A very nice place in the south-center of Michigan near the town of Jackson. They do prix fixe music dinners on Saturday evenings with some top-name acts. All of their fruit is estate-grown, and they supply grapes to some of the other new wineries in this part of the state. I had this wine about a week ago with steak, braised leeks, and risotto.
Lone Oak Merlot (2012) Michigan – $22
Color: purple, quite dark.
Aroma: black plums, nutmeg, oak, pepper, licorice,
Taste: plums up front, then some cherry notes on the mid-palate, and pepper on the finish. The finish is quite long. Great tannins – drink it now if you like your reds muscular, cellar for another 3-5 years and it will soften up.
BluStone has a wonderful tasting room at the top of a hill near Traverse City, with a tremendous vista over the vines and surrounding countryside. It’s worth a trip there just for the view, let alone the wines. Some of these grapes were brought in from vineyards outside the Leelanau Peninsula AVA, hence the plain Michigan designation.
BluStone Pinot Grigio (2015) Michigan – $12
Color: pale gold, with a hint of green.
Aroma: lemon curd and custard, with slight grassy notes.
Taste: smooth, with a big body up front of citrus and stone fruit. There’s a hint of sugar in there. Good acidity, but not tart of astringent like cheap Italian Pinot Grigio.
This is a great deal. You don’t need to chill this to death, the way you do some many other Pinot Grigios in the same price range. Recommended.
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!
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!
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!