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Posts Tagged ‘Riesling’

While on vacation with the family at beautiful Torch Lake, Michigan, my dad, brother and I decided to spend an afternoon wine tasting in Suttons Bay. We stopped by Black Star Farms Winery, one of their three locations.



As many Northern American wineries over market, Black Star Farms is located on the 45th parallel, just as Bordeaux. Of course, in reality this is irrelevant, because last time I checked, there’s a “small” pond between Bordeaux and Michigan. This 45th parallel reference is nothing more than marketing. What is not marketing is my assessment that this appellation and, in particular, this wine stand alone and side-by-side any top-quality Bordeaux, Alsace, Burgundy, Washington or Oregon wine. Props to the Michigan Visitors’ Center for recommending this winery after I expressed my interest in tasting the best wine in Michigan. I dare say that I think they just may have been right!

So two firsts here, and then I’ll just dive into the juice!

…One, this was my first ever tasting of Michigan wines. Originating from the State Down South, I am not embarrassed to say that Michigan BLEW AWAY Ohio on quality and expression. In fact, I have yet to taste an Ohio wine that I’d recommend.

…Two, I had never tasted, nor had I even heard of a double appellation wine. I didn’t even know this combination was legally permissible within the AVA system. Well apparently it is! And it works!

MY TOP PICKS:

Leelanau Peninsula Sparkling, Leelanau Peninsula ’08 - $17.50
Notes: fresh bread aromas, great local expression of the “méthode champanoise”
Isidor’s Choice Pinot Noir, Leelanau Peninsula ’11 - $22.50
Notes: Burgundian, mineral, dark chocolate
Arcturos Merlot, Michigan ’10 - $25.00
Notes: beautiful floral notes
Vintners Select, Michigan ’10 - $25.00
Notes: 60/38/2 Cab Franc/Merlot/Syrah, big fruits, jam
Spirit of Apple Brandy - $24.50
Notes: sweet caramel nose, expressive whisky-like flavors, nostalgia of Calvados

3 WHITES WORTH TRYING:

Arcturos Pinot Noir Rosé, Old Mission Peninsula ’12 (fruity) – $13.50
Arcturos Pinot Gris, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 (dry Alsatian style) – $15.00
Arcturos Dry Riesling, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.00

1 WHITE TO PASS ON:

Arcturos Sur Lie Chardonnay, Old Mission Peninsula ’11 – $15.50
Notes: too cosmetic on the nose

2 PREMIUM REDS REALLY WORTH TRYING:

Arcturos Pinot Noir, Grand Traverse Co./Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $22.50
Notes: super light, color and palate
Arcturos Cabernet Franc, Old Mission/Leelanau Peninsula ’11 – $25.00
Notes: big acidity, great floral notes

1 RED TO PASS ON:

Leorie Vineyard Merlot Cab Franc, Old Mission Peninsula ’10 – $42.00
Notes: 60/40 blend, too green and way over priced for the quality

1 SPIRIT “MAYBE” WORTH TRYING:

Spirit of the Vineyard White Grappa (strong!) – $25.00

In closing, how’z ‘bout some humor? While preparing this post I noticed that the tasting room’s wine list and tasting guide included a Wine Libs game, à la Mad Libs. I thought this was a fun and creative little touch and so I thought I’d do a quick Facebook experiment and share the results, unedited! I filled in the blanks, indiscriminately, in order of my Wall’s responses. Here’s what my friends had to say…

“Your Guide to becoming the world’s greatest wine critic”

This Syrah from Black Star Farms reflects Lee Lutes’ lifelong pursuit of the downward dog. The full-bodied, balanced wine captures a true sense of integrity and metacognition; the vineyard’s well-draining chewing gum stood up to the happy spring of 2011 and the hilltops slope captured the broken leg that followed, resulting in an ideal magnificent balance. Thanks to a week of extended nut shots, this wine’s soft tannins and groovy, full texture is a perfect unicycle for the lush flavors of lychee tulips, and a Chaise lounge of herbs and cloves. Such a quality wine will improve for over a decade, but this bottle’s bright myrrh and intense quadruple-cheese pizza make it absolutely delicious right now.

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I just returned home from a 2-month political campaign project in San Bernardino, Southern California, A.K.A. “San Berdoo”. I was pleseantly surprised to find two bottles waiting for me, sent for review from Colchester Ridge Estate Winery (CREW) out of Ontario, Canada. Let’s see how they hold up! This will be my first tasting ever of a Lake Erie North Shore VQA.

Test subject one is a Chardonnay, Riesling, Gewurztraminer blend. Test subject number two is a limited production, “Grand Crew”-labeled blend of Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot.

Lake Erie North Shore VQA 101: “Lake Erie North Shore appellation encompasses the vineyards in the southwestern extremity of Ontario. This favourable southerly location combined with the warming effect of the shallow waters of Lake Erie allow this appellation to enjoy a long growing season and promotes ripe fruit with a perfect balance between natural sweetness and acidity. Lake Erie North Shore has a long growing season and the highest number of heat units of all of Ontario’s viticultural areas. The light-textured, well-drained soils around the lakeshore contain mostly sandy loam and gravel deposits punctuated by small, irregular stony ridges, which overlay shale limestone bedrock. (The region) benefits from the quick summer warming of the shallow waters of Lake Erie as well as from an abundance of sunshine during the growing season. Early harvests are the norm, with picking usually beginning at the end of August and late-harvest often reach their peak by late October.” –VQA Ontario

“Posh Cuvée” Lake Erie North Shore 2011
Tasting Notes: 12.1% vol. Chardonnay-Riesling-Gewurztraminer blend. Light, straw-yellow in the glass. Slightly cosmetic on the nose, with notes of tropical fruit and apple. In the mouth, the attack offers a nice acidity, balanced by a silky-smooth texture. This is a full-bodied, semi-sweet white, displaying tangy flavors, similar to the nose – green apples and indistinguishable tropical fruits. The finish is a bit sour. An overall decent wine, lacking in complexity and expression and a bit too linear, but still quite tasty.
Rating: 12/20 (82/100)
Price: $13 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

“Grand Crew Reserve” Lake Erie North Shore 2008
Tasting Notes: 14.5% vol. Cabernet sauvignon-Merlot blend. Barrel-aged 4 years. Small lot production, 105 cases. Deep, dark red in the glass. A rich and powerful nose with notes of dark fruits, berries-a-plenty, vanilla spice and pretty floral aromas. The 14.5% alcohol definitely comes out, but without any unpleasantries. Quite to the contrary, the complexity and beautiful aromas make this wine very welcoming on the nose. A bit too sour on the attack but the sweet tannins help to balance out the mid-palate. There are flavors of dark chocolate and blackberries. This wine is a bit disjointed, performing much better on the nose than on the palate. The alcohol is a bit over-powering as a stand-alone wine BUT let’s be clear, this wine was made with rich and hearty meals in mind. This is a quality wine and gets my recommendation, although the $50 price tag seems a bit much.
Rating: 14/20 (87/100)
Priace: $50 CAD @ colchesterridge.com

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2008 Precept B Late Harvest Riesling

Appellation:  Washington State

Tasting Notes:  100% Riesling.  8.9% ABV.  5.2% Residual sugar by weight.  Light straw color.  Nose is lemon, honey, and flowers.  This tastes EXACTLY like it smells, honey mixed with a little lemon juice and flower petals.  Some crispness, though, not syrupy.  I tend to not like this style of wine, but it’s nice.  Would be a good pair with Asian flavors (a little spice), or honey glazed carrots.

Rating:  3/5

Price:  $9.99 at Beltway Fine Wine

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My wife and I made dinner for some out of town friends.  I didn’t take formal notes on the wines, but here’s what we had.

2008 Washington Hills Riesling Paradise Peak

Appellation: Washington State

Served With: Spinach Salad with Warm Citrus Dressing;  Butternut Squash Soup

Tasting Notes: 100% Reisling.  11% ABV.  Didn’t take formal notes, but this was a very nice wine.  Great fruit, but also food friendly aciditiy and minerality.  Off dry, so non wine folks will like this.  Great match with a spinach salad (spinach, red onion, cranberry, orange, feta) and warm citrus dressing, also great match with butternut squash soup.

Rating: 3/5

Price: $9.99

2008 Noël Bougrier Anjou

Appelation: Anjou-Saumur (Loire Valley)

Served With: Scallops in Butter, Wine, and Sage; Risotto

Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc.  11% ABV.  Didn’t take formal notes.  This was crisp, great acid, but pretty one dimensional. A versitile food friendly white, but that is in part because there isn’t much going on.

Rating: 2/5

Price: $9.99

2009 Spier Chenin Blanc

Appellation: Western Cape, South Africa

Served With: Scallops, etc.

Tasting Notes: 100% Chenin Blanc.  13.5% ABV.  Didn’t take formal notes.  Very interesting.  Lots of grapefruit, some melon, and an interesting smoke aroma and on the palate.  Nice rich mouthfeel.  Interesting and very good.  Great value.

Rating: 4/5

Price: $7.99

All wines purchased at Beltway Fine Wines

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