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Michigan

Michigan Wine Tasting and Reviews

Wine Tasting
Ciccone 2005 Lee La Tage

Winery: Ciccone Vineyards
Brand/Type: Lee La Tage
Vintage: 2005
Country: USA
Region: Leelanau Peninsula
Alcohol content: 12.9%
Closure: Natural cork
Appearance: Ruby
Aroma/Bouquet: Strawberry jam, spice

Estate bottled. A blend of Cabernet Franc, Merlot, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Malbec.
Full bodied, a big wine, black cherry and black pepper finish.
The Leelanau Peninsula is best known for whites but Ciccone does very well with reds!

Wine Tasting
Pentamere Rosé Table Wine

Winery: Pentamere
Brand/Type: Rosé Table Wine
Vintage: N/A
Country: USA
Region: Michigan
Alcohol content: 12%
Closure: Natural cork
Appearance: Cerise
Aroma/Bouquet: Hay and strawberries.

Pentamere is a unique winery; they have no vines. Located in Tecumseh, Michigan, only an hour from Detroit, this is probably one of the last places you would expect to find a winery. Tecumseh is better known for its architecture and antiques. Their website even makes light of their location.

Pentamere instead buys grapes from various vineyards throughout Michigan and produces their own wine. Now this isn’t a new idea or a radical concept, plenty of the huge wine labels do this. Pentamere isn’t huge. Instead they choose to make fine wine in a quaint little town off the beaten track and concentrate their energy on making wine versus growing grapes and making wine. Seems like more fun to me!

This wine is bears a resemblance to a Cabernet Sauvignon “lite”. It has a good body to it for a Rosé. Much more complex than most but not a full bodied red either. Full of fruit flavors and a slight hint of oak, this has soft tannins and a nice clean finish. This is a Rose` for the red wine drinker who doesn’t like Rosé. It’s also a good wine for those white wine drinkers who want to step up to reds.

Pentamere has many good and interesting wines. They’re worthy of a look. Like many Michigan wines, distribution outside of the state is scant. Pentamere does offer online sales however.

Wine Tasting
Gill’s Pier Ice box Apple

Winery: Gill’s Pier
Brand/Type: Ice box Apple
Country: USA
Region: Leelanau Peninsula
Alcohol content: 10%
Closure: Synthetic cork
Appearance: Pale straw
Aroma/Bouquet: Green apple

Gill’s Pier is a small winery with only four acres of vines. Given their small size, they concentrate on quality. Like many Northern Michigan wineries, they specialize in Whites. Northern Michigan has an ideal climate for whites and the Leelanau Peninsula boasts some of the very best white wines anywhere.

Northern Michigan is also renowned for cherries and with that most wineries offer some sort of cherry wine. Yes, Gill’s Pier does too but this review is about their Ice Box Apple.

Ice Box Apple is for certain a niche wine. Don’t confuse this with Boone’s Farm, Annie Green Springs or some sort of bottom shelf wine-like substitute. This is a serious wine!

Semi-sweet with complexity rarely found, your palate is treated to a wonderful parade of flavors. The label boasts “Crisp, Tart, Bright, Bold, Misty, Smart, Sassy, Earthy”. While I can’t say much for the “Misty, Smart, Sassy” portion of the label, the rest is indeed true.

It begins with a slightly sweet beginning rich with tangy sweet red apples and then melts into a tart green apple taste with a crisply light mineral finish.

This pairs very well with spicy foods like Indian, Thai or Chinese. It’s probably not a wine that you drink alone but certainly with a meal or as an aperitif.

This is a hard to find yet very worth your effort. If you are ever in Michigan, by all means stop by their tasting room. Their website has online sales as well as list retailers throughout Michigan.

Wine Tasting
2005 Arcturos Black Star Farms Pinot Grigio

Winery: Arcturos Black Star Farms
Brand/Type: Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2005
Country: USA
Region: Leelanau Peninsula
Alcohol content: 12%
Closure: Synthetic cork
Appearance: Pale honey
Aroma/Bouquet: Honeydew melon

Black Star Farms is one of Michigan’s finest wineries. Their wines are consistently excellent in both reds and whites. Black Star is an outstanding example of how Michigan has become one of the better wine producing regions of the world. Unfortunately their low volume prevents most wine lovers from experiencing what Michigan has to offer.

This wine has a slight herbal flavor along with a citrus note and slate finish. Tasting distinctly like a dry Pinot Gris but with a softer edge; this wine pairs well with delicate seafood. It won’t overpower your meal like some harsh Pinot’s can. Buy it if you can find it!

Wine Tasting:
2004 Chateau Grand Traverse Semi-Dry Riesling

Winery: Chateau Grand Traverse
Brand/Type: Semi-Dry Riesling
Vintage: 2005
Country: USA
Region: Grand Traverse Peninsula, Michigan
Alcohol content: 12%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Pale blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Lemony citrus and melon

This is an excellent Riesling that compares well against any German Kabinett. The label says “Semi-Dry” but off dry is more accurate (at least for this bottle).

Very smooth on the palate, it is even with a complex fruit flavor that includes tangerine, orange, melon, apricot, and is well balanced with a mineral presence. It is consistent and crisp from the tip of the tongue to the finish. This is probably one of the more complex tasting Rieslings you will find anywhere.

Chateau Grand Traverse is well represented in most of the upper-Midwest. You can find this as well as other wines of theirs in most Meijer stores. Thankfully Meijer stocks regional wines and supports smaller brands. If you are in Ohio the Andersons also stocks this.

One note on the down side… the cork was overly dry. We’ve noticed this before with other bottles from Chateau Grand Traverse. This may be from improper storage at the retailer (most likely). Regardless of how, we would recommend that drink this brand soon. Frankly, with something this good, it’s too tempting not to drink right away!

Wine Tasting:
2004 Chateau Grand Traverse Johannisberg Late Harvest Riesling

Winery: Chateau Grand Traverse
Brand/Type: Johannisberg Riesling
Vintage: 2004
Country: USA
Region: Grand Traverse Peninsula, Michigan
Alcohol content: 10.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Light blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Apricot and melon

Off dry, lightly sweet, somewhere between a Kabinett and a Spatlese. Very nice fruitiness with a tart finish. A nice mineral edge.

Another excellent Michigan Riesling. Similar to many German offerings but with a higher alcohol content but not in a bad way; just a bit bolder than the traditional German Riesling.

Wine Tasting:
2005 Chateau Chantal Pinot Noir

Winery: Chateau Chantal
Brand/Type: Pinot Noir
Vintage: 2005
Country: USA
Region: Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan
Alcohol content: 12.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Purple to ruby red
Aroma/Bouquet: Barely there… “wine-ish”.

Flat, little flavor, vague cherry, plum, smoke.

Rather disappointing. Considering that this was sampled at their tasting room, perhaps this was a bottle that was left open from the night before?

Wine Tasting:
Chateau Grand Traverse 2004 Edelzwicker

Winery: Chateau Grand Traverse
Brand/Type: Edelzwicker
Vintage: 2004
Country: USA
Region: Old Mission Peninsula, Michigan
Alcohol content: 12.5%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Pale straw
Aroma/Bouquet: Apricot, sweet silage

This Edelzwicker is described by Chateau Grand Traverse as being a “Noble Blend” of Pinot Blanc, Gewürztraminer, Muscat, Riesling, and Pinot Gris. Given this complex blend of grapes, you would expect a complex wine. Chateau Grand Traverse delivers precisely that!

Chateau Grand Traverse has proven that they are not just another Northern Michigan Riesling or Cherry wine producer. They do those very well mind you. However their Chardonnays and in this case, Edelzwickers are quite engaging and rewarding.

This wine offers a large mouthful of flavor. That’s not to say that it is overwhelming, it’s not. It offers a sensory adventure that begins with the nose and continues steadily on until the finish. At 12.5 % alcohol you might expect this to have some harsheness; we detected none. We have to credit Chateau Grand Traverse’s expertise in balancing the blend of grapes. Nice job!

Unfortunately their distribution is not very wide. If you are near a Meijer store look for Chateau Grand Traverse wines in their regional section. IGA’s and Tom’s in Northern Michigan are also stocking vendors for Chateau Grand Traverse. Of course if you are in the Traverse City area you can stop by the winery or their outlet store.

Wine Tasting:
Good Harbor 2004 Late Harvest White Riesling

Winery: Good Harbor
Brand/Type: White Riesling
Vintage: 2004
Country: USA
Region: Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan
Alcohol content: 10%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Honey blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Light citrus and pear

This is a continuation on our tour of Michigan’s Traverse City area wineries.

Good Harbor is again one of the gems of Northern Michigan’s wine country. Good Harbor offers a very nice variety of wines and this time we focus on another white.

Rieslings should show a complex character. Rieslings are to flavor as chameleons are to color. Good Harbor’s whites follow in this theme.

This off dry late harvest White Riesling is quite complex. It has a range of fruitiness that goes from pear to melon with a nice bit of acidity and citrus. It also has a nice mineral edge. This is the driest of Good Harbor’s Rieslings.

Wine Review:
Good Harbor Pinot Grigio

Winery: Good Harbor
Brand/Type: Pinot Grigio
Vintage: 2005
Country: USA
Region: Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan
Alcohol content: 12%
Closure: Natural Cork
Appearance: Light blonde
Aroma/Bouquet: Light, lemony-citrus and pear, hint of melon

This is another one of Good harbors delightful offerings. It is a crisp and light Pinot Grigio that you could drink alone but goes oh so well with fish. This wine pairs very well with grilled salmon, swordfish, or tuna. Probably too delicate for any fried fish. It is also well suited for robust salads.

For a Pinot Grigio, this has a very light citrus-pear bouquet with just a faint hint of melon. Not as complex to the palate as Good Harbor’s Trillium but very nice and it makes a great wine for hot summer evenings. If you prefer a Pinot Grigio with less bite, but not watered down, this wine is for you.

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