This has a touch of Viognier in it – which beefs it up and turns this into more of a Rhone-style white. They had a few unfortunate years of weather up north recently, so they had to bring in juice in from Oregon and Washington for this bottling. But I’ve been impressed how 45 North always does well with Chenin and white Rhone grapes, and this is no exception.
45 North Chenin Blanc (2015) American – $22
Color: light gold.
Aroma: floral – jasmine, white grape, and vanilla predominate.
Taste: off-dry, with floral and white grape up front. The Viognier really makes a difference in the mouthfeel, turning this into a rich, unctuous, coat-your-tongue white. The acidity is perfectly balanced, and I found this smooth and an excellent food wine.
Stands up well to strong vegetal tastes like artichokes and asparagus. Would also pair well with goat cheese.
I had this last night with flank steak, parmesan potatoes, and a compound butter made with spicy Italian peppers. It held up to the heat quite well, I was very impressed. Silver Leaf is a relatively new winery, located quite far up the Leelanau peninsula near the pretty town of Sutton’s Bay. It appears from a quick check of their website that they’ve sold out of this vintage, which is a real pity.
Silver Leaf Cabernet Franc (2013) Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan – $42
Color: medium purple-black.
Aroma: tar, plum, and a little heat; hints of stewed fruit as well.
Taste: black plum and black pepper, with a touch of walnut. The mouthfeel is silky with tannins on the side of the mouth, very reminiscent of a good Bordeaux.
This needs a touch of chill – it’s labelled as 13% alcohol but I suspect it’s on the high side. Drink now or in the next 24 months.
A big of a splurge, but this is recommended. A great Bordeaux-style American red, from an unexpected location.
One of the first wineries I visited in the Lake Michigan Shore appellation, which is in southwestern Michigan between the Indiana border and Grand Rapids. Karma Vista does great things with Syrah – this wine is a blend of 2/3 Merlot and 1/3 Syrah for a softer feel.
Karma Vista Karisma (2011) Lake Michigan Shore, Michigan – $20
Color: quite dark purple-black.
Aroma: a chewy, brambley nose with tar, licorice, and black fruit notes.
Taste: quite tannic, with plums, bing cherry, and spice. Needs air! Has some hard-candy notes as it opens up.
Big and quite tasty – the fruit quality in this is top-notch. Recommended!
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.