I’ve had 2 bottles of this kicking around since I visited their Jackson tasting room last year and had the occasion to enjoy one last week with a nice steak.
Chateau Aeronautique Syrah (2012) Michigan – $25
Color: medium to dark garnet red; a little brickish on the edges.
Aroma: spicy, with notes of tar, black plum, and pepper.
Taste: chewy up front with spice, then a big burst of plum on the mid-palate. Finishes medium-long with stewed fruit, jam, and tannin.
Quite respectable, and a nice wine for steak.
Heavenly is a new vineyard and winery, about an hour north of Grand Rapids, just off US 131. Their Big G is a 100% Gewurztraminer bottling. I enjoyed this bottle with risotto and wild mushrooms a few weeks ago.
Heavenly “Big G” White (NV) Michigan – $11
Color: medium gold.
Aroma: slightly foxy, mostly apple and white grape on the nose.
Taste: a hint of sweetness – I’d classify this as off-dry rather than true dry. Golden apples, and a little more spice, with good acidic balance throughout. Quite nice with rich food.
Don’t drink this too cold! I made the mistake of first tasting it after it had been out of the refrigerator for just 10 minutes. This really opens up when it gets to around 50F.
Recommended – a great wine for the money!
Pinot Blanc is a lesser-known cousin of Pinot Gris/Grigio – it handles cooler, damper climates well, and exhibits more body and minerality than Pinot Gris when it’s done well. The pairing for this tonight is a simple seared chicken with a mustard-cream-dill pan sauce, plus roasted potatoes and green beans. BluStone is one of my favorite wineries in Northern Michigan.
BluStone Pinot Blanc (2016) Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan – $28
Color: very pale; just a hint of gold, and some green on the edge.
Aroma: bracing minerality, acidity, and citrus notes, with some stone fruit underneath.
Taste: good up front, with a combination of stone fruit (apricot) and soft citrus (tangerine), then minerality hits in the midpalate and carries on to the finish. It’s not nearly as acidic as the nose promises.
This makes a really nice foil for the dill sauce!
This is a great wine – if you’ve never had a Pinot Blanc before, I suggest picking up a bottle. Similar wines from Alsace in northeastern France are in the same price range. Recommended!
Another wine from the Leelanau Peninsula near Traverse City in the northern part of Michigan’s lower peninsula. This is 100% Pinot Noir.
French Valley Rosé (2014) Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan – $20
Color: quite dark, midway between reddish-pink and copper.
Aroma: strawberry, red currant, and cherry. Quite fruity.
Taste: a little closed – don’t drink this ice-cold! A touch of residual sugar, good acidity, and strawberry from front to back.
Nice but not outstanding. Worth hunting down if you’re up north, but I wouldn’t cellar it.
This is from Aurora Cellars in the Leelanau Peninsula region, just west of Traverse City. I bought this last year on one of my tasting trips, and I enjoyed it on the 4th of July with lamb kebabs. This wine is a blend of Syrah and Pinot Blanc.
Aurora Rosé (2015) Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan – $18
Color: quite dark, copper-orange more than pink.
Aroma: not much on the nose.
Taste: strawberry, then red currant. Good balance and acidity for a food wine.
This is OK, and definitely quaffable on a hot afternoon. It also paired well with the lamb and roasted vegetables (purple onions, orange bell peppers, and mushrooms).
I visited Water Fire – about midway between Traverse City and Petoskey – about 2 weeks ago. It’s a new vineyard, specializing in whites, and I was especially interested in this wine. Gruner Veltliner is the definitive Austrian white grape; it makes a crisp, bracing white wine, but it’s not Pinot Grigio and it’s not dry Riesling. There are a couple of retailers in the Ann Arbor area that carry Water Fire’s wines, so I’ll be hunting some of this down soon on a weekend grocery run.
As far as I can tell, they should qualify for the new “Tip of the Mitt” AVA, but this wine predates the 2016 designation of that appellation. In my opinion, the wineries of northern Michigan should be planting a lot more Austrian grapes, as the climate, geography, and soil are a pretty good match to the wine regions of Austria – especially the lake influence.
Water Fire Gruner Veltliner (2012) Michigan – $22
Color: medium golden-yellow.
Aroma: lemon curd, minerality, hint of floral notes.
Taste: brisk, racing acidity up front, then softer in the mid-palate. Citrus notes dominate throughout, with minerality underneath, and some peppery, herbal notes on the finish.
Very nice – I had this at dinner with a light meal of roasted golden beets and goat cheese, and it was a an excellent pairing. Gruner Veltliner from Austria doesn’t come any less expensive than this does, and it’s true to the grape. Recommended!
Chenin is a grape that originates in the Loire valley in central France – it’s very popular in South Africa, and it’s grown in the US as well. This is a nice find from a winery up in the Traverse City area that I’ve visited a few times. I’m pairing this with plain risotto, and some oyster mushrooms that a friend harvested from the woods near his home.
45 North Chenin Blanc (2015) American – $22
Color: pale lemon-yellow.
Aroma: citrusy – lemon and mandarin orange, plus some orange-blossom floral notes. Very inviting.
Taste: lush, with a balance of acidity and ripe citrus fruit right up front that makes you want to take a hefty gulp. The midpalate continues with orange blossoms and some stone fruit. The finish is quite long, and very harmonious.
With the rice and mushrooms, it fruit and touch of residual sugar serve as a nice contrast to the earthy richness of the meal.
As it warms up, it develops a nice hint of smokiness and dried apricot near the finish – yum!
This is a great wine for food (roasted chicken!) or for just having a glass after work. I’d put this up against anything in its price range, from anywhere in the world. Highly recommended!