of rapidly expanding with new vines and event space.

Chateau Aeronautique Dry Riesling (2013) Michigan – $18

Color: pale yellow/brass.

Aroma: a spicy, oily nose; very reminiscent of a good Alsace Riesling.

Taste: dry, not very fruity.  Crisp up front, then mellows out towards the back of the mouth. Predominately golden apples, plus stone fruit and mineral notes.

This was overwhelmed by the tomatoes and basil that accompanied my chicken; I think I’d much rather have this bottle with some simple charcuterie.




Tasting Note – Black Star Farms Pinot Noir

One of my first purchases in Traverse City.  Black Star is a large operation – they have several production facilities and tasting rooms, several different product lines, and a number of distilled products (similar to eau-de-vie).

The Black Star Farms product line is their mid-range tier (Arcturos is the labelling they use for higher-end wines).

Black Star Farms Pinot Noir (2013) Leelanau Peninsula – $19

Color: very light, classic Pinot Noir.

Aroma: somewhat closed, mostly cherry and earth

Taste: soft up front, then more acidity and a touch of tannin on the finish.  Cherry and kirsch predominate on the tongue.  I’d be more likely to have this as an aperitif than with food, as it’s easily overwhelmed.


Tasting Note: Cody Kresta Vignoles

Cody Kresta is in the Lake Michigan Shore appellation, which lies in the far southwest of Michigan, in the lakefront area between Chicago and Grand Rapids.  I visited them in December of last year.

Vignoles is a hybrid grape that we unfortunately don’t completely understand.  What the breeder supposedly put together 50+ years ago isn’t actually in the DNA markers of what’s planted in the fields today.  So somewhere along the lines the records got mixed up or shoots got mislabelled.  Vignoles, from the taste alone, undoubtedly has some American ancestry – it’s a spicy, foxy white that does well in cold climates and makes a nice off-dry or medium-sweet wine.  It’s also susceptible to botrytis cinerea (‘noble rot’), a fungal infection that makes the world’s most desirable dessert wines.

Cody Kresta Vignoles (2015) Lake Michigan Shore, MI – $15

Color: a pale, bright gold.

Aroma: relatively sweet on the nose, with honey, honeysuckle, floral, and stone fruit notes.

Taste: this is an off-dry Vignoles, with a good balance between acidity and sugar.  The mid-palate is apricot with lemon, and then there’s some wonderful smoky honeyed notes on the finish.  It’s a little sweeter than my usual wine, but well within the palatable range for lovers of both dry and medium-sweet whites.

I enjoyed a glass of this last night with Camembert and persimmon chutney, and it also pairs very nicely with the white chili I’m having for dinner tonight.

Recommended, especially if you or your family & friends have just a touch of a sweet tooth when it comes to wine.  Really nice at $15 – and I managed to snag mine at 20% off!

Tasting Note: French Valley Cabernet Franc-Merlot

I visited French Valley during my second trip to Traverse City.  They have a really nice, spacious, comfortable tasting room that I wish I’d had time to lounge in.

As you all know, I’m a huge Cabernet Franc fan, so this bottle was definitely something I had to put into my trunk.

French Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc-Merlot (2012) Leelanau Peninsual, MI – $30

Color: medium garnet red.

Aroma: oak, earth, and a dusty red-wine nose, then red fruit as it opens up.

Taste: plums and red fruit on the front, then some black pepper and spice through the mid-palate. A hint of more sweetish fruit on the finish, and the tannins are soft. Drink this now. After about 30 minutes, there are some anise notes present as well.

A nice bottle, but I think I got it 6 months to a year late – I would have like a little more chewy tannic character.


Tasting Note: 2 Lads Sparkling Rose

One of my 2 Lads wine club shipments – the 15% off list price more than covers shipping costs!

I actually tasted this about a month ago but am just now getting around to typing these notes up.  This is 100% Oregon fruit – the 2014 harvest of Pinot Noir was wiped out by bad weather in northern Michigan.

2 Lads Sparkling Rosé Brut (2014) – $26

Color: a nice pink rose-petal hue.

Aroma: fruity, just a little yeasty/bready character.

Taste: light, with a good clean finish that lingers nicely.  Good berry fruit with a brisk Brut character, round through the palate, and very satisfying.  Excellent with pizza!

I’m a big fan of rosé bubblies – I prefer them to white most of the time, in fact. There’s just so much more you can do when you start with Pinot Noir and a little time on the skin. This is certainly no exception to my rule – the best sparkling rosé I’ve had in the US, barring Gruet. Recommended.

Tasting Note: Aurora Blaufrankisch

One of my finds from the Traverse City area.  Blaufrankisch is one of the great Austrian grape varieties, and it’s very well-suited to a lakeside climate like the Leelanau Peninsula in Michigan.  Aurora‘s property is on the western side of Grand Traverse Bay.

Aurora Cellars Blaufrankish (2014) Leelanau Peninsula, MI – $22

Color: lightish red; a little darker than a light-bodied Pinot Noir

Aroma: Fruit and candied fruit, with a hint of mushrooms and walnut.

Taste: Blueberry, with soft, velvety tannins on the side of the mouth.  Good acidity on the finish makes this a nice wine for food.  The body is medium and consistent throughout, with a medium-long finish.

This is recommended – I’ve already drunk both bottles of this from my last trip and will need to stock up!


Tasting Notes: Blustone Pinot Grigio

Blustone is one of the wineries I visited in the Traverse City area last year.  Their tasting room is in a gorgeous modernistic building perched on a hill overlooking the vineyards. I’m having this tonight with white chili. I believe this particular vintage comes from Pacific Northwest grapes, due to the terrible weather that northern Michigan experienced in 2014-2015.

Blustone Pinot Grigio (2015) – $16

Color: very pale gold

Aroma: mostly floral, especially jasmine, but also notes of white peaches and pear.

Taste: clean up front, then a huge mid-palate explosion of fruit notes – the aforementioned white peach and pear, plus white grape and apricot.  Acidity towards the finish is pleasing, and makes the wine suitable for an aperitif or drinking with food.  Don’t drink this ice-cold; at about 50 F it really opens up and develops a long, complex finish.

This went very nicely with the white chili (chicken, garbanzos, white cannellini beans, and salsa verde).  I would also suggest drinking it with goat cheese, grilled chicken, or any light meats with cream sauce.